(I’m reviewing this now as I don’t want to go straight to episode two, which will be uploaded shortly.)
“I don’t do anything I don’t have to do. What I have to do, I do quickly.”
This is the motto of Hyouka’s main character, Oreki Houtarou, which is how, ideally, he wants to get through high school. The episode starts with a monologue of his as he walks into school explaining this, and is also the topic of the following conversation he has with his friend, Fukube Satoshi. It’s also the reason why he doesn’t join any clubs – he doesn’t put energy into things he doesn’t have to.
Which is why when he joins the Classics Club, it’s such a big surprise. It turns out that he was requested to by his older sister to do so, who, as someone with an extensive knowledge of martial arts, would likely make it painful for him if he were to refuse. The reason is that she was a member in her high school years, and it is in danger of being abolished due to a lack of members.
So he joins the club, and when he gets to the clubroom, expecting it to be empty, he is surprised to see a girl there. She introduces herself as Chitanda Eru, who also joined the club. To Houtarou, this means he no longer has to join, since the club is in no longer in danger of being abolished. Unfortunately, things get in the way before he can leave, like Eru not having the keys to lock up, and Satoshi showing up. Eru, it seems, is amazingly determined when she’s curious, and thinks that the room being locked when Houtarou entered though it was unlocked when she entered is quite a mystery, and she somehow manages to get the low-energy Houtarou to help figure out who locked the room after she entered it.
Of course, he solves it, and in the end, joins the club. It seems he’s a bit weak when it comes to Eru’s stare and caves in pretty quickly.
The rest of the episode features another ‘mystery’ for Eru, in the form of a ‘secret club’ that posts a secret recruiting notice at school. They find it, but in the end, it is revealed that Houtarou made it up to keep her from inevitably dragging he and Satoshi to the music room, which is the subject of another rumor she no doubt would have wanted to investigate.
At the end, Satoshi remarks that he still spent more energy than usual in just not flat out refusing her.
One complaint I’ve seen floating around is that it was slow and boring – nothing much plot-wise really happened except for Houtarou joining the Classics Club and discovering it is difficult for him to refuse Eru when she is determined, and it is quite dialogue-heavy. I, however, found that it was a good episode. The story can go anywhere from here (I admit I have an idea as I’ve read the translated bits of the light novels) and the characters’ interactions with each other are interesting. Eru’s way of pushing Houtarou to do things and Satoshi always trying to do the same make for an interesting relationship and I look forward to seeing how it will progress in further episodes.
It also seems that Eru will present a mystery, as when asked why she joined the club she simply replied with “for personal reasons”. Eru herself is quite adorable, as is Houtarou trying to resist her, as is Satoshi being an encouraging friend. Their interaction is quite charming.
Art and animation are suberb, as expected from KyoAni. You’ll have a few ‘what‘ moments with the presentation (as seen in some of the screenshots) that I found weird in a good way. Both OP and ED are nice as well.
While many will find this episode slow, it may not necessarily be a bad thing. The new series is off to a good start, setting a good foundation for character development of the three introduced, and showing what may become interesting relationships between them.