In my Spring 2012 Spotlight, I'll be shining some light on some of the series that I will be watching and series that I think will be worth your time.
Today, let's look at upcoming spring title Hyouka. Embedded below is a Japanese promotional video.
The beginning poem of the video reads
Youth is not all about tenderness
Though it isn't all about pain either.
What this series is about
Directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto (known for mostly for directing episodes 5-24 of Lucky Star), Hyouka (氷菓, Japanese for ice-candy) is an anime series adapted from a mystery novel by Honobu Yonezawa. Hyouka targets the shonen demographic under the genre of mystery. The bubbly and animated character design might seem familiar to veteran anime enthusiasts. Futoshi Nishiya, responsible for the envisioning of characters in Nichijou (My Ordinary Life) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, lends her unique style to the cast of Hyouka.
A first-year student, known for his sloth and unmotivated personality, Houtarou Oreki tries not to involve himself with the rest of Kamiyama High School. His attitude has always been, "don't do anything unnecessary." Ordered by his sister, he joins the Japanese Classic Literature Circle (hm, this seems a bit familiar... doesn't it?). There, he meets the curious and energetic club president, Eru Chitanda. Joined by his child-hood friends Satoshi Fukube and Mayaka Ibara, the quartet becomes a sort of crime-solving team, investigating several incidents around school as well as a 33-year old mystery involving one member's uncle and the hints left behind by former members of the Japanese Classic Literature Club. The series and its creators are devoted to mystery. Inspiration for the characters is mainly gathered from the Sherlock Holmes canon, with the famous detective himself, re-imagined as the main character Houtarou.
A game changer?
Public opinion of KyoAni has been mixed since the popularity of K-On! and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has boosted the art house into public arenas. There are those who love the care and attention to detail that the studio gives to each series it animates. Yet there is also a growing dissent among viewers that claim their popularity has made them into a one-trick pony with the ability to only produce anime series that don't really have much story at all ("cute girls doing cute things.") Hyouka promises to be emotional and fun, but also "slightly bitter," as the promotional video puts it. Judging from the scenes that are available, its definitely a looker. I'm not sure how many episodes (either 12 or 21 depending on the source) this series will include, but be sure to check it out when it airs April 22nd, 2012.
Bottom-line: The all-star production team, talented voice work, and the sensational track-record of KyoAni is why I am comfortable recommending Hyouka in the spring of 2012.