Hyouka 21 and the art of reading between the lines

For the last 21 weeks, there has been one series that has never failed to engross me each week…to the extent that I’ll watch it several times to fully grasp the nuances of the dialogue. Of course, it doesn’t help that I tend to watch it raw…

This week, we were presented with the most unusual Valentine’s Day anime episode I have ever seen. Like most other series, Hyouka’s Valentine’s episode involved the giving of honmei chocolate, that is, the chocolate that a girl gives to the person who holds her heart. What was different, however, was the complexity of the messages exchanged in the ritual, which were encoded in the strangeness of the incident that played out before us.

A step forward…?

The Mayaka-Satoshi pairing has long been one of the mysteries of Hyouka. From the start, it was obvious that Mayaka liked Satoshi, and that he knew but was ignoring it, for no obvious reason. As a result, many viewers speculated was the he was gay…and interested in Houtarou (of all people!). After all, which hot-blooded high school boy would say ‘No’ to a girl practically throwing herself at him?

Well, Saotome Alto springs to mind… But let’s put that strange androgynous person aside for the moment…

Episode 21 of Hyouka finally gave us the answer, and to me, it’s far more interesting than the alternative that has been bandied about. In Satoshi’s own words:

I used to be someone who cared only about winning – I became obsessed with winning at just about everything. But it was boring. Because it’s boring, the more you want to win, the more unbearable losing becomes, don’cha think? If I don’t win in an interesting way, then it’s just not interesting. So one day, I just got tired of that. I became obsessed with not being obsessed. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed my life. Every day is full of sunshine.

There was just one problem. Mayaka. She’s great, she really is. There is no one quite like her. It’s like a dream that someone like her wants to be with me.

But…is it alright for me to become obsessed with her?

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to be with Mayaka. But I don’t want to be obsessed with her. I’m only thinking about myself – I’m not thinking about Mayaka’s feelings at all. Don’t you think that’s rather egotistical of me? And that’s even though I don’t want to slight her.

But if I let go of my current lightheartedness and accept her feelings, I may lapse back into the person I used to be. That really, really frightens me.

I’m not sure how others have translated this monologue, but this is the interpretation I ended up with: at the most fundamental level, Satoshi feels that being obsessed or fixated with something turns him into someone he doesn’t want to be. And to him, the very definition of having a girlfriend means being fixated with her. What would that do to him? Would the green eyed monster of jealousy appear? Or would he try to control everything Mayaka does?

If that is indeed what Satoshi is afraid of, then, despite what he ended up doing to the gift here, I can’t condemn him. And Mayaka couldn’t either. She knew straight away that he still didn’t have an answer yet, that he hadn’t worked out his problem (though I’m not entirely sure she knows what his problem actually is). The supposed ‘theft’ was meant to be the way to for Satoshi to convey this to her without embarrassing her directly in front of others. Without the need to make a scene. As Satoshi said, their mistake was not understanding how Chitanda Eru would react.

But maybe, just maybe, that was a good thing. Though I’m not sure if we’ll find out, either way, in just a few more days.

Thank you.
Yeah.

p.s. What happened between Houtarou and Chi-chan was really really cute. The unspoken understanding conveyed over the phone at the end…but above all:

My family traditionally does not present New Year and Obon gifts to the people really close to us.
And so…well…

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to Hyouka 21 and the art of reading between the lines

  1. Pingback: Hyouka: it’s all in the details « HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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