“I'm curious!” - Chitanda Eru
These few words well represent Hyōka, a twenty-two episode series by Kyoto Animation, aired in Japan in 2012. The anime, which meshes mystery and slice of life, is based on the light novel series of the same name by Honobu Yonezawa, and follows protagonist Oreki Hōtarō, a lazy and apathetic high school student.
Pushed by his bigger sister to sign up for the literature club, he meets an energetic and always curious girl, Chitanda Eru, who becomes a sort of inspiration to him. Along with the other members of the club – Chitanda, Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka - Hōtarō investigates all manners of mysteries taking place within the school's walls.
These mysteries are not the focus of the story, though, as people themselves are the greatest enigma of all. Isn't investigation, after all, a way to understand, and connect with others? Just as in a case, also with human beings appearances are often deceiving.
Solving mysteries, Hōtarō slowly moves from bystander to agent. Even first love, and the fear of not finding one's place in society, become mosaic pieces in the process leading to adulthood.
Kyoto Animation's series could then be considered a wonderfully animated bildungsroman. The color palette, the pleasant soundtrack and the well-rounded characters give depth to a series that, plot wise, is fairly simple and linear.
In Italy, J-Pop is currently publishing the manga version by Task Ohna. The light novels and anime series are yet to be translated.