Hyouka 03: You see, but you do not observe

Of course, if I was seeing the world through technicolour lenses, I’d be having too much fun to bother with this “observing” stuff.

It’s like being high and getting the associated sensory processing disorders, but without actually being high! (゚∀゚)

Eru outright begging for assistance. From what we’ve seen of Houtarou, he could probably manipulate her into serving his own interests, if you know what I mean.

I can’t help but wonder what Houtarou’s thinking. I’d imagine he’s visualizing a graph of Effort against Pleasure, and determining that his usual utility function won’t intersect the new shift as per a-successful-manipulation/corruption-of-a-cute-innocent-girl.

Which is why Houtarou is seriously unrealistic. We all know that at that age, all humans possessing the Y-chromosome would move mountains for the possibility of serving his own interests.

Or, Houtarou really does abide by his code of minimal effort. Which is also sadly realistic, from a sad (and having no other option) foreveralone point of view.

One of my favourite parts of the episode. No matter how good Houtarou is with observations and deductions and mental chess, he still has to suffer through examinations like the rest of us.

That’s right. There’s a lesson to be learnt here. That education systems worldwide are flawed and only serve to keep talent under a dirty metaphorical jackboot.

The objective behind this episode’s puzzle, and simultaneously the part of the puzzle that prevented me from seeing the answer.

More on this later.

What I liked about this episode’s puzzle was how it was presented. No longer did Houtarou outright mention the clues – and hence not immediately providing a crutch for the viewer, but irrelevant information was also thrown into the mix.

It’s no longer just a matter of taking the pieces and trying to make them fit. It’s now a matter of taking the pieces, figuring out which pieces don’t fit, then making a connection with the rest.

Which is how mysteries ought to be. They’re mysteries, not jigsaw puzzles.

“Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring.”

Except that Houtarou would never say anything like that, because Houtarou isn’t a supposed high-functioning sociopath with the immature need to show off his abilities and impress a random woman who makes him feel special.

Well, not too sure about that last bit. Time will tell.

I absolutely love this part of Houtarou. If there’s not enough data, get more. Simple.

And to think that there are thousands of amateur mystery writers out there who struggle to account for their “realistic” characters having unrealistic access to all sorts of vital information. Or the even more unrealistic alternative where one scrap of information suddenly reveals the antagonist’s plans in obscene detail.

Why have the main character create ludicrously convoluted mental flowcharts to arrive for the most probable solution based on the given data, when you can just introduce some chaos and see what happens?

Aha! A clue!

Joker: 1, Batman: 0.

Is there anything more aggravating knowing that you’re being blackmailed, that you’re not capable of doing anything about it, and that you’re going to have to go through with it? And on top of that, that your blackmailer is genuinely sorry for blackmailing you in the first place?

The dude’s rage is delicious. KyoAni deserves some sort of animation award for conveying such anger without having to resort to the usual anime facial contortions.

This is the other part I love about Houtarou.

In fiction, intelligence is often depicted as having the ability to predict the outcome of certain situations. Which honestly makes more sense than having a whole bunch of degrees. When people say that Bane is a genius supervillain, they don’t point to his expertise in chemistry or botany or whatever. They point to the fact that he broke Batman’s spine. (EDUCATION SYSTEMS I AM LOOKING AT YOU. AGAIN.)

But the thing with predicting outcomes is that it’s unrealistic. Sure, it makes a character look awesome. For all of maybe 2 seconds. Because at some point, a logical mind with a good grasp of statistics and probability is going to call bullshit on the whole thing. And your awesome character is now an arrogant Detective Sue.

Also, setting up an expectation is just tempting fate. Remember all those times you went into an examination telling your friends that you were going to kick ass, and then having to sneak out the back door in shame because you got blindsided by an overzealous professor?

For all Houtarou knew, the other dude could have burnt the anthologies out of spite, after they left. Imagine confidently stating “they’ll be on the table when we get back” and returning to find a pile of ashes.

Houtarou doesn’t predict outcomes (unless he’s already manipulated it himself, like episode 1’s note). I don’t even think he had any expectations. He merely returned to the clubroom and let the results speak for themselves.

So yes. I didn’t manage to figure out this week’s puzzle.

I saw the infrared detectors, the makeshift table, air freshener and fan and open window, and the shirt on the table. Especially the shirt on the table.

The newspaper dude didn’t want to be disturbed, something was under the table, and he had to get rid of a scent in the air.

I concluded that the newspaper dude was having sex in the classroom and was hiding the girl under the makeshift table. Who might not be able to keep silent for long, or would otherwise be suffering under there. And the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Combo was to drive out any… unchaste odours.

Yeah, that damn shirt got me good.

How was I to know that the safe was so damned big? That it would require so much camouflage to hide it?

In hindsight, I should have expected that it had to be sufficiently large to store decades’ worth of anthologies, but even then it didn’t need to be of that size.

I suppose I didn’t really believe that the safe was in the room in the first place. I thought the safe was somewhere else entirely, and newspaper dude just had the misfortune of wanting to hide something else when the Hyouka crew turned up.

Although if it really was a girl, newspaper dude could just ask for 5 minutes and get her out of the way before letting the Hyouka crew search the room. Which would have disproved the theory that he was hiding a girl. HINDSIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/20.

I also apologize for constantly making references to a hypothetical girl without considering the alternative. The newspaper dude may have been hiding a guy. I’m just handicapped by having to work with my predominantly heterosexual mindset. So now you know.

Murder? Blackmail? Super epic sex party conducted by the chairman of the very first Classics Club?

Wait, it can’t be that last one. That wouldn’t have traumatized Eru one bit.


That would have been too easy.

I just hope that each year’s Classics Club alumni haven’t been retelling the original story in each year’s anthology in a bizarre variant of broken telephone and the Hyouka crew needs to compare them to find the unembellished truth.

Which would make for a great way to pass the time, sure, but an absolute wreck of an anime. Think Endless Eight, but with no swimsuits. -shudders-

Episode (I actually enjoyed both, my failure makes me spiteful) Mystery rating:

2.5 out of 5 mildly annoyed John Watson’s

“Look, forget it. I thought I was onto something, I wasn’t.”

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  1. petitorenji
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    I thought the roof was always the unspoken part of the school where all teachers are forbidden and the students can do whatever they want de facto. Why didn’t he just smoke up there?

    If I were smoker dude, I would have just said: “yes, I have your anthologies. They’re under the new drafting desk I made for myself. But there are also some private/personal stuff as well, so please wait 30 minutes and I will personally deliver them to your club room. Thank you for understanding.” There was absolutely no need for hom to make himself a victim. Plus, he could have also observed his enemies’ lair so he would know how and where to deal with them later if needed. Instead, he clinched his teeth and let his own blood pressure rise.


    I’ve always wandered what defines high ntelligence in a person. You’ve written some good things here about it. I guess when it comes to the basics, it’s all about the ability to retain high amounts of accurate, precise information and knowing how and when to execute them, combine them, twist and turn them, when a solution is needed. And being able to do it quickly while under pressure. Also applies to physical stuff (muscle memory and such like drawing, playing the piano, and hitting a baseball). The next stage: pitch-perfect ears, synesthesia, photographic memory, hypersensitivity to something, etc.

    Then there’s also the intelligence of thinking outside the box, questioning conventions, toying with new ideas and daring to turn the world upside down. Going against cultural and natural conditioning and realisim on purpose: stretching one’s brain to think of more impossibles and unnaturals. Building worlds, have them make sense to you, creating new physics, new organisms, new original concepts. But most of those who have the above also have this, so it’s nothing special. And almost all children have this, even this with very low IQs.


    Forgive my grammatical errors above. Was typing on iPod

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      It wasn’t so much the teachers, but his own status as a scion of a family heavily involved in the education system. He could get caught by a student and his family’s reputation would still be dragged through the mud.

      But you’re absolutely right about what he could have done. He obviously knew about the safe, and he’s have known about the anthologies inside. The instant the Hyouka crew asked about it, he could have made any excuse with the promise to bring the books to them later. Maybe he just panicked. We generally make poor snap-decisions when the adrenaline flows.

      I’m not too sure if I’d consider the ability to retain and process knowledge as “intelligent”. A hard drive stores data, but it isn’t intelligent. A high-end calculator can work out the solutions to quartic equations, but it isn’t intelligent either.

      I’d argue that the important thing is the ability to look at phenomena, and either construct new frameworks or to build upon existing frameworks, so as to explain and predict these phenomena. And by phenomena I mean anything at all that can be observed directly or indirectly, such as planetary orbits, gravity, human psychology, and so on.

      In that sense, intelligence is the ability to create information – regardless of whether someone else has already created that information before. The degree of intelligence is therefore proportional to the degree in which the created information can co-exist with existing information: a child can colour an apple purple and it would seem wrong to an adult, but a good writer could write about purple apples and give a reasonable explanation for why they’re purple.

      Phew. Such digression from Hyouka.

      • petitorenji
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        But one needs to retain the existing framework to construct new frameworks. It is still step one, even if, yes, it’s something most lifeless computers can do for us. I’ve always considered as myself as a B+ “intelligence” human being because my ability to retain information is horrible. But that may also be my problem of not being able to sincerely care enough to want to retain them. I’m more apathetic toward most of the world’s how-things-came-to-be’s (faces, names, dates, numbers, vocab, you name it), while a diminishing few others are hypersensitive to everything they learn, are passionate and observant about everything they see, and easily retain stuff permanently (most intelligent female protagonists in anime are exaggerated versions of this).

        Of course, the second part of it is able to manipulate technology to do everything for you. Acquaintances’ contact information? All set. Basic astrophysics? Minute-long lessons on Youtube. 21st-Century-English Translations of Shakespearean plays? Online. Don’t know what epic events happened in what anime episode? Go to its episode guide on a Wiki page. Don’t want to transcribe info you don’t want to read? Copy-paste. And no need to remember anything you’ve looked up afterwards either. Just bookmark and repeat process when needed.

        “In that sense, intelligence is the ability to create information.” That’s what I stated in my fourth paragraph. So no debate there. But most people (like children, as we both pointed out) can do this, whereas most adults can’t remember 20 previous moves of a chess game. Therefore in this society, it’s not valuable, because there’s a high supply of us daydreamers and creatives. (I’m in the industry, I would know). No one cares about your purple apple because they’ve already gone onto rainbow oranges. Also, in this day and age, we don’t really want to create more information, because we’re already deep in info-overload.

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

          Oh yes, I know what you mean. There must be a minimum threshold of information storage capacity, otherwise we’d be purely instinctive. About the “not caring”: I suppose another measure of intelligence is the capability to determine which data is worth keeping, either on a logical or emotional basis.

          I wasn’t actually arguing. I think I was trying to rephrase a definition. But doesn’t it seem sad that people place a higher emphasis on memory than creativity? No one cares about rainbow oranges, but they’d care about the guy who can remember everything that came before it. Maybe it’s an efficiency thing – people who have data memorized will spend less time remembering or sourcing it.

          • petitorenji
            Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            And that’s why, when it comes down to the crux of it (life), what’s most important is still… kindness, compassion, real friendship, truthfulness, selflessness, and all of that good jazz. It may seem that in this day and age, people just want to see what they can work out of you and how heavy of a cart you can pull. But really, in all honesty, come on, we’re all human. And what people still love most is when they meet and work with good people they have great chemistry with, feel secure with, and most importantly, that they feel creative with. Good, wholesome collaboration triumphs against any type of high intelligence any day.

  2. Miura Azusa
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    You haven’t reviewed Sora no Woto’s episode 13.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      I uh, I haven’t reviewed Sora no Woto episode 1-12 too, come to think of it.

  3. Boboglobins
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I was originally thinking more along the lines of massive drug ring, that would have explained it better. In fact we don’t actually know whether Houtarou’s final analysis was correct or not, the clues could also suggest hard drugs, that would also explain why he cared that another student was there, that wouldn’t matter to most people I know.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Houtarou’s analysis not being validated fills me with happy feels. Because he’s not playing the game for the game’s sake. He has an objective, and he keeps his mind on it. It didn’t matter if the guy was hiding smokes, drugs, or steamy sex sessions – as long as Houtarou gets what he wants, he’s perfectly fine with not knowing the full situation.

  4. Bob from Accounting
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    My assumption wasn’t too far off yours. I thought he was hiding a seedy porn stash in there. This was probably the best episode so far, if only for Houtarou turning the conversation into a Phoenix Wright cross-examination. That smoker broke like the best of ‘em.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Phoenix Wright can only wish he was as stone-cold as Houtarou. He was that close to his nose being intimately introduced to smoker dude’s fist, and he never flinched.

    • eternia
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Hey, it was never revealed in the end, so it’s possible.
      The electric fan is probably used to blow away the ‘squid’ smell.

  5. Neo Ranga
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Damn, this one was so predictable… although I’m intrigue about the girls uncle mystery which i guess will be the main story line for the series.

    This weeks mystery was unreal, seriously. infrared sensors so they don’t catch you smoking? And i guess the smartest place to hide a lighter would be next to dozens of old and very flammable magazines. Why didn’t he take them out before >.<

  6. Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Houtarou raped that newspaper guy.

    The poor guy was forced to remove something that was blocking access to a personal, private place, take something from said place and hand it over to Houtarou. I am pretty sure he was saving it for someone special, but Houtarou took it all without giving him any choice.

    Houtarou even acknowledged his actions and apologized coldly, but the damage was done. The poor newspaper guy could only stand there, too scared to tell anyone for fear of damage to his social reputation.

    To make it worse, Houtarou then nonchalantly bragged about his deed to his club members.

    Who knows, a few episodes from now, the whole club might engage in group rape!?
    How terrible!

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