Take one part The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, one part Detective Gonad, and half-a part Slow My Goddess, mix them up all proper-like, bake for 22 episodes, and in the end you'll have the high school mystery club anime known as Hyouka. It will be delicious for some, but the elements of Goddess will act like tryptophan and put quite a few of you to sleep.
I'm going to state right off the bat that I liked Hyouka. I did. It had great characters and some really fun (but extremely lightweight) mysteries to solve, but it was slooooooooooooow. Storylines that went on for 4 or more episodes could have easily been wrapped up in less than half the time — and although always interesting, there were a few occasions wherein it felt like they wrote too many scenes of the characters simply walking, or staring out of a window, or spending too much time discussing clues as if some people in the group had IQs lower than Corky's and Forrest's mongoloid love child. But besides that, it's just a very enjoyable high school comedy series with some decent intrigue, and if you liked the aforementioned Haruhi and Detective Conan, you'll probably get your jollies tickled by Hyouka's charm. Oh yes, it's charming as all fuck.
So Hyouka's all about one lazy teenage shit-bag named Hotaro Oreki who's just entering high school. Hotaro is a member of the "Go Home Club," and detests putting any kind of effort into anything and everything; content to just slip through life like crap through the sewers. However, his older sister (who's out traveling the world) orders him to join the Classic Literature Club that she used to belong to in order to keep the memberless organization from dissolving. Hotaro reluctantly agrees to help, only to find that a classmate named Eru Chitanda has already signed up for the club. But because he finds Chitanda super cute and gets lost in her pleading eyes, Hotaro decides to stay in the Literary extra curricular activity himself, against all his rational reasoning.
Soon Hotaro's good friend, Satoshi, and Satoshi's librarian friend Mayaka join the group too, but instead of working on the club's literary magazine, the group of kids usually finds themselves solving mysteries left and right that Hotaro's lazy (but brilliantly deductive) brain can get to the bottom of amazingly quickly.
These mysteries are never anything dire or important, but they're more like the kinds of whodunits and whathappeneds that you'd actually expect a bunch of real high school kids to get involved in. Examples: the case of "how did the student get locked in the classroom"; the case of the mystery behind the expulsion of the first Classic Literature Club president; the case of the mystery of why the math teacher thought he was talking to another class for 30 seconds; and the case of the strange shadow in the hot springs inn. No murders, no violence, and nobody ever goes to jail or even gets the cops involved. They're as trivial as you can get without any talking Disney animal friends or people breaking into song every 5 minutes, but they amazingly still keep you glued to the screen. You know that if you just pay close enough attention to all the details presented to Hotaro then you can solve the story's puzzle too. Hyouka is pretty much an "introduction to the mystery genre" show; it's not very heavy, but not dumb either.
And even though the enigmas are the main reason for watching this series, it's the characters that make it all worth while. Although Hotaro's the epitome and personification of sloth, he can never say no to Chitanda's pleading eyes whenever she needs to know something. If there's a story or a problem that she finds out about that leaves her scratching her (cute, but not too bright) head, she can eventually get Hotaro to put his mega-brain power to solving it. There's also the always smiling (but silently sort of jealous of his friend's detective skills) Satoshi, the guy who keeps club meetings and mystery solving from getting stale, and the fiesty Mayaka, who dislikes Hotaro, but likes the bulge in Satoshi's pants, though is treated like a sister by the love of her loins. Like any good show, if the characters suck, even if it's the greatest plot ever written, you will hate the whole of it. Luckily I enjoyed every part of Hyouka: the puzzles, the cast, the animation style (it's a hugely budgeted series directed by the mastermind behind Haruhi and Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu!), and even the opening and ending songs. My only real complaint about this anime is that it's a bit lethargic in its pace. That's not bad at all now, is it? Sometimes we all just need to slow down a bit and snort the roses.
Yeah, I have no doubt at all that the Rossman likes this show. Back in high school he tried his best to start up the "Scooby Doo Mystery Mechanics Club," but the school administrators refused to not only not acknowledge the club as official and give it a room to meet in, but they flat out laughed in his face and shredded all of his flyers he tried to pass out to other students and afix to the walls outside of the cafeteria.
Well, that didn't stop him from forcing the Wolfman, Just Kidding, and I into his outside-of-school and unofficial enigma-solving frat, but it turned out that his very first mystery he was involved in was one of the quickest anyone had ever solved: who set fire to Principal Towney's Ford Taurus by way of flaming rag in the gas tank?
This show was pretty pathetic. It was nothing but Scooby Doo-lite, but without a talking dog or old guys in ghost costumes. If anything, that's probably the only thing that could have saved this show from being the lame-o wannabe mystery solving piece of "bleh" that it turned out to be: talking dogs and ghosts.
Truth be told, I fell asleep during the second episode and just pretended that I watched the whole thing. I've learned to keep two halves of a ping pong ball in my purse with cartoonish eyes painted on them for just such an emergency. Honestly, I went overboard painting the eyes and they look almost anime-esque, but whenever I put them on the Rossman and his cronies never say anything.... This makes me wonder if they're either totally entranced with the boring stuff we're watching — to the point where they don't notice anything around them — or if they've fallen asleep too, but they're just too proud to admit it so they fake their like or dislike of the movie or show, then write up the review as if it's all good. The Rossman makes me sick...