It’s time for the second half of this long Hyouka roundtable, where its director and series composer talk about Houtarou’s psyche and the show’s openings and endings. You also get a taste of naughty anime creators talk courtesy of FMP‘s creator!
Continues from Part 1.
Yasuhiro Takemoto – Anime series director, animator, unit director. Member of Kyoto Animation’s Board of Directors. Notable works include Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, High Speed!, and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, among others.
Shouji Gatou – Author, script writer. In charge of the series composition for Hyouka. Notable works are the Full Metal Panic! series, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (scriptwriting) and Amagi Brilliant Park.
─ Well then, is there a scene from the the first half’s Hyouka arc that you found memorable?
Takemoto: If we’re looking at the first arc, I personally found that the finale in episode 5, as well as the part where Eru remembers her uncle, left a strong impression.
Gatou: Since I like the cool side of Houtarou, I’d go with the moment where he intimidates Tougaito-senpai in episode 3, or the scene where he tries to find a solution in the restroom in episode 4. Actually, I often called the scenes where he solves a mystery “using the Geass” – Houtarou’s Mystery Geass (laughs). If there’s something that borders the supernatural in this show, I think it would be Houtarou’s abilities as a detective.
Takemoto: True. Since it only takes a few seconds and his thoughts make huge leaps in an instant.
Gatou: According to Yonezawa-sensei, Houtarou’s way of thinking consists of adding piece by piece until he finally arrives at a conclusion, but I have to wonder about that (laughs). I think he has a vision at first, much like renowned mathematicians and physicists; at the beginning there’s a certain formula they want to create, and then they attach a theory to it after a lot of hard work. In the end, I always assume that he might be this kind of genius.
Takemoto: But I feel like he differs a bit from the intuitive type. Once he has assembled all pieces, he connects the dots in a flash. Until he has pieced everything together, he doesn’t register the points as anything but mere pieces, but once he has assembled them, he realizes everything. Other people would try to connect the dots but not be able to find the path, whereas Houtarou does, which is amazing.
Gatou: The part where ordinary people can’t think of a way to connect the dots but Houtarou can is totally the same! Although in The End Credits of The Fool he made a mistake when framing the issue, thus his reasoning was off.
Takemoto: And so Houtarou couldn’t escape from that curse in the form of a movie until the very end.
Gatou: I have a feeling that part of it was due to his personal desire to finish it. It’s a vignette with a fairly deep meaning, isn’t it?
─ Next, I’m also going to ask you about the storyboards for the opening and ending which director Takemoto was responsible for. First of all, what sort of image did you have in mind when you created the opening?
Takemoto: I said it at the beginning that the themes in this show are bittersweetness and that thorn of sorts, but there’s actually one more – namely gray and rose-colored. I wanted to incorporate it somewhere in the opening too.
Gatou: It becomes obvious when it goes from “gray” (monochrome) to “rose-colored” (in color).
Takemoto: I also wanted to turn it into a refreshing and vibrant opening.
Gatou: The smell of fulfilled lives really hangs in the air (laughs).
Takemoto: (laughs). When I tried to depict vibrance and chilliness, I used water as an appropriate visual. However, I couldn’t simply show water in itself; I was coming up with an image and thought that ripples would be fitting.
─ In stark contrast to the vibrant opening, the ending features a seductive video of Eru and Mayaka. “Promise of Slumber” was their character song after all.
Takemoto: At the beginning, producer Makoto Itou requested the ending to be about Eru and Mayaka’s character song. Personally, I consider Hyouka, at its quintessence, a work about Houtarou’s mind. I had already imagined how to portray the world from his point of view and how he perceives certain types of people. But since the ending ended up being about Eru and Mayaka’s character song, I thought we should model it independently from the main show – without paying heed to Houtarou’s perspective.
─ Does that mean the opening is told from Houtarou’s perspective?
Takemoto: That’s right. It’s told from Houtarou’s point of view. That’s why I tried to come up with something outside of Houtarou’s perspective for the ending. Since there are two girls in the cast and there isn’t much steaminess in the show itself, I thought we should add some steaminess in the ending at least (laughs).
Gatou: Cough cough cough (laughs).
Takemoto: Why are you coughing so violently? (laughs). After that, I drafted the ending and included my favorite gestures in it.
Gatou: That’s completely fine! (laughs). You like those sort of gestures, don’t you? Do you have an armpit fetish?
Takemoto: Possibly (laughs).
Gatou: So you have a fetish for calves and armpits (laughs).
─ What did you think about the ending when you saw it, Gatou-san?
Gatou: “Woah, this is creeping me out!“, “This is so maniacal“. Ah, these are all compliments by the way!
Takemoto: Some women at the studio looked at me really coldly. The sort of where you go “Hmph” (laughs).
Gatou: Getting the cold shoulder is a good thing. It’s better when it’s that way. It’s magnificent!
─ Since the first cour’s ending was about the two girls, Eru and Mayaka, will the second cour have an ending about the two boys, Houtarou and Satoshi?
Gatou: Yep, that’s what I said too. “Starting with the second cour, Houtarou and Satoshi will roll around in those outfits in the very same fashion” (laughs).
Takemoto: Who’s even the target audience for that? (laughs).
Gatou: I meant it in a pleasant way though. Maybe people who didn’t like the first one would enjoy that.
Takemoto: No, I’m not sure they would. Somebody once told me that she wants them to wear western outfits.
─ I kind of want to see that though. Is the second cour’s ending sung by the characters as well?
Takemoto: The next ending is sung by Eru and Mayaka again. As for the visuals, Houtarou and Satoshi briefly appear in it.
Gatou: Oh, only briefly.
Takemoto: Last time, it was a ballad but the next song has a lively and cute tune.
Gatou: It isn’t sexy, is it?
Takemoto: It isn’t sexy, no.
Gatou: Ah, I see. Too bad…
Takemoto: What’s with that? (laughs). I believe this one turned out quite good? I think fans will find it cute too. The four of them are cosplaying and I have a feeling that Houtarou and Satoshi’s outfits are fairly tasty from a female perspective as well.
Gatou: What are they wearing? Prison clothes, wasn’t it?
Takemoto: There’s a part with prison clothes too.
Gatou: Are Eru and Mayaka police officers in miniskirts?
Takemoto: I already told you no (laughs).
Gatou: I understand. They aren’t! Hah… (deep sigh).
Takemoto: Don’t you sigh on me (laughs).
─ I’m looking forward to the next ending. Does the opening change as well?
Takemoto: The opening will change too. While it’s still from Houtarou’s perspective, it feels a bit more relaxed and the quartet grows even closer to each other. Also, Houtarou is adorable.
─ Does Houtarou’s older sister appear?
Takemoto: I’m the kind of person who would rather she doesn’t appear much. It’s because everything is resolved by her when she’s there.
Gatou: Depending on the situation, you feel turned off – because she’s something like an undefeatable character with unfair abilities. For this reason, there’d be the risk of people losing interest if she were to come to the fore. In the worst case, she could be viewed as something like a deus ex machina (a being that appears without foreshadowing and ends a story). We thought it’d be better if she stood out as little as possible. In fact, her face is never shown either.
Takemoto: When we were preparing the series composition, Yonezawa-sensei participated as well, and he told us that he watched out not to describe her face in the novel to the best of his ability, which we found amusing. We decided to make use of that in the anime too.
─ Is there anything in the second half you want us to pay attention to?
Takemoto: Episode 11.5 “The Things We Hold On To” will be distributed in advance on Classics Club USTREAM on 8th July (Sunday) at midnight (the complete version is scheduled to be included in the limited Hyouka manga volume 3 that is bundled together with an original anime Blu-ray disc), and it’s a swimsuit episode so I’d be pleased if you looked forward to it!
Gatou: As the series composer, I also let it serve as a story that connects the End Credits of The Fool and Order of Kudryavka novels with each other, so I would be grateful if you viewed it as such too. It’s an episode where Houtarou, as a form of rehabilitation, solves something so simple that you have to wonder if it even counts as a mystery (laughs).
─ Houtarou was considerably dejected in episode 11 after all.
Takemoto: Houtarou was indeed feeling empty and had lost his energy (laughs).
Gatou: And since he’s cheered up in the Order of Kudryavka story that starts with episode 12, we thought that’d feel too abrupt. That’s the reason why we included this episode.
─ Did you think of that episode in the scenario meetings?
Gatou: Yes. At the series composition meeting, we decided on an episode that can both fit inbetween there and be a swimsuit episode.
─ Were swimsuits an absolute must-have (laughs)?
Takemoto: In fact, the whole discussion started with swimsuits (laughs).
Gatou: Yonezawa-sensei wrote the plot for us in one night. But truth to be told, I thought that task would be up to me. The next day, Yonezawa-sensei brought the plot with him… I guess he did feel anxious about it (laughs).
Takemoto: Gatou-san was taken aback the whole time.
Gatou: That’s only natural! But it’s at times like these that I wanted to show my own skills. Yonezawa-sensei did the work for me so I was feeling incredibly sorry. He probably felt anxious because I made him worry due to my bluntness.
─ Were there any requests from Yonezawa-sensei at the scenario meeting?
Takemoto: No, in fact he entrusted everything to us. He’s trusting us, or rather… I think he’s extraordinarily kind-hearted and accepting of us. As for our part, we do ask him about bits that aren’t depicted within the novels. We wanted to deepen our understanding of the Classics Club series’ universe even further.
─ Did you ask him about more detailed aspects as well?
Gatou: For example, things like the books Houtarou reads and so on. Yonezawa-sensei listed them for us.
─ …The swimsuit designs as well?
Takemoto: Now that’d be going a bit too far (laughs).
Gatou: In that case, I’d like to ask Yonezawa-sensei about the color of their underwear (laughs).
Takemoto: He might have an idea about the color of their underwear but I don’t think he’d tell you even if you asked him (laughs).
Gatou: I absolutely have to know that even if I’m forced to torture him!
Takemoto: What, torture?! (laughs).
Gatou: Like using a truth serum or putting him inside an iron maiden and making him spill the beans a la “Please stop already, stop, they aren’t wearing any!” or something like that! Ah, I’m sorry.
Takemoto: (laughs). He grants us free reign especially when it comes to the visuals.
Gatou: Things such as Houtarou’s writing or the Wall Newspaper Club’s article were written by us and then checked by him.
Takemoto: While there are aspects we asked Yonezawa-sensei about, there are things we created by ourselves too. There are also ideas by many staffers which we made use of because they were interesting.
─ In that case, there are many things to draw in the culture festival so it must be quite a lot of work.
Gatou: It’s in progress at the moment (laughs).
Takemoto: Things have turned grand inside the school (laughs).
Gatou: It’s because everyone in the art department is in culture festival mode.
─ I attended the recording and the recruitment voices during the culture festival were amusing.
Gatou: The actors ad-libbed a lot at that part.
Takemoto: We only prepared a starting point and the voice actors came up with the rest.
─ I cannot wait to see the visuals. Lastly, I would like you to leave a message for the viewers who are looking forward to the second cour’s broadcast.
Takemoto: I’d like you to pay attention to “LOVE” in the second cour!
Gatou: Eru is the “E” in “LOVE” (laughs).
Takemoto: Jokes aside, I believe there’ll be a change in the quartet’s relationships once we’ve passed the story’s turning point. Therefore, I would like you to pay attention to both the story as well as the relationships, and I would be happy if you found enjoyment in it.
Gatou: For me, it’s “Festival” and “LOVE”. I’m expecting there to be something that will make you think that Houtarou has changed a bit too, but who knows? Or the question of how the distance between Houtarou and Eru will develop. Well then, please look forward to how it’s going to play out.