Hyouka’s been an experience for me. And with this final chapter of the Kanya Festival, I can definitely pin it down as a totally super mega fun one. Yeah, that sounds right.
When Kanya Fest started, I was enamored by it’s sense of atmosphere, a school festival which I truly would have wanted to be a part of. The energy was infectious, and in my mind cements Hyouka as a show that can just make the regular seem really really fun. If they wanted to set the stage any better, they’d have needed to take us there in person. But that alone is only part of what makes Kanya Fest was it is. Hyouka has already proven itself competent with it’s lackadaisical everyday style, but here is the first time we really step into the characters and see them become just that much more human, the mystery serving to this one cause.
And so what is Juumonji? Juumonji is to know talent, to fall short, to hold expectations. We’ve seen Irisu speak of this briefly during the EBA arc, yet it turns out this is the hook which reels all aspects of the arc together. From Satoshi, to Kouchi and Mayaka, to Chitanda, and even the infamous thief; student council member Tanabe something or other.
This conclusion was once again neatly deducted by our detective Oreki, even before the final incident had even occurred. Oreki’s confrontation with Tanabe, with Satoshi eavesdropping and getting his soul crushed from a distance, was as satisfying as I’d hoped it be. In fact, it went a step further as Oreki shows initiative in the form of wholesome blackmail, dumping the rest of the anthologies on Tanabe in exchange for cooperation with the last “heist”. And that’s how all of that went down. Juumonji’s message is laid bare, as expectations are formed when the less talented are outclassed.
How Kouchi felt animosity towards the moderate manga fan Anjou for creating the masterpiece which is “A Corpse By Evening”, many steps above her own “Body Talk”, the love and labor of her passion for manga. Even this is far beyond Mayaka’s level, one who understands Kouchi’s feelings all too well. Mayaka, inspired by the great pieces that she heralds, aspires to create something of her own, but has little talent in the area. Once she realizes who Kouchi really is, the tears shed are of one who understands all too well. There are people infinitely more naturally talented than yourself.
Satoshi could almost be the embodiment of this message, displaying the burden in it’s purest form. While throughout Hyouka he’s claimed to be nothing more than a database, he longed to partake in a role grander than a glorified computer. He sets himself to the task, investigates to the best of his knowledge, and does whatever he can think of to stay ahead. And that’s where his plight becomes it’s most crushing, as his best friend will always be much more able than him. Where Satoshi tries his best and fails, Oreki just finds the comfiest place to rest his butt and succeeds. With such a gulf in innate skills, Satoshi acknowledges his massive expectations of Oreki, a word he himself denotes as used by people who have given up.
Juumonji, much like EBA, sets its focus much more on the motivation rather than the mystery itself. Tanabe has faced the same burden of expectations which Satoshi has, having realized that his friend and student council president Kugayama withholds a talent much greater than his own. Yet his turmoil comes from that his expectations will never be met, as Kugayama’s role in “A Corpse By Evening” was merely a one night stand affair he partook in for the fun of it. The entire series of thefts was merely a message to Kugayama asking if he had even read the manuscript for “Kudryavka’s Order”, the work the now gone Anjou had left behind.
Chitanda is the only one who escapes the burden of expectations these other teenagers faced, realizing that what she was attempting to accomplish was impossible for her, and that as a person she has an entirely different skill set than Irisu. Chitanda’s role may have been small during Kanya Fest, but it provides a silver lining when faced against talent beyond our reach. She might have not been as interesting as Satoshi for example, but she served her purpose as an uplifter here as she tends to do.
And that is Kanya Fest. It’s exactly what I had envisioned as a Slice of Life Mystery, pushing past what I had expected Hyouka to accomplish. EBA and the original Hyouka mystery may have been nice in their own right, but as of now, Kanya Fest is the high of the show.