Hyouka and Fantasy in the Everyday
May 19, 2012 1 Comment
Mysteries are just stories that have, through the passage of time and retelling changed and been shaped by those that have told then, becoming something fascinating, amazing, and captivating. Mysteries are an element of the fantastical in the everyday life, bringing an element of a fantasy world, with strange wonders into the normal, perhaps boring life that many may believe they live. The mysteries in Hyouka can be viewed as inconsequential, however, they all wonderfully crafted and told, creating images and feelings of fear, but also wonder, amazement and awe. The Book Club brings colour to a grey world, bringing fantasy to the reality of their school lives and showing us that with a little bit of imagination the most humdrum thing in life can become something amazing, extravagant and beautiful.
Mysteries in Hyouka are shown to be stories or a collection of facts and odd circumstances that have culminated in something that seems strange, or perhaps scary. But at the same time, the everyday can be turned into a fantastical story one that turns the world into something out of a fairy tale. In a sense the everyday world is far stranger than any amount of stories, myths and mysteries, with curious events and eccentric actors playing out their roles in the implied knowledge that they are as normal and ordinary as the next person. The ability to dream and see the world in a different way can therefore open up endless possibilities, but at the same time it is scary, implying that without boundaries something terrible could happen.
But more than this, the everyday is what you make of it, and what to one person may seem to be normal and boring, could be a fantasy world to another. It can therefore be argued that the everyday is merely a collection of stories and mysteries, and that many people choose to ignore it, while others freely embrace the esoteric in the everyday and make it mean something more. We are shown that telling a simple story can change people’s perceptions of what has happened around them, producing notions of what it means to be normal. But at the same time, by changing the stories that we know, our realities can therefore change, adapting to the ideas that such a story has produced.
Far from being the dull, apathetic person who sees the world in shades of grey, it could be argued that Oreki Hourtarou sees too much of the world. He sees the fantastical in the everyday quite literally, and perhaps out of fear of being swallowed up by the emotions and sensory overload he shuts himself off in his world of grey. What is interesting is that he is deliberately trying to keep himself in this grey space, but is gradually being shown the importance and the joys of viewing the world as colourful and full of life. He sees stories and fantasy wherever he goes, viewing Chitanda Eru as something out of a book or another world. Her appearance during their first encounter can perhaps be described as something out of myth, perhaps a beautiful spirit, or perhaps a dryad.
Her hair is portrayed as being wild, but also beautiful, flowing out and surrounding them both in its embrace. The flowers in it can be seen to suggest a natural elegance to her as a character, suggesting that she is not bound or confined by the same ideas of reality or dream that many others are. Her eyes are all consuming, again creating a notion of the fantasy in the everyday, giving Oreki another glimpse into a world filled with colour and wonders, one that her perhaps fears. There is perhaps something about this encounter that changes Oreki, suggesting that it is possible to view the world as something other than grey.
On the other hand, Chitanda Eru demonstrates a curiosity that is almost beyond comprehension, seeing mysteries wherever she goes and is fascinated by the smallest details. She is an eccentric character, one that becomes interested in everything, and pushes ahead, always aiming for an unknown goal. She appears to be enthralled by Oreki and his ability to solve mysteries, mesmerized by the stories that he tells and perhaps seeing in them something of the fantasy world that we occasionally glimpse through Oreki’s eyes. She is an idiosyncratic character, one that holds many mysteries, and has a clear aim; she is both fascinated by mysteries, but in a sense controlled by their very presence.
Seeing Chitanda so captivated by the stories that Oreki tells and the mysteries that are both solved and created helps to illustrate how you can see fantasy in the everyday. The allure of such stories is both strong and inexorable, drawing people in and helping to further produce new stories, while enhances already existing ones. But at the same time she recognizes his analytical power, wanting him to solve her own personal mystery, one that appears to involve not only Chitanda, but also Oreki and his sister.
What is so curious, but also enticing about the mystery that we are presented with in this series, is that while it remains mysterious, there are many other aspects to it that can be explored and viewed in isolation. While other series may have a big, all encompassing mystery that almost seems to consume everything it touches, this is far subtle. It is a mystery made up of a collection of stories and coincidences, and while it does appear to encompass the school as a whole, it is not all consuming. But more than this, it is a mystery, and a great event that has turned into a story that has gained a life of its own, changing itself depending on who is telling and who is listening.
As we find out from one of the anthologies of the Classic Literature Club, they consider it to be a great event that may itself become merely a part of literature. Rather than hold any meaningful truth or catharsis for Chitanda, all that may be left are a few facts that have been changed and warped so much by constant retellings that they do not amount to what Chitanda assumes she was told. Fukube Satoshi consistently talks about the idea of creating stories to hide the truth, but the act of making things up can create its own truth, therefore, the truth is what you make of it. His constant stories and word play demonstrate how people’s realties are in a sense malleable, twisting and changing depending on their situation.
We also see how, depending on the situation, social background, and interests of the person telling the story, or researching the mystery, the meaning, and subsequent conclusion changes. Each member of the Classic Literature Club have their own theory about the missing anthology and the reasons for Chitanda’s uncles reason for leaving school. They all overlap, however, each member also looks at certain areas of that time that are specific to them.
We see the influence and impact that the individual has on the interpretation of a story and a mystery, further adding to the already twisted and convoluted nature of the story. Something that may have been important happened, and it had such a substantial impact on those who experienced or heard about it that it changed and became ever more heroic and fearsome as time passed. We are therefore shown how the ordinary in the everyday can turn into something fantastical, perhaps detailing the exploits of a great hero. What Oreki appears to do is see the grains of truth in all these overlapping stories, finding where they interlock and how they relate to one another.
He acknowledges each individuals interpretations of the truth, and by putting them together creates his own, one that is significantly more convincing than many others. However, there is the implicit understanding on his part that all he is doing is telling a good story. The problem with a mystery that happened such a long time ago is that the stories surrounding the original event have gathered so much momentum, and changed so drastically that it may be impossible to discover what the truth truly is. This is particularly troubling for Chitanda, since she sees her own memories tied up in the mystery and the stories surrounding the mystery of their school.
Chitanda may be obsessed with the mystery surrounding her and her uncle, and yet as they follow the interweaving stories surrounding the Classic Literature Club her reality may begin to subtly change. Equally, Oreki’s reality and perception of what his life is about has slowly begun to change through his encounter with Chitanda. It could be argued that he has begun to see the world as it should be, rather than close himself off in the grey space where he assumes he belongs. His ‘greyness’ is shown to be deliberate, a character trait that he has enhanced and expanded, but, as Satoshi suggests, he is not bland, not ‘colourless’. Rather, his eprception of the world is a deliberate attempt by Oreki to close himself off from everything around him. His encounter with Chitanda, and exploration of this old mystery appear to be gradually opening him up to the wonders of the world around him once more. Furthermore, as they delve deeper and deeper into this mystery, uncovering new elements and finding out new facts more mysteries come to light.
One conclusion opens up numerous other possibilities to study and explore, and while some of the smaller mysteries may seem mundane, they continue to show how the ordinary everyday world can be turned into something vibrant and spectacular, filled with colour, meanings and sound. The series is therefore about the power of stories and their ability to shape and change out perception of the world we live in. Regardless of what this mystery may be, the stories that the Classic Literature Club unravel, change and create, the journey that they take will create a new story and perhaps a new mystery. By making their search for the mystery part of their club activities, Oreki, Chinatda, Satoshi and Mayaka are continuing the cycle o the Classic Literature Club. They are adding to the stories surrounding the mystery itself, adding another layer to something that is already a legend, and in a sense turning it into a piece of literature itself.