As you might know since they’re taking up the front page at the moment, I’ve been translating the staff comments from the KyoAni Hyouka website regarding each episode’s production. Personally, I find that kind of information fascinating. It’s even more fascinating when discussing probably one of the more technically gifted series on TV in a while. There were no comments posted regarding episode 11.5 and I didn’t want to leave it un-noticed, so I decided it would be best to write a review of the LE manga volume it comes with. Here is Hyouka volume 3! BDInfo
Hyouka v3 comes in a special box with anime-style cover art featuring our four members of the Classics Club (of course focusing on the fanservice aspect with Eru/Mayaka) that contains both the manga volume and the special BD.
The manga itself has a special cover art (click here for the normal version) that emphasizes the content on the BD (because who bought this for the manga itself?) even more. Inside, we have three chapters covering the end of the Hyouka arc, the Onsen incident, and the first part of the “Fool” arc. Overall the manga itself feels very much like the anime adaptation, but in panels. Task Ohna has done a wonderful job adapting Nishiya’s designs to the manga and keeping the lively aspects. It’s a interesting take on the series and I’m curious if it’ll be licensed by anyone in North America. Artwork is very consistent at a high quality. I’m really impressed with how nice this looks.
The selling point of the LE version is episode 11.5 included on a BD inside the package. It’s packaged in a standard amaray case with the same cover art as the box and a similar back cover to the rest of the series. Included in the case is a 8 pg booklet that details fun portions of the episode, shows designs of swimsuits/materials used in the episode, and shows artboards and locations used when scouting. It’s quite nice for a pack-in, especially considering it continues to match the TV series’s booklets.
On the disc itself is the episode and bonus footage of Takemoto and crew going to Takayama Public Pool for their location scouting. I’m an absolute fan of location scouting footage, especially when they compare the original location to the animated version. This short 6 minute feature highlights the work they did to capture the essence of the pool in the show. One interesting note is that they had to add the ice cream stand for the anime. The other bonus feature on the disc is the usual commentary by Yasuhiro Takemoto and Shoji Gatou, the Supervisor/Series Composer for the show. These two really get along well together and had a great time recording commentary.
As stated before, I’m not a fan of fanservice inclusions for the sake of fanservice. This episode had no real point to being at a pool outside of trying to sell manga volumes, so I have to detract for that aspect. The mystery itself isn’t anything spectacular, but that was why it was included. It was a easy “re-training” mystery for Houtarou to get over what happened when he played the “fool.” His friends cared enough to support him at his job and to try and get him back to normal. It’s a very touching episode in that sense.
Visually, I was immensely pleased. I know encoders do the best they can to save as much quality in as small a filesize as possible, but seeing the show on BD blew me away. The richness of color and sharpness, especially in the OP, is beyond what any TV rip could do for the show. It feels spectacular. The usual LPCM 2.0 stereo mix is included and does what it needs to. The pool sounds like a pool atmosphere. I do have to complain about the OST here. None of the tracks really felt “summerish” and somewhat distracted me away from the episode. They’re not bad pieces, but used improperly in this situation.
One nice touch Kadokawa included was keeping the menus the same design as with the TV BDs. It’s quite nice to have uniformity even on a separate release. Overall, I felt this release was truly impressive for a simple pack-in item. It doesn’t feel truly out of place in the series. Of course the packaging will differ, but to keep the contents similar was a great idea and one I wholeheartedly approve of. If you don’t mind a lot of swimsuit shots, this is easily a release I highly recommend.