Hyōka (ep. 14)

Ibara Mayaka. Iron Chef.

Another festival day dawns on the Classics Club quartet, and it’s all hands on deck for the next phase of Operation Sell-All-Copies-Of-Hyōka.

Over at Class 2-F, the Empress Fuyumi – grateful, perhaps, in her own cold, calculating, imperial way for the Classics Club’s assistance with her film project – agrees to help out by putting copies of the anthology up for sale at her own booth. Time for another precious moment with Eru, bless her achingly sweet soul, who takes note of Fuyumi’s skills of manipulation persuasion and begs for advice on how to exercise the same ability. Her Majesty condescends to impart some words of wisdom on the matter, most of it fairly innocent – the operative word here being “most”…

Back on the home front, our reluctant Sherlock finds his peace shattered yet again – this time by two walking jack-o’-lanterns peddling sweets. The water pistol on Hōtarō’s desk strikes their fancy and they agree to trade it for two bags of cookies, plus a bag of flour thrown in for good measure. Hōtarō relinquishes the pistol and a free copy of the anthology, transforming it into a sale (of sorts) by dropping 200 yen of his own money into the cash tin.

In due course, the troops (sans booth sentry Hōtarō) move on the next field of battle in their quest to drum up publicity: a campus cook-off between three-member teams. Each team is given 60 minutes to prepare a set of dishes, with each member allotted a third of the total time. Mayaka having been detained by poster-making duties for the Manga Club, Satoshi and Eru take the first two slots – realising too late that they’ve failed to leave enough ingredients for their comrade to work with.

Small wonder, then, that when Mayaka arrives breathless (and still in cosplay garb…) she fails to think of something decent to prepare with the pitiful shrimp heads and vegetable trimmings that greet her.

Enter Hōtarō, who gazing upon the sorry scene from his lofty clubroom perch, throws them the game-saving boon of a bag of flour: the very same bag of flour that his pistol swap earned from the cookie-peddling pumpkins. With this vital ingredient, Mayaka manages to turn her shrimp-and-veg residues into kakiage just as the time runs out – but not before a tense moment when she finds herself short a ladle and the club in charge of the contest has to rush one over at the last minute.

Overall, episode 14 is a rousing watch, with the cook-off providing an excellent finish. Humour-wise, the Astronomy Club’s antics at the contest are absolutely peerless – which makes me wonder what manner of devilry they were trying to concoct at their workstation. (Probably a new life-form of some sort.) Still, this wouldn’t be Hyōka without an element of mystery running in the background, and we’ve certainly got that in the form of the string of thefts that carries on from the previous episode. This time, the Classics Club find themselves the victim of the unknown thief – almost certainly the same shadowy chap since a note and festival pamphlet were found at the scene (same as in the previous cases). With the criminal striking close to home, it should be just a matter of time now before our reluctant Sherlock is dragged, kicking and screaming, back into the limelight.

Oh, and that reminds me: he’s got at least one bag of cookies left to barter with. Aneki’s fountain pen seems to have done its work already by saving them at the cook-off, but I wonder if the serendipitous string of swaps we’ve seen so far is set to continue regardless. (Who knows, there might be a thermonuclear warhead at the end of all this.)


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