Hyōka (ep. 15)

Aww, so cute.

Just like a puppy before it jumps up and bites your nose.

No nose-biting incidents to speak of today, although one wonders whether Hōtarō would have preferred the quick pain of a puppy attack to the drawn-out torture of solving yet another case at Eru’s behest.

As the triumphant Classics Club Three return victorious from the campus cook-off, the inevitable bursting of the mystery bubble that’s been building up finally takes place. Despite his best efforts to stay firmly on the sidelines, our reluctant Sherlock rises to the fore and draws a link – more precisely a link based on the first ten characters of the Japanese syllabary – between the seemingly random cases of theft that have been taking place during the school festival. With a pattern established, the amateur sleuths come to the realisation that the Classics Club (whose name begins with the syllable こ) might well be #10 on the unknown thief’s hit list.

Whilst Hōtarō predictively hangs back, Eru and Satoshi spring into action. Little Miss Curiosity heads for the Wall Newspaper Club in hopes of trading data on the Jūmoji caper for a mention in their next issue. Tōgaito-senpai gratefully accepts the lead, although with Eru’s less-than-successful attempt at putting the Empress’ favour-squeezing advice into practice, it isn’t clear at this point whether the Classics Club will score some much-needed publicity in return.

For his part, Satoshi hops on over to a magic show – the next crime scene based on the pattern established by Hōtarō – with the objective of catching the culprit in the act. As it turns out, the thief has already done their work and the bouncy club kangaroo is left feeling rather deflated. Though one might easily make light of his disappointment, the determination that accompanies Satoshi’s sleuthing throughout this episode, and especially that bit towards the end where he effectively challenges himself to bag the criminal – as if to put himself up as Hōtarō’s rival – puts a rather interesting perspective on things. (A suggestion, perhaps, that our database is no longer content with being a passive store of information.) At the very least, I’m glad to see that character development isn’t Hōtarō’s exclusive preserve.

Meanwhile, at Manga Club HQ, poor Mayaka endures yet more thinly-veiled abuse from her fellow members. (If looks could kill, that place would start to resemble an abattoir right about now.) After all the tension of the last few episodes, I’m feeling quite sorry for the Classics Club’s resident cosplayer (shh, don’t call it that to her face if you value your life), and I’m starting to wonder whether this sort of thing has been going on long before the festival started. Fortunately, Mayaka receives an unexpected boost from her club senpai, who also hints at a complex history behind the dōjinshi that made such an impression on her long ago. (Filing that away for future reference – I’ve a feeling this will develop into an interesting mini-mystery at some point.)

Back at the Classics Club home base, the day’s numbers are totted up again: more copies have shifted but over a hundred still remain. A tough challenge, especially in view of the fact that the festival period is fast approaching its conclusion. Still, with the 50-50 chance of the thief striking the Classics Club (one of just two clubs whose names begin with こ) finally making the wall headlines – yes, Tōgaito-senpai has kept his end of the bargain – the stage is set for more sales, more thefts, and one major showdown.

(Or the thief could just pinch something from the other club and let the wind out of everyone’s sails.)

Oh yes, lest I forget: the string of trades continues unbroken with Mayaka handing over a mirror to Hōtarō in return for his game-saving bag of flour (from the previous episode). We might just get that thermonuclear warhead after all.


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