Having set out its main characters and their personalities last week, episode two of Hyouka shifts us forward by one month to find it's school Classics Club thriving - and by thriving I mean stagnating, exactly as Oreki planned and hoped for.
However, such peaceful reverie is short-lived once we rejoin the story, as club president Chitanda soon reveals that she wants to do something for the forthcoming culture festival - more specifically, she wants to write an anthology, with Houtarou's help of course. While Oreki is hardly bowled over by the thought of doing this, the energy he may have to expend in trying to convince Eru to leave him alone is simply too great, leading to him caving in and agreeing.
With that decision set in stone, Eru wants to find some of the previous anthologies created by the club in the the past, with their hunt for these volumes ultimately taking them to the school library. With the school's archive under lock and key until the teacher in charge returns from a meeting, Oreki finds himself reluctantly embroiled in another minor mystery to pass the time, with library supervisor and long-standing "friend" of Houtarou, Mayaka Ibara, recounting the story of a library book which is borrowed and then returned in short measure at the same times every single week. Of course, with a little consideration (and thanks to Eru's surprisingly astute sense of smell), Houtarou quickly figures out the source of, and reason behind, the mystery, giving him some more brownie points in Chitanda's book. Indeed, Eru seems more than a little interested in her club-mate's problem-solving skills, and she clearly has something altogether more important in mind for him.
Even though it feels as if we're a little way off really getting into the swing of Hyouka, I rather enjoyed this episode in a relaxed manner. Admittedly, its core mystery was an incredibly simple one for the most part (or maybe I'm just smart like Houtarou? Okay, maybe not), but the whole concept of solving otherwise rather mundane mysteries snatches my interest somehow, and Oreki's part as a reluctant smart aleck against Chitanda's over-bearing enthusiasm drives the episode rather well. I'm not sure it has enough to it to last twenty-one episodes as it stands, but it has some important core components in place - gorgeous and occasionally eye-catching visuals, likeable characters and a sense of mystery to capture my imagination - so if it can move on and do something sufficiently interesting from this point then I can see Hyouka slowly developing into one of my spring season favourites.