Kento YamazakiHidekazu MashimaYuki SaitoShihori Kanjiya
Hyouka (live-action film)
Medium: film
Year: 2017
Writer/director: Mari Asato
Original creator: Honobu Yonezawa
Actor: Kento Yamazaki, Alice Hirose, Nazuki Amano, Macaulay Callard, Kanata Hongo, Shihori Kanjiya, Fujiko Kojima, Hidekazu Mashima, Amane Okayama, Yuki Saito, Nina Yamazaki
Keywords: detective
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 114 minutes
Website category: Japanese
Review date: 30 June 2022
It's quite good and I enjoyed it, but it's so faithful to the source material that it was like rewatching the anime. Entire scenes and dialogue are exactly the same as the versions I'd just watched. I'd normally approve of that, but this story's rewatch value is limited because it's a mystery/detective story. I'd seen it before. I knew the clues and the answers. The story's driven as much by its puzzles and inferences as it is by its characters, after all.
Also, it stars Kento Yamazaki as Houtarou Oreki. I'm not a fan of his.
It's adapting the first novel in Honobu Yonezawa's Hyouka series. The anime adapted the first four of them (plus a few short stories), so this is basically a live-action version of eps.1-5 of the anime. Surprisingly, though, they're not linked. Films and TV series normally come out together, for synergy and cross-marketing, but this was simply another adaptation of the same source material, released five years after Kyoto Animation's version. (They've clearly watched it, though. Chitanda gets a TING.)
The plot's basically the same. The effort-hating Houtarou gets dragged into his new school's Classic Literature Club and then is forced to investigate a mystery. What did Chitanda's uncle say to her that made her cry? What happened 33 years ago? What's the link with their club's annual anthology?
It's quite well done. The mystery unfolds nicely and I liked the film's visual representations of logical reasoning or hypotheses.
Unfortunately (and as usual), I don't really like Yamazaki in the lead role. He's okay, he has some amusing micro-reactions and he's not really doing anything wrong. He doesn't, though, project Houtarou-ness. He looks bland. It's as if the producers grabbed some random pretty boy off the street. Amane Okayama, on the other hand, has a great face (like a good-natured Deep One) and adds a lot to the film as Satoshi Fukube. Alice Hirose is spot on as Eru Chitanda, even if you might think two-thirds of the job has been done in advance just by being beautiful. Fujiko Kojima is fine as Mayaka Ibara.
I approve of this film. It's a well-made, well-paced, faithful adaptation that's not trying too hard to punch up fairly low-key material. Hirose sometimes made me laugh. Personally I'd recommend the anime over it, but maybe you don't have enough spare time to watch 23 half-hour episodes.