What’s the Meaning Behind the Name of This Popular Kyoto Animation Series?

The popular Kyoto Animation series Hyouka is based on a 2001 Japanese mystery novel of the same name by Honobu Yonezawa. The story centers on Kamiyama High School’s Classic Literature Club, which was on the verge of being abolished until Hotaro Oreki’s older sister requested that she join the club. Oreki and the other members of the club -- Eru Chitanda, Satoshi Fukube and Mayaka Ibara -- spend their time solving peculiar mysteries that happen at their school.

Hyouka is considered one of the most popular and critically acclaimed anime series produced by Kyoto Animation. Yet, many fans have wondered where the show got its strange name for the title. This mystery can be solved by looking into the first major story arc, where fans get a detailed explanation for Hyouka's title.

Oreki and Chitanda are reading together.

In Episode 3, “The Circumstances of the Classic Lit Club’s Scion,” Chitanda tells Oreki that she joined the Classic Literature Club because of her uncle, Jun Sekitani. She asks Oreki to help her recall a memory of when she talked about the Classic Literature Club with her uncle. This memory is further triggered when she discovers the club’s cultural festival anthology, Hyouka. In the anthology, the opening remarks talk about Sekitani. Soon after, Oreki, Chitanda and the other members hunt for the truth about what happened to him as a student at Kamiyama High School -- and the origin of the club’s anthology name, Hyouka.

The answers unfold in Episode 5, “The Truth About the Historic Classic Lit Club.” The group visits the school's librarian, Yōko Kōriyama, who happened to be the president of the Classic Literature Club when Sekitani was involved in the school riots. It's explained that the riots occurred because the faculty wanted to shorten the cultural festival from five days to two days.

The students went on strike against the school, which eventually led to an accidental fire at its combat sports facility. Sekitani was forced to take the blame for the riots while the true mastermind remained in the shadows. Chitanda's uncle ends up being expelled from school, but his last request was to have the club’s anthology named Hyouka.

Chitanda learns the truth about the bunny on the anthology.

Oreki discovers that the title Hyouka is an oronym: a sequence of words that sound the same as a different sequence in the English language. In Japanese, "hyouka" means "frozen treat," while in English the term translates to ice cream -- and the oronym for “ice cream” is “I scream.” At first glance the wordplay seems playful, but it’s referencing something more serious. The title represents Sekitani’s silent frustration and agony for being wrongly expelled. His intention was to send a message to future club members that they should be strong when confronted with the injustices of the world.

After discovering the origin of the anthology’s name, “hyouka” becomes a lingering nuance throughout the rest of the series. The Classic Literature Club solves more light-hearted mysteries in contrast to the situation involving Sekitani, but the message of being strong remains relevant as the group must overcome challenges they encounter when solving mysteries.

Luffy smiling and staying optimistic, ready for next challenge
About The Author