This post is meant to be read in tandem with A Day Without Me’s post over at her blog, GAR GAR Stegosaurus. If you haven’t given it a look I strongly suggest you do. Stemming from this post, an immediate reaction to Episode 12 of Hyouka, and the off-handed suggestion that Satoshi Fukube, the self-titled database of Hyouka‘s high school detective team, is in fact gay.
Thus, the two of us set out in search of just how much evidence existed to support our theory and returned with some surprisingly sound results culminating in these parallel posts. Hers was to focus on what she calls “signposts:” signifying common characteristics that are meant to be seen and recognized by the audience as homosexual, regardless of whether they are true to life or not. Mine, as you are about to discover, was to focus on the development and nuances within Satoshi’s interactions with others as framed by the series itself.
In Hyouka‘s premiere episode, the audience is introduced to Satoshi Fukube through the lead character, Oreki Houtarou, in a conversation about Houtarou’s supposedly “gray” personality. The above screenshot is certainly telling, we’ll address the way Satoshi looks at Houtarou in a bit, as Satoshi is first and foremost portrayed as someone who not only pays attention to things, but pays attention to Houtarou specifically. The jocular tone he takes with Houtarou, even in their first-shown conversation, signifies their closeness as friends, a rarity for a personality like Houtarou who tends to ignore people. On the other side of this personality coin is the overt friendliness of Satoshi. He is the quintessential friend, who is liked by everyone but presumably not emotionally close with many. Yet, he chooses to be close to the prickly Houtarou. This initial conversation is bookended at the end of the first episode, with a concise breakdown of Houtarou’s character by none other than Satoshi. Satoshi cuts through Houtarou’s blustering and immediately points out inconsistencies in Houtarou’s actions that point to his already-changing character. Again, this goes to show the amount of attention that Satoshi pays to Houtarou in a given day.
Of course, this could also easily be attributed to Satoshi’s role as the database. After all, Satoshi’s talent is his ability to accrue facts and figures; a self-described database; his role within the detective team is as such. However, Satoshi’s insights into other characters in the series are surprisingly limited to the most banal of statistics. He knows immediately who Chitanda is, in spite of never having met her before, based on his knowledge of her powerful family. His knowledge of Ibara should by all accounts be extensive, yet he never shares it with any of the other characters within the series, and therefore never informs the audience. The only person that the series chooses to frame Satoshi’s interactions with and interest in is Houtarou.
Satoshi’s interest in Houtarou is never more evident than in Episode 10, where Satoshi’s jovial student mask slips and for the first time, barring slight visual cues which, again, will be addressed shortly, he reveals the serious side of his personality. When asked by Houtarou if he ever doubts his own character, Satoshi brushes him off saying that of course he does. He remains personable throughout the conversation, all the while levying criticisms against himself and his character. At the very end of the conversation, Satoshi’s face falls flat and he admits his jealousy towards Houtarou. This conversation is important not only for the immediate weight that it brings to its present situation, but also for the weight it adds to Satoshi’s actions. Piggybacking on something Satoshi says in the first episode, “A joke only lasts for a moment; if it leaves a misunderstanding, it becomes a lie.” it shows that Satoshi is more than well-aware that his own words and actions have consequences. Above all, it shows that nearly everything Satoshi does is seemingly deliberate, making his initial impression of rosy high school student ring all the more false.
In addition to this, Satoshi above all, wants to believe in Houtarou. When Houtarou deduces an incorrect conclusion to the unfinished movie of Class 2-F, Satoshi notices immediately, presents his reasons to Houtarou, and then asks Houtarou how he will present the conclusion of the movie to others. Satoshi reiterates that if Houtarou says that the movie’s ending was his idea and his alone, Satoshi will support him; however, if Houtarou chooses to say that the ending was what the original scriptwriter had wanted, Satoshi will have to oppose him. There is a desperation in Satoshi’s voice and facial expressions as he addresses Houtarou, signifying that Satoshi desperately wants Houtarou to be honest with everyone and himself. In a more selfish fashion, if Houtarou is honest, it will validate Satoshi’s own admiration for Houtarou.
There are also visual cues that hint at a the hidden depths of Satoshi’s personality. In the above shot, Houtarou has just admitted his potential yearning for, as Satoshi puts it, a rose-colored life. In this case, a rose-colored life would mean something akin to what Satoshi has: being a member of multiple clubs, outgoing, jocular, and well-liked by all. However, Satoshi is noticeably shrouded in darkness for the entirety of this scene. As the clouds clear, the Rembrandt lighting chooses not to illuminate Satoshi, the one who supposedly has it all already. In the Episode 10 conversation mentioned previously, Satoshi’s face is highlighted starkly immediately before he admits his jealousy (see the screenshot above this one) and the camera is quick to cut away from his face when he actually does express jealousy, leaving the audience to only guess at what his face might look like. Seemingly, Satoshi has become a master at repressing his own emotions and desires.
I would be remiss if I did not address another, glaringly obvious, reason for Satoshi’s interest in Houtarou. The clue to this lies in the most recent ending song where Satoshi dresses as none other than one of the most well-known villains in detective fiction: Professor James Moriarty. Most recognized as Detective Sherlock Holmes’s archenemy, Moriarty in popular dialogue is not only portrayed as a criminal mastermind, but one who is on the same level of genius as Holmes himself, the only difference between the two men being their morality. While I hardly believe that Satoshi is a criminal mastermind, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had had some hand in Houtarou’s development within the series, including providing a few of the mysteries for Houtarou and the gang to solve.
If not gay, at the very least, I think that the evidence is stacked in favor of Satoshi being far more obsessed with Houtarou than one naturally is interested in their own classmates and friends. What the series chooses to do with this remains to be seen.
11 responses to ““And You Don’t Doubt Your Own?” Satoshi Fukube, A Character Study”
Even if Satoshi’s gay, I’ll still ship him with Mayaka.
As is the right/dubious honor of the shipper. ^ ^ I wish you luck. (As an aside, if anyone wanted to know, I actually don’t ship Satoshi with anyone.)
Thanks for commenting! ^ ^
I think it’s dubious to call the relationship Satoshi has with Oreki as obsessive and much less, as gay. The way I see it, their relationship uniquely complements one another. Each shares with the other what he lacks. Stick with me for a while, so I can explain my perspective.
First of all, we, the audience, need to take into account our own personal bias. Houtarou is the main character and all the interactions and scenes yet so far include him with the exception of a few Chitanda stand alone scenes. The lack of scenes without Houtarou (i.e. any two of the other three) results in our seeing Satoshi as hogging Oreki, when in fact, these are the only scenes we can see of Satoshi from Houtarou’s perspective. No wonder Satoshi seems obsessed with Houtarou. Because we never know what kind of person Satoshi is with other people, I think its far fetched to call Houtarou, a Satoshi obsession.
But is it true that we have been given no evidence that Satoshi cares about other people? Well, for starters, I wouldn’t bet against Ibara and Satoshi having a deep platonic relationship. All along, we are given subtle hints of their relationship. Though it’s hard for me to stretch my memory past the previous two episodes, I clearly remember Ibara pulling Satoshi out of the pool in order to get work done in 11.5 and Satoshi reciprocating in 12: Satoshi helps Ibara with her insecurities with the Manga Club, her costume, and her failing to order 30 copies of the anthology. Satoshi certainly seems to have emotionally deep and healthy relationships with people other than Houtarou, but scenes supporting these are subtle and not mentioned for the sake of focus on our main character.
Given that Satoshi doesn’t just live around Houtarou, what is this unique relationship that Satoshi does have with Houtarou? The way I see it, each relies on and looks up to the other. Originally from Houtarou’s perspective, we see Satoshi as the glue that holds Houtarou from falling into complete absence from society. Houtarou treats Satoshi’s lifestyle as the rose-colored lifestyle that he can never have (or more like he can never be). As the series progresses, we see that isn’t the complete picture. As you rightly point out, Satoshi also seeks from Houtarou something similar: the detective that actually gets stuff done (one that he can never be) and being able to enjoy a bland life.
All of this brings me to the conclusion that Satoshi isn’t obsessing over Houtarou, but substituting Houtarou for what he can’t be. Though it isn’t as apparent with the inclusion of Chitanda and Ibara, I would venture to guess that Houtarou also substitutes Satoshi for what he can’t be.
I honestly cannot refute any of your statements. The differences between us boil down to our interpretations of the facts that have been presented, and therefore are subject to personal biases, etc.
You bring up an excellent point that Houtarou is, indeed, the main character, and as such, the majority of character interaction occurs with him as the focal point. This is, by far, the strongest argument against my interpretation. However, I would push back on the fact that we don’t know what kind of person Satoshi is with other people, as we see him interact with other classmates on a fairly regular basis. He generally seems popular and well-liked. In addition, I’d point to the way he interacts with Chitanda, specifically in the first few episodes, as additional evidence to the way he converses with others, as he does not know her very well in these interactions and thus, it reflects his personality when forming relationships with others. He is genial, kind, but appears to stay fairly distant in terms of forming a deeper relationship.
The series does an excellent job of pointing out the two times that Satoshi is not happy-go-lucky: ever-so-briefly in Episode Five, and the conversation between them in Episode 10. Episode Five, admittedly, is a bit dubious, since it’s a flash of an expression on Satoshi’s face that’s gone in an instant, and visual cues of the clouds clearing, illuminating Houtarou while leaving Satoshi in the darkness. Episode 10 is admittedly a far better example as the series makes painstaking care to show Satoshi’s personality change. One does not have to draw the same conclusions as I; however, it’s irrefutable that this is a scene that the series itself wants us to pay explicit attention to. The glaring difference between that scene and all others is Satoshi’s sudden personality shift.
I do not remember saying that there was no evidence that Satoshi cares for others; however, if I did give off that impression in this article it was due to my own poor communication ability. For that, I apologize and will endeavor to do better in the future. I don’t doubt that Satoshi cares deeply for Ibara, as their interactions have been framed by deep friendship (which in turn, probably cuts Ibara deeper than she expresses, considering the fact that she has romantic feelings towards him that he does not reciprocate). For this, I would actually like to point you towards A Day Without Me’s post, if you haven’t read it already, since she goes into great detail about Satoshi and Ibara’s relationship, and expresses it far better than I could.
As for the complimentary relationship between the two, I support this, but with the additional evidence that it’s not only Satoshi that Houtarou needs as support, but all pieces of the detective team.
Thank you so much for your comment, and the discussion. ^ ^
Correct me if I am wrong. In a dumb down version of your argument, you say that Satoshi only shares his inner thoughts with Houtorau, implying that Satoshi only have a deep relationship with Houtarou, maybe even an obsession with Houtarou. Add a few signposts and his lack of regard for the attractiveness of the opposite sex and we may even call him, gay (this is more or less GarGar’s argument).
I’ve got to agree that the Hyouka’s Satoshi scenes with Houtarou are meant to be taken seriously, since Hyouka clearly wanted us to see an exception (maybe even the only time he’s willing to express it) to Satoshi’s bright personality. Brutally honest with himself around Houtarou, Satoshi indicates to us that he has a deep relationship with Houtarou. But I just can’t see evidence of the leap to an obsession. As a counterexample, episode 13 clearly showed the inner cynic within Satoshi, which would leave Houtarou as his sole relatable person. Though Satoshi hides behind a facade of happy-go-luckiness, ultimately he invests differing amounts of himself with others like any normal person. What I want to say is that I don’t see the relationship between Satoshi and Houtarou as anything different from that of my closest friend’s and mine.
What strikes me as a possible conflict with my argument is why he chooses Houtarou over Ibara to invest in, when clearly Houtarou doesn’t care and Ibara clearly does. I will reveal the rest of my inner cynic on GarGar’s post, which I think my remaining response is more suitable for.
I give my thanks to you for giving me a chance to proceed with an intelligible conversation.
On episode 12 Ibara was portrayed as very cute when she was defending her hobby and her manga club even when she didn’t seem to like the members much. That moment I thought: gay, Satoshi is definitively gay for not liking this girl. Even thou it was kind of a joke with myself I started noticing that perhaps that was really the case.
There has been a lot of talk on Ibara x Satoshi, but I think the correct path to solve this mystery (self reference intended) is your approach, analyzing the clues KyoAni throws at us trough the animation. Why? Because first, they know the answer, and second its KyoAni we are talking about, so they are all flashy.
What I want to point on the discussions on Satoshi been gay, is that he been gay does not necessarily imply that he is attracted to Hotarou. I think the purpose of those Satoshi-Hotarou’s conversations was to bring “light” to Hotarou’s character and to bring “darkness” to Satoshi’s. The light in Hotarou is easy, for him to recognize his own skills. The darkness in Satoshi however is on a whole other level. There’s a friend of mine IRL who runs away every time there’s a chance to stand out or move forward in life; on one conversation we had on “why” he said: “Because I can’t be the lead character”. To be the lead there has to be something in which you are specially good at. Just as my friend, Satoshi enjoys every single thing he does, and is most likely averagely skilled at all of them. That makes him interested in everything, but not particularly interested in anything, which is frustrating. Then comes Hotarou who could easily be the lead, but with a “I’m useless” attitude, that is enough to make anyone mad. This makes me think Satoshi is not attracted to Hotarou, even if he IS gay. More so, I think there’s a bit of hate building up for him a bit at a time.
Nice character study, I think all of Hyoka’s characters are study materials. My personal favorite is Mayaka Ibara.
Ibara is amazing. I love her all the more having watched Episode 13.
I really like your analysis of Satoshi in terms of his feelings towards Houtarou, and it piques something else in my mind in regards to their relationship that’s implied in my article, but not adequately expressed: the most important thing about Satoshi and Houtarou’s relationship is the seriousness with which the series chooses to treat it, regardless of perceived sexual orientation. Satoshi is a very (pardon the pun, but it was irresistible here) closeted person in terms of his own feelings and desires. The only person for whom he changes his demeanor is Houtarou. Meanwhile, Houtarou, for the most part, treats everyone in the group the same way. This also applies to Ibara (even though we’ve been told that she has romantic feelings for Satoshi) and applies doubly for Chitanda, who appears to approach life with an incredible amount of openness and emotion, the very opposite of Satoshi.
I love talking about this series. It seemingly has a world of things to say. Thanks for the comment. ^ ^
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When I first began watching Hyouka its appeal resided in its art & its music. I struggled to care about the characters’ concerns & endeavors, for, in my eyes, I saw little beyond their primary characteristics–Deduction, Database, Curiosity, etc.
It was the 5th episode that opened my eyes to the nuance behind the construction of Hyouka’s characters–for its construction, framing the mystery surrounding Hyouka’s name around Oreki’s own insecurities, portrayed its nuance more transparently, more obviously for my feeble mind to grasp.
And the thought behind Satoshi Fukube is another example that I did not realize until you described it. My 1st reaction upon reading this post was a desire to revisit the series–not to spot these moments & test your theory, which sounds plausible, but to simply enjoy to which I’ve casually awakened to its thoughtfulness.
Much Thanks for exemplifying one of the reasons Hyouka’s become so enjoyable!
Upon watching the first episode, I had the same response as you (that the characters were obviously fragments/archetypes of detective fiction); however, I did not have the same reaction. I didn’t struggle to care about the characters because the series, to me, was telling me not to care about the characters beyond their archetypes.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was the fifth episode that did it for me as well, with its opening scene between Satoshi and Oreki, which was also more overtly visual, and easier to understand. This series had had so much to say, and I had been missing all of it!
As it sounds like we had similar journey’s, I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying rewatching these episodes to write this post, and now Hyouka is one of the series that I look forward to the most.
Thank you so much for the story and the comment! I’m really glad that you liked this post.
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