A Database Predicts! Satoshi, Chitanda, Hyouka, and I

“The suspects number over a thousand. To deduce the culprit from amongst them all isn’t humanly possible. Thus the only way to catch them is to catch them in the act. This case isn’t up Houtarou’s alley, so I’ll solve it myself.”

-Satoshi Fukube

Let’s play a little game, shall we?

In Episode 15 of Hyouka, Satoshi Fukube takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of the disappearing objects at the Kanya Festival. The culprit has expressly chosen the method of the killer in Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders to steal the items. What this means for Hyouka‘s intrepid foursome is that a large amount of information is provided ahead of the fact. They know where the coming theft will occur and to whom. Immediately, when the Classics Club members begin to gather information, the series shows the audience Satoshi’s agitation. One can feel it in that moment, and it begins to permeate the intensity of his actions throughout the rest of the episode, culminating in his quick moonlight monologue quoted above. This time, Satoshi wants to be the one to solve the mystery, instead of his deductively-inclined best friend, Houtarou Oreki. More importantly, this time, Satoshi feels as if it is he, the database element, who is more qualified to solve the mystery.

Here is where our game begins. You see, I too am a database, sometimes yearning to make a leap forward and grasp at accomplishments that seem just out of my reach. I am now going to predict, based on my knowledge of The A.B.C. Murders, who the culprit is. Glory, what little of it there is in our corner of the internet, awaits me if I am correct. The agony of defeat and your, dear reading audience, ire awaits me if I fail.

Following Knox’s Ten Commandments, which were mentioned in a previous post on Hyouka and detective fiction as a whole, from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction that Christie was a part of, the culprit must be someone who has already been introduced early in the story. The audience may not be privy to their thoughts, and they must not be the detective themselves.

Kaho Juumonji of the Fortune-Telling Society

The easiest target is the girl immediately shown above. She was the first person to mention an item gone missing to Chitanda, along with providing the flyer which, unknowingly at that time, gave the audience a large piece in figuring out the mystery. I wouldn’t rule her out completely; however, I believe that her appearance, more specifically her name which mirrors the pen name of our culprit, is more of a red herring than anything else. In addition to this, she isn’t much of a presence in the arc as a whole as her scene is brief and she has not been mentioned again. In The A.B.C. Murders, the culprit is someone far more close at hand, whose presence is felt much more strongly. It is also a person in a position of some importance who, as Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot describes in his final reveal, is a handsome, cunning, and sane man, attempting to pass off the murders as done by a maniacal serial killer. Thus I give you your culprit…

“Wow, it’s Tanabe and His Highness the Student Council President Kugayama Muneyoshi.”

…Or possible culprits. I lean towards naming Jirou Tanabe, the young man on the left with the yellow flier in hand, as the mastermind behind the Juumoji thefts. Introduced in the first episode of this arc, Episode 12, Tanabe is the Executive Committee President of the Kanya Festival. When Chitanda goes to him to ask for a favor, he comes off as intelligent, self-assured, and most importantly, intrigued by the Classics Club. One could also presume, from Satoshi’s commentary on convincing the committee to list the Classics Club last in the flyer, (which not-so-coincidentally was left by Juumoji at the Fortune Telling Society, as mentioned above) that Tanabe is well-aware of the Classics Club’s existence, along with their recent exploits.

The most important piece of information in solving the A.B.C. Murders was not the information itself, or the order it was presented in, but the order of importance given to each murder. One could assume that the same applies to the Classics Club’s Juumoji case: the most important thing is the thief’s true target, which is presumably the Classics Club itself. In Christie’s story, murders A, B, and E occur to cover up the murder of C. Thus, figuring out the culprit’s true motive behind targeting the Classics Club becomes crucial. It is here where I have to make a haphazard guess at Tanabe, in spite of not knowing his motive, simply based on what I know of his personality from this arc and using the framework of The A.B.C. Murders as reference.

In which Satoshi’s facts are sound but his deductive reasoning is faulty.

In one way, Satoshi is absolutely correct. He has the ability to compile information the fastest. Seeing as this is a mystery that gives its would-be detective a myriad of facts, Satoshi is the one who can arrange them most quickly. He is also correct when he says that it’s not Houtarou’s type of mystery. However, the conclusion he draws, that they must catch the culprit in the act, is faulty. Satoshi is thinking too linearly, as one who is more factually-oriented would tend to do. The information has been presented in a logical order, he is thinking in this order, and is therefore restricted by his thought process. As mentioned above, the most important thing in this case is the motive, which Satoshi is not focusing on at all. In addition to this, as a self-proclaimed Sherlock Holmes fan, although we know that he is aware of the existence of narrative tricks and when they began to occur in detective fiction, he seemingly does not expect one himself. The one most familiar with the A.B.C. Murders is Mayaka Ibara, who has been immersed in her own conflict with fellow members of the Manga Society.

Why didn’t they pay attention to Chitanda?

Throughout the Juumoji Arc, the series has been quick to point out how Houtarou has been paying more attention to Chitanda. In Episode 12, he immediately notices her hesitation before agreeing to negotiate with Tanabe on the Classics Club’s behalf. He is also seen peeking at her photographs in Episode 13, provides the flour to help her cooking team win in Episode 14, and most importantly, is the only one to notice that she is exhausted in Episode 15. As Houtarou has primarily been the audience’s window into Hyouka‘s world, it stands to reason that the series has been telling them to pay attention to Chitanda as well. The reasons are twofold.

Firstly, Chitanda has been acting out the role of Alexander Bonaparte Cust, the would-be fall man of The A.B.C. Murders. Arriving at nearly every venue that has been stolen from, she is paralleling the culprit’s actions unknowingly. In Hyouka‘s case, it is more a function of putting the individual pieces in a Classics Club member’s hand rather than setting Chitanda up as the thief.

Secondly, the series continues to paint a dichotomy between the audience’s, and Houtarou’s, perception of Chitanda, and her actual character. Her development is very subtle, but present within the series, and more increasingly noted on by Houtarou himself. We are told in Episode One by Satoshi that Chitanda is intelligent, in the top of their class, and also from a very wealthy family, but her actions within the series paint her charmingly bumbling around the various set pieces of the school or town. Chitanda is the curiosity aspect, the emotional heartbeat of what makes a detective. She is also shown to be cute and hapless, especially in light of Houtarou’s deductive skills, Satoshi’s exceptional memory, and Ibara’s general knowledge and research abilities.

However, Chitanda’s been present the entire time, developing right alongside the other three primary characters, her actions oh-so important and they, aside from the occasional comment from Houtarou, haven’t noticed. Furthermore, as this case relies on discovering the motives behind the thief’s actions, this case is right up Chitanda’s alley. As one learns from the Why didn’t she ask Eba? Arc, Chitanda is the team member who is most concerned with the motivations behind one’s actions. She accurately predicts that Hougou wouldn’t have wanted anyone to die in her movie, because she bothered to learn about Hongou on a more emotional level than her three compatriots. This ability makes her crucial to this current mystery. As Satoshi points out, there are well over a thousand people who could be considered as suspects. The key component in deducing who the culprit is, much like The A.B.C. Murders, will rely on their motive.

Whether it’s Satoshi, Houtarou, Ibara, or all three, they’re going to need Chitanda to solve this case.

“But it’s so tiring…”

Recommended Reading:

Notes on Hyouka as an exploration of reading– Pontifus describes yet another reason why he is enamored with the series.

The Niece of Manga: Mayaka Ibara– Day provides an excellent character breakdown of our resident viewpoint: Mayaka Ibara.


Filed under Editorials, Hyouka

23 responses to “A Database Predicts! Satoshi, Chitanda, Hyouka, and I

  1. Foxy Lady Ayame

    Could it be Irisu or even Hotarou’s sister with the motivation to promote the Classics Club?

    • Oooh…if you hear me rubbing my hands together with glee over the internet, it’s due to the fact that you brought up two excellent points.

      Irisu, definitely not. Her time has come and gone. In this Juumoji Arc, she only appeared to further Chitanda’s character development, before disappearing into the background. She may continue to be a slightly recurring character, as she is an acquaintance of Chitanda; however, I think her active role is complete.

      As for promoting the Classics Club, that is a fantastic motive, and very plausible; however…

      And now, for the most important point: Houtarou’s sister. She’s been behind everything from the get-go. It was her letter that pushed Houtarou to seek out the Classics Club in the first place. It was her timely phone call that piqued what little curiosity he had about Sekitani Jun. It was her influence on Irisu that inspired Irisu to seek out the Classics Club, and Houtarou himself. It was her pen that started the reverse-scavenger hunt of sorts that has served as the seemingly meaningless side quest to the overarching Juumoji capers. Finally, in this most recent episode, we are reminded of her presence again, as she makes an odd food choice for Houtarou’s lunch.

      The thing is, Houtarou’s sister isn’t exactly the do-it-yourself type. Like a certain super-famous Sherlock Holmes villain, she’s a bit larger than life and doesn’t dirty her own hands. So while I’d concede that you could be right that she is behind it, I doubt she’ll end up being the villain that they are looking for. Still, keep paying attention to her. She is important.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • My pleasure, but I’ll pester you a bit more, since you’ve dragged us into caring more. If we say that the motive is indeed to promote the Classics Club and if Houtarou’s sister is indeed involved, I’m not sure her connections in the school would associate with the president or Tanabe… I’d rather say, she might have some ‘dark’ connections with the mangaka who transfered and thus the Manga Club President might be behind it. And Mayaka’s manga missing might not be totally irrelevant.

        My main problem though is that I don’t know Japanese… which makes it difficult for me to even try to guess the object stolen. In the Classics Club we have the anthologies, a piece of paper, a pensil/pen to note the books bought and now we have the mirror Mayaka gave Houtarou… and if none of them starts with the last syllaboletter, then we should search the Crafts Club, that is rich in objects.

        Lastly, there’s that annoying antagonist of Satoshi who came to the Magic club to search, too. I’m not sure about his intelligence, but couldn’t he just ‘play’ the detective, too? I remember watching a Poirot crime that was committed by a beautiful actress and because she allured Poirot, he failed to see it was her who seeked his help from the beginning that was the murderer…

        • It is never pestering. ^ ^

          Houtarou’s sister, in my mind, is a master manipulator. She had no reasons to associate herself with, say, Irisu; however, she did in order to further poke at the Classics Club and her true target: her younger brother. Really, she has no reason to associate herself with anyone unless she can persuade them into doing what she wants them to.

          I certainly wouldn’t rule out the Manga Club president either. We have two side stories going on in this arc and one of them (the swapping of items that began with Houtarou’s sister’s pen) has already been tied into the main plot (with the Gardening Club’s stolen item). The other is the Manga Club story where, seemingly, there’s a whole hidden depth behind the president and her relationship with manga. In addition to developing Ibara’s character, surely this side story is related to the overall plot.

          Awww…I hardly find Satoshi annoying. In fact, he’s my favorite character, but I digress. I’m not sure if Satoshi is manipulative enough to “play” at anything. Hide his personal feelings/emotions from others, definitely, but deliberately manipulating people, I just don’t see it.

        • Tzu

          ko-ten-bu, the target object or whatever should begin with ko. At first I thought in ko-pi wich is the way they call the copied anthologies but that would be boring since there are too many and they may not even notice one is missing (then again that doesn’t sound too bad, they were in fact recounting them in ep 15). Neither the paper, pensils, books or mirror starts with ko. I do believe that the crimes are been made to promote something, but not necessarily the classics club.

  2. Fimu

    I wonder if the stolen element from the Classics Club will be actually an object and not a person. They don’t have anything important or not to lose, besides the anthology they are selling. So that’s why I think Chitanda will be the next target.

    • This, I think, is the key to figuring out the motive behind whoever is committing the Juumoji thefts. Provided that the Classics Club is the true target, what exactly is the thief after? You make a good point that the club doesn’t really own anything material other than their anthologies. Therefore, the Classics Club is being targeted for a reason and the object isn’t important (i.e. someone wants to promote the Classics Club, as Ayame suggests above), the culprit is for some reason after the anthologies themselves, or the culprit is after a specific person.

      Interesting theory. As an aside, the motivation for the original novel was an inheritance (I don’t actually think that this, in any way, will end up being related to the Juumoji’s motive, but just throwing it out there for comparison).

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hyper

    Stumble upon your post from animenano. Great post.

    You’re the second person I see purposing Tanabe as the culprit. I personally think we don’t have enough information to start working on the culprit just yet. We the audience only have a few to work with, but the characters in-universe indeed have over a thousand, so I think I’ll wait for more info before making any guess about the culprit. The motive is something we could work on though. I have my own theory (http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?p=4282646#post4282646). Short version, if we work with only what already happened, I think only cooking and gardening club’s incidents have an actual effect on them. If I have to guess from the motive first instead, I think promoting one’s club is the most fitting, which implied the intended “crime” is actually going to happen after this, when the case is well-known around the school.

    In any case, I really like your idea that Chitanda will be the key. I have no basis whatsoever for this beyond what you explained, but I think you’ll be right on that one.

    • Welcome, and thank you!

      The only thing that I’m 90% sure about in regards to this mystery, is that somehow Houtarou’s sister is behind it. Guessing Tanabe is solely based on my knowledge of the A.B.C. Murders and applying the formula. I’d be more shocked if it turns out that I am right than if I am wrong.

      I like your theory, but there is one major flaw in it. If the culprit is following the plot of the A.B.C. Murders even loosely, then it hardly matters if the items stolen have an effect on the club or not. The target item, or reason, is the most important thing. All of the other thefts only exist to create a pattern for the true target to exist within.

      I hadn’t really bothered to go into the motive in the post, as it is the most important thing in solving the mystery and something completely beyond my capacity to grasp at, but I love the idea that you and others have proposed: club promotion. It fits in well to the continued theme that everything eventually can be traced back to Houtarou’s sister, which, as I mentioned, is the one thing I will firmly stand my ground on.

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  4. So, I’m going to leave some simple thoughts, since I can’t really compete with some of the comments before me.

    1. I think it’s too early for the sister. IMHO, she’s the “end boss” if anything, so I think having her revealed this early wouldn’t make sense.

    2. Like someone else mentioned, the motive is not clear enough. And I don’t think the classics club is the focus of the motive. Something in the earlier thefts would make better sense as the key theft.

    3. In ABC, one of the taunting letters was purposely delayed, ensuring that the theft would take place. I may have missed it, but there must be some sort of similar misdirection that isn’t readily apparent.

    I might (unfortunately) have to watch all of these back to back to get the whole picture at once. I think its going to be the only way to make a better guess.

    (I also enjoy the fact that Chitanda is made to be the unwitting fool in the game. It suits her moefied character well ;) )

    • I’m happy that you decided to leave a comment. ^ ^

      I completely agree re: Houtarou’s sister. She is “the boss” and won’t be revealed until the final arc.

      You’re right in that it doesn’t have to be the Classics Club who is the target. I’m inferring that based on my presuming of Houtarou’s sister’s involvement. In fact, it would make more sense if the Classics Club were not the target, and the true target had already come and gone (much like the original story). It would make my theories mostly wrong; however, I’m willing to accept that. ^ ^

      The only misdirection we’ve seen is in the order in which the Classics Club found out about the thefts. A, I, U, and O, receiving the information for E after they had discovered the pattern (the true order would have been A, I, U, E, O). This seemingly isn’t purposeful misdirection on the part of the culprit, however.

      I love Chitanda in this arc. I really hope she gets her chance to shine.

  5. dm00

    You don’t think it’s the newspaper club guy? Motive: a great story to draw interest to his paper.

    He’s also doing a pitch-perfect rendition of Irisu’s precepts when he talks to Chitanda: disinterested, expectant, talks to a member of the opposite sex in private.

    Did the mystery start *before* Chitanda mentioned her problem of too many anthologies printed, or after?

    Also, in sending Chitanda off to talk to all the clubs, he’s got a perfect pigeon on which to pin the crimes.

    • My reason for writing him off as the culprit is the same reason that I have written off Irisu: his time has already come and gone. In Episode Three, he was discovered to have been smoking in the club room by Houtarou when they began the search for their anthologies. I don’t see the series revisiting a previous culprit/case to be anything more than a minor part of the current one. This may be an oversight on my part, especially since he fits the original novel’s bill of being confident, handsome, and well-known.

      We don’t know when exactly the thefts began. Chitanda was the first to learn about them from Kaho Juumonji of the Fortune Telling Society. Actually, the first to learn of the incidents was Satoshi. All credit for this fact goes to A Day Without Me at Gar Gar Stegosaurus. At that point, Chitanda had already been to multiple club events.

      Two things that are not mutually exclusive; however, are the culprit and the target. The target can still be the Newspaper Club without the culprit being the Newspaper Club President. In fact, going off of what Joe said about the Classics Club not being the target, and what others have said about the motive being club promotion, it may make the most sense for the Newspaper Club itself, or the publicity that they provide, to be the true target.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  7. krizzlybear

    As I’ve mentioned before, AJ, your writing has intrigued me to the point of picking up and catching up with Hyouka *just* for the sole purpose of engaging in some sort of meaningful discussion with your post, and I must say that I’ve not regretted it one bit. I’ll even extend further to the notion that I’ve come to enjoy the series by itself, despite some of my minor nitpicks to the show, Oreki in particular.

    But alas, this is not about Oreki, but Satoshi. I’ve grown fond of the character over time, and regardless of whether or not he’s actually gay, I find him to be a very colourful (and thus attractive, however you want to interpret my description herein) person. That said, while there is much weight in deducing Chitanda’s importance in the episodes to come (I’m taking a break after just having watched episode 15, so I don’t really know what’s happening from here on out yet, but you’ve probably already caught up), the writing and direction seems to focus solely on Satoshi’s decision to take on the case in Oreki’s stead.

    Under the assumptions that the culprit is a) introduced early (as per Agatha Christie) and b) of particular significance in relation to Satoshi (as per my hopes that he gets the spotlight during this arc), my hunch is towards Tani from the Go Club. Super-competitive with Satoshi, and a database monkey himself, Tani has motive to outwit Satoshi and defeat him in a game of wiles. He’s also a proclaimed mystery novel fanboy as well, which lends rather easily with the pattern of “crimes” that have been committed so far.

    While the motive is clear, its importance (or lack thereof, if we want to really play up Satoshi as the hero in this arc) will probably be emphasized by way of said detective duel. I notice that Tani is present at every one of his revelations regarding the case. He told him that the Go stones were stolen, calling him to task. He competed against Satoshi in the cookoff, where the ladel was stolen. He was present right before the magic show, making him the closest individual to the scene, assuming that the candle was stolen before the show started. It has the exact kind of hubris that a challenger needs to show in order to be an effective mystery antagonist, and the writer(s) has/have painted this mystery as a potentially gripping battle of wits.

    I really hope I’m not wrong on this, but if this isn’t the case, the utmost of my concern is that Satoshi get the limelight in this arc. His “rivalry” with Tani provides a wonderful case to make that happen.

    • krizzlybear

      And just like that, episode 16 is rather set in setting burying my theory completely. This is why I don’t do detective fiction.

    • I am so glad you picked up this series. As a series that deals specifically with writing, it’s definitely in your wheelhouse. Furthermore, I’m glad that you’re actually enjoying it. ^ ^

      That being said, now that we’ve both watched Episode 16, my response is a bit late (sorry). We’ve also spoken at length about this elsewhere, so you know my theories, etc. I’ll be making a follow-up post at the end of this arc breaking everything down, so look forward to it!

      Honestly, Tani wasn’t a bad guess, and I saw others guessing him as well. Your current theory, involving Houtarou’s sister, is more plausible; however, I still believe her to be “the final boss” as Joe succinctly put it. I believe that she’s responsible indirectly (see: Eriol Hiiragizawa from Cardcaptor Sakura) for all that happens to Houtarou, and by extension the Classics Club.

      We all eagerly await next week’s episode to find out. In the meantime, thanks for the comment!

  8. Kugayama Muneyoshi is the puppeteer behind all this. Tanabe is barely his sidekick. It’s all about figuring out if Oreki can get himself off his strings.
    Oreki realized that Chitanda made efforts to get to Tanabe and Muneyoshi. The author of the great manga anyway. More than she ever deployed towards him. First time ever Chitanda refrains from asking what Oreki figured out throught his logical intuition because she knows that she would be using him against his own plans involving her. She knows he’s lying and why.
    Satoshi admires Oreki’s logical intuition, as he cares for his friend too.
    Muneyoshi figured out Chitanda was bound to develop a potential similar to Oreki’s sister about her understanding of relationships. And he’s interested in that. So he’s involving different real people to fulfill his projections of the future without them noticing. Maybe this is how he got to write such a great manga. By only writing down what he observes ? This could be Tanabe’s role. The story of Hyouka would be revolving around the making of Hyouka itself.

    • The next theft would be Chitanda herself. And Muneyoshi was only challenging Oreki.

    • I honestly don’t want to respond to this in whole, because I’ll be writing a recap post following Episode 17 (which airs tomorrow).

      The only thing I will say is that yes, Muneyoshi is the culprit in this. I firmly believe that after Episode 16. My aim was alright, I just needed to move my figurative accusatory bow slightly to the right. ^ ^ At the time, I had thought Tanabe, since he had been a bit more developed. However, all we needed was for the culprit to have been introduced early in the arc, which Muneyoshi was, albeit briefly. More on this to come…

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

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