- Houtarou Oreki's motto
Houtarou Oreki (折木 奉太郎 Oreki Hōtarō) is the protagonist of Hyouka, a student of Kamiyama High School belonging to class 1-B at first, and later to class 2-A. He is a member of the school's Classics Club. Houtarou is an apathetic person who prioritizes energy conservation above all else. However, he possesses brilliant deduction skills and he is often forced to use them by the ever-curious Eru Chitanda.
Houtarou lives with his older sister Tomoe and his father in a detached house, although due to Tomoe's constant travels Houtarou is often alone at home. His typical day at home consists of reading the daily newspaper and napping. Occasionally he reads manga if it interests him. Houtarou prefers shallow roasted coffee.
As a student, Houtarou has been in the same class and school as Mayaka since their first grade in elementary school, and they later met Satoshi Fukube in Kaburaya Middle School. According to a previous fiscal year intermediate examination results, Houtarou achieved moderate results as he was ranked as #175 out of 350 examinees. Houtarou enrolled in Kamiyama High School in April 2000(2012 in anime).
Houtarou is an apathetic and calm person. Along with his passive demeanor, Houtarou seems to always "conserve energy" and never exerts effort on anything unless absolutely necessary; thus coming off as sluggard.
Also, because of his attitude, Houtarou doesn't talk much, and he rarely gets angry, though he does appear to get irritated often. In general, Houtarou doesn't express his emotions much. On the other hand, he is surprisingly smart and clever, having a brilliant deduction skills which allows him to solve different mysteries. Houtarou always can find a solution if he gives it enough thought. Ironically, during his attempts to avoid wasting his energy, he only ends up wasting it more. For example, once he made a bet with Eru about being able to make a theory for any situation, in that case for strange school announcement. Houtarou was right, however he spent whole day trying to figure out what the school announcement was about. In addition, it is so rare for him to be interested in something, that when he really wants to do something on his account, his friends become concerned and think he is sick. In anime, Houtarou also has a quite overactive imagination, which is responsible for having frequent hallucinations when Eru asks him for a help (for example, he imagines that Eru entraps him with growing flowers or he sees many Eru-like little angels surrounding him saying "I'm curious").
Despite all of that, Houtarou is capable of appreciating praise, and has shown to have a tendency of exerting more than what he would do usually when given positive feedback.
Also, he can be kind and he does care about his friends, which is shown is case of Mayaka's Valentine chocolate when he got angry at Satoshi for stealing and breaking it, as Satoshi disregarded Mayaka's feelings and tried to avoid answering her confession. During all of that, Satoshi hurt Eru because she blamed herself for her negligence that allowed that theft to be done. As Eru states, Houtarou is actually a kind person who often helps others including herself and rarely does things for himself. He does show a sense of maturity and shrewdness, understanding Fuyumi's true motive for wanting the Classics Club to help with he group's independent film by writing the whole script but being manipulated to think otherwise and understanding Mayaka's cousins relationship and being able to explain it to Eru. Also Houtarou respects other people which is shown when he wanted to learn why his former English teacher wanted to look at helicopters outside (having known the reason but wanting to make sure because not doing so would be insensitive to his teacher's feelings)
Houtarou is of average height that stands at 172 cm (5'8") and weighs at 62 kg (137 lbs). He has unruly short taupe-brown colored hair, with bangs that reach just below his eyes. Houtarou's eyes are asparagus-green in color. Usually after waking up, Houtarou's hair in the state of a mess.
In school he wears his school uniform, while out of school he dresses in a rather neutral fashion. Satoshi once said that if Houtarou wasn't so lazy, he could be popular because of his appearance
Reviving the Classics ClubEdit
Some time after Houtarou joins Kamiyama High School, he receives a letter from Tomoe, who was in India at that time, asking him to become a member of the Classics Club which was on the verge of being disbanded due to a lack of active members.
Although Houtarou had no plans of joining any club, he decided to obey his sister's wish, but only to escape the repercussions of refusing. Houtarou thought that he would be the only club member there. However, during his first visit to the Classics Club room (located at Geography Prep Room), Houtarou unexpectedly met girl called Eru Chitanda, who told him that she is already became the member of the Classics Club. During their conversation Houtarou noticed his friend, Satoshi Fukube, trying to eavesdrop on him, and called him loudly. Satoshi explained that he was intrigued when he saw Houtarou speaking with girl from the courtyard. During their conversation Eru discovered that she was locked down in the clubroom. That mystery ignited Eru's curiosity, and she together with Satoshi pleaded Houtarou to investigate it. By using his good deduction skills, Houtarou quickly solved that mystery. Eru was quickly captivated by Houtarou's skills in solving mysteries, and she forced him to join the Classics Club. Satoshi joined the Classics Club as well.
The Classics Club quickly became enveloped by a sense of tedium, and Eru decided to drag the club into working on the club's annual anthology, entitled Hyouka. That task required to have past issues of Hyouka as a reference to write a new one. Houtarou showed little interest in working on it including retrieval of Hyouka past issues, but he decided to help after Eru privately asked him to solve the case of her missing uncle Jun Sekitani, which was related somewhat to that anthology.
With some clues dropped by Tomoe by phone, the Classics Club, having four members as Satoshi's friend called Mayaka Ibara joined it, with Houtarou's help was able to obtain Hyouka past issues anthologies from the Biology Prep Room, former room of the Classics Club. However, they had a minor setback as they discovered that Hyouka first issue was missing.
In order to begin piecing the clues they found regarding Eru's uncle Jun Sekitani, Eru organized a meeting of the Classics Club at her large house in Japanese style. During that meeting each club member presented their findings, and yet again Houtarou presented a working theory as he speculated that Jun made a heroic sacrifice for the sake of his schoolmates.
He later discovered that his theory had holes, and eventually came up with the conclusion that Jun was sacrificed for the sake of the school body. Houtarou also links Hyouka to Sekitani's anguish by pointing out that the word hyouka (氷菓) meaning "ice cream" is a pun for a phrase "I scream", which hints Jun's sufferings. With the case of Jun Sekitani finally closed, Eru accepted her now-missing uncle's fate with tears of her eyes.
As a celebration for the success of the Classics Club, Eru planned a hot spring trip for the entire Classics Club. They made a trip to Seizansou, an inn owned by Mayaka's relatives, located in Zaizen village. During that trip Houtarou wasn't quite active as he suffered from carsick on the journey to the inn, and the only mystery he solved was a mystery about a ghost of a hanged man in the unused guest room at the inn.
Upon returning to school, Houtarou and the rest of the Classics Club were invited by their upperclassman, Fuyumi Irisu from class 2-F, who asked them for help regarding the amateur film made by her classmates. It was left incomplete as the film's scriptwriter, Mayu Hongou, fell ill. In order to determine the culprit behind the murder in the film and the ending itself, the Classics Club met with three amateur detectives from film production team called Junya Nakajou, Misaki Sawakiguchi and Tomohiro Haba to listen what they have to say about possible film ending. However, it was Houtarou who debunked all their theories and was able to suggest appropriate ending for the film.
In the end, at the pre-screening movie was well-received by nearly everyone. However, later Mayaka pointed out that a length of rope prepared by film's prop master, Tomohiro Haba, was crucial to the story. Even worse, Houtarou claimed his own conclusion to be matching to what scriptwriter thought.
After Satoshi and Eru confronted Houtarou about his actions during the pre-screening, Houtarou became dejected, primarily due to not considering Hongou herself and because of letting himself be manipulated by Fuyumi. He stayed in this state until Eru, Satoshi and Mayaka tried to cheer him up when he took up a short part-time job as a lifeguard at the city pool.
By the start of the Kamiyama High School Festival, Houtarou went back to his usual self, and he spent much of the festival in the Classics Club room, selling 200 copies of the latest Hyouka anthology issue that needed to be sold.
As Mayaka, Satoshi and Eru made their best to advertise Hyouka anthology, Houtarou ended up in a "straw millionaire" situation, when he conducted multiple trades, getting one thing for another starting from the broken fountain pen he received from Tomoe when he was leaving for school. Houtarou's trades helped the club for the first time when the bag of flour he got in a trade became a key ingredient in the Classics Club's dish for the school's cooking contest.
Later in the day, Houtarou was forced by his clubmates to begin investigation of a series of items stolen throughout the school festival. This was later called the "Juumonji incident" after the name written in notes left by the culprit at the scene of the crime. Houtarou quickly managed to find the connection between that thefts and the gojuon based on the clubs attacked and the items stolen.
As the culprit remains at large, accidentally Houtarou received a copy of A Corpse by Evening manga from Tomoe at the last day of the festival, trading it for a hand mirror Houtarou received earlier. To the interest of Houtarou, the manga gave out clues to the identity of "Juumonji", since the team who wrote that manga was also involved in a series whose plot mirrors that of Agatha Christie's The A.B.C. Murders, down to the note left by the culprit. Using these clues, he tracked down the culprit, who was part of the circle who made A Corpse by Evening. It was the school's Executive Comittee president, Jirou Tanabe, who was the culprit. Houtarou made a deal with him, allowing "Juumonji" to defeat the Classics Club in exchange for his help in selling the remaining copies of the Hyouka anthology.
Also Eru was able to help as her speech at a school's radio show hosted by the Broadcasting Club draw attention to the Classics Club, allowing not only the successful sales of the anthology, but also bringing the Juumonji Incident to a close with the culprit victorious.
Beyond the FestivalEdit
Houtarou's character changed in some way after Kanya Festival. Thanks to the influence of Eru he gained a sense of initiative, although Houtarou is still irritated when Eru forces him to investigate something.
For example, Houtarou once played a seemingly random "game" with Eru to prove that theories can be created out of anything, and Houtarou ended up accurately predicting an event based on his theory.
On New Year's Eve, Houtarou and Eru got into uncomfortable situation, as they were locked in a shed of Arekusu Shrine by mistake. They were unable to shout for help as it would hurt Eru's reputation. Fortunately Houtarou found a way to get help without such repercussions.
Also, at Valentine's Day, after recognizing Eru's efforts in helping Mayaka make some handmade chocolate for Satoshi, he covered up for everyone by making up a case involving someone else stealing Mayaka's chocolate when it went missing. He then confronted Satoshi, whom he knew was responsible for not only taking the chocolate, but also breaking it in two parts to place it to his bag. Satoshi admitted to the deed, and also revealed his change of heart from a competitive person to someone who longs for mediocrity.
By the end of winter, Houtarou joined Eru in the yearly Hina Doll Festival in the town as he replaced an injured participant. In the festival, he acted as an umbrella carrier for Eru, who plays once more the Empress, while Fuyumi Irisu played the Emperor. For the first time, Houtarou showed interest in Eru while she was dressed in her full garb, and was distracted by Eru's appearance throughout the parade.
At the end of the day, after a short talk about the sudden rerouting of the festival parade, Houtarou listened to Eru's plans of studying the sciences to help her family and her wish to share Eru's nostalgic side with him, and experienced an urge to confess his feelings for Eru. However, after remembering Satoshi warning him about the challenges of living a rose-colored life, he held back, and instead appreciated the coming of spring with Eru.
The Hoshigaya Cup Endeavor Edit
At the start of Houtarou's second year in high school, he and Eru managed to invite a freshman named Tomoko Oohinata to join the Classics Club. However, due to a confrontation involving Eru herself, Tomoko withdrew her provisional membership to the club. With the club demoralized by Tomoko's abrupt withdrawal, Houtarou decided to find out the reason behind Tomoko's decision and to clarify things before the deadline for club membership, which also fell on the day of the school's marathon event, also known to some as the Hoshigaya Cup.
During his run across the 20-kilometer course across town, Houtarou recalled several events spanning the 42 days of Tomoko's activity as a provisional member. During the New Recruit Festival at the start of the school term, Tomoko's interest in the club was piqued by a conversation between Houtarou and Eru regarding an unexpected sight in the table used by the Confectionery Research Society, which eventually led to exposing a food poisoning accident by the Cooking Club due to a mistake in ingredient preparation. On the day of his birthday, Houtarou was surprised by an unexpected party by the members of the club at his house, where Eru tried to cover up her knowledge of Houtarou's address. Two weeks later, the club visited a newly-opened cafe Tomoko's cousin owns near Kaburaya Middle School. Lastly, on the afternoon before the Hoshigaya Cup, a series of conversations ultimately led to Tomoko quitting the club the day before.
Based on the things he gathered from Satoshi, Mayaka and Eru and the details he remembered earlier, Houtarou began suspecting that the entire issue was caused by misunderstandings between the people involved. He eventually confirmed this from Tomoko herself, who admitted that her remarks against Eru (i.e., calling her a "bodhisattva on the outside", which is later connected to being a "yaksa on the inside") were out of fear that Eru's connections would expose the wrongdoings committed by Tomoko's middle school friend, who also attended Kaburaya Middle School. Tomoko eventually decided to apologize to Eru to clear up the misunderstandings between them, but felt too shameful of what happened that she was unable to return to the club as a result.
Houtarou's eccentric older sister who requested Houtarou join the Classics Club; doing so both to change Houtarou's lifestyle and to preserve the Classics Club.
Houtarou has been friends with Satoshi since middle school. They have a close relatonship which is shown by Satoshi calling Houtarou by his first name. Though he tries to supress it, Satoshi is jealous of Houtarou because of their drastic difference in talent. Whereas Satoshi spends a lot of energy to make other people happy, he has great difficulty solving mysteries on his own and is clearly outshined by Houtarou. Though they are close friends, this envy Satoshi feels causes him to lose his temper with Houtarou easily and manifests in a desire to see him fail.
Houtarou maintains a friendly relationship with Eru and throughout the series they have gotten closer. He usually follows her whims although they differ from his energy-saving lifestyle. He is easily dragged into Eru's bouts of curiosity, which he finds he is unable to ever ignore. It is heavily implied that Houtarou has a crush on her, as he is seen fantasizing about her several times throughout the series; however, he interprets this as either an annoyance or a disturbance to his lifestyle, especially around Satoshi and Mayaka. However, he is shown to blush in front of her several times and she also seems to be the only girl he "notices." When Eru dresses up, Houtarou seems to be speechless about it. He also cares for her, shown where he got upset with Satoshi as he both hurt Mayaka and Eru in the process on Valentine's day. He later realizes that he does indeed have feelings for Eru, describing it as "how Satoshi was feeling" while talking about Mayaka.
Houtarou and Satoshi have known Mayaka since their middle school years where they were named Kaburaya Middle School's best couple, much to both of their disgust and annoyance (as stated by Satoshi in episode 2). Kind words are rarely ever exchanged between them and most of their conversations are laced with sarcasm. Despite that, the two do seem to consider each other friends to a certain degree and Houtarou appears to truly care for Mayaka as he was willing to get mad at Satoshi for her sake.
- "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I do have to do it, make it quick."
- "I'm not against socializing, so long as it's not tiring."
- "The more inexperienced you are, the more you want to show off."
- Houtarou has a habit of holding his front bangs with crossed arms whenever he is in deep thought. Certain characters have caught onto this habit.
- He doesn't care about his rank in the school. When he was ranked 125 out of the 350 students, he considered it a school 'prank' that he was actually ranked right in the middle.
- Due to the lack of exercise and other related activities, he gets carsick easily. This is shown during his trip to Seizansou, when he got carsick although it was only been an hour and a half of travel.
- Before he entered the Classics Club, he already had some interest in reading. As a proof, He has a bookcase in his room which he shares with his sister.
- When he is angry or upset, he usually shakes his left leg.
- It is implied that he might be able to reach (or actually already has) the same level of deductive reasoning ability and intellect as his sister's (who was implied to have been on top of things). This was during the time he tried to compete with Eru, Eru to prove that anyone can just make up any theory for any situation. During the said scene he was able to completely unravel a mystery regarding the school announcement made after-class hours, using only the announcement itself and the fact that he saw an article about fake bills going around town. Surprisingly, he is able to completely solve the mystery (albeit he was treating it as a game and was biding his time slowly, probably due to his nature of conserving energy.) as shown when the next morning, he reads on the newspaper the very same conclusion he came up with. It may possibly just be his lack of motivation and self-awareness that keeps his true abilities from coming out.
- According to the original novel series, his birthday is 28 April 1984. In The Approximation of the Distance of Two, his 17th birthday anniversary was celebrated in the last Saturday of April 2001, which is 28 April. However, there was not any mention about his birthday in anime series as well as in the first four books. In that book, Chitanda also said that Houtarou was the first member of the Classics Club who was 17, which can be implied that he was older than other main characters.
- Houtarou has a resemblance to Hachiman Hikigaya from the Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru light novel. Both of them are the protagonists, lazy but smart and they do their own works in time, they were also being forced to join the club, and both are introverts. They also have their messy hair trademark, but Hachiman's "dead-fish" eyes are differently compared to Oreki's drowsy eyes, and they have different perception of people who surround them.
- He was the featured detective of Volume 83 of the Detective Conan manga.
- Yuichi Nakamura, Houtarou's seiyuu, and Daisuke Sakaguchi, Satoshi's seiyuu, also voiced two characters in Clannad anime series, Tomoya Okazaki and Youhei Sunohara respectively. Like Houtarou and Satoshi, Tomoya and Youhei were also close friends.