Hyouka had many wonderful attributes. The animation was gorgeous and the OP and ED's were well done and fun to watch. The way they used different styles of animation to illustrate the explanations of the mysteries gave an added interest to what were simple mysteries in and of themselves. I liked all of the main characters but they didn't scrimp on the quality of the side characters either.

Eru in the last episode became a much more complex and interesting character. We had seen bits and pieces of her ojou-sama upbringing but with this episode we see (or don't see since she's behind a curtain) her in her element. Even though she supposedly has top grades she always acted ditzy. Her inability to focus during the festival arc for example. Here, she takes charge when the route is changed and uses her family connections to smooth things over. Her tone of voice talking to Houtarou was completely different from the one she used at school. That she played the part of the Empress in the parade showed where she and her family stood in the local hierarchy.

The last episode made me think about what themes were underlying the story. The second season OP was a wonderful metaphor for Houtarou who had sealed himself away from others and only observed. Eru drawing him out described perfectly what she had done over the course of the story. At first I thought this was going to be the one theme running through the show, but then three things happened. Houtarou was continually praised by the others for his deductive abilities which stroked his ego, but then he failed to catch a clue which the others pointed out to him afterwards. That appeared to cause him to regress. Satoshi says he's just a database, but doesn't win the trivia contest at the festival or even the cooking contest (the girls really do). He can't commit to Mayaka because he's afraid he will become a frustrated perfectionist again. Mayaka's realization that there are people who have natural talents that she would give anything for, but who have not interest in using them. These three things are tied together by the proverb: "Perfect is the enemy of the good". Each of them has trouble dealing with their lack of perfection and tends to give up or be frustrated because they can't meet what is an unrealistic goal. Satoshi deals with it by being happy go lucky, Houtarou by withdrawing, and Mayaka just continues to be frustrated and self critical.

What about Eru? She represents the opposite position. Her soliloquy at the end lays that out. She is constrained by love of her family, position, and tradition to fulfill a role. She accepts that willingly and, while it is notperfect, it is good enough. Her description of the town supports that. While the others refuse to try or remain frustrated because they can't be perfect, Eru will do her best to deal with the constraints she is surrounded with making what happiness when and where she can.

That also has to have been one of the most indirect confessions I've ever heard. "This is my life and who I really am and I want you to know it." We think we hear Houtarou give one of the most indirect acceptances only to find out he just thought it. Why didn't he say it? Besides the effect that would have on future stories, if they made them, he feels that he is not worthy of her. Even without the obvious differences between them, in his own mind he is not perfect enough for her. His dealings with the shrine and his being overwhelmed by Eru as the Empress just added to his innate lack of self confidence. Rewatching that ending I was moved again by the beauty of the scenes and the pent up feelings of the two. It's going to stay with me in the same place in my heart that I have for the wedding veil scene in Toradora.