Houtarou Oreki (折木 奉太郎 Oreki Hōtarō) is the protagonist of Classic Literature Club series and Hyouka. He is 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 Classic Lit 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, though 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 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, cynical 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 mad, 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 brilliant deduction skills which allow him to solve different mysteries. Despite being overall brilliant, Houtarou gets very average grades. Houtarou can always 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 a strange school announcement. Houtarou was right, however, he spent the 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 the anime, Houtarou also has quite an overactive imagination, which is responsible for frequent hallucinations he has 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 usually do when given positive feedback. As stated by Chitanda, Oreki is humble, and does not brag about his ability to solve mysteries, which possibly might be the main reason for Chitanda's admiration towards him.
He can also be kind, and he does care about his friends, which is shown in the case of Mayaka's Valentine chocolate when he got mad 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 the group's independent film by writing the whole script, but being manipulated to think otherwise and understanding Mayaka's cousin's 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 a young boy with average height and build. He has unruly short taupe-brown hair, with bangs that reach just below his eyes. Houtarou's eyes are emerald-green. Usually after waking up, his hair is extremely messy. He has a "drowsy" and uninterested expression that only changes when something out of the ordinary happens.
At school, he wears his school uniform, while out of school he dresses in a rather neutral fashion.
Reviving the Classic Lit Club
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 Classic Lit 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 Classic Lit Club (located in the Geography Prep Room), Houtarou unexpectedly met a girl called Eru Chitanda, who told him that she was already a member of the Classic Lit Club. During their conversation, Houtarou noticed his friend, Satoshi Fukube, trying to eavesdrop on him and called him out loudly. Satoshi explained that he was intrigued when he saw Houtarou speaking with a girl from the courtyard. During their conversation, Eru discovered that she was locked in the clubroom. That mystery ignited Eru's curiosity, and she together with Satoshi pleaded Houtarou to investigate it. By using his good deductive skills, Houtarou quickly solved that mystery. Eru was quickly captivated by Houtarou's skills in solving mysteries, and she forced him to join the Classic Lit Club. Satoshi joined the Classic Lit Club as well.
The Classic Lit 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 past Hyouka 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 Classic Lit Club, having four members as Satoshi and Houtarou's friend Mayaka Ibara joined it, with Houtarou's help was able to obtain Hyouka past issues anthologies from the Biology Prep Room, the former room of the Classic Lit Club. However, they had a minor setback as they discovered that the first issue of Hyouka was missing.
In order to begin piecing the clues they found regarding Eru's uncle Jun Sekitani, Eru organized a meeting of the Classic Lit 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 in her eyes.
As a celebration for the success of the Classic Lit Club, Eru planned a hot spring trip for the entire Classic Lit 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 being 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 Classic Lit 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 Classic Lit Club met with three amateur detectives from the film production team called Junya Nakajou, Misaki Sawakiguchi and Tomohiro Haba to listen to what they had to say about a possible film ending. However, it was Houtarou who debunked all their theories and was able to suggest an 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 the film's prop master, Tomohiro Haba, was crucial to the story. Even worse, Houtarou claimed his own conclusion to be matched to what the 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 Classic Lit Club room, selling 200 copies of the latest Hyouka anthology issue that needed to be sold.
As Mayaka, Satoshi and Eru did 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 Classic Lit Club's dish for the school's cooking contest.
Later in the day, Houtarou was forced by his club mates to begin an 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 the thefts and the gojuon based on the clubs attacked and the items stolen.
As the culprit remains at large, Houtarou by accident received a copy of A Corpse By Evening manga from Tomoe at the last day of the festival, trading it for a hand mirror that he had 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 Committee president, Jirou Tanabe, who was the culprit. Houtarou made a deal with him, allowing "Juumonji" to defeat the Classic Lit Club in exchange for his help in selling the remaining copies of the Hyouka anthology.
Eru was also able to help advertise with her speech on a school's radio show hosted by the Broadcasting Club draw attention to the Classic Lit 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 Festival
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 at 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.
During Valentine's Day, after recognising 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 in 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 rust-colored life, he held back, and instead appreciated the coming of spring with Eru.
The Hoshigaya Cup Endeavour
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 Classic Lit Club. However, due to a confrontation involving Eru herself, Tomoko withdrew her provisional membership to the club. With the club demoralised 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-kilometre 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 café 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 Tomoe who requested Houtarou to join the Classic Lit Club; doing so both to change Houtarou's lifestyle and to preserve the Classic Lit Club. While the two haven't been shown to interact for extended periods, what little gestures they share hints their awkward exchange of sibling care, albeit neither rejecting the other completely despite the two's starkly differing personalities. Ultimately, however, the two seem to hold the other in high regard, with Houtarou willingly granting her wish despite it being out of character and her conviction in her efforts to push him towards a more active lifestyle.
Houtarou has been friends with Satoshi since middle school. They have a close relationship, with the latter calling Houtarou by his first name. Though he tries to suppress 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, even if in a joking manner.
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 fantasising 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 realises 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 have to do it, then make it quick.Houtarou Oreki's motto
- "I'm not against socialising, so long as it's not tiring."
- "The more inexperienced one is, the more he displays the unconventional."
- The name Houtarou means "observance, offer, present, dedicate/dedication" (奉) (hou), "thick, big" (太) (ta) and "son" (郎) (rou).
- Houtarou's surname Oreki means "to break" (折) (ore) and "tree, wood" (木) (ki).
- Houtarou has a habit of holding his front bangs with crossed arms whenever he is in deep thought, in which certain characters have caught onto this habit.
- Houtarou doesn't care about his rank in the school. When he was ranked 175 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, Houtarou gets carsick easily, which is shown during his trip to Seizansou  when he got carsick, although it was only been an hour and a half of travel.
- Before Houtarou entered the Classic Lit 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 Houtarou is mad or upset, he usually shakes his left leg.
- It is implied that Houtarou 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), which was during the time he tried to compete with Eru Chitanda 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, Houtarou's birthday is April 28, 1984. In Approximating the Distance between Two People, his 17th birthday anniversary was celebrated on the last Saturday of April 2001, which is April 28. However, there wasn't 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 Classic Lit Club who was 17, which can be implied that he was older than other main characters.
- Houtarou was the featured detective of Volume 83 of the Detective Conan manga.
- Yuichi Nakamura (Houtarou's seiyuu) and Daisuke Sakaguchi (Satoshi Fukube's seiyuu) also voiced Tomoya Okazaki and Youhei Sunohara respectively, two male characters from the Clannad anime series.
- Like Houtarou and Satoshi, Tomoya and Youhei were also close friends.
- Hyouka Interview: Character Designer and Chief Animation Director Futoshi Nishiya, Otona Animedia #5 2012.
- Official novel website
- "Does Anyone Have Any Idea?"
- "Is the Mountain Range Clear?"
- "The Return of the Time-Honored Classic Lit Club"
- "The Case of the Homemade Chocolates"
- "The Prestigious Classic Lit Club's Activities"
- The Doll that Took a Detour. Story 1 - If I Have to Do It, Make It Quick
- "Upon Seeing True Nature"
|Classic Literature Club series and Hyouka featured characters|