Horimiya Review

At first glance, Horimiya puts a simple spin on the seasonal romantic comedies that have been propping up in recent years. As always, an innocent romance blossoms between two high school students as they navigate their daily lives and newfound relationship. However, Horimiya is a little different in that it subverts our expectations a bit by focusing on the characters’ sides that they don’t show to the rest of the world. When we’re first introduced to Izumi Miyamura, he’s portrayed as the gloomy, bookish type that sits alone in classrooms and studies all day. On the other hand, Kyoko Hori is a cheerful and popular girl who appears to be a social butterfly on the surface. However, when they have a chance meeting one day, they realize that their perceptions of one another are completely different from reality. Miyamura has numerous hidden tattoos and piercings with rather poor grades and no semblance of an otaku lifestyle. Conversely, Hori is a homebody that likes dressing down and usually takes care of her little brother instead of going out. After recognizing one another, the seemingly polar opposites decide to keep their real personas a secret from everyone else and slowly begin to learn more about each other.

The premise that Horimiya builds itself upon is fairly interesting because it subverts the traditional rom-com tropes we’ve seen a million times before in anime. Although it’s predictable, there’s something to be said about how well it presents its message of confiding our true selves in others. What’s nice about Horimiya is that it allows ample room for the protagonists to develop their relationship. It doesn’t take too long before they start dating but the buildup feels natural and the lighthearted tone helps keep the show grounded throughout. As Hori and Miyamura get closer to each other, it’s heartwarming to see their joy in finding someone that appreciates who they truly are. Over time, we’re also introduced to Hori and Miyamura’s friends and these side characters similarly have their own true sides behind our initial impressions. Toru is a popular classmate that seems to play into the jock archetype but quickly gets along with Miyamura despite their differences. Yuki is a close friend of Hori’s that initially appears to be a ditzy, bubbly girl but often hides her negative feelings.

While Horimiya mainly centers around Hori and Miyamura’s relationship, it also dives a little bit into the backstories of its side characters. Unfortunately, this is where Horimiya’s biggest issue with pacing occurs. Horimiya was originally a manga and like many other anime adaptations, it blitzes through a number of chapters in the story. For the most part, the Horimiya anime remained faithful to the original but because there were only 13 episodes, many of the storylines were condensed heavily together. While the main story between Hori and Miyamura was conveyed relatively well, the side character arcs were often rushed or worse, awkwardly squeezed into a single episode. The most glaring example of this is when audiences are introduced to Iura’s arc in episode 11 with zero context on why he’s an important character. It felt like they randomly chose a side character that made brief appearances throughout the show and elected to expand on his backstory for no discernable reason. This sort of pacing feels like a lot of other anime adaptations that only last a single season to try and convince watchers to read the manga instead. A lot of the episodic content feels out of place with the rest of the story arcs and only serves to fit in as much content as possible in 1-cour.

Sometimes, the characterizations also fell flat because Horimiya didn’t seem to know how to land its running gags effectively. For example, Hori pesters Miyamura to be more dominant in their relationship and it seems like she’s turned on by getting berated or hit. The anime has a running gag that Hori gives Miyamura a good whack whenever she’s angry and I suppose the comedic aspect is that she wants him to do the same. Miyamura is evidently uncomfortable with it but eventually relents a little to make Hori happy. The problem is that this joke keeps propping up over and over with Miyamura wary of it each time and this starts to become an obnoxious routine with a bad portrayal of how consent works in a healthy relationship. Of course, a lot of rom-com anime use physical violence in their tsundere characters for comedic effect but Horimiya feels like beating a dead horse with how annoying the gag quickly becomes. Hori also seems to have an aversion to Miyamura’s implied bisexuality and instead of using it as a way to evolve Hori’s characterization, it continues to riff on her disgust at the thought of Miyamura with another guy.

At the end of the day, Horimiya does manage to be a fun watch because of the organic chemistry between Hori and Miyamura. Aside from the poor pacing and occasional flat jokes, their relationship does develop in a meaningful way throughout the course of the series. The core message of opening up the “real you” to others was conveyed naturally and a majority of the side characters had interesting arcs as well. Unfortunately, the direction of Hori’s characterization transforms their wholesome relationship into a toxic one in the middle of the series. It seems like a rather poor writing decision and while the anime does end on a more heartfelt note, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth with how Hori’s personality devolves into a running gag. For anime watchers who are indifferent or used to these strange writing choices, Horimiya proves to be an enjoyable watch and I certainly had a lot of fun with most of its episodes. At the same time though, Horimiya’s poor taste in jokes and breakneck pace were more than a little off-putting for the rest of the show.


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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