This show is going to give me an existential crisis. What am I just someone who likes romances now? When did this happen? Why? O.k….I kinda know why. Still, it’s a harsh sitch, you know. One day, you’re just plotting along, minding your own business, planning to take over the world, as one does, and the next second you look into the mirror and a stranger is looking back. One that liked romances… 

This might be the weirdest random open to an episode review I have ever written. Then again, It might not be. Let’s put it all behind us. How are you Moya? How are things shakin? Our southern neighbours are getting all sorts of fresh starts! Meanwhile, how was your week?

Kiss kiss fall in love!! *Twirls* Yeah, I never really got into classic rom-coms like Ouran High School Host Club, but I understand how you feel today. I’m doing well, hope you and everyone are too! Looks like there’s a chance of snow this weekend, which is just lovely.

A lot of things came to a head in this week’s episode of Horimiya. It continues to illustrate what I appreciate about the show.

We found out a bit about Miya’s past. How he was considered a weirdo and ended up a bit of a loner. There’s nothing particularly tragic about his story. In fact, to me, it was deeply relatable. Some of you may know that I spent most of my childhood skipping from one country to the next. I have an accent in every language I speak which is a generous way of putting it. Arguably more accurate would be to say I speak 0 languages. So I was always the weirdo in class and I kinda kept to myself. And it was fine but a little lonely. But eventually, I made great friends. And now I have a lot of piercings. 

What I’m saying is that Horimiya is 100% accurate to the human experience. Wouldn’t you agree?

Irina, I feel personally attacked! I am literally a translator and I not only have accents, but can’t even go through a whole day (or conversation, sometimes) without looking up basic words in each language. Maybe my childhood didn’t consist of as much hot-potato-ing as yours, but it was still defined by a handful of trans-Pacific moves and several alienating school transfers. I don’t know, maybe Horimiya is just accidentally accurate to the migrant Canadian experience??

I like that! OK, Horimiya is, among other things, a tender exploration of the immigrant reality. Quite the contemporary theme!

Of course, there are a lot more reasons a teen can feel isolated, weird, and/or like they want to make new piercings. I do think the scene where Miyamura watches the others move their desks to his and bicker about a project encapsulates the “we’re friends, but are we really?” struggle quite well.

I continue to enjoy how the series is giving as much importance (possible even more) to developing friendships as it is to romances. Hori and mostly Miya are creating support networks that will help them throughout their lives. And even if these friends eventually go their own way, the friendships themselves and the social skills they nurture are precious and irreplaceable. 

What I’m trying to say with way too many words is that I’m as happy and excited to see Miya and Toru or Hori and Yuki together as I am seeing Hori and Miya interact. And I think the show is just as excited showing me those relationships. And I love that!

Very true. I really like how versatile the friendship combos are in this series. When Toru and Miyamura had their stupid fight, Yuki was the one to check on Miyamura, and Hori went to talk to Toru. I feel like such naturally versatile bonds are pretty rare even in real-life friend circles, especially those that haven’t been established for a long time, so this was lovely to see.

Also, I love Hori. I have just now decided to frame this review as stuff I loved about the episode… 

Hori is the best, because she’s not clueless. Also she’s a bit of a weirdo and I like that, but that’s beside the point. She actually says what she wants. This means she also thinks about what she wants and makes decisions and realizations and acts accordingly. So when some random adorable pig haired girl (who is supposed to have a boyfriend, no?) tries to butt in, Hori can just tell her to step off. I would be all for romance if the protagonists were all as self-possessed.  Of course, that would make 90% of romance storylines fall apart. Am I being unfair?

Who can blame you? I’ve read some reactions where people thought Hori was a little too mean, but I don’t think any of her friends take it personally. I do enjoy her assertive side as one that counteracts her more sensitive moments.

And speaking of the best character, Toru is also the best. Toru is still totally friends with Hori and not making it all awkward. And he’s being super awesome with Miya as well. For a second there, I started to think that Toru is too good to be true. Like he’s not really a character, he’s just a vague wellspring of optimism and support for the other characters to bounce off of as needed. With an agreeable character design. Cough…

Because of that, I kind of love that Toru and Miya got into a stupid fight, probably over petty reasons. It’s still not quite clear what happened there but it’s obvious Toru is bothered by finding out Hori’s feelings for Miya and that’s normal. Of course, he is. And maybe he got a bit childish about it, and Miya got even more childish… And that felt way more authentic to me than having him be all noble or something. I liked it. Toru is a bit weird but he’s also quite charming. These imperfections only add to that.

Miya may need to look into those temper issues a bit, on the other hand.

Toru and Miyamura are both precious! They kind of maintain this “no homo” distance as a slight joke, which I feel like the subtitles toned down a little further. Honestly wouldn’t mind the homo either, but I do want to root for Hori…

We even got a little strained almost love scene between Hori and Miya. I think this was my least favourite part of the episode ad of the series so far. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it but it felt more like a traditional endless will they/won’t they sort of set up and I find the show more interesting when it’s a bit more subversive.

Still, even in that moment, there was a certain calmness to their relationship. A comfort you don’t see that much. They could go back to just enjoying each other’s company a second later when Sota came in. There was no need to pour in drama or endless fake tension. I really appreciate the ease of it. The fact that Hori and Miya can just be together and be satisfied with sharing a piece of cake, without it becoming a production.

Also, Moya, Miya baked…

That was my favourite moment though! I might also just be easy to please. Anime hand-holding? In the third episode?? It did get a little squeal out of me.

The only thing I’m not so happy with is the Funimation subs interpreting Miyamura’s “好きだよ” (suki dayo) as “I love you,” which I think is too blatant for the scenario. (I picked up on it too, but I’m not sure how else they could have translated that considering the previous sentences. Maybe a trailing I like…) It also makes Miyamura’s supposed obliviousness to Toru’s assertions even harder to justify later. I’m sure seasoned anime fans have it figured out, but in Japanese, it is okay to leave out the subject in your sentence. Miyamura really only says “I like/love…” here. It’s obviously meant to be highly ambiguous, but I do think it could have been translated more subtly as “I love them,” “them” in reference to Hori’s hands.

He sure baked, but I wish we got to see the proof! Also, I have never heard of a person who doesn’t like blueberries and I’m a little appalled. Hori, what’s your problem!? (Hori is deadly allergic! – I actually don’t know that, I’m just teasing Moya, don’t tell her)

All in all, it’s weird for things to be going so well in a teen romance, isn’t it? But you know,  I have learned that at a certain point, weird becomes kinda cool. At least I think so.

Yeah. For example, I’m not sure I liked the weird colourful shadows in the first episode, but I’m slowly becoming a fan. Not only do they hold hands in the third episode, they apparently also advanced by a grade into their final year at school. For a series with no explicit time skips, time sure moves fast!

15 thoughts

  1. Yeah, the character dynamics in this show are great. Miyamura wondering if he’s really part of their group, was pretty relatable. And I find his temper problems understandable as well; when you’ve been alone for a long time you just don’t have a natural feel for when to control yourself and when to hold back, so your natural inclination is to hold back all the time, but if you do that you keep yourself at a distance. Not many shows have such a natrual grasp on that situation. What’s best about Toru is that he’s just upfront about it all; no taking it all in, and no distancing himself because he doesn’t know what to do about it. (There are people like that; I’ve known them. Yes, plural. I’m lucky.)

    I haven’t read the manga, but I’ve seen the OVA, which, I’m told, is based on an aolder version. And yeah, this show’s stylistically much more of a comedy, and that’s what I worried about after the preview, but much like with Fruitsbasket, it works and my worries didn’t manifest. (Yay!)

    Btw, all the best romances aren’t good because they’re romances; they’re good because romance fits in pretty well with the rest of the daily life,

    1. You ARE lucky. we can all use a Toru in our lives! Oddly, I remember manga as quite funny. As in more of a comedy than the show currently is. Maybe I just add in comedy to everything I like

      1. As I said, I haven’t read the manga, and the OVA was based on the original web comic. It’s entirely possible that the author was asked to add more comedy, but we’d need day-one fans to tell us about that. I’m actually curious about that (but not curious enough to do much research, especially not while this airs now – maybe once the season’s done with?)

  2. I started this manga two years ago, and the chapters are so slow to update, so I just read the whole thing between every chapter, and I have to tell you it is one of my favourite mangas because just why you said is so correct! 💜

      1. I totally plan on it. I just have a couple of books to finish before I can start an anime series, because I swear I drop anything and everything to watch a season in a sitting. And then I’ll skip sleeping to watch the next season lol.

  3. As a person whose read the manga, re-experiencing Horimiya has been weird, for one, the feel of the anime is quite different from the manga, having much more of a comedy type atmosphere than the manga’s slice of life feeling. I think this reflected in some of the parts that you noted as the low points of the episode. Overall, it’s been pretty nice watching this anime, and I do say, the romance is coming. The fact that you guys also noted that Horimiya is also about developing friendships, not only romance, also made me quite happy.

  4. I myself am sort of all over the place when it comes to romance — sometimes I like it, but many times I don’t care for it. While I don’t mind romcoms, there are many commonly-used tropes and plot lines that rub me the wrong way or are just a bit too cheesy for my liking.

    I think what I really like about Horimiya so far is that it isn’t over-the-top and overly cheesy. It’s very down-to-earth and honest, and it gives plenty of time on other relationships besides the main pairing. This episode might be my favorite one so far because of Miyamura’s relatable backstory and the focus on his and Toru’s friendship.

    (The hand holding scene between Hori and Miyamura was pretty sweet too, I’ll admit.)

  5. This show. Man. Its so tricky. It just naturally does what its doing and when you aren’t looking, you end up really loving it by sneakily telling you that you can like romcoms. Especially since the writing is so naturally and mature. Plus, these soft characters :).

  6. I really appreciate your reviews because it makes it easier to decide what I will and won’t watch. Thanks, Irina and IriMoya!

    As for romances, I understand. I have always preferred fantasy and action, so when I got hooked into Kdramas I was like, who IS this person?! Hahah!

    If you do go that route, I HAVE to recommend you three dramas!
    “Signal” not a romance- more like camaraderie and angst amidst grisly murders.
    A walkie-talkie connects a cop in the past with one in the future. Together, they try to solve cold cases. Beware the non-ending!!!!! (Just a heads-up because the tension only continues to build as it goes)

    “Healer” (has some typical romance stuff, but doesn’t pull love triangles or a plot based on miscommunication)
    A night courier unravels a conspiracy involving a whole group of college friends from the previous generation. Heads up: lots of romantic moments in this one. However, the heroine is adorable and the Ahjumma is one of the most amazing characters I have ever seen on screen! Honestly, she reminds me a LOT of my mum.

    “Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok Joo” (highschool romance- but relatable and inspiring)
    A successful weightlifting student falls for a doctor at a weight-loss clinic.
    Despite her embarrassment, she signs up in the clinic as an excuse to see him.
    A lot of tension ensues- she is embarrassed of her feelings and lies to her friends and her coaches, and is trying to juggle her drive to compete (in prep for the Olympics) and her love for the sport with this growing crush for this doctor.
    That is only the beginning of the plot. What makes this drama so beautiful to watch is her relationship with her friends (although she is lying SO much!) and going through her trying to wrestle with her emotions.

    1. Interesting. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for dramas but I’ll keep this list in mind for future reference!

Leave me a comment and make my day!