Review | Horimiya – Episodes 1-13

“Everyone has a side of themselves that they don’t want other people to see.”

– Kyouko Hori

2021. Romance. Comedy. Slice of Life.


After her young brother is rescued by what seems to be a random bad-boy stranger, popular and straight-A’s girl, Kyouko Hori, finds herself face-to-face with Izumi Miyamura, the gloomy, reserved and shy boy from her class. Kyouko’s homebody nature and Izumi’s piercings and tattoos combine in this quirky rom-com that shows the sides we hide from others.

Review: 4/ 5

Characterization: 4/5
Characters are for the most part three-dimensional and round. However, because of the rushed pacing, a lot of the development felt unearned or confusing. There wasn’t really a clear ending or resolution point for many of the sub-characters.

Plot: 4/5
Similar to characterization. The plot elements are really good, it’s just that there was a lot crammed into not very many episodes. Some sub-plot was left unresolved, but what did get done was well-executed.

Realism & Authenticity: 4.5/5
The show was incredibly realistic for the most part. It was at some points, painfully authentic to the human condition. A show firmly cemented in the romantic comedy genre, while also dipping its toes in some dramatic elements.

Sound & Animation: 4.5/5
The series is gorgeous. Every scene is beautifully animated, and all of the designs consistent. While the OP is so catchy it will stick in your ears for 10 days (and believe me it has, send help pls), the rest of the soundtrack isn’t very memorable.

This is a series that my mind keeps coming back to. And when I try to put my finger on it, I stumble, because really, there’s nothing profoundly special about the Horimiya. It’s your standard slice-of-life, romance anime centered around normal high schoolers doing normal high schooler things.

But unlike series that offer a similar substance, such as Kimi Ni Todoke and Toradora, Horimiya doesn’t leave us hanging from that “Will they/ Won’t they” branch. It doesn’t stretch out for ages and ages. Within a handful episodes, our doki-doki duo admit to liking each other and forge a relationship. It is akin to My Love Story in this regard, but the condensed version. We’re talking knowing someone is special in episode one, hand-holding in episode three and an albeit quiet confession in episode four. I was left thinking, well what are they going to do with the rest of the 2/3rds of the series? The answer: brilliant, but rushed, storytelling.

This story uses real-world experiences but executes them with such excellence that they really stick in your brain. For instance, the first climactic fight between Hori and Miyamura surrounds the latter’s self-confidence. Miyamura insists that Hori could not have feelings for him– that she just sees him as a friend and nothing more; that she just hangs out with him because she’s just nice. This in turn hurts Hori deeply. It’s used as a pandering excuse for blatant self-deprecation, and denies Hori of having any human wants and needs. She views it as a form of abandonment, her own biggest insecurity and something she equates to her mother and father leaving her for work as a child. Of course we don’t know about this insecurity until much later, but it shows the kind of craftsmanship the writers committed to telling this story.

We finally see this when, while Hori is sick, she repeats the phrase: “Where are you going?” over and over again. This is one of the moments that stays with me the most. Miyamura gently takes her hand and says: “Hori-san, instead of ‘where are you going,’ do you mean ‘please don’t go’?”. That fear of abandonment, that intense desire to be prioritized, is so profoundly authentic, it leaves me in awe. While Horimiya is about showing our hidden sides to others, it is also equally, if not more so, about showing those sides to ourselves.

This is underscored when Miyamura sees his younger self, and talks to him. He remembers what it was like to hate everything: the people, the cliques, the pain. The feeling and reality of being excluded. There wasn’t a single thing Miyamura didn’t loath. And he was so close to giving up, thinking that no one needed him around. The older Miyamura encourages him, by stating things that are true about the future. In the last episode of the series, Miyamura again speaks to his past self, or perhaps a self from another timeline. There’s a moment when the former self says “You finally looked at me”, that leaves me astounded. This is the point of the series where that theme falls into place and resolves: we look at ourselves in our entirety, not just the ways we feel are acceptable to others.

Another example is when Makio Tanihara has a dream about Miyamura and being on “the outside”. This is one powerful metaphor: It’s claustrophobic and suffocating; it’s uncomfortable. So, too, are the feelings of isolation and being left out. Because Tanihara has always been on the “inside”, he doesn’t know what it’s like until this moment. He’s forced to face the result his actions have led to, and it’s apparent the guilt he now feels. We don’t like to look at our ugly parts. We don’t want to think about the mistakes we made years ago.

It is the culmination of these tiny, seemingly insignificant moments that make Horimiya so great. And within those moments, are sandwiched the most deliciously astute observations. Even the Big Confession is layered between anticlimactic health reminders. And it shows us that it is the little moments stacked on top of each other that can lead to growth and change. The characterization and plot are extremely believable and human. Many, if not all, of us have been there and/or done that. We’ve made, or at least seen, those mistakes. And what’s crazy is that it does all of this in just 13 concentrated episodes.

But with that efficiency comes with a cost. The series was admittedly fast-paced, and a bit too fast for my liking. Truly, to really shine, it could have benefited from having two seasons, or a second cour. I know we could say that for almost any series, but this one I really, really mean it. Horimiya felt rushed, which is probably why I had no problem binging this show. The story was still very good and watchable, but it did result in me purchasing all of the manga shortly after finishing with the concrete belief that much was missed in the anime adaptation. I truly mean these words: This would have been a masterpiece of a romance anime, had it not been rushed.

But perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, is the loss of Miyamura’s lip piercing. Yes, I said it once, and I’ll say it again: Why was this dropped??? And why does he wear glasses at school if he doesn’t need them? I mean look at this hottie.

In all seriousness, this series had so much potential, and while it did the things it included very well, we still can see it’s missing something more. It’s the Lite Version. And we can’t help but think of what could have happened had there been more time dedicated to the series. Ultimately, though, it was a worthwhile watch, and definitely something I recommend to those looking for a heartfelt piece about romance, friendship, and loving ourselves.

Take care and watch on, Annieme-niac!


discord with link

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