Want to sound like a broken record? It’s easy, just repeat over and over how stacked the Winter 2021 season was for anime, trust me, it worked for me it can work for you.
For the last bit, every Sunday morning has consisted of two cups of coffee and an early viewing of a show that aired the day before. Therefore every Sunday has started out more or less on a high note seeing how that show was none other than the very highly acclaimed romcom Horimiya. Now it is no secret I liked this series, A LOT. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or has seen any of my comments on the matter would know this. And the reason for this is pretty straight forward, from start to finish, Horimiya is good, the animation, the story, the sound, the quirkiness, the development, all of it is good
But even with that, there are some things that I think Horimiya does really well that are often overlooked. What sells as a run-of-the-mill rom-com Horimiya is full of humorous and cute moments, it hits every high note when it comes to the genre and with Cloverworks at the animation helm, it adds the perfect amount of spice when it comes together. In short, Horimiya is both a well-told story and a beautiful one at that. But even with all the clout and fame, there are certain aspects of the show that really stood out to me, things that went beyond what most people enjoyed about the series.
One of those things is the amount of time that is put on ‘side’ characters. Both in the manga and show there is quite a bit of screen time that is given to people around Hori and Miyamura, even though they are the main couple. What starts out as a cute interaction turns into a relationship once the two start dating the series does this subtle shift to the group of friends. Time to like Remi, the bubbly over the top council member and girlfriend of president Sengoku. Their episode, in particular, I found very charming as it allowed the viewer to see how intimate and close they actually are, whereas from the view of Hori we would not be able to see. It was a glimpse into how they came to be, their strengths and weakness but no matter what how they stay true to one another.
It wasn’t all just romance however, Iura, Shuu, the typical fun guy of the group was faced with the burden from his little sister Motoko. Not only was it super out of the left-field he even had a sister but it took you to their home, no Hori or Miyamura insight, to allow him to bloom as his own character. It is these subtle one-off episodes that I believe are the real beauty of Horimiya. The show isn’t just about two people like some might assume, but is actually an awkward but adoring look into the group of friends Hori and Miyamura had built around them. It was never exclusive to the two mains, a lot of things happened with or without them, the world and group kept moving in their absences, and romances were built and destroyed. It was this approach to storytelling that really hooked me into the series. The pacing, the interactions, the environment, all of it felt natural and it carried on irrelevant of what Hori or anyone else was doing.
The second thing that really stood out to me was Miyamura’s facing of his past. Horimiya has a fairly dark depression undertone throughout most of the season but it is something that isn’t really talked about all that much. The fact that Miyamura was an outcast, bullied and was generally unhappy with his life as a whole. This is something that the show painted well, even more so than the manga. Being approached by his past self time and time again, Miyamura talks to him, reassuring him that soon, things will get better, he will get friends, there is a point to live.
This heavy but real undertone was a wonderful touch in the generally upbeat rom-com environment. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that as a social leopard, life was difficult, and to younger Miyamura was it almost wasn’t worth going on.
The final, more general thing I wanted to talk about with the series is the ever so lovely relationships. Horimiya is a pretty standard rom-com in a lot of ways so what exactly makes it hailed in such high regard? This I credit to two things, pacing, and its relatability. Horimiya is the quite literal take into what most high school romances are like. They are awkward, a little odd, and typically have a certain level of toxicity. The show takes what it is like to grow up being a partner of someone and how they not only change the two of you but everyone around them. For a lot of people, it is the first time self-challenge becomes a thing, wanting to be better for your partner while also growing into the person you are. It is a complicated cluster fuck of a time in one’s life and honestly, the show does a damn good job of it.
As for the pacing bit of that rant. All I really mean by that is the progression of not only the main relationship but the ones around them. The show never really felt slow to me, and rather it is Miyamura becoming closer to Hori’s family or the two of them taking the next base in their relationship, it all just felt true. All and all I loved Horimiya, it’s a fitting one-season anime (there Is no way it’s getting a second) that fills a certain mold near perfectly. It’s a funny, cute, wholesome, and refreshing take from the typical trope-filled genre.
Even with all of that, however, I will say I’d give the series a 7, mostly because even though it did do many things well, at the end of the day, it’s a high school romcom. And sadly that feeling plagued the back of my mind from start to finish.
Thanks for the read!