The Shonen Romance Smash-Hit – Horimiya

Well folks, we are here to a little review of a series that took this past season by storm. And honestly what a tale it’s been. As of posting, I’m actually sitting on a draft about some episode particulars that I want to talk more in-depth about later on, a first for me on the blog. Horimiya is really all that and a bag of chips to me! Before those posts go up, and I start my pretty high praises, we’ve got a synopsis for those unfamiliar.

Superficially speaking, Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura are the least likely to be friends in their class. Outgoing and beautiful Hori is a social butterfly in school, and the otaku-seeming Miyamura has barely spoken to anyone in class. Due to the power of Souta Hori, the energetic elementary school sibling of Kyoko, Hori and Miyamura meet outside of school and are quite different then how they appear in school. Kyoko can’t socialize after school with her peers due to having to help raise her younger brother, Miyamura bears not only a large tattoo but piercings as well. The odd circumstances continue to stack up, and the duo end up becoming friends spending time in and out of school together. Growing together privately, intersecting with their fellow peers in a humble, not-so-distant past, slice of life about growing up.

I need to come clean, when I said I went into this series with “no expectations”: I was lying. I was fully anticipating a somewhat tried and true, ‘your public face, verses your private face’ kinda plot with a bit of high school hijinks thrown in there for fun. If anything I was expecting it to be a lot more superficial and light then it was. hell, even the first episode had me thinking really hard as to why I thought shonen+romance was an odd combination. Surely there are boys who fantasize about romance the way girls (allegedly) do? And not just in the throw away ‘oh I want a girlfriend because lol we’re in high school’ way that a lot of series play into.

I digress, and even have to admit that Horimiya once you get into the first episode, has a lot more emotional weight to it. Yes, there is romance with two confirmed couples, and one or two more simmering unconfirmed in the background. But it’s not just about romantic relationships, but friendships and what it means to actually know someone and be known by them. Horimiya might be the first high school aged story that I’ve seen in a good long while that actually takes it’s characters seriously.

It would have been all too easy for Horimiya to dismiss it’s characters troubles as that of high schoolers. Being liked, having an ’embarrassing’ secret you don’t want getting out, social interactions with hormones thrown in, as an adult those are easy things to write off. Those types of things I recall from my own high school career and reflect on them as being the somewhat superficial moments they were.

Horimiya did something really surprising with that. It didn’t just remind me of my own experiences in high school, the good and bad, but it reminded me of how I felt. That yes in retrospect it was not that big a deal that my crush didn’t like me back. But in that moment, it WAS a big deal to me. That my feelings of rejection and all the other wicked emotions that come with that were valid, and it wasn’t an overreaction. That high schoolers are entitled to their feelings and in those moments their emotions and responses while imperfect are real. That the way high schoolers react and respond to events in their teens, shapes them into adults and who they’ll be going forward.

~The Drama~

Those moments of weight, were then equally balanced by that promised comedy elements. A lot of the comedy was pretty well distributed throughout the series, no one character was delegated to being a comedic punching bag. Nor was any character above having something funny happen to them, either by their own doing or someone else’s. I also have to give credit where it’s due, and that for a series that started in 2011 and only just wrapped March 2021; most of the humor was still good. Some of it gave me more secondhand embarrassment then I’d like, but it wasn’t so strong that I had to avert my gaze or stop watching.

That being said, there were a few rough patches. In the course of the episode, a lot of things happen in 20 minutes. When I’d reflect on what I had just seen, I was at a loss at times to recall exactly what had just happened. An episode rarely ever focused on just one character or pairing, effectively jumping around from individual to a particular set of characters, and back. It was a smooth delivery, but admittedly very jumpy in the set of events. I’m chalking this up to being an adaptation of a 4-koma manga, and overall Cloverworks did a great job smoothing it out and making it conhearant to the viewer.

Additionally, Horimiya suffers a bit from lopsided character distribution. It’s obvious that Hori-san and Miyamura-kun were going to get more time and spotlight then the others. For a very long time, I was wondering when Iura and Yanagi who were in the key visuals, would finally show up. While they appeared and their stories were built in pretty naturally, I couldn’t help but think that they were introduced a little too late for my liking.

Animation-wise, I didn’t note any major red flags or moments of note that were huge turn off’s. If anything I was more puzzled by how off Miyamura and Remi’s eyes looked to me in the key visual/main promo image then anything animated. However, in animated form, neither one had any major problems in my opinion.

You can feel the doki-doki in this image. Or maybe you’re perplexed like Hori.

I might be biased since I easily got attached to this series. It was hard not to when the characters really felt like people with real struggles. I feel like I’ve written so much and nothing at all to express just how much I really enjoyed Horimiya as a whole this past season. There’s so many elements that came together so well to tell such an impactful and enjoyable story. If you by chance haven’t seen this series yet, give it a chance and be sure to savor it. I’m going to actively encourage you NOT to marathon the series. Put a little bit of time between episodes so you can really let the impact settle into your memory, however waiting a whole week in-between viewing isn’t a requirement.


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