“That’s Why It’s Okay” – The Most Powerful Episode in Horimiya

I haven’t been making time to watch a lot of currently airing series in favor of other content at the moment. So I’ve been digging through my notes of topics I wanted to circle back to and stumbled upon my note of ‘Horimiya – Ep.3 – Miyamura bullying/friendship’.

That gave me a hint as to what to look for, but I deleted my initial notes about Horimiya as a whole so a brief re-watch of the first three episodes was in order. I jumped onto Netflix and found what I had attempted to make note of and recalled why I had made such a note in the first place.

Just for clarity, this post does contain minor spoilers for the animated version of Horimiya approximately episodes one through three. Proceed at your own discretion.

Let’s jump into this head first, I honestly think “That’s Why It’s Okay” is the most powerful episode of Horimiya the anime. Mainly due to Miyamura and his personal relationships, and how painfully relatable he is in this episode.

Sometimes I wonder… Am I doing a good job blending in with them?“, is Miyamura’s internal dialogue after he, Toru, Shuu, Yuki and Hori all confirm they’re in the same third year class and their small talk starts. It’s such a painful feeling to recognize that Miyamura still feels that despite all that’s happened that he still doesn’t have friends. He went from talking to no one, to talking to Hori, Toru and by default Yuki and Shuu too. He even ends up interjecting on Hori’s behalf when she’s confronted by the student council in episode two! I don’t think most kids would be so noble to interject like that if they weren’t at least friendly with one another!

Before this scene though, we get the flashback to his elementary and jr high years. A young Miyamura excluded by his peers and labeled ‘gloomy’. This notion only being broken however briefly, when he actually met Hori in high school for the first time – an event that Hori herself doesn’t even remember. And now, he’s in a situation he never thought was possible, surrounded by ‘friends’, no longer deemed ‘gloomy’, yet still doubting his circumstances.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I’ve felt the same way. Especially in high school where I didn’t have a tight group of friends. Sure, I talked to a lot people throughout the day, but after class and club activities, there weren’t many people blowing up my phone. I didn’t realize that what Miyamura did, the slight step back and zoning out in conversation, is considered dissociating. And to top it off it isn’t a universally shared experiance.

Related, I promise, but on a different note there’s also a quote floating around on edgy teen Facebook somewhere that’s along the lines of, “We were only friends with some people ’cause we saw them five days a week”. A reflection of American high school culture I suppose. It’s a quote that I wrote off for awhile as edgelord fodder but in retrospect is somewhat true. (This isn’t the exact image that I saw, but this is the quote in a similar format for those curious.)

It was a wake up call when I realized how many people I wasn’t actually friends with once high school ended. Some of those people, it was a relief to understand that. Others hurt because I realized that I had put a lot more into our relationship then they had. High school for better or worse is a huge learning ground for interpersonal relationships, and Miyamura especially this proves true.

There’s then, “Friends. Does this make us friends? Can I call them friends?“. And again, this hits me right in the gut. Of course, we have the context that Miyamura didn’t have many friends growing up. So in the context of the flashbacks to now, he really doesn’t know when and who to call a friend. Even after all he and Toru have gone through, in that moment Miyamura still holds doubts on how deep their connect is.

And I think a lot of us in high school didn’t know either. What really makes someone go from a classmate that you talk to, to being a friend? Is it as simple as not doubting that you will be included in their group for a project? Talking to them about whatever music, tv show program you both happen to like between classes? Or in my case, are you really only friends because you’re together five days a week?

I can’t say for sure, because I don’t even think my adult age that I’ve figured it out. I still have doubts about my relationships with people. My mind regularly scrambles to gather all the kernels of information I know about them, combine it with my gut instinct, and weigh it on my mental scale on ‘would I call this person a friend?’. It’s still hard for me to figure it out, but even if I get it wrong – I usually recover a bit more quickly then I would when I was a high schooler.

In the context of Horimiya, Miyamura and Toru have an honest heart to heart. Miyamura asking directly what Toru thinks of him. This choice leads to some mixed results, especially when you consider the first name/last name debacle. But, I really related to that moment since I’m the same way. If can’t figure out my relationship with a person (and it bothers me enough), I ask them directly.

Of course, that’s gone terribly wrong several times. Many of those times in high school actually. I can say in adulthood it’s more often then not a Miyamura and Toru situation. I’m asking to achieve mutual understanding, and it’s not a trick question. Which is where I give Toru a lot of credit, in this scene. It would have been so easy for him to be cruel. Especially knowing how honest of a question it was, and understanding how awkward Miyamura was. While Toru was blunt in his reply, he didn’t belittle or make fun of Miyamura for asking. Quite the opposite as later he remarks to Hori, after she berates them both for ditching, that the reason they disappeared was,”We went to the rooftop to verify our friendship“.

It was delivered in a tone, where if you aren’t listening too carefully, the full meaning of that statement could be missed. I mean, Hori certainly dismisses it as a boys will be boys kind of thing. “Verify our friendship” is a weird thing to state in any context at any age. It sounds so forward like a business agreement. For me though, that little acknowledgement, even if was played off by everyone else was incredibly meaningful. That the conversation about their friendship meant as much to Toru as it did to Miyamura.

I actually do something similar. Once in awhile, instead of addressing someone by name I’ll address them by ‘friend’ instead. It’s gotten some mixed reactions over the years. Some negative, more often then not a bit of bewilderment but acceptance and a few where the same energy was sent back to me. My favorite was my friend who asked, “Why did you say that?”.

And I didn’t know how to respond. No one had ever asked before. I actually planned to dodge the question, as admitting outright that it was sort of psuedo test of our relationship would be hard to admit. So instead I said, “Sometimes it’s just nice to say aloud that we’re friends”. That friend spent a moment thinking about my reply. Admittedly that made me very nervous and considered that perhaps we weren’t as close as I thought. But ultimately nodded their head in agreement and saying “friend” aloud once more. I don’t remember the exact conversation afterwards, but I did notice it being adopted in our friend group that ‘friend’ was an acceptable way to address one another from time to time. That at least this time around, my feelings were recirporated.

Going back to the initial topic, it’s moments like these in Horimiya that really underline why it’s such a good series. Not everyone had a super bubbly best years of their life high school story that tends to be popular in anime.

I just don’t see too many series that take the time to address friendship like this. Typically these more deeper dives are reserved for romantic or potentially romantic stories when aimed at the teen audience. Yes, I know that friendship is a popular theme in anime and discussed within it’s series often. I find it that more often then not, it’s with a well adjusted protagonist just going through the motions to make an instant friend. Or worse, through the lenses of a character so ill adjusted to social norms that their attempts are meant to be earnest but funny. There’s rarely that just fictional enough you’re not haunted by a character’s story, but hits close enough to home to make you think. The latter, at least in this episode, where Horimiya lands.

It’s also refreshing to see a series that doesn’t make the events of someone’s trauma, i.e. Miyamura’s bullying into some grandiose thing. Bullying at least in my experiance, it way more subtle then anime makes it out to be. So seeing these events, ones that are fairly innocuous at face value, but how they built up over time and how they changed a character feels… validating in a way. It’s validating in the same sense that Miyamura’s doubts over friendship is taken seriously by the showrunners and original author. There’s no tonal changes that make it a one episode and done issue. It’s got the time and story to explain why it matters, and show how it’s more universal then just Miyamura.

Granted, I’m a bit biased here as Horimiya was one of my surprise favorites from this year. I’m hoping that I managed to shape my inital idea and make it comprehensiable. It’s always a bit difficult to do that with topics that hit so close to home. I hope this deep dive into approximately ten minutes of a single episode was interesting to read and not too much of a slough to get through. I apologize in advance if it was. Otherwise, I’ll read your thoughts down in the comments below, or catch you in the next post!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s