Note: I’m watching and reviewing Horimiya blind. Please do not posts spoilers in the comments.
“Can you move it along? I’m all out of a time cards.”
So almost two years ago, I held my third episode review poll. It was intended to be the first part of an initiative where I catch up on 2021 anime. The poll consisted of Winter 2021 shows and I was going to follow it up with another poll for the Spring season before returning to seasonal coverage that Summer. As you can tell Horimiya won the poll and I’m very, very late with getting around to it. Life got in the way and I wasn’t very motivated to blog. As always, please accept my apologies for messing it all up. I don’t know if anyone remembers voting for Horimiya and my aforementioned plan to play catch up is pretty much dead. However, I still want to honor the results of the poll so here’s goes nothing.
Before diving in, let’s clarify on a few things. One, this series of episode reviews is for the 2021 TV show and not the Hori-san to Miyamura-san OVA series, which is a separate adaptation of the manga (which itself has two versions). Second, I am aware of Horimiya -piece-, an upcoming companion piece premiering this coming Summer season. Right now though, I just want to tackle one installment at a time so I won’t make a decision on piece until I’m done with the base show. Hopefully, I’ll be done with this show before July (but don’t be surprised if I’m not done by then). Third, I of course can’t guarantee that I’ll end up liking this show. I may write in bullet points in the event that I really don’t like it (but hopefully, that won’t be the case).
Now, this show has a very cute premise. Horimiya centers around a girl named Kyoko Hori (Haruka Tomatsu) and a boy named Izumi Miyamura (Koki Uchiyama). And yes, the show’s title is basically the ship name for these characters. At the start of the story, Hori and Miyamura are acquittances attending the same class in high school. Each character has a double life of some kind. Hori, the most popular girl in class, privately deals with housework and looks after her younger brother Souta (Yuka Terasaki). Miyamura is perceived to be a gloomy otaku and a loner but in reality, he’s more into punk-style fashion and has piercings and tattoos that he has to hide with a different hairdo and his school uniform. Hori and Miyamura learn about each other’s secrets when Miyamura helps an injured Souta. Both characters agree to keep each other’s secret safe and begin to befriend each other over their common ground and when Souta asks Miyamura to frequently hang out at the Hori residence.
Past the setup, the first episode provides two additional vignettes. For the second act, Hori has to attend a last minute school committee meeting so she tasks Miyamura to buy some eggs on sale. While rushing to the supermarket, Miyamura assumes his true appearance and gets spotted by Hori’s friend, Yuki Yoshikawa (Yurie Kozakai). After that, Miyamura befriends another classmate, Toru Ishikawa (Seiichirou Yamashita), who has feelings for Hori and becomes curious over her newfound friendship with Miyamura.
Right from the get go, I really like the relationship between the two titular characters. Given the double life gimmick, there’s naturally some good comedy with the two’s reaction towards each other’s secret. Miyamura figured out Hori’s secret ahead of time and is therefore nonchalant about it. Hori on the other hand is completely exacerbated with how wrong she was about Miyamura at first glance as well as some of the weird stuff that he does pull. On the other side of the coin, the show injects some effective drama out of the two. When Miyamura tells Hori how he bumped into Yoshikawa in his true appearance, Hori accidentally blurts out that she doesn’t want more people to find about Miyamura’s secret. Though awkward, Miyamura admits that he feels the same way as it makes their bond feel more special. Later in the episode, Miyamura puts some distance between him and Hori so that Ishikawa feels more comfortable confessing to Hori. At the same time, Miyamura has grown concerned that his friendship with Hori might damage her reputation in school. It’s definitely a silly but understandable notion. Thankfully, Hori squashes it (both figuratively and physically) within the next scene. All in all, it’s only the first episode and yet there’s already some fun and intrigue to be had with the relationship between these two characters.
The other characters are pretty likable too. Souta works really well as a vehicle to kick off the plot and it’s fun watching him hang out with Miyamura and rat out some of his older sister’s quirks. I thought for sure Ishikawa was going to be a jerk but surprisingly, he’s actually a nice guy. He finds out about Miyamura’s hobby and promises to keep it a secret. The fact that he asks Miyamura if it’s okay for him to confess to Hori, when Miyamura isn’t even dating Hori, says a lot. The guy is just that empathetic. The only character I don’t feel one way or another towards is Yoshikawa though to be fair, the show is clearly setting something up with her.
I have one major concern with Horimiya and it’s the pacing. I like each of the three parts of this episode but at the same time, I can’t help but think the show went through each one very quickly. I did try the manga for a bit at one point and while my memory is a bit fuzzy, I do remember each of these vignettes being a full chapter. With that in mind, I got a bit surprised to see the first episode adapt all three. I was just expecting the first two at most. There’s nothing wrong with covering that much within half an hour of animation so long as you do it smartly but I am a bit concerned if this is the pace this show is going to go at. Hopefully, I’m proven wrong as I really dig the show’s premise and I think there’s a lot of potential with it.
Watch Horimiya on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, and VRV (via Crunchyroll)