by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 1 of
How would you rate episode 2 of
Drama is all well and good, but sometimes you just want a story about two nice people getting to know each other. While the first episode of Horimiya fits that description a little better than the second, even with the added excitement this is shaping up to be a sweet, comfort-food kind of show – and since that's largely a description that fits the original manga the anime is based on, that's a pretty good sign. Simplified to its most basic components, the story follows two high school classmates, Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, who never really spent much time together until Miyamura rescues Hori's little brother Sota when he falls down while outside. When he brings Sota home, Hori has no idea that he's her classmate, because at school Miyamura fits the image of the socially-isolated potential otaku. The real Miyamura? He's got multiple piercings and tattoos. To say that he's not what Hori was expecting may be an understatement.
Really, though, Miyamura's appearance, or rather his dual appearances, are less about who he is as a person right now and more shorthand for the theme of these first two episodes: that no one is ever exactly as we assume them to be. This is something that these two episodes really do a good job with; even if we just look at Miyamura as an example, he's full of contradictions to any and most assumptions we can make based on tropes and looks. In his school guise, he's got shaggy hair, never wears the summer uniform or participates in swimming, and sports glasses – all of which leads to speculation that he's shy, possibly a big otaku, and is probably very smart. None of these turn out to be true, though – he's introverted, which isn't the same as shy, doesn't have an otaku bone in his body, and is actually at the bottom of the class for grades. He only keeps covered because his piercings and tattoos carry a connotation in Japan that's less “emo” and more “possibly involved in organized crime.” Meanwhile Hori, despite her perfect girl exterior, is deeply involved in taking care of her brother and the house because of her parents' work, only knows anime songs because she only listens to music with her brother, and is definitely quicker with a slap or a punch than anything about her would suggest. Everyone has two faces in this show, and that's not an indictment of a single character – it's just how people are.
Okay – maybe it's an indictment of one character. Episode two shows us that Hori has been doing a lot of work for the student council that she really shouldn't have to do, and while she's breaking her back laboring over it, her classmates note that the work she's doing actually belongs to the president's girlfriend Remi. Remi apparently can't be bothered to do it herself, and then when she loses part of it in-transit, she lets Hori take the blame in what, by the time Miyamura shows up, is an increasingly ugly situation. I hesitate to say that Remi is deliberately fobbing things off on Hori, but seeing the way she immediately bursts into tears when Miyamura confronts her with the evidence that she, not Hori, lost the papers, I admit to feeling cynically suspicious. Of course, her pink pigtails and adorable appearance could be hiding her uglier depths, which would be in line with these episodes, especially since we learn that Hori was more than a bit of a brat to the student council president when they were little, a revelation that probably everyone, including Miyamura, would be off-put by. (I'm not thrilled that it's used as comedic fodder, honestly.)
At the heart of this, however, is the way that Hori and Miyamura are slowly growing closer. The timeline feels rushed compared to the early volumes of the manga, and that does feel like it's having an effect on how well we're seeing their budding relationship. We spend much more time in Hori's head, too, so there's not quite as clear a picture of how Miyamura feels, although the birthday gift he gives her in episode two does very nicely show that he's paying close attention to her. (She, meanwhile, is embarrassed she didn't know his first name.) They're both floundering a little as they try to figure things out and come together, and hopefully the pacing will slow down a bit so that we can relish each moment of this sweet, relatively drama-free story.
Horimiya is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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