by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 11 of
It's nice to see Horimiya getting back to what it does best: exploring the ways that people can be different from how they first appear. The main focus for this is Iura, one of the classmates who got short shrift from the series' elimination of many of the slice-of-life storylines. That probably means that anime-only viewers will know him as “the green guy:” Hori and Miyamura's classmate with the green hair and eyes. (Not to be confused with Sakura, the student council girl with the green hair and eyes. Who shouldn't be confused with Iura's little sister, the middle schooler with the green hair and eyes.) Since so much of his character-building was left out, we haven't had the chance to also get to know him as the loud one of the group, and that's a major disservice in an episode where one of the big “reveals” is that he's an older brother, because we don't have much reason to be surprised about it.
Once we get past that stumbling block, however, we are “reminded” that Iura's the farthest thing from the Japanese stereotype of an older brother: he's loud, he's goofy, and he has the restraint and sense of timing of ants at a picnic. No one can quite wrap their heads around him as the proverbial big brother, and things like Sawada being actively afraid of him because of the aforementioned traits (with an emphasis on loud) certainly help to drive the point home. But when we see him interacting with Motoko, his younger sister, or listen to her tell Hori about him, it becomes apparent that he's got both a public and a private face. In public he's the Iura who wouldn't know a hint if it slapped him in the face and can be heard a mile away. But at home, he's quiet (preferring to text Motoko from the other room), assertive (telling her that she absolutely will be eating dinner), and, above all else, encouraging in his own way. When she's crying because her awful homeroom teacher told her that she wasn't smart enough to get into the high school of her dreams, he helps to calm her down, reminding her that even if she can't go there, she can attend any number of other high schools, including his own. Then he promptly goes to ask Hori at school if she'd mind tutoring Motoko, either to help her get into her dream school or to tell him straight out if she won't be able to make it, something which presumably would give him time to figure out another school for her to apply to or ways to soothe her if she really can't get in. Those are the hallmarks of the kind of big brother no one at school can quite picture him as. Neither self is necessarily an act, but realizing that he may have two such contradictory personas within him is still an interesting discovery for Hori, even though as Miyamura's girlfriend she's in a better position than most to know firsthand how normal that is.
Of course, those two distinct selves can also be a product of discomfort in one situation or the other, as has been the case with some of the characters we've met in this series. That makes the group's treatment of Akane, the boy who confessed to Yuki, particularly interesting. Akane tends to speak very formally and refer to people by their last names, something he may not love about himself but that he can't seem to help. His friends, however, find it weird and a little off-putting, and in part of the episode they all try to get him to “relax” and talk to them more casually. What's interesting is that none of them, including Miyamura, seem to recognize that it may simply be a coping mechanism or another way of making himself comfortable in social situations; if he's working through shyness, not calling people by their first names may be a way to avoid feeling too forward. Since Miyamura recognizes his own coping mechanisms and that Sawada's prickles are also a form thereof, it's kind of funny that he can't understand (or puts on the appearance of not understanding) Akane's – but since Akane clearly has Miyamura's number when it comes to some of his worries, maybe it's just plain old embarrassment at play.
In any event, this is the nicest episode we've had in a while, even if it is still plainly hurting from skipped source material. Let's hope that the show can keep that up for one last episode.
Horimiya is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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