Episode 8

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Horimiya ?

This week Hori has an awakening. When Miyamura puts his foot on her head (sort of on a whim) while she's painting his toenails, she suddenly realizes that it might be hot if he yelled at her sometimes. She doesn't want him to be mean or abusive – just to roleplay it…and Miyamura is definitely more than a little freaked out over her request.

Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking what you like, even if that's something that might seem “off” to other people. If no one is being injured (who doesn't want to be), people are more than welcome to explore various kinks and ideas in their relationships. If that's Hori's thing, that's perfectly fine. The problem is that it isn't entirely clear if Miyamura, the other half of the couple, is comfortable with Hori's request. Just why this is almost isn't as important as the fact that he is, but it is interesting to look at the opening moments of the episode as pointing to what might be driving his discomfort, because as Hori is aware, he's perfectly comfortable being loud and aggressive with other people.

For my money, Horimiya really is at its most effective when it's looking at the positive changes in Miyamura's life between middle and high school. The opening this week, when his third-year high school self is talking to his middle school self, is poignant in how he assures his younger incarnation that things really will get better. It's something you hear a lot if you're an unhappy kid without many friends or who just doesn't feel like they belong, and it's not easy to just blindly trust the adult or older kid making the promises of a better future. As Miyamura remembers just how lost and unhappy he was, he realizes how close he came to not making it to the point where he meets Hori, Toru, and Yuki, and while that may not frighten him, it does make him wake up in tears. Miyamura didn't just revisit his lowest point in a dream, he finally truly understood how low that point actually was, and consequently came to understand even better how much Hori means to him. She's too important for him – and that both makes him uncomfortable with yelling at her or being aggressive with her, and compels him to try despite his discomfort. It's a tricky position to be in, and I'm not sure that the series fully understands or appreciates that.

For that matter, I'm not entirely sure that the series understands what “weak” means, because Remi's monologue about her boyfriend lists off a lot of things that she seems to think are weaknesses when I'd frame them more as signs of strength. That isn't just because I still dislike Remi (she's getting better, but…); it's more that she doesn't understand that putting on a good show in front of people, yelling when you don't like to, or accepting socially perceived weaknesses actually takes a lot of inner fortitude. Sengoku may be shy and/or anxious, but he still manages to do what he has to while being a nice person – he easily could have made fun of Remi for not knowing who Goethe is, but instead he offers to lend her books. (And it's Grimms' not Grimm's, subtitles!) He begins to like her when he learns who she is beneath her pretty face, and frankly that shows a lot more strength of character than plenty of other people.

The one segment I didn't have any issues with this episode was the matter of Akane's confession to Yuki. That's because it works on more than one level: last week we saw that Yuki isn't good at actually standing up for herself, but rather than just say yes to him when he asks her out –which would be the easier thing to do – she figures out a way around it. Then when she assumes – after learning that his eyesight is nearly as bad as mine – that he must have her confused with Hori, she does say something, when again it would have been much easier to just let it go. Like Miyamura, Yuki is learning to come out of her shell, one inch at a time. They're very different shells, but it takes the same courage to peek outside, and every step forward is a triumph.


Horimiya is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.

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