by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Izumi Miyamura is an interesting mix of strong and weak. Not “weak” in a strictly negative sense; he can't seem to stand up to Hori and deny her what she wants even though we see that it takes a toll on him each time (Mizouchi's comment about his red eyes shows us that), so perhaps that's not the right word. He's maybe too accommodating of other people at his own expense – it upsets him, but he roleplays with Hori the way she wants him to, and he'll speak to his middle school bully even though his body language screams that he wants to be anywhere else but there. A piece of this may simply be him trying to avoid conflict, which is both valid and understandable coming from his middle school experience. But it can at times be uncomfortable for the viewer, particularly when it comes to him accommodating Hori's kink.
Hori, I have come to realize, is not coming off nearly as well in the anime as she does in the manga. Honestly, I'm fairly certain that's because of how much is being skipped over in favor of adapting as many volumes as possible – we're in the volumes 8/9 territory right now, which means that the pace has been roughly equivalent to a volume an episode. Thinking about it that way, it's really impressive that Horimiya has been as good as it is, because that's not the sort of book-to-episode transition that always works. But it is nevertheless robbing us of a lot of the quieter or more typical school-based moments, which means that we have less time to see Hori and Miyamura iron out the wrinkles in their relationship. It isn't perfect in the source material either, but it at least has a lot more room to work on its issues without Hori coming off as controlling and Miyamura as somewhat cowed.
That's why it's really nice when we realize this episode that, when Hori is going all demon-spawn behind Miyamura while other girls from class make much of him, it's not Miyamura she's angry at. She whacks him in the back of the head, because that's just where her maturity's at, apparently; but when she explains (in her head) why she's angry, it's on his behalf. She's furious that no one gave him the time of day before he became “hot,” hurt for him that no one could be bothered to see who he was on the inside – and maybe a little angry at herself for being one of those people until he brought her brother home. Hori knows that Miyamura deserves to be loved, to have friends, and to not have to hide in the shadows in order to feel safe. Seeing further proof of how shallow the rest of the world's view of him is upsets her, even if she doesn't know a constructive way to deal with it. (I admit that I kind of want to toss them a copy of Isabella Rotman's A Quick and Easy Guide to Consent through the screen.)
It feels, however, like the main point the anime is making is less about Hori and Miyamura as a couple and more about Miyamura overcoming his middle school trauma. That's no easy process, speaking from experience, and he's honestly a whole lot more forgiving of his bully than I'd be. It's nice that Tanimura does want to try to make up for what he did (even if it's just because Hori terrifies him), and that he's having nightmares indicates that he picked on Miyamura because he was unhappy too. I do not, on the other hand, love that what he did is being phrased as “teasing”; he bullied Miyamura, which is worlds away from teasing, and that Miyamura is able to come out the other side at all is wonderful. But this episode seems to be trying to have it both ways, with Hori pushing him and Tanimura trying to make up with him for behaviors that skirt the edge of uncomfortable. It's great that the anime is trying to fit in so much content, but maybe it would have been better to not go quite as far in the story and do a more in-depth job with what story they got.
Horimiya is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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