Winter 2021 was easily one of the best seasons in recent memory with excellent shows from every genre. One of the great shows this season that filled in our cravings for romantic excitement would be the much anticipated Horimiya, the story of two high schoolers, Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura, and their friends as they journey through their teenage years. Considering the stellar lineup of this season of Attack on Titan, Re: Zero, etc. you wouldn’t think that a simple slice of life anime with such a down-to-earth plot would easily be overshadowed. However, thanks to its great writing and storytelling it was able to rise above its simple premise to become a great show and one of the best romance animes I’ve seen recently. Be warned, this review will contain spoilers.
Hori x Miyamura
Easily the best part of this show would be the relationship between Hori and Miyamuraand how it goes against conventional anime stereotypes. Usually, in these kinds of stories, the boy will have a harem of girls to choose from and the main conflict will be choosing which one to have and confessing to her. And while these sorts of stories can be entertaining at times Horimiya ditches these standard conventions very quickly. Not all the girls have a secret crush on Miyamura and it is made very clear that he and Hori are into each other by episode five. Instead, this show focuses on their relationship and the small moments in life that may not have a big impact on the future but are important to these people now. It is just so refreshing to see an anime that doesn’t focus on the thrill of falling in love but instead the pure and simple romance of two people in love.
This show for me feels so nostalgic, not just because it reminds me of those romance anime very similar to this such as Toradora and Clannad: After Story but because certain scenes here did remind me of when I was these people’s age. The time in your life when things were much simpler and the only things you worried about were the opinions of your peers, homework, and your crush. To me, this show captured the innocence and carefreeness of youth that I remember so well. In times that are as uncertain as these, it is nice to watch something that is wholesome and that reminds you of better days like this anime.
Other Good Stuff
I also really liked all the characters in this show, not just Hori and Miyamura but the rest of their friends and family. All of them were really likable and entertaining to watch. I particularly have a soft spot for Hori’s dad since he is just so much fun and every scene he is in is a blast especially his scenes with Miyamura. What I particularly liked about the side characters is not that they don’t just exist to support the main leads but instead feel like main protagonists themselves if they had more of the spotlight. There are some episodes that the main couple makes almost no appearance in. Some of the arcs such as Sakura and Yuki’s I found to be more entertaining than the main story. Each character in their own way feels significant to the story
Another aspect that this show is similar to other anime like Toradora and Clannad: After Story is how it is able to balance humor and sadness. This show is really funny with some pretty hilarious gags such as Miyamura and Sawada fighting over Hori. However, there were also some really serious moments like Miyamura meeting his former bully or Sakura getting rejected. This mix of comedy and seriousness is so well done that none of this feels out of place or tonally inconsistent. I also love this since it reflects life better. Life isn’t all good or bad but rather a series of ups and downs. I felt that overall this show was able to capture the highs and lows of ordinary life.
Anime vs Manga
Some fans have complained that the anime rushed through too many manga chapters and that a lot of content was cut out. Some have even compared this to the situation of the Promised Neverland which also rushed its story. While I do understand these peoples’ sentiments I personally was not bothered by this. I believe that anime adaptations should have the freedom to experiment and not be constrained by the manga as long as it’s logically consistent and still maintains the source material’s spirit. While the Promised Neverland gave us a very unsatisfying ending with multiple plot holes left unanswered, Horimiya gave, for me, a pretty sweet ending that felt very satisfying.
Also the former is an action-adventure anime while the latter is a slice of life which means far less important things are happening in the story which means more can be removed for the sack of time. I believe that this show ended at just the right amount of episodes before it overstayed its welcome and got boring.
However, I do think that some characters like Sakura and Sawada did not have enough development in this show. I’m also disappointed that we’ll probably not have a season 2 since I wanted to see more of the evolution of the relationships in this cast. Personally, I would love for there to be a season 2 of this anime even if it does not follow the manga. It could possibly be similar to Clannad: After Story where we see Hori and Miyamura’s relationship grow well into adulthood.
To conclude, Horimiya is an excellent show in a season full of great content. It was able to fully capture the range of emotions that one feels at that age and is able to turn one of the simplest concepts into a compelling story that kept me hooked week after week. After the debacle of the Promised Neverland, it seemed that Clover Works had lost its ways but this show and their other anime this season, Wonder Egg Priority, has shown that they still have it in them. This show has helped to restore my faith in their talent. I am sincerely looking forward to their next project and I hope they will handle it with the same amount of care as they did to this masterpiece.