Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Horimiya

Original Run: January 10, 2021 - April 4, 2021
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: HERO

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Horimiya. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

They couldn’t have been any more different.

Kyouko Hori (voiced by Haruka Tomatsu) is one of the prettiest and most popular at school. While she tries to stay fashionable around others, Hori takes on many household chores and upkeep at home.

Izumi Miyamura (voiced by Kouki Uchiyama) is a quiet loner who doesn’t try to call attention to himself. Thus, it is always a surprise when people find out he has several piercings and tattoos.

Under most circumstances, Kyouko and Izumi would hardly have the chance to talk, let alone come together. But thanks to a simple coincidental encounter, these two found one another, thus, changing their worlds forever.

Series Positives

Well, well, well, very well.

Horimiya was pretty damn good. Or, to put it more pointedly, Horimiya was absolutely fantastic.

The winter 2021 season, during which this series came out, was chalked full of highly anticipated sequels and follow-ups, many of which struck gold. Horimiya is undoubtedly a powerful presence standing amongst giants such as Attack on Titan, Beastars, and Re:ZERO.

(Yes, I know a six-part OVA called Hori-san to Miyamura-kun exists, but I haven’t yet seen it.)

At this point in the year – which, at the time of this review’s posting, is June 2021, and Anime Hajime is still only highlighting winter anime – it might be premature for me to say this next bit. Nevertheless, if this series isn’t a contender for “Best Anime of the Year,” that would mean the rest of 2021 had become utterly phenomenal. 

Not only am I saying Horimiya impressed me, but I’m saying it also did something that not many shows can do nowadays. This series surprised me. The story, the pacing, the characters, the dialogue, nearly everything felt fresh.

I have seen countless romantic comedies. The vast majority of them either choose to be more straight-laced romantic or more slapstick comedic. Few can honestly claim to be both.

Horimiya was both.

This series had no trouble navigating the fine line connecting lighthearted and heartfelt. When situations were serious, they were serious; when situations were funny, they were funny; then, when situations were one or the other, they could include elements from each.

At its heart, Horimiya was a character-driven anime. Its cast was the glue that held everything together and the engine that got everything going. An accomplishment that is difficult to obtain with a one or two-character story. This series managed that with several.

There were a ton of people in this show and had the perspective changed just a little, any one of them could have been the lead protagonist. Sometimes it came off as though there were several series happening at once. And rather than everything turning into a jumbled mess, it was all cohesive, feeding back into the tale of the two titular characters – Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura (Hori-Miya).

Without a doubt, the love story between this show’s leads was the best I have seen in a long, long time.

The progression of Kyouko and Izumi’s relationship was concrete proof that a romance anime doesn’t have to follow a strict formula. Any show I watch following this one that hits all the expected beats and checks off the typical boxes will feel frustratingly safe in comparison.

And it wasn’t as if Horimiya did anything outrageous, either. It didn’t push boundaries; it did nothing controversial. The only thing this show really did was include many more aspects that go into a romantic relationship. It was like this series was asking, “Hey, these things exist too, so why is no one else using them?”

To start, Izumi had piercings and tattoos. As many of you might know, body modifications, especially tattoos, are generally frowned upon in Japanese society. Although Japan is getting more accepting in this regard, many businesses (hot springs, gyms, water parks, etc.) will not allow you entry if you have visible ink. So for a teenage protagonist of a slice-of-life style, romantic-comedy anime to have tattoos is basically unheard of.

Once Horimiya pulled that out of its bag, you better believe it grabbed my attention.

From that point, this series kept doing things you would think would be more prevalent but aren’t.

For example, I can’t tell you the number of anime where the whole point of the show is the lead couple getting a mutual “I love you” moment. There are typically lots of will-they-won’t-they shenanigans, denials, and – to use a dating-sim term – flag events before the final climactic confession.

Not so much in Horimiya. Most of Kyouko and Izumi’s story was about them growing closer AFTER they started dating.

Once these two became a pair, it opened a whole world of possibilities that many shows don’t have access to. What other shows treat as a they-live-happily-ever-after fairy tale ending, Horimiya treated as a next step.

While it would have been interesting to see how Kyouko and Izumi handled a disagreement – because not even the closest, most loving couple will see eye-to-eye all the time – what they did do together made for a very good watch.

  • Kyouko and Izumi dealt with the aftermath of their schoolmates learning they were dating.
  • They defended each other when dark spots in their pasts came up.
  • They comforted one another when going through a rough spell.
  • They interacted with and were a part of their respective family
  • Hell, they even explore some of their fantasies – it turns out Kyouko is a bit of a masochist.

Horimiya even went so far as to suggest Kyouko and Izumi were having sex. Again, the mere implication of sex happening in a comedic, non-hyper-dramatic, non-echii series is just not done.

It was all so refreshing to see because it really did feel like I wasn’t watching a rinse-and-repeat story.

And to think, I haven’t yet mentioned the other half of the reason why Horimiya is worth checking.

In quick succession, this series was:

  • Funny
  • Well animated
  • Addicting
  • Comforting
  • Fantastically written
  • Incredibly acted

On so many different levels, Horimiya knocked it out of the goddamn park.

Series Negatives

There were a handful of things that came up in this series that did seem a bit off.

For instance, I simply don’t see any Japanese parent being cool with their teenager getting tattoos that might get them kicked out of school. I feel like that would cause a bit of tension, tension that never came up. Also, what legitimate tattoo parlor would say okay to inking a minor?

A nitpick if there ever was one.

On a more substantial note, Horimiya did occasionally get ahead of itself.

Whenever an episode started, it was always a gamble if it would pick up where the previous one left off. Sometimes details didn’t match with what had been established. Even though I check and double-checked, I kept getting this sneaking suspicion I was accidentally watching everything out of order.

It was a weird sensation, one that, lucky, didn’t take away from this show’s overall enjoyment. Through and through, this was one heck of a watch.

Final Thoughts

Utterly solid from beginning to end; this series was a truly fantastic experience.

Great characters, outstanding animation, a willingness to try different ideas, it was hard not to love this show.

It’s always nice when you come across the best anime of a genre you’ve seen in a long time.

Horimiya has earned a massive recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Horimiya? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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