Everyone has a side they dont want others to see. 100https://lostinanime.com/wpcontent/uploads/2021/01/Horimiya0436.jpg Horimiya is built around this very idea and Im not just talking about our titular characters theres more to this show than meets the eye. As an animeonly normie this is the one time Ive had the pleasure of experiencing the source material before coming into the TV series. Having taken a break from the manga for about 2 years my excited fanboy self assumed that watching the show would be a simple matter of reliving what Id already enjoyed in the past. But in the weeks following the animes announcement my hype went away and in place came a realization: I had begun to see Horimiya in a different light. Despite the PV trailers hinting at a significant departure in tone the anime series itself turned out to be a rather faithful adaptation overall. But did I really want the show to stick too closely to its source? In retrospect the manga carries some nasty implications that Ive disliked and criticized in other texts. Whether I liked it or not knowing what happens later in the narrative recontextualizes even its early stages. Would my perceptions of the anime be swayed by my newfound perspective? If so could I still enjoy it? Things are different now but am I OK with that? Allow me to try and answer these questions for myself. For the first and likely only time Ill also be looking beyond the anime expanding the discussion to include some notes on the franchise as a whole. Were still keeping things spoilerfree but skip ahead to my TlDr if youd like to go in blind. With all that said lets attempt to uncover the true side of Horimiya. All love stories start somewhere https://.red/sETk. and ours begins with a humble webcomic. Hiroki Adachi under the pen name HERO selfpublished Horisan to Miyamurakun on her own website. Under panels of scruffy crude artwork was an equallysimple yet undeniable charm and likeability. It would take a collaboration with artist Daisuke Hagiwara in 2011 to bring the story to a much larger audience. The Horimiya hypetrain has since found legions of fans during its neardecadelong run of syndication consistently ranked as one of the most popular romance mangas in recent years. The franchise also includes a handful of OVAs and of course a 2021 anime adaptation. This IP has had a rather long string of successes growing from humble beginnings to a bestselling phenomenon. But throughout the years Horimiyas massive appeal can be traced back its greatest strength: Horimiya feels organic. The truth about romance is that it has to feel right. 100https://lostinanime.com/wpcontent/uploads/2021/02/Horimiya0544.jpg Horimiyas simple and refreshing approach to the genre achieves just that. Author HERO claimed in an interview that she didnt keep up with romance manga trends instead tapping into her past life experiences for inspiration. However I do think theres more to the storys infectious success than shes letting on. Plenty of Horimiyas writing specifically targets tropes common to romance and Japanese conventions downplaying them to impressive effect. The biggest example of this lies in the design of its cast and premise. High school students Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura are worlds apart as far as adolescent social hierarchies go. At first glance Hori seems to be the popular girl whereas Miyamura is often seen as the softspoken class nerd and otaku outcast. However our leads dont fall neatly into those descriptions at all Hori goes from social butterfly to hardworking homemaker as soon as the school bell rings. Meanwhile Miyamura sheds his thick glasses for piercings transforming his look completely. When the two alter egos meet in a chance encounter Hori and Miyamura make a pact to be their true selves in front of each other. The lightning connection that develops as their defences come crashing down is more than just a hook for a quick wholesome read as this concept of personas allows the central theme of Horimiya to shine. While our masks are necessary for social interaction its important to let our true sides get their time in the spotlight too. Horimiya celebrates the simple underrated joys of being perceived for how we really are. Our leads and most secondary characters demonstrate that philosophy by being spins on popular archetypes. Tropes like the popular girl or class loner are accompanied by character flaws thereby facilitating storytelling rather than replacing it. Furthermore the conventions of romance as a genre are subverted as well with characters often communicating openly instead of beating around the bush with dumb secrets. This enables Horimiyas signature romantic progression which hardly feels drawnout. Thats not to say that things were constantly introspective and serious as Horimiya set a lighthearted tone for a majority of its run. In line with the concept of things not being as they initially seem Horimiya frequently derives comedy from its use of misunderstandings which usually earns a good chuckle from me. The smart subversion of tropes natural pacing and lighthearted tone make up the biggest selling point for Horimiya it just feels right. Up till this point my praise has been directed towards the manga. These points are what endeared me to the franchise and got me hyped for the anime. Unfortunately its hard to feel that this jump to the silver screen fully leveraged the strengths of its source To me the anime doesnt feel right. https://.red/EF3G. Firstly lets talk about how the anime handles plot. Having reread the manga alongside the weekly episodes I felt that the adapted chapters were mostly faithful to the plot onpaper. However the stuff that got left out hurt my experience more than I thought it would. Pacing as a whole is incredibly rapid further accelerating progression that was already known for being fast. Horimiyas anime definitely is fast but unnaturally so. With several arcs sandwiched into each episode its difficult to shake the feeling that Horimiya is rushing through its story beats without giving enough time to breathe. Cut material lessens the believability of Hori and Miyamuras relationship because there are a lack of encounters where that budding crush develops. Now Im not saying that the cut material is all that eventful from a plot perspective probably the only big occurrence skipped in the first manga arc was a Kyoto school trip which only lasted for a chapter. Its a tiny exclusion in the grand scheme of things but my main gripe is that these exclusions stack. As a result their need for each other isnt very convincing and their feelings toward each other cant help but come out of left field. This results in the anime effectively reaching its climax as early as Episode 5 which is particularly problematic for reasons well discuss later. Another big repercussion of the animes pacing choices is the departure in tone. Jokes and lighthearted sequences are less frequent in the anime in favor of more serious character beats. A once even contrast between lighthearted comedy and introspection becomes skewed towards the character stuff which are still compressed even further. During my time with the show I always felt like I was watching a clone of another episodic romcom Tsurezure Childrenhttps://anilist.co/anime/98291/TsurezureChildren/. This isnt a bad outcome per se but means that the end product reveals a different side to the Horimiya I had grown attached to. The Horimiya anime struggles to capture the spirit of its source. 100https://lostinanime.com/wpcontent/uploads/2021/01/Horimiya0301.jpg Scenes feel offkilter as if the show seems unsure of what tone it intends to set. The manga was always comfortable sticking to more traditional overthetop reactions with its comedy. However the animes focus on realistic line delivery means that most secondary characters personalities take a backseat for moremuted dialogue. Sadly this balance between the multifaceted nature of our casts personalities and realism appears to have been too far out of the shows reach. Out of all the VAs only Miyamuras is really able to bring this versatility on full display expressing a variety of tones to match each scene. Everyone elses voice acting usually defaults to a rather samey delivery throughout. Ironically this makes the animes comedy less animated than its still counterpart and the shows inconsistent timing doesnt help matters. At times individual shots are dragged on for just a second too long while others break continuity as the storyboard eagerly charges through to the next arc. Sound design is also rather grating especially in the early episodes. A scene can be awkwardly silent due to the absence of backing tracks while the exact same setup later in the season can be completely drowned out by techno beats that dont quite match the lowkey conversation onscreen. A couple of instances sees several characters incomprehensibly talking over each other in poorly mixed fashion. Look I really hate to be this pedantic on a technical front and am usually pretty lenient on these aspects. But as I mentioned earlier small individual infractions can build up over the course of a series run. These consistent issues are pretty negligible on their own but help paint a bigger picture of why a romcom is failing to be funny and how its overall tone feels so flimsy. Despite my criticisms I still enjoyed this adaptation quite a fair amount. 100https://lostinanime.com/wpcontent/uploads/2021/02/Horimiya0546.jpg As an indirect response to the somewhatshoddy OVA adaptations Cloverworks came in clutch with some gorgeous visuals. If more SOLs looked nearly as good as the anime Id be way more of a SOL fan than I already am The visual direction manages to make rather inventive additions to the mangas templates enhancing the overall look of the show through shot composition and minor tweaks. The show still retains plenty of its charm and heart and some character moments do hit hard in spite of a lack of buildup. Several scenes really took me back to my first few encounters with the story serving as nice throwbacks. However these reminders did come with their caveats. Horimiya always teetered on a delicate balance. 100https://lostinanime.com/wpcontent/uploads/2021/01/Horimiya0226.jpg Its dose of comedy and measured romantic progression cemented the manga as one of my favorite reads with a balance that Ive grown to appreciate much more in wake of the anime. The first glaring issue with Horimiyas story is that theres a lot of filler. A lot of the main arc is wrapped up within the first 3040 chapters which I thoroughly enjoyed on my recent reread. Not only did the animes take on things feel rushed but also dampened my spirits for the seasons second half. The anime thankfully handled things much better than my expectations but the lack of real weight in Horimiyas later arcs is a problem persistent in the source as well. Another weak spot is the dicey thematic implications of embracing your true side. Horimiya really values this theme but can take it to rather controversial extremes. Shockingly we dont need to look much further than the main couple to demonstrate this point. A couple of episodes are dedicated to Hori and Miyamura working through gapmoe a scenario where characters act in contrast with their outward appearance and closely tied to gender i.e. boys acting like girls and vice versa. To keep things brief the show dips its feet into mild sadism and constantly reinforces the idea that its not consensual. This is where Horimiyas line between jokes and reality really begin to blur. Making matters worse violence is constantly played off as a joke and it gets rather tiring to see characters getting their knuckles bruised over mild disputes. Perhaps its all due to the manga being based off dated material that was written as early as 2007 but its problematic nonetheless. TlDr: 100https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/766670782494408744/827957201507057664/ErairawsHorimiya041080p.mkv20210404012505.018.jpg?width=1178height=663 Horimiya is more than it appears for better or for worse. A rushed anime adaptation and inconsistent execution fail to capture the spirit of a manga series I thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully a lot of the heart and charm of the franchise still makes its way into the finished product as do some of the sources more notorious flaws. Horimiya still manages to make a strong impression with good overall production values and standout sequences. Still the manga is a significantly different experience and wellworth your time if you enjoyed the anime. 6/10 Cant bring myself to end things like that so allow me to leave this franchise on a more positive note. Here goes: CLOSING THOUGHTS: Coming back to the quote that opened this review lets discuss the franchise as a whole. Its a bit of an odd comparison but I liken my experience with this story to that of a developing relationship. Early stages of infatuation are when love is at its most picturesque and I was well in love with Horimiya. Taking cues from Miyamura and Horis secret selves Horimiya is a series that conceals its dicey implications with heartwarming moments and lighthearted comedy. At first glance this seemingly harmless show could do no wrong. But now the smoke has lifted and mirrors smashed. I still have love for this show but it means something different to me now. With all these flaws presented on the table I have to ask myself Am I OK with that? And I think the answer for now is yes. For better or for worse Horimiya is unabashedly a celebration of the Weird. Ichirou Watabe is a background character who takes pictures of Horis beau saving them in the aptlytitled Miyamura Folder. And lets not forget that Class 1s homeroom teacher openly admits to being a pervert who fetishises the same underage girls hes teaching. On their own those characters are obviously messed up. But for every Watabe Yasuda or even Hori theres a Miyamura a Yuki a Sakura and plenty others. Yes there are parts Im going to disagree with gone are the days where I can ignore some of the more yikes aspects of Horis behavior. But this story has certainly brightened up my day with more good than bad and Im still very proud of the legacy this franchise has lovingly left behind. As of March 17th 2021 Horimiyas manga drew to a close. Im so grateful to have loved this show with both the good sides and the bad. Thank you. STRAY THOUGHTS SPOILERS: Heres the link to the interviewhttps://animania.de/horimiyainterviewherounddaisukehagiwaraimgespraech/ I could only find it in a foreign language though so run it through a translator if you can: I have another link which may interest those who agree with my assessment of the source materials flaws regarding the source material. Apparently Horimiya only gets darker in the webcomics with material thats probably best left on HEROs website. Most of this stuff hasnt been translated and so I cant confirm the validity of these points. For starters the infamous Chapter 37 is um more detailed if you know you know. On a more sobering note the webcomic doublesdown on its true side theme with a backstory for Hori that completely changes the way youd perceive the character. Read on if you darehttps://www.reddit.com/r/Horimiya/comments/bw84kx/horimiyaiskindofweird/ Hol up were not quite done with Hori just yet. If youve been keeping up with Horimiya discourse lately youd likely be aware of the heated accusations surrounding her alleged homophobia. Im not gonna get too specific here as I do believe the joke speaks for itself. Thanks again Twitter Mob we can always count on you to take things out of context. Speaking of Chapter 37 I was kinda hoping theyd adapt the Love Mark hehehe. Commander Erwin Smith as Kyosuke was a casting choice I never knew I needed. SUSUME The anime was ontrack to pulling the biggest meta diss by sidelining Iura for the entire season. Sadly he did get his arcs adapted in Ep 11 such a wasted opportunity. As for why the sudden surge of Iura content it only felt more jarring in the manga as he was literally a background character up till that point. My guess was that he actually placed high in an official fanfavorite character poll with results released around Chapter 80. Its absolutely no coincidence that Iura sketches came in droves following that point. That OP is blissful. Synths fresh off that new Weeknd record make for a fantastic vibe. Plus series director Masashi Ishihama who has a good rep for making banger OPs outdoes himself in directing Horimiyas. The visual content has barely anything to do with the show but I grew to appreciate how he incorporates the imagery of squares and subtly directs your eyes in a smooth motion. Mad props this is my favorite OP of Winter. BEST GIRL: Something about Yukis sweater sleeves makes her a bajillion times cuter than she has any right to be. 100https://i.pin.com/originals/57/1c/7b/571c7b2968aee54940ad533c351982fe.jpg And finally: He learned the sorrowful feel of parting in the words See you tomorrow. OK that was quite a ride Tried my hand at really comparing the two forms of Horimiya sidebyside it proved to be a bit more challenging than expected. If you happen to like my verbose rants feel free to check out my other reviewshttps://anilist.co/user/An1meDweeb/reviews for seasons past and present. I also frequently post writeups under my list updates so definitely take a peek if youd like to see me mald over anime as they hit the airwaves. Peace
60 /100
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