Horimiya is a 2021 anime following the budding relationship between Kyoko Hori and Izumi Miyamura. They are both high school students who have a bit more to them than meets the eye. Falling into the genres of comedy, romance, school, and slice of life, Horimiya may not sound immediately interesting or special. It wasn’t anywhere on my radar for the Winter ’21 anime I planned to watch. But a commenter on my blog told me the first episode of Horimiya was possibly the best pilot episode of the season. Now that I’ve seen it, I agree. So what’s so special about Horimiya?
Well, there are three answers. Firstly, the charming, amusing, and calming atmosphere and attitude of the series makes it special. Secondly, the characters are all quite relatable and well-written. Last of all, Horimiya has a completely different structure from most school romance anime. The common trope is for the entire series to focus on the lead-up to the love confession, which is the climax. After that, there might be an episode or two where the two main characters are actually a couple. But with Horimiya, the characters begin dating pretty early on, and the focus of the series is their relationship during the final year of high school. I much prefer the style of anime like Horimiya.
So, we already know we have a series with strong characters and good romantic execution, but let’s get to the usual style of Anime Rants reviews. We’ll look at the visuals, story, audio, and characters, as well as my personal enjoyment level.
The characters are drawn with very fine, sort of faded-looking linework. Designs for the characters are fairly detailed, but detail isn’t the main strength. The main strength would be something like the aesthetically pleasing look of the characters. The eyes look simple but really beautiful and attention-catching. This style kind of reminds me of the art in Shinsekai Yori, but better. To me, it looks almost like the characters were painted. I don’t know what to call that effect, but I like it. Lighting and shading is always done well.
The color pallet is interesting since it’s highly variable. There are some really bold colors for the character designs– Sakura’s green hair and eyes, for example. On the other hand, there are also realistically colored characters like the two protagonists, Miyamura and Hori. Colors for backgrounds and settings tend to be light and mild.
There’s some uniqueness in the art compared to standard, modern romance anime. For some shots, the background is white (or white with some grey) and the character’s outline has a shadow. But instead of being grey/black, the shadow is a pretty color, like scarlet or hot pink. I like this effect because it singles out the character’s expression and adds a creative touch. Overall, the visuals look wonderful.
Like with most slice-of-life type anime, Horimiya has a simple story. The only over-arching plot is the progress the characters make in their friendships and romances. So when it comes to the story category, it’s more about evaluating the execution of the series, the atmosphere, the emotional themes, and other aspects that contribute to the bigger picture, such as comedy. And all in all, Horimya was excellent in these regards. The main reason I didn’t give it an 8/10 is that I felt some of the exploration of themes was too shallow. There was much more the writers and creators could have done with this story. That being said, a 7/10 is still good. Now let’s look at some examples of Horimiya’s strengths.
It’s important to have a strong pilot in a series, and Horimiya succeeded with this. It was a great first episode that set up the mood and pacing for the rest of the series, as well as establishing the main characters and their dynamics. The atmosphere in the show is pretty much perfect, with a laidback, calm feel to it, and an abundance of adorable and sweet moments. Execution was also good. The series covered the final year of school for Hori and Miyamura, and by the end of it, they are a strong couple considering a future together. Comedy in Horimiya was great, too, for the most part.
As far as the themes, I guess I just wanted a bit more depth. Horimiya isn’t entirely without profound moments or relatable emotional themes. In fact, it’s fine for what it tries to be. Cuteness, light, and gentle romance are the hallmarks of Horimiya, not psychological exploration. The scenes where Miyamura talked with his past self in his imagination and dreams were some of the highlights of the show for me. But they only scratched the surface of this character’s psyche. And the same insight was not seen in the characterization of others such as Yoshikawa or even Hori herself. Anyway, Horimiya still had an excellent story to tell.
The cast in Horimiya is simply delightful, consisting mostly of skilled and experienced seiyuu. Kouki Uchiyama, famous for roles in various anime from Haikyuu to Hunter x Hunter, plays the gentle and introspective Miyamura. Kyoko Hori is voiced by Haruka Tomatsu, who was also the voice of Zero Two in Darling in The Franxx and Asuna in Sword Art Online. The veteran seiyuu Daisuke Ono appears as Kyosuke, the father of Kyoko. A widely famous and beloved voice actor, Jun Fukuyama plays supporting character Yanagi. Everyone did great with their roles.
“Iro Kousui” by You Kamiyama is the opening song for Horimiya. Although it wasn’t immediately one that I loved, it grew on me as I continued listening to it. Now I think it’s an excellent song. The ending song is “Yakusuko” by Friends, and I’m pretty sure I recognize the vocalist from one of the Assassination Classroom ending songs. It was also a good song, but I like the opening a little better. As for the instrumental music, while it wasn’t particularly memorable, it did the job well. Thanks to these music tracks, the tone and mood was on point for the key scenes in Horimiya.
This is another category in which Horimiya generally excelled. Main characters were well-developed and most of the supporting cast got some characterization as well. In addition, some of the characters were just personally delightful or very relatable for me. Miyamura is one of my new favorite male anime characters. Hori’s upfront, business-like personality is so refreshing, especially in anime where female characters are usually chastised for such traits. I liked Sengoku and Remi as a couple, and the episode focused on them was amazing. Even minor characters that were mostly there for comedy were so enjoyable. Sawada and Kyosuke are prime examples.
I know that was brief, but I want to avoid writing essays about each character. The way the characters are presented and developed in this anime is commendable. There’s not more to say beyond that.
Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
My personal enjoyment of Horimiya was pretty high. The comedy kept a smile on my face consistently. One of the funniest things to me was the slight sexual humor. Hori has a degradation kink and it’s adorable. I liked the introduction of Sawada as a lesbian character even though it was mostly comical. I love the visuals and all the character designs. This anime is just so full of cuteness and sweetness. It’s nice to have an anime like that every now and then to lift my mood and to provide a break from the usual content I enjoy, which is considerably darker or more emotional. Listening to the instrumental OSTs of Horimiya with my new headset has been highly enjoyable for me, too. As you can see, there’s a lot to love in Horimiya.
Overall score: 7.8/10.0 Good
Horimiya was absolutely delightful and might and might as well be rounded up to 8/10. If you like romance anime, then definitely check this one out. Horimiya is also a good choice if you’re tired of all the recent fantasy anime and want a bit more realism. It’s hard to go wrong with an anime so cute, sweet, and funny. With that, we’ll wrap things up. Thank you so much for reading and have a great day!
Akane Yanagi: ISFJ (Nurturer Type)
Honoko Sawada: ISFP (Artist Type)
Izumi Miyamura: INFP (Idealist Type)
Kakeru Sengoku: ISTJ (Dutiful Type)
Kouichi Shindou: ESFP (Performer Type)
Kyoko Hori: ESFJ (Caregiver Type)
Kyosuke Hori: ENTP? (Visionary Type)
Motoko Iura: ISTJ (Dutiful Type)
Remi Ayasaki: ESFP (Performer Type)
Sakura Kono: ISFJ (Nurturer Type)
Shu Iura: ESFP (Performer Type)
Tohru Ishikawa: ESTP (Doer Type)
Yuki Yoshikawa: ENFP (Inspirer Type)