Anime and high school romance stories go hand in hand. Every season, there’s at least one show set in a high school where a shy boy meets a popular girl, and they start dating. It’s something anime fans have seen countless times over the years. Most of these shows follow a similar formula, and most are either good or half-decent at best. However, there is one show that takes the high school romance formula and perfects it in its entirety. That show is Horimiya.
Horimiya doesn’t do anything new for a romance/high school anime. There’s still the shy boy and popular girl. They get together and become the school power couple. They go on school trips and have all the typical drama you would expect from teenagers. What makes Horimiya special and one of the best shows you can watch right now is how it presents you with his formula in its most perfect form. The story, the characters, the themes, even the presentation, everything about Horimiya will suck you in and won’t let go until the 13 episodes are over.
The story of Horimiya centers around Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura (put their names together, and you get Horimiya.) Hori is a dependable girl who can accomplish anything, while Miyamura is quiet and seen as an outcast. When the two meet outside of school by chance, they see different sides of each other. Hori is basically a Mum, seeing as her parents are always working, leaving her to care for her little brother Souta. And Miyamura is decked out in piercings and has a massive tattoo. Not what you were expecting, right? After this chance encounter, the two grow closer, with romance and drama ensuing. As I said, the premise of Horimiya isn’t anything ground-breaking, but the execution makes this story perfect.
The steady progress of Hori and Miyamura’s relationship is fantastic, and their transition from friends to partners is done perfectly. The added twist of both of them having sides of themselves that they only share with each other further adds to the charm of the series. The romance between these two is the overarching story, but each episode has its own little story. Once again, these little stories aren’t anything new, but the characters and animation set the series apart from the rest. There will be a heartfelt conversation about friendship in one episode, and the next will have Miyamura head-butt somebody. The characters make this story, and with such a colourful cast, you’ll never be bored.
The characters are the true stars of Horimiya, with each character having enough depth to be the main character. For starters, there’s the aforementioned Hori and Miyamura. Hori (voiced by Marisa Duran) is a reliable, popular girl at school and a substitute mother at home. On the other hand, Miyamura (voiced by Alejandro Saab) is a gloomy loner at school but a mysterious guy with piercings everywhere else. Hori struggles with the pressure of keeping up with school and caring for her younger brother, sometimes thinking she’s not good enough. Miyamura was heavily bullied when he was younger, which caused his gloomy personality, but he has a heart of gold underneath it all. Seeing these two bond over their hidden identities while opening up and moving on from their pasts will make you love them even more.
Besides the main two love birds, the supporting cast of Horimiya is just as enjoyable. There’s Tooru Ishikawa (voiced by Zeno Robinson) and Yuki Yoshikawa (voiced by Anairis Quinones), who are friends with Hori and Miyamura. These two create some of the funniest moments in the series, especially Yoshikawa. You also have the student council led by Kakeru Sengoku (voiced by Belsheber Rusape) alongside his girlfriend, Remy Ayasaki (voiced by Jalitza Delgado), and their friend Sakura Kouno (voiced by Celeste Perez). These three are also fun, but Sakura’s story is a standout as she deals with her feelings.
My favourite is Honoka Sawada (voiced by Apphia Yu), who has a fantastic story. She is initially obsessed with Hori and despises Miyamura, which leads to quite a few laughs. After finding out they’re neighbors, Sawada and Miyamura begin to bond. Afterwards, Miyamura becomes her emotional support person, and it’s absolutely adorable. Besides being entertaining, these characters let Horimiya dive into some interesting and downright depressing topics.
Horimiya deals with some sensitive topics and ideas but never goes overboard with them. Some series try to tackle topics like bullying or death, but they just come off as tacky. This is not the case with Horimiya. The series is primarily a romantic comedy, but when the serious moments hit, they hit like a truck. You could guess that Miyamura was bullied just from looking at him (it’s sad but true), but when his past is revealed, you’ll realize that even in anime, children can be assholes. Then there’s Sawada and her social anxiety, which she only starts to overcome with Miyamura’s help. I’m not going to spoil the reason for her trust in him, but when I realized it, I’ll admit that I shed a tear.
It’s not all bullying and crippling anxiety; Horimiya also dives into the nitty gritty of high school romance love triangles. This is where Sakura’s story comes in, and it’s heartbreaking to see someone not get a happy ending in this type of show. But that’s what high school is like, and Horimiya expertly conveys that. The series lets you sit with Sakura in her feelings, further driving that point home. There’s also the sibling relationship between Shu Iura (voiced by Y. Chang) and his younger sister. Anyone with a younger sibling can relate to the personality switch between talking to your friends and talking with your sibling. After watching Horimiya, you’ll be left with all the feels, and the gorgeous animation will only help with that.
Horimiya is animated by Cloverworks, the studio behind other series such as Spy x Family and Tokyo 24th Ward (both absolute bangers). The team brings their incredible talent to this series, and they don’t disappoint. Each character has a unique style that will let you instantly know who is who, even if you forget their names. I’m a fan of how the eyes are animated; the different colours and expressiveness are a marvel to behold. On the other hand, they can also be extremely goofy, with chibi versions of the characters popping up now and then for a laugh. The soundtrack adds charm to the series, blending perfectly into every scene. The opening stands out the most, not only because it’s a banger, but as the series progresses, the opening does as well. The change from every character being separated to joining together by the end is something truly special.
Horimiya is one of my favourite series of all time, not just anime. The story is hilarious and emotional, with characters you’ll connect with and grow to love. The themes and ideas it tackles are handled in ways that make you not only think about them in the context of the series but also reflect on your own experiences. And to top it off, it’s drop-dead gorgeous to watch. Go watch Horimiya now! The entire season is on Crunchyroll and Funimation in sub and dub, with a second season that fills in the gaps airing right now.
Have you seen Horimiya? What did you think? Who’s your favourite character? Let us know in the comments where we can talk about how painful Miyamura’s head-butts look.