Horimiya – a wholesome AF rom-com

What is Horimiya?

Horimiya (Horisan to Miyamurakun in Japanese, really inventive name there) is a slice-of-life rom-com that aired in early 2021. It is a short, self-contained anime with 1 season and 13 episodes. It was based off of a pretty niche self-published manga series which is probably why it took more than a decade after the manga series began for an anime adaptation to be made.

The show follows two highschoolers who are leading double lives. Hori is the popular girl at school, but has to take care of her family at home as a stand-in for her parents who are always working away. Miyamura is a Plain Jane at school without many friends, but turns out to be a bit of a wildchild outside of the classroom. Of course, nobody at school knows anything about what they’re really like, but that means that the only time that they can really be themselves is when they’re with each other. No prizes for guessing what happens next.

Horimiya takes a no-nonsense approach to romance

Horimiya’s concept is about as basic as it gets. A crazy twist of fate brings too high-schoolers from two completely different social circles together – the popular girl and the nerdy boy – and they fall madly in love with one another. How cliche, right? Well maybe, but from where I’m looking at it, it is exactly this simplicity that makes Horimiya such a heart-warming watch.

I tend to find a lot of romance anime have too much unnecessary drama in them – characters fighting, threatening to break-up, cheating, heart-break, love triangles, childhood friends exchanging fisticuffs over girls – which, don’t get me wrong, happens all the time in high-stress highschool environments… but is all that angsty bullshit really necessary to tell a love story?

Horimiya takes a no-nonsense approach to romance. It’s about cultivating love as opposed to having it constantly threatened by jealous ex-girlfriends or general misfortune or whatever else. Both Hori and Miyamura are genuine with one another, and have a very sweet, respectful relationship (apart from a weird masochism fetish that we don’t talk about) – Miyamura even makes some close friends for the first time in his life thanks to his affiliation with Hori. Everything is easy, as true love should be.

Depending on your perspective, that might sound like the most boring show in the world, or exactly the kind of slice-of-life escapism you were looking for.

Horimiya may be cliché, but clichés become cliché for a reason

As I said before, it’s hard to deny that Horimiya is full of both anime clichés and romance clichés in general. However, what people who complain about this usually fail to mention is that the reason things become cliché in the first place is because: a) people enjoy them and b) these things happen all the time in real life.

People do usually fall in love for the first time in high school; people do usually meet their spouses thanks to some strange but happy accident; and it is true that the person who ends up being the best for you tends to be the sort of person who isn’t actually your ‘type.’ These things are all true! That’s why these clichés are so relatable.

I hate it when people throw the word cliché around like it’s a dirty word. Perhaps they’re just bitter that these wonderful things never happen to them.

Too many side characters

Horimiya features a moderately sized cast of side characters that each go through their own unique romantic arcs. Unfortunately, these characters are nowhere near as interesting or compelling to watch onscreen as Hori and Miyamura and they fail to justify their screen time. What’s worse, it’s clear that a lot of Hori and Miyamura’s relationship arc was cut in order to make room for these side characters – they should have kept their focus on the titular couple, without a doubt.

Short, sweet and simple

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re looking for an easygoing anime to brighten up your day, then you won’t go far wrong with Horimiya. It’s short and sweet to boot, at only 13 episodes long. You can feel free to skip through some of the content focusing on side characters, I know I did.

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