OP Sequence

OP: 「Iro Kousui 」 (色香水) by (You Kamiyama)

「ほんの、ささいなきっかけで。」 (Hon’no, sasaina kikkake de.)
“A Tiny Happenstance”

In a curious way, you go into a premiere with expectations as high as they were for this one with more downside than upside potential. It should be a joyous experience, but if that’s what you expect, the only surprise can be disappointment. An adaptation for a series like Horimiya would always carry huge expectations, but then you add in the length of the wait and the surprise that it ended, and they double. Throw in the redoubtable Ishihama Masashi directing and they explode exponentially. Frankly, it’s a recipe for disaster.

That it was avoided is a testament to just how good this premiere was. Certainly the best premiere of the season so far by a wide margin, but again, the only surprise would have been had that not been the case. Starting with the OP (directed by Ishihama, who’s one of the best in anime history in that area), the episode itself, the ED – this was pure class all around. The pacing may have been a little faster than the start of the manga (more on that shortly) but it didn’t dull the impact of the intro chapters at all from my perspective. This was great, and timeless in the best way.

Ishihara of course did his best work as a director for A-1 Pictures (CloverWorks’ parent company) as well, with Shin Sekai Yori. That masterwork is more closely aligned with his usual genre choices as a director, and there’s no question Horimiya represents a bit of a departure for him. But really elite directors seem to transcend genre, and Ishihara’s quite recognizable visual style worked beautifully with this material. His masterful manipulation of light and shadow, fast cuts, deep focus – not used here to create existential unease as with SSY, but adolescent insecurity and feelings of isolation.

Those feelings are centered around two people. One is popular model student Hori Kyoko (Tomatsu Haruka), the other social outsider Miyamura Izumi (Uchiyama Kouki). Though in the same class their worlds rarely intersect at school – Miyamura is basically anonymous to Hori, a quiet bookish kid who might be (gasp) an otaku, but hardly worthy of consideration (or, it should be noted, any meanness or bullying). Hori’s best friend is Yoshikawa Yuki (Kozakai Yurie), and the guy with an unconfessed crush on her is Ishikawa Tooru (Yamashita Seiichirou).

The catalyst that causes Hori and Miyamura’s world’s to collide is her younger brother Souta (Terasaki Yuka). Souta is the reason Hori always seems to skip out on karaoke or other after-school hijinks, as she seems to do a lot of the heavy lifting in caring for him. Miyamura comes to Souta’s aid after he falls down when startled by a dog and brings him home, and Souta decides he likes having a man around the house (of Dad, there’s no sign). The catch – Hori initially has no idea the kid with the piercings and man-bun is the glasses guy from her class, and is quite unsettled by learning the truth.

Make no mistake, this “two faces” element is very crucial thematically in Horimiya. As Hori-san notes, everyone has a “secret side of themselves they don’t want anyone to know about”. It’s more obvious in Miyamura’s case (he has major ink in addition to 9 piercings) but no less true for her, since the frumpy surrogate mom she plays at home is as far removed from her image as the rebel is from his. Circumstances (and Souta) conspire to force these two to reveal their secret sides to each other, and she quickly realizes that this is a subtly powerful form of intimacy, whether she asked for it or not.

There are a lot of “click” moments here that just resonate with me, as they did in the manga. On the whole I think the easy family dynamic that springs up between Miyamura and the Hori siblings is probably the most winning part of the series (though the competition is fierce). Learning that Ishikawa is actually a really nice guy tells us what sort of series Horimiya is going to be – and what it isn’t. And the fact that what upsets Hori most about Miyamura’s disclaimer to Ishikawa is that he suggested she was just being nice by allowing him into her life is heartbreaking in an emotionally subtle and profound way. Spot on.

Again, this just flat-out works. It’s a great source material in the hands of a great director, and somehow it actually ends up as good as it should be. Casting does its part – Tomatsu-san is, as she always seems to be, astonishing emotionally accurate. Uchiyama is really good too – my personal biases make me thing not having Miyu Irino in the role is a missed opportunity, but Uchiyama’s work is well beyond competent. The only fly in the ointment is that Horimiya will be 13 episodes (better than 12 I suppose), and not the two-cour fans were hoping it would. It could be a split cour or get a second season, but 13 eps is only going to be enough to scratch the surface of the miles-deep charms Horimiya has to offer.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Yakusoku」 (約束) by (Friends)

14 Comments

  1. I’m binge reading the manga right now and once I’m through I plan to watch the anime. But the 13 episode count does worry me a bit, since the manga is what? At least 11 volumes and over 100 something chapters? There’s no way they can fit that in to one season unless there’s some very heavy cherry-picking, or it ends at around chapter 37. As someone who just stumbled across this story literally yesterday, does anyone know if the manga is popular enough in Japan to get a second season?

    Mangaka-chan
    1. There is a logical place they could stop, but even there they’d have to compress somewhat to do it in 13 eps.

      Is it popular enough? That’s a tough question. The manga is very popular, but it’s been popular for nigh on a decade and never gotten a series anime before this. It doesn’t seem to be the sort of series that sells merchandise or stage event tickets, and doesn’t seem likely to move many discs (which still matters some, though not as much as it used to). Personally I’d call a S2 unlikely, but not impossible. If they do need to cut corners and do it in 13 episodes, I know where it’ll end and Ishihara is a director I trust to make good choices to get us there in one piece.

      1. Even if they did an S2, my understanding is most of the later manga content is slice of life/sidestory stuff that doesn’t really advance the plot to the ending. (I did hear some accusations the manga is just stretching out its runtime.)

        zztop
      1. After getting through all 14 available volumes of the manga, I’d agree that the latter half does feel a bit stretched. I also found myself getting a bit annoyed with Hori as the story progressed and some of the relationship themes became a bit repetitive. Still, it was cute and I still felt it was worth the $7 I spent on each e-book. XD

        Mangaka-chan
    2. The actual story ends around ch63 or so of the manga. Everything afterward has been adaptations of the various sidestories the original webcomic had.

      They could very easily just do the main story, and maybe slot in a few of the more important/interesting sidestories here and there whenever it’s appropriate.

      There’s even one that would work extremely well as an OVA.

      Hanabira.Kage
  2. After seeing this first episode, I can confidently say that this is going to the romcom of the season, and seeing the things I saw only in manga form until now was quite the experience. Ahh, the next week cannot come fast enough!!!

    Also, so far, all of the seiyuus nailed their roles, especially Tomatsu Haruka with her Asuna voice doing Hori was an excellent choice. Can’t wait for the rest of the cast to get introduced to really get the goofball train going.

    DarkHeartedAlchemist
  3. looking forward to this chill series. my only real issue with the series is the number of couples forming around the mc’s along the run, otherwise it’s a nice slice-of-life.

    Larcek
  4. This captured my interest purely for being described as “focusing on the relationship, not just the dance”.
    First episode pretty much established what most romcoms take an entire season to do. Characters are actually communicating! I love it.

    Oh and the opening has a really nice beat.

    JHNSeph
  5. Finally I’m back to watching this genre; I have been watching sequels and spin-offs for a while now. This anime looks promising and I’m getting my hopes up for this one.

    random viewer
  6. I do read the manga, and have liked it since I first stumbled on it way back when… It reminded me of His & Her Circumstances (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou), one of my favorite manga/anime, but on a more lighter/SOL side. I already love this first episode, and have been waiting for this anime for a while now (the OVA just wasn’t enough for me).

    balbonits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *