「今年の夏は、あついから。」 (Kotoshi no natsu wa, atsuikara.)
“It’s Hot This Summer”
Things move so fast in Horimiya (especially in this section) compared to most romcom manga that it’s easy to blur the lines between the original and manga pacing. The fact is that Ishihama Masashi is skipping a lot of material, though. A lot of it involves the supporting cast but there’s stuff with the leads too (a very amusing aside with Izumi and Hori’s “cousin” is a sad casualty). Some fans don’t mind this, feeling that the manga has too much “filler”. As a fan of so-called filler (I thought the middle eps of Seirei no Moribito were what made the third act so powerful) I regret its absence.
An interesting question is “why”? The manga is certainly very popular, and the anime – unsurprisingly given how good it is – seems to be going over extremely well. Both with manga and new fans, I might add. I can only assume Ishihara intends to end the series after 12 episodes, as there is a natural stopping point he could reach with the rather rapid pacing he’s employed so far. I don’t know whether this is creative choice (as I said, some fans prefer the series distilled down to its essentials) or financial reality, but I suspect support would have been there for a long-running adaptation if Ishihara had wanted one.
I’m rather torn on this myself. I do feel as if the pacing is too fast, plain and simple, and this episode is a case in point. Yet it provides a vastly entertaining experience that doesn’t give you much time to niggle over the details. I think both the A and B-parts of this week should have been full episodes (and that’s not even including the aforementioned omissions). But they worked as is, and to be honest the stuff introduced in the B-part isn’t Horimiya’s most natural or effective material so I’m fine with it being rushed. You take the bitter with the sweet, I suppose.
Much of the A-part was comic slice-of-life stuff with Kyousuke, which never fails to entertain me. He and Souta fighting over who got to sleep with Izumi, the whole bath scene (awkward!), the brief pillow talk session between Izumi and Kyousuke – none of it literally essential, but Horimiya wouldn’t be Horimiya without that sort of material. One might reasonably ask why Izumi seems to slot so naturally into the Hori family, and what that says about his own, but that part of the story is much more measured in its development. We do meet Izumi’s Mom Iori (Ohara Sayaka) at long last though (still no sign of Dad). This is a cryptic passage, revealing little of their relationship. The candy bit with Shindou (clay!?) is also fun, with one especially striking moment…
These bits also play a critical role in nudging HoriMiya’s relationship forward. The level of intimacy between them is slowly and surely amping up. What’s more, the fact that they’re seen leaving the Hori house together is a huge moment, because it alerts the whole school to their relationship. This gives the series the chance to do something it does extremely well, show how petty and infantile high school often is. And this is especially awkward when one partner is generally perceived to be “too good” for the other, as Kyouko is here. She mostly brushes it off, but the fact that his relationship with Kyouko is making life uncomfortable for Hori at school rankles Miyamura in a big way.
We’ve seen Izumi’s temper, so the way Ishihara quietly shows us how close he comes to snapping is pretty significant. But instead, he decides to transform himself – to the extent possible given his piercings and ink – into a normie. This provides quite a shock to everyone who knows him, and sets off the shallow brigade into a new obsession with him. It also alerts second-year Honoka Sawada (Asakura Momo) to the fact that he and Kyouko are dating. This is a problem for Honoka, because she’s infatuated – not with him, but with her. And she sets about becoming a thorn in their side as much as possible.
Honoka for me does tend to highlight Horimiya’s tropey side, which isn’t its best feature. She plays as a pretty stock character out of the gate TBH, though that gets better over time, and the whole thing with she and Izumi being neighbors and not knowing it is a stretch of credulity. I also dislike the cliche presentation that stalking is OK if it’s a girl doing it, because it’s not – stalking is stalking and such behavior should be nipped in the bud with extreme prejudice. There is more to Honoka as we see (though some of that itself feels cliche), and she mellows out some even within her 15 minutes of fame here. But she’s one character in Horimiya who never struck me as adding anything really compelling to the story.
One possible exception to that is that her interest causes Izumi to become much more assertive about his own feelings for Kyouko. I’d call Honoka a cheat code in that respect, since it would have happened anyway. But still, things are progressing big-time here, to the point where Kyouko sort of openly invites Izumi to get more physical (“You never make any moves on me, huh”). Kyousuke walks in at the wrong moment – unlike Miyamura-kun, Hori-san’s parents are omnipresent in the story. But that’s not the sort of statement that you partner is going to forget about, especially at this stage of a relationship…