Hello all, and welcome back to the show. Today I am eager to get back to Horimiya, which appears to have reached a critical juncture courtesy of last episode’s final scene. After two episodes of wandering around their feelings for each other, and lamenting the approaching end of their domestic happiness, Miyamura finally Did the Thing. Having assured Hori that he would stay so long as she wanted him to, he ended his visit with a tossed-off “I love you,” leaving the ball firmly in Hori’s court.
By only admitting his feelings to Hori’s silent back, Miyamura intentionally left her an exit route: “if you don’t feel the same way, you can just pretend you didn’t hear me.” But Hori does feel the same way, and at this point, it’s become clear that their bond reflects more than just enjoying each other’s company. Both Hori and Miyamura responded to their isolated, unhappy childhoods by becoming self-sufficient individuals, but both of them still bear a sense of profound loneliness and uncertainty, something they cannot admit to their general classmates. Each of them has found a confidant in the other, someone they do not have to perform strength for, and someone who understands their fear of isolation. One of Horimiya’s finest features is its refusal to draw out personal drama, so I’m hoping for some romantic fireworks as we enter episode five. Let’s get to it!
Hori tells her brother she’s staying home from school again, because she still feels a little sick. That seems unlikely though; presumably she just wants more time to think about her answer, and doesn’t want to be confronted by all her friends with Miyamura’s confession hanging over her head
“It used to be so easy to just text him…” This is a critical, fragile moment for them, as the comfort Hori normally finds in Miyamura has been inverted by his confession. At a moment like this, you either have to break through the awkwardness and embrace a new closeness, or simply fade away from each other
Hori’s brother notices Miyamura walking to school with another girl. I’m pretty sure Shindo is walking on his other side, so presumably this is another person he knew from middle school. I don’t really appreciate the dramatic implication of this framing, though; presenting another girl as a “threat” in this way just seems like a transparently hollow conceit
Our episode title is “I Can’t Say It Out Loud.” Well that’s not encouraging
Hori’s brother tells her the news about Miyamura, and she immediately goes into panic mode. This isn’t great, but I’m thankful at least that most of the anxiety here is directly provoked by her brother, who frames every element of the encounter in the worst way possible
The next day at school, Hori is deliberately avoiding Miyamura. And just after I praised this story for not dragging out its personal drama! Right after the wildly earnest confession of episode four’s conclusion, it’s just hard to believe Hori would have this little faith in Miyamura. And when a character’s actions seem more driven by plot contrivance than convincing emotion, it becomes that much harder to believe in and invest in them as a person
Fortunately, Miyamura is tired of this ambiguity, and quickly tracks her down. He even goes so far as to bring up his confession
And in response, Hori asks him who the girl was. Good, good – this conflict still feels kinda contrived, but Hori’s actions can still be explained by her general insecurity, and more importantly, the show isn’t dragging out the conclusion to this misunderstanding. Instead, it’s becoming an opportunity to once again demonstrate Hori and Miyamura’s ability to cut through adolescent insecurity, and actually communicate with each other
The girl is Chika, and she’s Shindo’s girlfriend
“She’s mad about the name? That was all it took to get her this mad at me…” Yeah dude, Hori’s being pretty unreasonable here. I can see her perspective, though; seeing Miyamura possesses a theoretically “greater intimacy” with this random girl than her is just the sort of thing to upset her already-tenuous emotional balance
And at home, Hori is rightly embarrassed about her actions
Oh my god, Miyamura is such a good guy that he stops by to return the books she threw in his face
And in return, Hori takes the first step in clearing the air, and happily acknowledges her fault when she learns the truth. She’s in a particularly anxious spot, but she’s still Hori
Suddenly, a man named Kyosuke appears, smoking a cigarette and calling Hori by her first name. Presumably her mother’s boyfriend?
Nope, her actual father
“Yuriko’s not here, and my daughter brought home a random guy!” Parents are good for pushing characters like this around, and upsetting their emotional stasis. While the leads are generally deathly afraid of admitting their feelings, parents are always happy to trample in and say “who is this? Is this your boyfriend?” Such sequences can act as both a humorous deflation of a story’s general self-seriousness, as well as a way to force characters to more honestly engage with each other
“Oh, shoot! Was I interrupting something here?” Yep, let the parental embarrassment commence
“What’s the deal with you and Miyamura-kun? Is he your boyfriend?” Kyosuke is a being of pure chaos, and I am here for it. Who needs earnest communication when you can just have your dad trample over your insecurities like some emotional kaiju
And this, of all things, is how Hori admits her feelings – provoked by her father into saying Miyamura’s her boyfriend just to shut him up
The expression work is quite strong this episode, and in a few different ways; there are lots of fun exaggerated expressions, but also excellent linework for the earnest emotional moments. And they’re getting a lot of mileage out of Hori’s deadpan look of disgust, with her eyes reduced to one tone with a gradient
Just met his girlfriend’s father, and already that father is petting your hair. Not exactly your traditional meeting the parents
“Aww man, I wish I could go back to high school!” Parents embarrassing their kids as they reflect on the perils of youth has to be one of my favorite tropes of these narratives. Tell them how adorable they are, poke holes in their melodramatic bubble!
After dinner, we cut to Hori and Miyamura walking outside with a transition shot aiming up at a power line. I recognize that shot – this is one of the images from the OP, thus clearly some critical moment
And at last, they can hold hands without framing it as some sort of scientific experiment
God, the Hori expressions for this goodbye here are so good. Horimiya’s unusually thin, delicate linework creates a sense of fragility in these character designs, and that sense is amplified by the full, rich brown of her eyes. The overall effect creates a strong sense of emotional vulnerability, with both her anxiety and her happiness clear in her face
Horimiya’s eye designs feel a touch more realistic than the anime standard, and I think that helps their expressions feel sincere and relatable, as well
Given how conclusive that parting felt, the transition to Toru’s room actually feels rather natural. In general, this episode has been largely avoiding the pacing/structural issues that have cropped up in its predecessors
Some beautiful character closeups as Sakura notices Toru at school. I love this composition with the leaves hanging just above Toru; not only is it simply a compelling, well-balanced composition, but the way the light strikes the leaves naturally evokes Toru’s current sense of melancholy, as he literally “cannot be touched by the light”
Remi pops up behind Sakura, and asks her what’s wrong. She seems sincere, but literally everything we’ve learned about Remi would point to this being a trap
“You’re cute, and I’m not, so you wouldn’t get what’s bothering me.” Ah, that perpetual anime disconnect of every character being impossibly attractive, yet still thinking they’re ugly
Apparently they’ve been friends for years now
More great compositions as Sakura admits she has a crush. First with her back against the clubroom door, where the overall weight of negative space creates the sense that she’s being pushed uncomfortably close to Remi. And then this closeup on her waist, taking advantage of Horimiya’s delicate hand animation
Aw, Toru’s such a good dude. In spite of his own frustrations, he actually tells Miyamura to relax, and not worry about his feelings
Heck yeah, they did it! After a mercifully brief misunderstanding regarding Chika, this episode stormed on through all the emotional drama I was hoping for, and managed to bring our leads together with Horimiya’s true-to-life idiosyncrasy. Hori’s confession turned out to be just as odd as Miyamura’s, as she confessed entirely to get her dad to shut up. But that feels somehow appropriate for Horimiya, and led into some of the show’s most charming and visually well-executed sequences yet. I’ve had enough “will they or won’t they” for a lifetime, and am delighted to see our leads already affirming their feelings this early in the season. Now the real messiness of a relationship begins!