In this shoujo manga by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara, first published in 2012, our main character Hori is a beautiful high school student with perfect grades. Despite her popularity Hori never goes out with friends.
The reason? Everyday after school she rushes home to care for her younger brother and home.
At home Hori's perfect hair is tied back in a bun, and her flattering school uniform is replaced with the bum attire we all roam our houses in.
Hori does not appear to dislike her domestic home life, and yet, she hides it from her schoolmates.
Honestly, this plot seemed too silly to me at first. Hori looks exactly the same whether at school or at home.
It was hard for me to invest in this "conflict". There is nothing shameful about housework.
Since she is a dedicated student it actually seems in character that she would be dedicated to her family as well.
So what got me into this manga series? Our lovable male protagonist: Miyamura.
At school, Miyamura is the quiet kid with long hair and glasses. Rumors are floating around that he must be a weird otaku. He has never tried to clear his name, so it must be true.
But Hori gets to see the real Miyamura when he shows up on her doorstep.
Her little brother Souta falls after being scared by a dog, so the kind Miyamura escorts him home.
Only Miyamura has already changed out of his school uniform.
Outside of school Miyamura pulls his hair back from his face, and loses the glasses, to show off his many piercings.
He has a stylish, punky, way of dressing, and can often be seen with a Starbucks cup in hand.
His look is so alarmingly different leaving Hori stunned when he announces that he is the same Miyamura from her class.
[He recognizes her right away, so see? She's totally no different at home! lol]
What this Manga has to Offer You:
A Friends-First Romance
Hidden Authentic Self
Great romantic tension / anticipation
After that fateful meeting outside of school Hori surprises Miyamura with an invitation to continue coming to her home.
Miyamura has no friends, so this outcome is unexpected.
I loved this plot development because it solidified Hori as a good person. She does not limit her actions based on the judgements of her peers.
Yet, Hori and Miyamura both keep their out of school identities a secret, so they don't announce their friendship either.
They grow closer during this clandestine time. It's incredibly innocent. So pure! Two lonely souls learning little things about each other.
Having dinner and cake, running errands, drinking coffee. It's easy to see the effortless connection they share. Nothing flashy, simply enjoying one another's company.
Keeping a friendship secret is not an easy feat. Hori's friend Yuki inquires about the handsome boy she spotted her walking with...to which Hori lies, saying it was her cousin.
Though keeping it a secret, the two do not snub each other at school, and it does not take long for their classmates to notice how close they have grown, seemingly out of nowhere. Especially Tooru, the boy who has a crush on Hori.
Tooru confronts Miyamura to ask if he is dating Hori.
Miyamura answers honestly. He is not dating Hori.
He encourages Tooru to confess to her, even though Hori getting a boyfriend would most likely mean the loss of his special time with her.
But Miyamura believes himself the outsider. Dating Hori is not even within the realm of possibility as he sees it.
This is exactly the sort of turn in events that I would expect to derail this charming story into a frustratingly angsty tale of high school students who could solve all their own problems by simply being honest and asking the right questions...
And I was worried.
However, Horimiya avoids all of that, and takes this situation to exactly the place we would want it to go.
Hori does have feelings for Miyamura. We as the reader can tell that without her saying it outright. Not only does Hori turn Tooru down, but she gets upset with Miyamura for thinking that he and Hori would not work as a couple.
This outburst progresses Hori and Miyamura's tendency to speak honestly with one another. However, neither uses it as a reason to confesses their feelings to the other.
This was another factor which made me love this story. Their love confession was not cheapened by being the reaction to a third party, outside, influencer.
So now, we the reader, are left in this anticipatory state, knowing these two like each other, yet have not acted upon it yet.
And it is some sweet, sweet, delayed gratification.
The school day after Tooru is rejected by Hori, Miyamura, being the kind boy that he is, can't leave Tooru alone to his sadness.
This act brings Miyamura into a friend group at school. The first he has had since middle school.
Friends even visit Miyamura at home when he gets sick.
This manga series was easy for me to pass over for years. The plot sounds like an unremarkable rehash of any other school life, first love, drama found elsewhere in anime and manga.
However, these two main characters have refreshing personalities.
The way that Miyamura and Hori act around each other, and alone, with regards to their growing feelings leaves the reader in such suspense.
They come right out and say things that sound as good as a confession, but since both are very reserved individuals, they accept each mini confession without jumping forward into a declaration.
Miyamura is a unique choice for romantic interest in a love story. He has a hilarious character flaw. He does whatever he likes, and spends so much time alone, that he rarely anticipates the consequences of his actions until they hit.
Like in this scene:
And with that ^ Hori finally learns the answer to why Miyamura wears a winter uniform to school all year round.
You would suspect a guy with as many body modifications as Miyamura has to be going after a certain lifestyle.
Or, you would expect his modifications to be a part of his identity, and for them to have been well thought out and meaningful.
But thats not what he'll tell you if you ask him.
In truth, Miyamura is equal parts fastidious and so, so pure. While he does not notice much about the world around him, to the point where he can come across as clueless, he does pay a lot of attention to Hori. Assessing her thoughts and needs.
At the end of volume one they go on a class trip to Kyoto. Miyamura realizes that using the public bath will be impossible with his tattoos.
Hori offers him to use the shower in her room as private showers were included in the girls rooms.
This act of kindness results in this question from Miyamura:
Annndd.....If you would like to know how Hori chooses to answer that you should read volume one of Horimiya!
Which I totally recommend you do!
Find it here:
Thanks for reading!
All pictures taken by me to support this review visually & promote the manga
Stickers on images are LINE Camera
Blog header image made on Canva.com