Horimiya Volume 1
It’s nice to have a reliable shojo series to stick with for a while. It’s even more fun if the series has something to say beyond “cute kids fall in love”. That’s the case with Horimiya volume 1, which turns on the question of how much appearance matters.
Hori is smart and popular, a model schoolgirl whom everyone wants to be. Miyamura is a loner, looked down on as a gloomy fanboy. But there’s a hint early on, when we see the caption “Unless you try to find out for yourself, you’ll never get a glimpse of what someone else is really like.”
Hori is really a homemaker, taking care of her little brother and their house in the place of their parents, who have busy careers. She doesn’t have time for after-school activities or hanging out with friends. Her brother is brought home one day by a stranger who helped him after he fell down. The stranger, with multiple piercings and in hip clothes, is really Miyamura, who has adopted a protective camouflage in school to hide his tattoos and piercings. His long hair hides the holes in his ears and sleeves cover the body art. Outside, he’s more of a rebel, although his personality is also a bit goofy.
The two teens wind up spending time together, brought together by the younger boy, who easily made a new friend. They are intrigued by the idea of seeing the other’s secret self, the person they don’t share with anyone else. It’s obviously romantic, but it’s not played up that way. Instead, it’s simpler and more charming in the characters’ naivete. Finding someone you can be yourself with is a gift, and the result is a cute, comfortable manga where the joke didn’t wear thin after four chapters.
Horimiya started life as a webcomic by HERO, and here it’s being redrawn by Daisuke Hagiwara. Perhaps that’s why these characters seem so well-rounded and fleshed out, that this is the revised version. Hori seems to have a pretty good life, but we see hints of how much she’s sacrificing in effectively being a mother so young. Miyamura brings some welcome fun and light-heartedness into her life, as well as helping with childcare.
Yet there’s also humor, as Miyamura suffers in the heat in his long sleeves or Hori has to deal with an excessively worried teacher. Horimiya is a great blend of comedy and young love with some surprisingly deeper character observations.