Authors note: So unlike a lot of talented writers I follow and interact with, I don’t do scheduled posts. They way I write/ intake content/ write OUTSIDE of Otaku Post I just don’t have the creative fortitude. With that being said I think I’m in a bit of a block, I haven’t been too thrilled with the last three articles I’ve drafted, they are missing, something. So I may go awol for an amount of time, finish some chapters of my novel and come back.
Horimiya has taken the winter charts by storm. A refreshing new rom-com that throws out the typical anime norms. Paired with its unique pacing and characters, Horimiya to me has breathed new life in the typical romance space. But this rise in popularity brought the story under a certain critical light, specifically against the story’s main heroine, Hori, Kyouko. What starts as a slow romance between Kyouko and her quiet classmate Miyamura, Izumi takes a rather aggressive turn as the twos relationship blossoms. I am specifically talking about Kyouko’s jealously and temper towards Izumi, most of the time for things that are not his fault/ outside of his control.
With this abuse has come sharp critics. Stating that the series romanticizing controlling and often abusive relationships, this is also compounded by Kyouko’s preference of how she wants to be treated by Izumi in the later episodes and chapters. Showing gleefulness when her boyfriend yells, usually harshly for what many (even Izumi) sees as minor issues. But, ever so the dependable boyfriend, Izumi sucks it up, at times abusing his girlfriend for her own preferences. This has created a bit of a rift in the anime world. One side, calling it out as toxic and unhealthy. Others defending it stating that it’s a high school relationship, teenagers typically are not comfortable with their selves, projecting their jealousy on those close to them to make up for it.
While both of these points are relevant and arguably accurate, I think a lot of people have missed the overall point. BOTH of these arguments are true. I’ve seen a lot of shade being thrown Kyouko’s way, terms such as ‘bitch’ labeling her. Personally, even with my VERY profane language I generally dislike labeling people with that term, but the general idea is the abuse coming from Kyouko is damaging to their relationship and Izumi personally, and she is a bit of a jerk for doing it. I think Horimiya is very self-aware of this notion, anytime Kyouko has gotten jealous, popped off about some stupid stuff she always immediately regrets it, her pride getting the better of her when it comes to apologizing.
This behavior is very relatable to a lot of people, myself included. It is insane to think It has been around 10 years since I was in high school but how I felt and acted is still very real to me to this day. Though I didn’t go about such behaviors as Kyouko does, usually using physical violence paired with nasty language, I was more subtle. I was very insecure, something I have grown out of in a lot of ways thankfully, allowing me to become self-aware of that harmful behavior. Jealousy can be a nasty thing, it has a way to blind a person to what is actually true and rational in their world. A perfect example of this, Kyouko does not own Izumi, nor does Izumi own her. This is a concept that exists within most modern (and older) relationships. This self-gratifying sense of ownership. If it isn’t of the person, it usually of the relationship, simply because the relationship exists therefore something is owed to one or the other.
I think this is where most of the conversation misses the good and bad of what Horyimia has to offer, and why it is doing as well as it is. Horyimia flies because of the quirky, relatable, subtle cuteness of it. It plays around this narrative of a young awkward love that exists within the group of friends that are at the same time dealing with their own, awkward subtle love. The toxic, often relatable but questionable moments just add to that element, it is a key to telling a story even if it does make me a little uncomfortable to see Kyouko be called “useless bitch” but maybe I’m just being sensitive.
Honestly, I want to mention that whole thing is a little strange to me. But I get in context the humor that would come out of such a kink and I am not one to judge it, assuming Izumi is completely fine with it which I’m not so sure of.
Really the biggest take away I think from all of this is simple. Is their banter realistic? Yes, toxic? Also, yes, but those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and like most relationships people grow and change, things that used to be irritating to one suddenly don’t matter. I look forward to doing a review for this series once the last episode goes live here in the states. Horimiya has been a real fun watch in a lot of ways and I am actually kinda happy it spurs conversations like this. Anime overall has always had a rather vile underbelly when it comes to the context of toxic relationships or sexist themes, but hey, look, we are actually talking about it!
We could have definitely deep-dived more into this but this is just my quick take away so take what you will out of it. As always, thanks for the read!