A normally strong series falters in this volume.

Horimiya Volume EightTitle: Horimiya
Genre: Drama, Slice of Life
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (U.S.)
Creators: Hero (Story), Daisuke Hagiwara (Artist)
Translator: Taylor Engle
Original Release Date: July 18, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press.

The most anticipated and also dreaded event of the school year has arrived — the sports festival! No matter how much Miyamura and Sengoku want to avoid it there’s no getting out of it now, it’s time to fight-o! But friends and couples alike are divided indiscriminately; without even having Hori on his side will Miyamura be able to muster the energy to compete at all?

There have been several skits before related to how much Miyamura and Sengoku hate exercising and none of them have been very good gags, or even vaguely amusing ones. But this mini arc features more characters and so their general whininess doesn’t dominate the jokes and make the entire thing a sourpuss fest (and watching some of the more tertiary characters, like Kouno, finally succeed in some of the events is pretty sweet). Even though this volume of Horimiya does rise above its own, (previously self-imposed) low-bar, it’s still not an outstanding sports festival arc. It feels rather rote and uninspired, although the idea is such a staple of high school manga that it would be hard to come up with something new.

To be clear: the entirety of Horimiya volume 8 could be easily skipped, not just the sports festival chapters. There’s no real progression on either HorixMiyamura’s romantic story or for any of the other couples/love triangles. Miyamura’s old classmate, Makio Tanihara, who also graces the cover, does make a very small appearance but it feels rather out of place. Makio is seeking out Miyamura, he is apparently motivated by guilt for throwing Miyamura under the bus in middle school (in addition to generally ignoring him), and while it’s nice that he wants to make amend his introduction at this point in the story feels a bit bizarre. Acquaintances from Miyamura’s middle school days have made appearances before, and there have been several chapters where a dreaming or reminiscing Miyamura has looked back upon his middle school experiences to try and make sense of them, but this seems to be Makio’s very first appearance in the series. It almost seems self-centered for a brand new character to appear, hijack a chapter, and just make it about their own guilt. It’s another reason why this volume of Horimiya feels a bit like a filler volume: if this encounter had gone farther (whether it be with Miyamura accepting a formal apology, refusing to do so, or anything else in-between) then it would be an important moment for Miyamura. Instead however simply nothing happens.

It’s likely that Makio will make more appearances further down in the story but until then this encounter felt rather out of place. This isn’t a bad volume of Horimiya strictly speaking but it is a dull one. Dullness is to be expected from long-running rom-coms but it’s hardly desirable. Thus, hopefully volume 9 of Horimiya will return with fresh hijinks and better gags.