Horimiya's titular couple finally get some moment in these next two volumes.

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Title: 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: April 26, 2016, July 19, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.

In some ways, a romantic story can be the hardest one to retain a reader’s attention. “Will they or won’t they?” can only last so long before the reader loses patience and hurtles the latest volume across the room. Sometimes a romance will focus on what happens next, but even those plots really depends a lot on the age of the characters in the relationship; when the leads are only in high school there is less to work with.

Happily, in Horimiya both the titular Hori and Miyamura are characters who bring a lot to the story in their own separate ways, and both are adorable to boot. While little has been seen of Miyamura’s family so far, the rest of Hori’s family is introduced in these two volumes. It’s charming to see a family who, for once, seem just so pleased with their daughter’s new friend no matter what his status is (although, Hori’s father remarks that he always wanted another girl so that he could play with her hair; Miyamura’s fashion choices might be helping him out there). The story continues to be more introspective when it focuses on Miyamura — unsurprising, given Miyamura’s often reserved nature — but it also introduces an old friend of his which reveals a broader, more crass Miyamura in the process. It’s interesting how a totally different personality doesn’t actually feel out of place for Miyamura. It makes sense that underneath a boy who is always trying almost too hard to predict and care what others will do, that there’s an element that has run out of craps to give. Giving Miyamura a chance to be more blunt in private proves critical as the story begins to advance the romantic plot.

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This comes to a head as Miyamura comes over to nurse a sick Hori and, as she drifts in and out of sleep, he quietly admits that he likes her — Hori is paralyzed. This was clearly meant to be a very private moment for Miyamura but Hori does feel similarly. The story is more subtle about it, but Hori also struggles with being reserved versus speaking out. It’s abundantly clear to both the reader and Miyamura that Hori would like to have a more typical, freer teenage life but she is always dampening down on those feelings in order to help her family. Unfortunately this means that Hori has started worrying about the day when Miyamura will stop coming by and when her life will be quiet again. In some ways Miyamura has become that typical thing that she can’t count on. Both of them are so worried about jeopardizing their current situation that the floundering they’re going through actually fits the story well for once, and thankfully with their personalities the situation doesn’t stay stagnant for long.

Volume four ends with real movement on the romantic front for not only Hori and Miyamura but also the various side couples as well. It’s satisfying to see a story move at such a quick clip all around,  although the side characters never come even close to eclipsing the main couple, especially with Miyamura’s actions in the last few pages. It’s a startling choice but still very in keeping with his character; while Hori is ashamed of her “homebody” secret self, Miyamura is ashamed of his “public” self that is constantly trying to hide from everything. While I’d like to see Hori change a little, she seems more self-conscious than anything else; Miyamura is the one who truly needs some change in order to be happier with himself. It comes in a possibly unexpected way but things are truly beginning to move now!