Thursday, November 10, 2016

Horimiya Vol. #05 Manga Review

To think that just five days could be this long...

Creative Staff:
Art: Daisuke Hagiwara
Story: Hero
Translation: Taylor Engel
Lettering: Alexis Eckerman

What They Say:
Hori and Miyamura are now officially a couple, and everyone knows it. But not everything's coming up roses for Miyamura, who's worried that people are talking about Hori behind her back. When his anxiety about being Hori's boyfriend reaches fever pitch, Miyamura drastically changes his look, which changes everyone's opinion of him all at once...

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Okay, so Hori and Miyamura are finally going out. Awesome. But what does this mean for the series itself? I mean, up until this point, the entire conflict was the whole unrecognized/unlikely love bit. Will the manga be able to figure out a new conflict now that all of our problems have been solved? Well, as the last volume made it seem in its final pages, Miyamura's new appearance might just play a key role in determining that new conflict. Or at least that's what volume five leads us to believe for the first chapter or two.

Right off the bat, Miyamura is bombarded with an array of girls asking questions about where he works, how many piercings he has, and a million other things that teenage girls make up in order to flirt with hot dudes. Miyamura, not knowing how to handle this, is essentially dismissive of all of them while remaining polite. Hori, on the other hand, begins to transform into the 'Ice Queen' and winds up giving any girl that approaches her new boyfriend the death stare as soon as they come within five feet of him. This goes on as if it's normal until a second-year named Honoka Sawada shows up and starts stalking our male protagonist. And while it initially appears that Sawada has fallen madly in love with Miyamura, it doesn't really work out that way...

Apparently...Sawada is in love with Hori. Plot twist. This, of course, isn't revealed until Hori almost kills the poor girl following the incessant stalking of her boyfriend. From this point on, Sawada starts tagging along with Hori and Miyamura far more often than Miyamura's comfort-zone permits. Instead of being totally weirded out, Hori is actually very welcoming of Sawada and even winds up inviting her over for dinner once or twice. And just when the manga begins to develop an alternate-universe yuri route, Sawada's past begins to come into play.

In an unprecedented turn of events, Sawada winds up being Miyamura's neighbor. And, after being locked out of her house one day, Miyamura invites her inside where she goes on to talk about how she had an older brother a few years ago. Key word: Had. After Sawada leaves, Miyamura speaks with his parents who go on to tell him that she was, in fact, telling the truth. After this, it becomes apparent that Sawada has a fear of men altogether. However, she seems to be fine around Miyamura. Could this be the beginning of a totally platonic brother/sister relationship between these two? I hope so. Sawada is straight-up adorable.

The only other major development in terms of story brought on by volume five is the lack of physical contact between our two love interests. In the last chapter, Hori asks Miyamura outright why he never "tries anything with her." This, of course, prompts him to ask the typical manga protagonist question of, "Uhh, is that cool?" before Hori's father bursts in and interrupts the moments in a completely cliche turn of events. Damnit, Kyousuke. Other than this and the whole Sawada thing, though, this volume follows a bit of a different pattern. In between actual development are these random, mini-episode type things that just detail random day-to-day happenings in the Hori household. And even though nearly half of this volume is comprised of said mini-episodes, none of them play a true part in adding to the plot whatsoever. And, all of a sudden, Horimiya begins to have filler. If it weren't for these out-of-place semi-chapters strewn about the book, this would have been another incredibly strong installment in the Horimiya series.

In Summary:
A change in formula winds up working against Horimiya as the series begins to install small, filler-type arcs that go on to distract from an ever-developing story. The addition of Sawada to the character roster is definitely one of the better additions thus far, but the time taken away from her character's role winds up making this volume relatively underwhelming when compared to the others. Even though Miyamura and Hori's relationship hasn't changed much from volume four to volume five, it's still delightful seeing them flourish as adolescent lovers, always eager to learn more about one another. Even with this volume's setbacks, Horimiya remains an extremely endearing romantic comedy with one of the greatest relationship chemistries in the shonen genre right now.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 25, 2016
MSRP: $12.99

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