Friday, June 1, 2018

Horimiya Vol. #09 Manga Review

Snow doesn't melt because spring comes

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

What They Say: 
As the seasons gradually turn, the streets change color, and visible trails of breath herald the coming of winter. But the passage of time has some people on edge, especially Hori. The uncertainty of where she and Miyamura, not to mention their friends, will be this time next year has her feeling anxious. Will Miyamura be able to set his girlfriend's mind at ease? Or will his own apprehensions just double her distress?!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
At long last, Winter in the world of Horimiya has emerged. With Miyamura no longer having to figure out workarounds for his tattoos and the kotatsu being broken out by the Hori family, everything seems like smooth sailing for our protagonists. On the other side of things, however, Yuki's unwavering feelings for Tooru continue to play hell on her psyche. Now that he's decided to be her 'fake' boyfriend for a while, Yuki begins to wonder if she can ever find true happiness. That notion reaches an all-time peak once Sakura decides to come out of her shell.

Even though half of the reason that Tooru and Yuki started fake-dating in the first place was to fool Sakura, she winds up confessing her feelings anyway. Of course, she wouldn't be Sakura if she demanded an answer, so she sort of just backs off and allows the solace of finally being open to overtake her emotions. Well, at least for a few minutes. Eventually, she straight-up breaks down in front of Sengoku in a scene that, even to those of us that aren't fond of her, is pretty darn heartwrenching. The annoying part is that Yuki seems incapable of seizing any opportunity to actually do something she wants to do. The introduction to her sister early on in the volume emphasizes that even further.

It's clear that Yuki has some self-esteem issues. She seems to be the only character in the entire series with the capability of just going off the rails at any moment (Though I'm sure she won't because that wouldn't really fit into a rom-com) and that rings truer in this book than any prior installment. It isn't until Tooru has some sappy, metaphorical conversation about snow with her that she snaps out of her fun. If she doesn't wind up saying something in the next volume or two, I'll be incredibly surprised. The Yuki x Tooru ship is really the last major pairing that any of us would be looking forward to.

But speaking of ships, what would Horimiya be without a heavy dose of overly flirtatious and jealousy-spiked situations involving the character for which the series is named for? Volume nine falls into the pile of 'less serious' when it comes to Hori and Miyamura. Hell, they spend roughly half of this volume underneath a kotatsu for crying out loud. It isn't until the last several pages where this takes a dramatic shift. And by dramatic shift, I mean dramatic shift. 

Christmas in Japan is traditionally a time for couples. But now that Miyamura has gotten more involved with the cake shop, he needs to pretty much sit Christmas out in order to work. Eventually, the Hori family pretty much forces him over and, after heading out much later than he should have left, something is said that pretty much flips the series upside down. It's not totally clear how serious it is at this point of time but, given the nature of these two, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot more serious than we may think. I'm not going to spoil it as there is still some decent shock value you can leech from the moment, but just know that it's a suggestion so far out of left field that Barry Bonds couldn't even reach it.

In Summary: 
Horimiya's ninth installment is yet another sound addition to what is arguably my favorite romantic comedy in the world of manga. With some high points and some low points, a relatively diverse plot line carries the book from its cover to the very last page. An added glimpse into Yuki's psyche shines more light on her character while several smaller character like Sakura and Sengoku each have moments to shine as well. At the end of the day, this book is by no means one of the highlights of the series- but is another reason that I will consistently cite Horimiya as a must-read series for slice-of-life fans.

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 31, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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