It’s a Christmas episode! I genuinely thought this was going to be the last episode in the series until Irina pointed out otherwise last time, but with all that happened this episode, I’m still kind of surprised that it doesn’t just end here. But how are you doing, Irina?
Irina: I’m doing great! Spring is finally springing which is the perfect time for a Christmas episode! I have to say, traditionally, I tend to dislike anime Christmas episodes (with the exception of Gugure-san) so I was a tiny bit apprehensive at this one.
A fun thing about Horimiya is that many episodes seem to have a consistent visual motif within themselves, and in this episode, it was a lot of polka-dotted backgrounds. Not that this was never used before, but I did screenshot more than usual this time! What can one say about polka dots? I suppose they give off a more playful and childish feel, especially such brightly coloured ones. And that does seem to be the spirit of a lot of budding relationships in the show, particularly what’s going on between Toru and Yuki now.
Irina: Just to be curious, would you consider the softly falling snow at the end of the episode an extension on those polka dots. Potentially a slightly more mature one?
Ooh, I can see that, and I love this interpretation!
Toru finally admits – at least to himself and his bros – that he likes Yuki. After Toru stresses out about being intruded on and Yuki stresses herself out about the connotations of being in Toru’s room, they find themselves at a point where Hori once thought to herself that she was with Miyamura: contentment with a state of happy ambiguity. Given the pace of this adaptation, one of them’s probably going to change their mind by next episode, but who can blame them now – they’re sweet the way they are so far.
Also, I have to mention Yashiro, who doesn’t necessarily do anything to advance or hinder things between him and Yuki, but it’s Horimiya, so how can we not have a lovable family member (I know she’s not, but she’s pretty close) show up!
Irina: I gotta admit this was my least favourite part of the episode. I like all these characters and I am always up for more Toru and Yuki but I just didn’t understand why Yuki was acting like she was about to get assaulted the entire time. She likes Tohru so if he made a move it wouldn’t be that bad but above all, she knows him. They’ve been friends for a long time. Why would he suddenly become a monster?
I know this is a romance trope. I shouldn’t read anything into it. However, Horimiya has been pretty good about tackling sexuality and romance with a bit more open mindedness, which is something I quite like about the show. So this outdated tropes just felt out of place for me.
Christmas Eve is usually a couples thing in Japan, and it’s interesting seeing this subverted so completely by Hori’s family all fighting for Miyamura, and Miyamura himself being too busy to really take part. It’s also a great episode to feature how all the different types of side character relationships in the show are progressing, and really highlights how everyone’s at a different stage of intimacy or has a different approach to it.
And did we think that Hori and Miyamura’s relationship had limited growth now that they got past the grand romance anime hurdle of asking each other out? Or was it just me who thought that? Oh boy… What did you think of the proposal, Irina?
Irina: I’m one of those odd people that really like relationships when they are just going along well and nothing much is happening. I kind of like Hori and Miya more since they started dating. I loved the scenes of Hori’s brother and father fighting over Miya and how they were immediately putting their shoes on to walk with him. It made me smile.
As for the proposal, I wasn’t sure if this was a bit lost in translation. I have read many doujin and manga where these types of proposals are given as a sign of commitment rather than an actual engagement. A sort of, I would like to marry you at some point in the future so I’m going to keep working hard to make you happy and stuff. I have a feeling that just as Americans use the word love very differently than Japanese, they might use the word marriage differently. I did quite like Hori’s self-aware response. That she’s going to try to make him happy. Good response, that!
That’s true, I know that “dating with the intention of marriage” is a thing people sometimes clarify early on in their relationships in Asian cultures. Still a big step for high school students!
Anime often presents high school as the pinnacle of life, so it’s interesting when characters actually consider what comes after it. Hori has an existential crisis so valid that it could almost be meta – she fails to comprehend a purposeful life outside of high school, where existing relationships are permitted to continue. (After all, isn’t this typically where a rom-com series might end – Christmas, snow, emotional plot twist, kiss?)
Irina: I think it’s not just anime. A lot of people have these sort of periods of introspection and doubt when big changes occur. A lot of kids go through it at the end of uni as well or when changing career paths. It was a highly relatable moment. Although I was psyched to finish highschool to be honest, I definitely had it when I got my degree.
Yet, after Christmas comes New Year, which brings a sense of comforting continuity – the last person Hori sees that year and the first person she sees in the next are both Miyamura. And as unreliable as “forever” is, it’s not a flippant or insincere wish. Now, I’ve had the unfortunate first-hand experience of agreeing to “forever” with someone and taking it back later, so I don’t know if I can recommend saying it at all…but every “forever” is tied to a valid moment at which it was first uttered, and I think that part at least is respectable. You know that nothing lasts forever, yet you still make a bold declaration against the impossible–intention and effort alone can be quite beautiful!
Irina: A forever in the moment is still quite precious. After all, lives aren’t made up of eternities, they are made up of sunny afternoons, lazy rainy days or mornings when you get to sleep in. Moments are important.
Final tangent: I still cannot understand why strawberry and cream cakes are the Christmas cake in Japan, when strawberries aren’t even in season. Red and white, I suppose…but still! I know Irina is a master of such cakes – I remember reading a cake-baking post from you early in my blogging career and feeling rather inspired!
Irina: I think it might be because of the extravagance of fresh strawberries in December. Although the season for greenhouse strawberries in Japan is apparently from December to April so I might be wrong about that. Then again, it could be that the greenhouse crops got popularized because of December strawberry demand. We got sidetracked. I like christmas cakes.
I can’t say this was my favourite episode, it had a lot of great moments but I just like other episodes more. This said, it still counts as one of the best Christmas episodes I have seen. I particularly liked Hori teasing Miya after he said he just wanted to see her smile. Both of them were very true to their characters in that moment and their relationship felt so tangible and sweet right there. To me, it was the most romantic part of the episode.
Haha, as it often happens, we seem drawn to widely different parts of the episodes that we review. I still think the Toru-Yuki bit was the best part, followed by the bits featuring practically every side character in the show. But I can’t deny that Hori and Miyamura had their cute moments too. Looking forward to the finale.