Directed by Masashi Ishihama and written by Takao Yoshioka, Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7 is a slow-burn installment that focuses on the intricacies, or, conversely, simplicities, of connection. A touch more fragmented than some of the other, better episodes of the season, there’s a loose thread that tethers all of the characters. “Friends” might not be the most exciting episode of the series, but the glimpses it offers into the interiority of the lives of supporting characters make it well worth it, especially the back half of the episode.
It starts out though with something relatively sweet and low-stakes. Sakura and Yanagi are both fans of the same manga, leading to a tentative friendship born from a mutual interest. Sakura has been such a consistently wonderful character, someone whose warmth has reached out and touched her closest friends such as Remi and Sengoku as she’s helped them with their own personal struggles. It makes her own private joy all the more charming, as we see her downtime is spent with the type of relatable stress relief enjoyment as so many. The animation is cozy as she takes in her favorite characters on a break from studying, a reminder that the animators for the series thrive just as much in these quiet, isolated moments as much as they do in big, emotional declarations.
Distressed over the store not having the latest issue, it’s where she realizes Yanagi is also a fan. It becomes the throughline of the episode as friendships stem from unlikely pairings. We see this even in Sakura’s own perceived insecurity in walking the halls with Yanagi, a good-looking, popular boy. “They sure don’t look like a couple,” Sakura overhears from girls who are jealous of their closeness. Still, their friendship remains intact, both of them and their kindness and approach to the world linking them together — along with the manga, “Skull Ninja Konoha ”.
A fictitious manga that the studio CloverWorks had fun with by creating an ED based on the story, which allows for a level of visual playfulness. It also allows for another deviation of characters as they talk about the manga they’re reading and recent storylines, such as the body-swapping narrative. It’s short but allows for the group’s camaraderie to shine through as they jump from different duos, most of which weird them out when they think of certain personalities coming from different bodies. However, as is on brand, Yuki is thrilled when she thinks about Hori and Miyamura if they were to swap, finally charmed by the notion.
Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7 continues to develop supporting characters who weren’t given as much spotlight in the original series. A notable one is Sawada, a girl who at first resented Miyamura due to her feelings for Hori, but grew to like him due to his kindness and resembles her late, older brother. Here, we see his past intersects with her present as he witnesses bullying from other girls in her year.
It’s one of those wonderful, subtle moments of the series that helps visualize just how much Miyamura has changed since the version of him we first met. His own past trauma related to bullying and self-harm, though still being processed, doesn’t get in the way of him recognizing current abuse and not wanting anyone to suffer the way he did. That he addresses the girls tormented Sawada with such bluntness, mouthing crude insults to them as to not be accused of having actually verbally said so is a hilarious touch. Because not only is it his own self-assuredness that’s allowing him to prop this girl up (who is drawn hilariously similar to him to the point where it must be deliberate to highlight their similarities) but it also shows the influence of others, namely, Hori, and how they’re rubbed off on him.
It’s a compassion that’s shown elsewhere too, these group of characters and their empathy for one another allowing space for another as they take Sawada under their wing. Sengoku and Remi simply helping her move posters is a sign of understanding the predicament she’s in, lending the influence of upperclassmen. It’s sweet, small gestures like these that are impactful.
Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7 doesn’t do anything to largely move the story along but that isn’t the point. Instead, “Friends” exists not so much to show the relationships themselves but to highlight how and why these connections pop up and then intersect. Friendships are made through shared interests and passions, through small gestures and a helping hand that asks for nothing in return. They’re built on laughing at the same joke for the same amount of time. The charm of the series has always been less about the big moments and more about how the characters got there, and “Friends” is no different.
Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7 is available now on Crunchyroll.
Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7
Horimiya: The Missing Pieces Episode 7 doesn’t do anything to largely move the story along but that isn’t the point. Instead, “Friends” exists not so much to show the relationships themselves but to highlight how and why these connections pop up and then intersect.