Things are a little awkward between Miyamura and Hori, as they both try to process that they told each other “I like you” at the end of the previous volume. Because they're enormously frustrating characters, they manage to convince themselves that the other person didn't really mean it, so the awkwardness doesn't last long. Then Miyamura buys something for Hori while purchasing a magazine with an article about his family's bakery in it, and Hori decides to pay him back. After that, the whole gang gets together with the student council (free AC!), and there is embarrassment and relationship angst galore. This only increases when Miyamura reconnects with his best friend from middle school, who thinks Hori is Miyamura's girlfriend.
This volume was lots of fun: wonderfully sweet moments between Hori and Miyamura (#1: the hug!), lots of things that made me laugh, several intriguing new characters, and a possible future romance between Ishikawa and another character.
As much as I love Hori and Miyamura, their romance is incredibly frustrating. The fact that they like each other could not be more obvious. They've told each other as much at least one or two times, and they get along so well. I want them to finally believe in their feelings for each other...and, at the same time, I'm a little nervous about what will happen when they finally do. At this point in the series, they're still comfortable with each other. When they're not at school, they're often at Hori's home, acting happily domestic. I can absolutely imagine them being married. They'd be such a solid couple. However, I have a feeling that their first few dates are going to be incredibly awkward. Here's hoping the author keeps the awkwardness to a minimum. I don't want them to stop talking to each other!
Seeing Miyamura with his friend from middle school was a bit of a shock. I had gotten the impression, in the previous volume, that he hadn't had any friends until high school. Anyway, this bit helped me add more detail to my mental image of Miyamura. He needed someone willing to break the ice or introduce themselves to him first, someone who'd be willing to keep talking to him until he'd learned to relax around them. Shindou was willing to do that, as was Hori. That said, I wasn't comfortable with how Miyamura behaved with Shindou. He was rougher than I expected, even violent. Shindou didn't seem to have much of a problem with it, and maybe it was just a sign of how comfortable they were with each other, but it definitely reduced my enjoyment of those scenes.
I'll wrap this up with the magazine article about Miyamura's family's bakery. The instant Miyamura mentioned it, I knew there was going to be a picture of pierced and tattooed Miyamura in the magazine, and I was right. As usual, all the girls thought he looked hot but didn't connect him with the Miyamura they knew at school, and Miyamura pulled a new lie out of thin air, saying that the person was his family's partner. I was a little surprised that the author didn't use this as an opportunity to have Yoshikawa bring up Hori's lie from volume 1, that pierced Miyamura was her cousin. Instead, all the focus was on Hori, who accidentally destroyed a ruler and a mechanical pencil while stewing in her own jealousy.
This continues to be a solidly enjoyable series, even though several aspects of it are a little too frustrating and obvious and the author is already reusing the “relationship developments occurring while a character is delirious from illness” cliche. This is one of those series that has a high possibility of eventually growing stale, but for now I still love Hori and Miyamura and I like the artwork. I'm definitely planning on picking up the next volume.
- One full-color image of Remi, Sengoku, and Kouno. The inside front cover also has a cute little related picture of Remi acting goofy with the other two student council members.
- One page of translation notes.
- A 3-page bonus manga. It's a continuation of Ishikawa's weird dream in which Miyamura is an adorable little cat person. This time around, he's joined by Sengoku in adorable little cat person form.
- The inside back cover includes a funny one-page bonus manga in which Hori complains about Miyamura's perfect hair (and Sengoku notices her casual mention of having brushed it before - yeah, Hori and Miyamura are fooling no one but themselves).
- Kare Kano (manga) by Masami Tsuda; His and Her Circumstances (anime TV series) - This series has a different sort of energy, but it might still work for those looking for something else in which two students wear masks at school and discover each other's true selves.
- Kimi ni Todoke (manga) by Karuho Shiina; Kimi ni Todoke (anime TV series) - Not quite the same, but another good one for those looking for an incredibly sweet school romance series. The premise: Sawako is a sweet girl who desperately wants to make friends with people, but unfortunately she looks like the creepy girl from The Ring. She gradually makes friends and begins to fall in love with the most popular boy in class, who secretly has an enormous crush on her. In some respects, Sawako and Miyamura are very similar people. I've reviewed the anime and the first three volumes of the manga.
- High School Debut (manga) by Kazune Kawahara - This one's even less like Horimiya than the other two, but bear with me. The premise: now that tomboy Haruna is in high school, she'd like to have her first boyfriend, but she has no idea how to go about getting one. She enlists the help of Yoh, the coolest guy she knows. Like Miyamura (when he's not in school), Yoh looks cool and unapproachable, but he's secretly sweet and a little awkward. I've reviewed the first four volumes of the manga.
- Fruits Basket (anime TV series); Fruits Basket (manga) by Natsuki Takaya - Those who don't mind their manga/anime having significant fantasy elements might want to give this series a try. The entire Sohma family is hiding a secret: several of them turn into animals in the Chinese zodiac when they're sick or hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Hori and Yuki Sohma are a lot alike - both of them are perfect and beloved at school, but doubt that everyone would love them as much if they revealed their true selves.