Spoiler Warning for plot ahead.
Alright, before anyone crucifies me, here me out here. I feel like this anime had a lot going for it and then really just didn't do anything with the potential.
I watched this anime because all I kept hearing was how absolutely amazing it was and how realistically it captured what it was like to be a teen. I was told it was refreshing, I ended up being pretty disappointed, its not to say it isn't at all realistic, but I definitely don't see that it is this groundbreaking anime that I was hearing it was. Honestly the romance ended up being a lower tier romance for me.
Honestly, I really really liked the art, I thought it was super beautiful, and the color schemes behind each character felt really gorgeous.
Personally, I thought the sound was just alright, I liked the ED more so just because I thought the animation was cute.
Character 3 + Story 4 (because I kind of started talking about both here and it was hard to separate after writing)
So the main two characters Hori and Miyamura.
Firstly, I do want to point out, they did have some cute moments, and their first meeting felt really interesting and I got excited for a potentially super cute romance, some of their conflicts were relatable, and just the awkwardness of the relationship was bearable and understandable.
First to start off with Hori, her character to me just wasn't super likeable.
For a few reasons, firstly it just seemed she was constantly upset at Miyamura, and it was obnoxious to see her get upset at him so often for things that really weren't his fault.
There was a lot of yelling at him, or hitting him. Often, her being so upset was a direct result of lack of communicating, and not just on her end all the time, on both.
There is a bit of understanding there as communication can be hard at all ages, and communicating in relationships is really hard and stuff can get lost and misunderstood.
I will say the bulk of their issues stemmed from lack of communication, and when you're not even communicating about the issue of lack of communication or communication styles not working well, the problems are just going to keep arising and eventually get old.
Honestly Miyamura and Ishikawa had more chemistry than him and Hori.
Secondly, while I get Miyamura going out of his way to do things for Hori is nice and cutesy, I really was uncomfortable in Hori pressuring Miyamura to take part in her being a masochist. Like sure Miyamura does try just to make Hori happy (and nothing necessarily wrong with pushing yourself out of your comfort zone for your partner once, BUT with the expectation that if you don't like it, you do not have to do it again and this is not applied here). Like really just not cool to continuously make him uncomfortable.
It's played off as a joke, but I don't think its funny, I mean she had him hit her in public in broad daylight and Miyamura's previous bullies saw, like Miyamura could've totally gotten in a lot of trouble from outsiders looking in, like his bullies could have reported him, for people not in the know about their dynamic, Miyamura could've really gotten in serious trouble and someone could have assumed he was physically abusing her.
Look no kink shaming here, and I also hardcore believe that no one should be pressured into partaking in a kink, and if a kink is that important it might be a sign that there is incompatibility and it is time to find someone more compatible.
Consent is very very very important and pressuring someone to do something just because you like it is wrong.
It was just incredibly uncomfortable and it made Hori super unlikeable to me.
I also think we just breezed through too quickly about her being a bully? Then the class president blackmailing her into doing their work so he doesn't reveal how much of a bully she was, therefore ruining her image??? Like what?
I am not saying people can't change, just the way this was introduced was weird and played off as a joke in a certain way.
I digress that Hori did have some relatability, getting jealous can be normal.
BUT it did seem to step into controlling territory to where she was jealous of everyone, girls complimenting him, him getting close with his guy friends, like give the dude a bit of a break. It just felt like she kept him on a leash.
Regarding Miyamura's guy friends, what's with the biphobia here, Miyamura never denied attraction to dudes or when someone was making a joke about him dating Ishikawa he took it more seriously. 1) it made Hori more jealous, 2)it was treated like a joke and like it was gross.....same with Ishikawa
Not really sure how to feel about that.
I also can relate to when I was younger and being immediately worried if someone didn't respond, worried about their wellbeing.
Hori overall fell into the trap of being a character in a relationship who could never be pleased, jealous, possessive, pushy, etc and her likeability and my ability to root for their relationship suffered and had completely disappeared.
Regardining Miyamura, he was incredibly likeable. He does so much for Hori and genuinely just wants to make her happy.
BUT this also has a huge issue of really not making him feel like he has agency or the ability to be his own person. One thing that kind of irked me is how the whole plot hinged on was "oh wow, he's this initially seeming loner, but now he's actually an edgy dude and the popular girl meets this version of him, how scandalous and what will happen," but he changes himself for Hori because he is worried about affecting her popularity after some people make comments.
Like his whole attractive point of having piercings and tattoos and long hair is almost pointless, because he just goes and cuts his hair, and spends most of the time hiding who he is.
Like his whole personality is dating Hori and yes they do go into his depression and what he was like when he was a kid, so its not like he has no backstory, its just after that his whole thing is really just about Hori.
And I could see how in high school sometimes the person you're dating does feel like your whole world, and can really change your world. There is truth in being grateful to your partner in the new experiences they bring to you and the friends you meet through them.
I also want to mention here, there is nothing wrong with being submissive in a relationship and I don't just mean in the kink sense. AND just because you are submissive, it is still important to communicate your needs and wants in a relationship, there is a difference between being submissive and being a doormat, Miyamura unfortunately fell into the latter category.
I also believe that Miyamura needed to have more depth and to see more of who he was versus just "he is Hori". A relationship where all you care about is catering to your partner can be unhealthy in certain situations.
So overall regarding their relationship, it initially seemed like it could be cute, but just felt very toxic and unhealthy, and felt even grosser to romanticize their relationship.
Ishikawa, Sakura, and Yuki
I quite enjoyed Ishikawa.
Alsooooo I believe that it made more sense for him to end up with Sakura. We see Yuki being the type to never voice her feelings and then get upset for not getting what she wants, which then leads to her getting what she wants. She has really low self confidence and beats up herself a lot.
We really get to only see a few interactions between Yuki and Ishikawa and I guess I read their relationship as more like family versus romantic, though at the same time from the way this anime was structured, and seeing Sakura pursue Ishikawa, it was obvious there was going to be conflict in the form of a love triangle.
While I don't necessarily think Sakura had more chemistry with Ishikawa, I could have seen more likely that they could've built a relationship, versus Yuki and Ishikawa starting their relationship through lies and deception.
Even if Sakura and Ishikawa didn't work out, it would've been nice to see natural progression, versus forced relationship between Ishikawa and Yuki. Really there was no indicator outside of necessary plot that Ishikawa was even interested in Yuki. Dude just got over being rejected by Hori, this isn't to say it doesn't make sense he'd move on, there was just no indicator he'd move onto Yuki.
The other side characters kinda fell flat, the president and his girlfriend, like what was with the way that Sakura and the president (Sengoku) treated her, like they would look down on her and scold her, it felt more like he treated her like a child than his girlfriend.
The bully was kinda confusing and his whole plot was kind of confusing on why he didn't like Miyamura, and it took me a sec to figure it out despite it feeling kind of like a throwaway plot point.
So overall I had a good amount of issues with the characters and the way the story was then carried out.
The story like the side characters fell kinda flat to me.
Overall, I find like I said in the intro, this anime had a lot of potential, but ultimately didn't make much of what it had going for it and did not in my opinion live up to the hype.
It's not totally unwatchable, there are some nice moments, the animation is beautiful, its kind of a watch it don't watch it, one could go either way.
If you enjoyed it, I am happy you could enjoy it, this is just my personal overview.