Horimiya and Scripture: The Missing Pieces

It surprises me to admit that one of my favorite shows this season has been Horimiya: The Missing Pieces—surprising because viewing the original series was a frustrating experience for me. That “first season” skipped much of the in-between material in the manga, which is now being animated in this “second season.” Without all the “missing pieces” in the original anime, I was left with only the outline of the tale and without a deep connection to Horimiya and its characters. But with this new season filling in the blanks, I’m getting to know Hori, Miyamura, and the rest of the gang more intimately. And that’s not all. As I’m seeing how these two seasons fit together, I’m also being reminded that in my personal relationship with God, I also need to “complete the story” so I can grow closer to him.

But first, back to that original viewing of Horimiya. Having heard great things about the manga, I was so excited when the anime aired. The first episode came along and I loved it; I watched it multiple times following its premiere. Hori and Miyamura were so lovable right from the start. The animation was so pretty, the music was lovely, and the supporting characters seemed fun, too.

But by about episode five, I realized what all the manga readers surely already knew by that point: the Horimiya adaptation was rushing through the material to complete the series in just one season. What resulted was a series that I ultimately found cold. There wasn’t enough time baked in to get to know and care for all the supporting characters or to connect as deeply with the main ones as I would have liked. Additionally, the lack of flow made the series feel spacey and distant.

It was pretty cold, Hori.

I completed the show anyway. It ended nicely, but I wasn’t affected deeply by the series. And ultimately, I left Horimiya feeling dissatisfied.

Still, I gave The Missing Pieces a go this season because I’m friends or partners with several involved in the English production of the series and I wanted to root them on. I’ll admit that I was also curious. I had these unresolved feelings about Hori, Miyamura, and the rest—I still had some connection to them, even if their story had let me down. Could watching the remaining parts of it make a difference in how I felt about Horimiya overall?

Now seven episodes into the series, I can firmly say that these additional elements, initially sacrificed to the constraints of a 13-episode cour, wholly and completely change how I feel about Horimiya. On its own, the original is rather pedestrian, just another anime thrown atop the pile of those that started strong but never delivered on their promise. But when The Missing Pieces is added to the fuller anime adaption, the experience changes entirely.

It’s strange because these side stories don’t seem to add much material of consequence to the series. There are two to three vignettes per episode and they feature small events like Miyamura and Sengoku trying to avoid taking their shirts off while swimming. How could this really change my view of the show?

Is more time to laugh about stupid things exactly what I needed from this series?

The transformation occurs because these seemingly random details deepen the relationships between the characters and the viewer. Where once I barely knew who Iura was, I now know his outward personality more and, after seeing his interactions with his younger sister and her crush, his “at home” personality as well. Where I once only knew that I was supposed to feel bad for Kono since she was on the losing side of a love triangle, now I understand her heart better through seeing her additional interactions with others, witnessing her “cute” side when she discovers that Yanagi is as addicted to a weekly shonen magazine as she is, and feeling the bittersweet pangs of her learning to perform her Field Day cheers better, with help from her rival in love, Yoshikawa.

By themselves, these pieces seem insignificant—the kinds of scenes that it would make sense to cut out of the adaptation. But when inserted back into the story, they deepen that sense of relationship between the characters and the viewers. After all, having an intimate relationship with someone isn’t just about knowing the big events of their lives; it’s also about knowing the mundane and trivial things they do. These day-to-day activities are like the flesh on the story’s bones.

And that’s when it hit me: This is exactly why we as Christians need to read the Bible—the whole thing— and keep on reading it. Instead of just jumping to our favorite verses or doing a topical search of Bible Gateway for answers to our problems, we need to take in the whole book altogether. Just as the subtitle for this season of Horimiya indicates, the parts of the Bible we may skip are not optional; they are vital, “missing pieces” that are critical to God’s story.

When I previewed the topic of this post on Instagram, one person commented that we should just go back to the manga to get the whole story. There’s indeed wisdom in that thought. The very existence of The Missing Pieces infers that the first adaptation was incomplete. But Horimiya isn’t alone in this regard. How few adaptations there are that animate the entire story of a manga! Anime series rarely go on for long enough to cover an entire manga run, though all try to at least capture the proper essence of the original work. But some won’t do that properly, or they make edits and additions that get it completely wrong.

In the 16th century, a German monk became so convicted about the importance of “anime-only” Christians being able to read the original manga for themselves that he pushed back. Martin Luther’s protests eventually started a revolution that transformed the church. His efforts to reform corrupt church practices led to believers being able to read scripture in their everyday languages. Over time, as literacy improved and the printing press made Bibles more available, believers would become able to read the “manga” firsthand. They didn’t need to rely solely on the “anime adaptation” anymore—that is, on priests and preachers telling them what scripture said. Instead, they could look toward religious leaders and other believers to gain wisdom and experience in how to interpret and apply scripture; the “anime” would provide insight that could be used in tandem with their own readings of the “manga.”

We as believers have the original source material in our hands. And as Paul writes In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The whole of scripture is “God-breathed,” and led by the Holy Spirit, we can come to know Him through it.

That’s right, it’s not just the famous verses, the Gospels, and Romans that we should read through. If we want to know God, we have the entirety of the Bible to use in learning about Him. And that is the reason to read all of scripture. It’s not to grow in our knowledge of our faith or to be a “good Christian,” though hopefully both of those things will result from it. It’s so that we can grow in our relationship with the Father. It’s so we can know Him better.

And ultimately, that’s the point of all this. Horimiya: The Missing Pieces or a reading of the original manga is meant to help us connect with the characters more deeply. And reading the breadth of scripture is for us to grow in intimacy with God. If you love Hori and Miyamura, you’ll love them all the more by reading about or viewing more of their lives; and if you love God, you’ll treasure him all the more by learning all the things about him that you might have missed when jumping around in scripture.

It’s not an easy commitment to make to read through the entire Bible (never mind to also read on a consistent and ongoing basis). To tell you the truth, it gets tough really quickly each time for me when I hit Numbers and Leviticus! But I promise you—and I can make this promise because God has promised it to us—you will be blessed by reading through all of His word. And that blessing isn’t just in being more knowledgeable (like some superfan of Horimiya) or having confidence that comes with finishing the thick tome on which your faith is founded—it’s in drawing nearer to the one who loves you most and to whom you’ve declared that you love the most in turn. Like putting down the final volume of Horimiya (which I recently did) or watching the last episode of Horimiya: The Missing Pieces, you can breathe a contented sigh in knowing you’ve completed it all; and then your next breath will be in anticipation in feeling something more: that you want to start all over again.


5 thoughts on “Horimiya and Scripture: The Missing Pieces

  1. Do you not, as a Bible scholar, sometimes think that the translators and revisers have a bit of a cheek leaving in the verses about all scripture being God-breathed and the instruction in Revelation about not changing the text when the entire history of the Bible has been one of interpretation, editing, revision, omission, exclusion and, well, /change/?

    We know, because some of the original text still exists, especially on sources like the Rosetta Stone, that we don’t actually know how to read Aramaic like the people who wrote it originally (can I get a ‘Selah’ – whatever that means?). We don’t speak ancient Greek and so we hope that the transliteration into Latin and then back to Greek and into Latin again and then into “olde English” and the fulminant and thunderous prose of the KJV, then the ASRV, NRSV, Amplified, and all the other versions of the Bible with their nuance and flavour are accurate and complete and “God-breathed”. Yet we can do some homework for ourselves (even without a background in Biblical analysis) and see places where word choices are used deliberately to push a view that was likely not intended by the original authors (like the emphasis on the Trinity in John 1). Are these just errors? If God was breathing into all the versions of scripture everywhere (a spiritual fail-safe if you will) then in theory I could just start my own translation and that too would be God-breathed. Do you think that would work out well? I speak English well, I reckon I know what John was trying to say… And don’t get me started on the Apocrypha (or “the Editors’ Cuttings, Nicea version”). What are they?

    My point seems to have nothing to do with Horimiya but there is a parallel, so bear with me. In the meantime I do think that while the scripture as given to the Apostles, and to Moses, Solomon, David and the other authors of the various chapters – was indeed given to them by God, we have lost the ability to know beyond all doubt that this is what they intended us to understand: the Tower of Babel is not an empty story, it is a real consideration for us all. The parallel with the Bible and Horimiya is that we do have the option of asking the original source what they meant, either by email 🙂 or by prayer and meditation, consultation and more prayer and meditation. So yes, we do need to read the “whole story” to understand it all, and we do also need to check in with the author where our understanding departs from what seems to be there in any particular translation, without assuming we are wrong. That’s one thing I suspect is completely correct in every translation – the instruction to read the Bible every day, prayerfully and with meditation on the Word!

    1. Sometimes I’ll go down this rabbit hole (a very worthy one to dig into, for sure). I also think about the many, many Bible teachers out there who are instructing congregations of people without “enough” training, knowledge, prayer, etc, and about my own interpretations of the Bible that are almost certainly colored by my experiences, prejudices, pride, etc. more than they are informed by the Holy Spirit. I conclude that humility is key. A life lived in the mode of worship and reverence is, too. An understanding of how prone we are to sin is vital. And the longer I live, the more I’m also struck by the need for grace and mercy. I believe that despite human shortcomings, God is making this all work out in a most mysterious way, providing us his truth and wisdom through what we have of the scripture. And even in that, and in all our differences across denominations, churches, and person to person, we get a glimpse of our human nature and God’s love for and mercy upon us.

    2. Re: second paragraph – These are great questions for all to grapple with, because when we enquire seriously and wholeheartedly like this, we actually end up encountering God! I love Lee Strobel’s testimony of being a factually-minded lawyer, deeply skeptical of the Christian claim of the authority and authenticity of scripture, and his decision to uncover the facts about the Bible as a literary work, passed down for millenia. His research led him to faith in Christ (his book, The Case for Christ, outlines his findings), because of the exceptionality of scripture as an ancient literary text with unparalleled consistency. Are there divergences? Absolutely, but nowhere near the level we find with other comparable ancient texts. So there’s something interesting going on there.

      Second, the process whereby Christian leaders — who are not simply self-appointed, but whose calling and leadership is confirmed by the body of believers and are recognised as originating from God — come together to decide on which scriptures (and versions) are included in the Bible is not a man-led process. Holy Spirit was there, active and guiding and full of wisdom, at Nicea, and at other critical junctures. Are there errors in various *translations* of the ancient texts? Of course. But do we have the recourse to identify them and ponder them? Yes, we have that too, thanks to excellent study Bibles and all the translations you mention. An individual cannot simply come up with their own translation of scripture — this simply doesn’t fly in the body of Christ. Look what happened with Tolstoy’s “translation” of the NT (never heard of it? Exactly! ;). Or look at the recent controversy over the Passion Translation, which has now been removed from Biblegateway, and downgraded to a Bible paraphrase in mainstream Christian circles, if not outright rejected. (I personally love it and its poetic language, and the notes are transparent about what has been interpreted or inferred, but I’d agree that it’s a paraphrase with a particular angle or emphasis [agenda?], rather than an objective translation.)

      The work of scripture being God-breathed is ongoing: he continues to breathe on it and correct errors that have crept in through human bias. And he does this not just collectively, through corrected translations, but individually and communally, as we encounter him in private study and fellowship over scripture. He didn’t breathe once and then leave it to us to keep it going, keep it “right”. He continues his life-giving work on scripture itself and not just through it. Discovering this is what gave me the confidence I now have in scripture.

    3. PS Do you mean the Dead Sea Scrolls rather than the Rosetta Stone? The RS doesn’t include any biblical texts…

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