WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Horimiya Episode 3, "That's Why It's Okay," now streaming on Funimation.
Standing out from the crowd can be difficult in any setting, especially when it's unintentional. Horimiya's Miyamura has been pigeonholed as different, gloomy and unapproachable ever since his elementary school days. His classmates struggle to comprehend his sometimes vague or even misleading language and he, in turn, has misunderstandings with them.
A series of flashbacks in Episode 3 show a younger Miyamura, in response to bullying and being ostracized, creating his first ear piercing with a paperclip. The blood running down his ear is a visual and physical representation of the pain he constantly felt at school. Despite now spending time with Hori and her friends in class -- Toru Ishikawa and Yuki Yoshikawa -- Miyamura still feels like an outsider in the present day, internally questioning whether they truly accept him as a friend.
Miyamura's natural kindness shines brightest when he's spending time at Hori's home. Though he remains awkward at times, he's slowly but surely coming out of his shell in his school interactions too. But after spending so much of his childhood alone and without friends, he's unsure if Hori's group is just being nice to him for her sake or if they truly like him for who he is. It's a heavy burden to carry, feeling alone even with the people right next to him chatting away happily. He's desperate for some kind of validation, and he gets it in a rooftop chat with Ishikawa.
Their interactions tend to be humorously affectionate, and Ishikawa gets annoyed at realizing some of the heartwarming lines Miyamura unintentionally gets out of him. Miyamura straight-up asks what Ishikawa thinks of him, and the latter responds that he's weird, awkward, and hard to understand a lot of the time -- but all of that is perfectly okay because it's part of who Miyamura is. It's a striking moment that seems to lift some of the heaviness from Miyamura's heart.
However, he still struggles to read and understand others, and this results in emotions running so high that it leads to a fight -- about Hori. When Hori arrives early at a cafe one morning, Ayasaki of the Student Council shows up and starts teasing that she's interested in Miyamura. She's apparently joking but despite Hori and Miyamura not being a couple, Hori grows upset and says Ayasaki can't have him under any circumstances, surprising even herself with her outburst. Later at school, Ayasaki tells a friend about the whole conversation -- and is overheard by Ishikawa.
Ishikawa confronts Miyamura and tells him straight up that Hori is in love with him. Miyamura lightly brushes it off, saying he must've misunderstood something, but Ishikawa has a much clearer idea of the truth. Losing his temper, the two get into a fistfight. Miyamura has a kind of defense mechanism that kicks in during especially tense moments, and though Ishikawa gets one punch in, Miyamura gives him a beating in return. The next day, both boys have calmed down and blame themselves, and will surely patch things up. It's a good lesson for Miyamura that friendships require forgiveness and reconciliation.
As for Hori, her confrontation with Ayasaki shows she still needs to figure out her feelings for Miyamura as well. It's already clear to Ishikawa and is likely growing clearer to Hori herself. It seems sadly natural that Miyamura remains doubtful, believing Hori couldn't possibly think of him in such intimate terms. After being ostracized for so long, feelings of love and affection can seem too good to be true.
The world of hardship from his childhood still burdens him on some level in Horiyama, but hopefully, Hori and his new friends can bring Miyamura the acceptance and happiness he deserves.