Tsuki ga Kirei 05-08

Tsuki ga Kirei has some beautiful backgrounds

winter15-highw Time for a Mid-Season Review Pickup! Karakuri did the First Impression for this lovely show after 4 episodes, and at the time I commented that it is completely adorable. Well, it’s continued to be completely adorable, but more than that it’s really been a great exploration of young people’s love. So here I’m going to talk about some of the things that I think the show really gets right that are rare to see in any TV portrayal.

A Quick Recap
(Spoilers, such as they are)

Ayane scores a direct hit about Akane’s relationship

Because this show is not about the plot, but is about the feelings and interactions, I thought (well, Skylion thought, and I agreed) that it might be a good idea to do a quick reprise of what the show is about and where it’s gone. The main characters in the show are two Junior High 3rd year students in the city of Kawagoe, Akane Mizuno and Kotarou Azumi, who for whatever reason noticed each other at the beginning of the school year, and have since begun a romantic relationship. The first three episodes that Kara covered saw them making the first tentative steps towards asking the other out, with the big event happening during the school trip to Kyoto, when Kotarou invited Akane to meet him, but then made a hash of actually meeting her. When they finally did get together, they finally both show a definite interest in the other, and you could say that they start dating then.

They finally find a way to have some alone time, and he goes for holding hands

But Chinatsu’s got her own interests

Somehow it’s not that easy when you’re a 15 year old, and they try to keep it a secret for a while. That leads to a situation where they can’t actually find a way to spend any time with each other. And confounding them further is the fact that Akane’s friend Chinatsu 1) has kinda caught on to the idea that Akane and Kotarou are dating but also 2) has developed a crush on Kotarou herself, mostly from Akane pointing him out in the first place and seeing his efforts to start a relationship with Akane. This leads to Chinatsu showing up at the library where Kotarou is, or going to his cram school with him. It finally gets to a point where Chinatsu forces Akane’s telling her by directly informing Akane of her crush on Kotarou. But even then, Chinatsu tries to reserve the right to confess to Kotarou.

She even goes for the full pressure

Kotarou makes it known unequivocally

Leaving a couple broken hearts in their wake

Meanwhile, Akane also has other suitors, specifically the captain of the track club, Hira. And because it’s obvious to everyone else that Hira likes Akane, the whole track club is already shipping the two of them, to the point of encouraging them both to get together, and the kouhais directly asking Akane if she’s dating Hira (and they’re hoping she’s not, because one of them wants to date him). These two love polygon branches come to a head when a mixed group goes to Tokyo Dome City during summer break, where Hira gets alone with Akane for the purpose of confessing to her, while Chinatsu tries to do the same thing with Kotarou. But instead of the others getting a chance to confess, Kotarou informs Hira that they are dating, and he and Akane spend the rest of the day away from the group, together with each other. But because of the shutdown, everyone else learns of their dating, and it becomes the talk of the class, at least for a little while. However, that at least frees them up to be public about dating, which starts more of a ‘real’ relationship.

She’s actually happy to show him her yukata, not embarrassed

What’s Great About It?

“Akane has a boyfriend? naninaninani?”

So that’s the story so far, and what I really wanted to spend time on in this post was looking at some of the events in the story that have had a really authentic feel to them, both in the way they unfold and in the way they show the characters’ experiencing life growing up. And maybe even more than that, the way the show is presenting this relationship in a way that feels aspirational and instructive, showing good things happening, a few setbacks, but ultimately it’s not about dealing with hardships, it’s about growing up. The way it shows friends’ reactions, parents’ reactions, and even the reactions of the main characters as more ‘normal’ and less melodramatic, contrived, or played up for drama or laughs even if it’s a TV show.

Mr Forward going for the hand-hold again

Perhaps the main thing that I like about the way the relationship has developed between Kotarou and Akane is the natural start to it. Unlike most stories, there’s no “meet-cute” event (even though they’re both super cute when they meet) or other kind of “he saved me, and I fell in love with him” kind of thing. Instead, the two of them just kind of notice the other one from the very beginning as “someone who interests me” and that interest grows through continued noticing, not from contrived events. What that really gets to is the consistent personality of the characters being the thing that attracts them to each other, driving their interest in learning more about the other person. Discovering those things about a person that make them an individual, not just a picture or profile, the things that they value and the relative level of their interest in them.

Seeing what his interests are, and supporting them

Finally getting that kiss

And in this discovery, the show is doing a good job in building what seems to be a good relationship. Each of them is supportive of the other’s interests, even if in Kotarou’s case those interests are somewhat out of the mainstream for a high school student. Akane is on the track team, and a senior, so she gets a lot of attention there, but Kotarou has been the kind of boy who doesn’t attract attention. And then his hobbies are writing literature (where he gets very little support, from his mother saying that it’s a waste of time to an editor at a publishing house saying that he just doesn’t have a gift for serious literature and trying to divert him to being a Light Novel writer) and participating in a traditional festival as a member of the hayashi group. But Akane is very supportive of these things, encouraging him when he has to miss her track meet to meet with the editor (although she was worried she’d be more embarrassed with him there) and going to watch his hayashi practice and showing genuine interest in it. That part was one I found particularly enjoyable, because it was presented as such a real reaction, not that she was bored by it, or just went along because it’s her boyfriend. It was wanting to spend time with him, and finding interest in his interests.

“ehhhh? A boyfriend?” Mom’s big grin wins the day

“You should go see the wind chimes” for a beautiful setting

Another great theme the show has is the support that the other characters have for their relationship. I loved Akane’s mom when Ayane brings up the idea that she has a boyfriend, and her dad has a great reaction also, in that he wants his girls to be happy but also doesn’t want them to grow up. He was like that in the vignette a few episodes earlier with Ayane’s boyfriend (with the flashy car) and now he is biting his tongue because he knows it’s a selfish thing on his part. The adults Kotarou deals with in the hayashi group are all super supportive as well, welcoming Akane to watch and sending them off on a date, even giving Kotarou the ok to invite Akane to the bookstore when he says that they are having a hard time finding the chance to be together. And even the rest of the kids are supportive when they find out, surprising as it is. The reveal when Hira asks if anyone else knows about Akane’s relationship with Azumi was hilarious, and the followups with Chinatsu’s broken heart and the girl group’s discussions in the bathroom are both great. Even though Akane can’t say what she likes about Kotarou, they don’t doubt her, although Miu with her “no secrets!” deal is a bit worrisome (but then Miu is a problem in general, seeing the Miu and Inaba shorts).

Chinatsu says she knew about it, but I don’t know that she really did

Setsuko and Kaneko comfort Chinatsu

The only one who’s maybe not that great a friend is Chinatsu. Even after finding out about Akane and Kotarou’s relationship, she still tries to peel Kotarou off into a relationship with her. Maybe Ayane was right, in that Akane needed to dump Chinatsu as a friend, but it hasn’t played out too badly yet. But it’s inarguable that Chinatsu was trying to engineer chances to get herself in with Kotarou in their trip to Dome City. Even the trip idea in the first place, starting with inviting Kotarou and Hira to go with Chinatsu and Akane, is designed to get Hira to go after Akane so that Chinatsu can get Kotarou. And then setting up those pairs on the roller coaster just solidifies that that is her plan. It’s only when Kotarou actually stops Hira from confessing to Akane by saying that they’re a couple that Chinatsu realizes that she never really had a chance with him, but I still think that she loses credit for trying in the first place. Then again, the time that you’re going to learn about things like having your heart broken, no matter how much you tried, is when you’re young. I definitely can’t blame her for trying, and the pain she feels is real, and it’s sad that she had to go through it.

And all the way to “getting grilled by your friends about how far you’ve gone”

And because this post has gone on long enough at this point, I’ll just talk about one more thing that I really like about the series. That’s the combination of the natural progression of Akane and Kotarou’s romantic relationship and the other relationships that are in different states among their classmates, mostly told through the lovely short vignettes at the end of the episode. Here are two teens that have been calling what they’re doing dating for a month or so now. They’re past the secret phase, then they passed the “too embarrassed to actually say anything when we’re together” phase, and then there was the hand-holding event, where Kotarou awkwardly held Akane’s hand. That’s something that they’ve gotten a little better at, but it’s not something that Japanese couples do very much of, from what I gather. And now they’re just getting to kissing. But what’s even better about it is the way that they’re portraying them both wanting to take each step. It really makes it more of a “real” relationship, based on that unknown combination of things that makes you really attracted to someone.

“Danshi saiteeeeei.” I love the way Setsuko says that.

And it doesn’t help that her ex-boyfriend Shou embodies it.

But at the same time we’re seeing some other relationships that are based on some different things. One that’s now over in the show is Setsuko and Shou’s dating, although that wasn’t as much dating as “sex friends,” which would have been fine if that’s what both of them wanted, but obviously Setsuko wanted more of a dating relationship (and to not always pay for the hotel). On the other side is Inaba and Miu, where Inaba thinks they’re dating, or at least going through the motions, but then Miu says things like “I wish I had a boyfriend” (I’ll admit, I don’t like Miu much). The show even has the “way out of left field unrealistic” relationships, with Roman apparently winning Ryouko-sensei’s heart. It’s a LONG time until his high school graduation, Ryouko-sensei.

Roman is totally the best bro, and Sakura has a vivid life in her imagination

If 2000 words already weren’t enough to convey that I really like this show, well, I really like this show. It’s very rare to have teen relationships portrayed this authentically, especially in a TV show. They don’t play up the drama like a shoujo romance, they don’t play the characters off of each other capriciously, and they encounter teen problems in a teen way and deal with them by growing through them. These are ordinary kids, with parents who are looking out for them, with some school friends, with their own interests. It’s really just an adorable show, and it’s really my most anticipated show each week. I also like the fact that they’ve used a couple remake songs that I’ve already known from other anime (where they were either old or remakes themselves) as insert songs, and the little side stories that they tell after the show. They’re a lot of fun, and it’s a quick way to add depth to the side characters that wouldn’t get much development.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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4 Responses to “Tsuki ga Kirei 05-08”

  1. Smiley says:

    Tsuki ga Kirei really is an excellent show. The down-to-earth portrayal of young love and relationships is very well done. It never fails to put a smile on my face every week.

  2. skylion says:

    I’m loving the relationship, and as you so eagerly spell out, it takes it’s very sweet time, with just the correct amount of missteps and not-missteps.

    But for my attention, it’s another chance for anime tourism by seat. Artists are capable of spawning such outrageous vistas…but ask one of them to model a stand of windchimes! That’s your artist!

    • Highway says:

      The backgrounds are definitely great, and model the places they are showing very well, sometimes even better than reality (the lit up stream looks better in the anime than the real projection, if you ask me). It’s too bad that the character art is a bit of a let down, but it’s one of those shows where it doesn’t matter too much, unless you’re taking screenshots. I’m kind of surprised that Studio feel is having such trouble with the animation, tho (with even dropped frames the week after they ran a clip show).

      • skylion says:

        …they have to keep up with the thick white outline around everyone..that cannot be easy!

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