Those who have already read my Early Impressions post for this anime know that I have some history with this production. Prior to it even being announced as an anime, I was some twenty chapters into its manga source. Enjoying the anime before the anime even came about, I had some expectations for this piece that, should it follow closely to the manga, I was sure would be able to concoct an insightful and memorable experience.
I will begin with the bad:
Tsuki ga Kirei typically gets a lot of praise for being a sweet and realistic slice-of-life romance between two awkward teenagers in a world plagued by expectations. People enjoy their characters and the loose plot that doesn’t call for a lot of drama or hyperbole. What people don’t praise it for is its core animation, which was close to strangely awful. I recall a number of scenes where character movement was as robotic as a production from the ’50s; the choice to provide white streaks down each character’s face was also met with mixed impressions.
Koi-Ameagari has much of this same issue with fluidity, only it chooses its moments to be breath-taking. I know that Wit Studio can produce high quality animation (Hello, Shingeki no Kyojin), so it’s a little surprising to see them do the absolute bare minimum with this series. There is almost no fluidity within movements or extraneous actions (normally), and the look of the show feels close to amateurish during casual moments (normally). This “(normally)” is by comparison to when things decide to become dramatic, in which Akira, the focal character, typically gets a huge close-up shot that gives her eyes an added boost of color, her lips more prominence, and her expression basically lost. This close-up shot tends to happen every episode, and far more during the later episodes of the series that feel a little obnoxious after a while. I have heard harsh criticism of this show stating that it was only adapted because the character art was marvelous; these suddenly good artistic spots don’t combat this claim.
The Later Episodes (10-12)
One of the stronger points of this series, I would contend, is the multiplying of underlying themes of youth and regret that ruminate within the characters’ hearts. Seeing them try to combat this by throwing themselves into various activities or other people as a means of distraction is relatable. Akira wishes to run again, but can’t shake the fear of re-igniting her injury in the process… maybe? Or maybe she can’t stand all the pressure placed on her? This is only part of the problem at hand with the later portion of this series.
To nutshell it and say it was rushed would only be showing the surface level of issues. Various scenes continue to build up more and more that diverge from the process of inner turmoil and simply allow characters to breath in the face of an obvious answer. Rushed is one word, but I believe a better word would be “Half-assed.” These later episodes, already full to the brim with Akira close-up shots, throw random characters unrelated to the series by that point to push Akira and Kondo, the object of her affection, to go back to what they really should be doing. Without giving these characters proper context, they feel more like devices to push the plot than actual characters, which in turn makes Akira and Kondo feel as though they could’ve made these decisions much earlier on if someone had only slapped their head in a little. Kondo’s friend/former classmate had some noticeable chemistry with him, so I don’t believe he was all bad. Sakura definitely left much to be desired, however, and the inclusion of a character motivated to beat Akira’s time in a track relay was simply presented, then brushed off until they needed some extra conflict.
Thus, to nutshell this nutshell, the final episodes feel half-assed and rushed in order to conceive a profitable conclusion, which, admittedly, did tickle me somewhat. Kondo and Akira suddenly say, “Oh, yeah! I like stuff” with little more than a snap of the fingers. Akira shows a lot of pretty close-up shots. Various minor characters get to talk for about thirty seconds and ultimately go nowhere.
Let’s get into the good now:
(Pretty Much) Everything Else
I enjoyed the emphasis on the story of two souls, different in age, gender, and position in society, meeting and connecting (more so Akira than Kondo) with each other through mutual wavering of hearts. Both aspire to do something more, yet can’t find the motivation or courage to partake in it. Akira uses her romantic aspirations for Kondo to quell her drive, while Kondo goes about life leisurely after feeling like a failure to make an impact. In some ways, it’s poetic to consider that Akira chose Kondo as her object of desire, with the irony being, despite their age difference and outlooks on life, they have a lot in common on a deeper psychological level. This is what drew me to this series in the first place: the potential for something deeper than “Girl falls in love with older man because he has power” or some shit.
I made a quip about how minor characters don’t really go anywhere by the end of this series, and while I’m writing this under the “good” category, it’s still an issue due to the potential they showed early on. There’s a character whose eccentricity makes her a likable character, despite her dull intellectual finesse (translation: she dumb). There’s another character who exhibits these same qualities, only male and chasing after Akira… for a while, until the series decides its not necessary anymore. These two eccentric characters end up growing closer together, but everything becomes left up to interpretation, as the most of what’s shown of these two together is limited to a single scene. I would’ve liked to have seen these characters interact. It would’ve made for a nice contrast to the slow, melancholic overall tone of the anime. Another character, who makes his presence known early on, is kicked to the curb after he has his fill of being a sexist asshole. In the manga (surprised it took me this long), he has a much more prominent role, so to see him wasted here is a little frustrating.
Kondo and Akira are both realized and likable characters in their own right. Ignoring episodes ten to twelve, they have dimensions to their personality and work well off of each other, so long as they aren’t waxing poetic to one another under the rain (it gets old after a while). I enjoyed their interactions within casual settings, and they felt life-like in most situations—even more so, I would argue, while within the presence of Kondo’s son, who is also a likable munchkin. There are a lot of instances where I could genuinely see these two as a couple, and even more, as real friends. Though the differences in their interests may very well be their downfall; such may have led to that bittersweet end.
I enjoyed this series quite a bit, as the earlier episodes ended up being something I could watch without having to constantly look down at the runtime. It’s only unfortunate that it couldn’t rein in a proper ending to match the focus and emotional turmoil within the characters compared to the starting point. Wasted potential, absolutely. A trainwreck of an ending? Not so fast. With all the bad, there’s quite a bit to enjoy with this somewhat oddball series, and I would recommend it more than I wouldn’t. It all depends on what people are expecting to get out of it.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.