Thoughts on Tsuki ga Kirei

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Oh, heavens! An anime about middle-school students trying to understand their place in society through the trials of love and loss (but mostly love)? Is this, dare I say, the anime I was expecting Kyou no 5 no 2 to be? Well, yes and no.

Tsuki ga Kirei is a slow, but meaningful exploration of young love. Riveting topics such as “I hope this girl texts me back” and “I want to run fast” are exposed for the first time with such tender expression that few can help but be charmed. For those looking for more “pure” slice-of-life titles, Tsuki ga Kirei manages to take the mundane and make it into a somewhat humorous, somewhat relatable chunk of bliss, minus the episodic nature of most slice-of-life’s.

One thing it is not is complicated. Likely due in part to its gradual climb, the anime doesn’t cover much ground in terms of story or character development. There are particular characters that the viewer is given insight from, and others who simply interact with said major characters. These characters specifically are Kota and Akane, the main couple of the series and the only two characters that hold the story afloat. Minor characters come and go—effectively cementing themselves within the reality of the setting—without any reason to stay once their use has been expended. The story itself is simply “young love,” with little sub-plots involving Kota’s desire to become a respected author and Akane’s somewhat aloof hobby of track. Not often does the focus shift from establishing these two as a couple and how they continue to grow closer to one another.

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To some extent, this could drive people away. Its synopsis is quite vague and in hindsight, not much actually happens. Simplicity without risk is something that normally draws my ire, but the execution of the one-track mind of Tsuki ga Kirei makes up for its lack of variety. Not many anime make me truly care about the relationship between two people, mostly because I don’t feel chemistry between characters or the process of bringing them closer involves clichés or hamfisted coincidences. The grounded approach here makes it somewhat unique, yet familiar, with help from the leads having more in common than not. Both are shy, preferring to talk on LINE than in person, and hold a quiet determination in their respective hobbies. The awkwardness they have at the beginning of their social relationship only makes it more apparent that these two have an assured connection.

It is rather flimsy a product, as it relies almost entirely on its charm and relatability to connect with the viewer. There is little in terms of entertainment value, as everything is incredibly realistic, dialogue and design and all. It’s slow and it saves a lot of its more “dramatic” moments for the end of episodes, slowly building up to most of them. A waiting game disguised as a TV series. Its only source of something different are various short animations revolving around minor characters in humorous situations at the end of most episodes. Surprisingly, these shorts are pretty non-distracting and clever. Tsuki ga Kirei is a delicate process of tracing its foot steps as accurately as possible, following a path that one hopes would result in something spectacular.

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What isn’t spectacular, at least not very often, is the show’s animation. Design itself is fairly different, as characters are given more human-like appearances and a very, very glossy-looking illumination most evident on their cheeks. It makes everything feel picturesque and soft, almost as though the anime were made inside one’s imagination. However, one need not much imagination to see how awful some bits of animation are. Countless times characters move faster than humanly possible, continuing streaky movements as though they were robotic. It’s almost humorous, as some scenes have characters move tremendously fluid and even impress with the amount of small detail. I suppose they used up the budget for those better scenes and had to compensate for looking shoddy in non-important scenarios.

While a final push from SaeKano 2 made the seasonal rankings close, Tsuki ga Kirei still managed to come out on top in terms of MVP honors. I adored the realistic approach to the most innocent of affections, discarding the typical muck of hand-holding as the gateway to immorality. The anime served itself better without relying on all the unnecessary sexual fluff that Kyou no 5 no 2 seemed to gorge on in each episode. Occasionally slow and occasionally dull, the final product is so sugary sweet that romanticists will ooze at the name once all is said and done.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Early Impressions: Tsuki ga Kirei

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Three episodes in, I’m glad I went with my gut.

Tsuki ga Kirei doesn’t have the hook of things like Shingeki no Kyojin or Boku no Hero Academia. There’s no sort of group following that hyped it to no end before it premiered. It doesn’t razzle, dazzle, or splurge in any other fancy term that rhymes. What the anime embodies is the slow, gradual realization of puberty and the things that go along with it, most notably of a sexual aspect. Tsuki ga Kirei, so far, is what I expected Kyou no 5 no 2 to be. Like what I expected to enjoy with that sort of premise, I’m enjoying it tremendously here.

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Again, there is no sparkly sheen attached to this series. It’s slow, somewhat uneventful, and has no special feature that secludes it from other anime among the genre. What it does have is a realistic and adorable viewpoint of young love and trying to abide by societal norms. It’s almost like a study of human behavior between the point of childhood and adulthood, a crucial transition for any and all people of a normal capacity. As a closet romanticist, I can’t help but feel engrossed by the nervous interactions between the male and female leads. Their mannerisms dependent on the situation and place, and their consciences inwardly debating what is or isn’t the right way to speak to one another. There’s a nice subtlety with characterization that really speaks to me, telling me more than the characters need to outwardly state.

The methodical process that Tsuki ga Kirei takes prevents it from being something worth watching for people who want an easygoing slice-of-life flick. There’s no rampant humor or colorful insanity. It’s fairly grounded in its approach, so those who aren’t strictly intrigued with young love and development won’t find much enjoyment in this. Almost like letting water boil, it slowly builds itself at a reasonable pace until the heat is at the point where it requires the ingredients to cook. “Episodic” is not a term to describe Tsuki ga Kirei, as it develops naturally over the course of each episode, like going from Point A to Point B. Think of it like the transition screens in each episode of Mawaru Penguindrum.

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If there is one issue, it’s an easy choice: art and animation. It’s rather static, very rarely improving the quality of the slow crawl of the plot with any sort of exuberance. While I do like the experimentation of 3D models within a 2D space, and the sort of bright shading tones of the characters’ features, the overall animation leaves a lot to interpretation. By that, I mean there are really sudden frame skips. Its level of consistent movement rivals that of Onihei, which I’ve lamented as pretty mediocre. While it doesn’t destroy the serious(ish) nature of the anime, it does make it a little hard to appreciate at its max potential.

While still within the introductory stages, Tsuki ga Kirei has the tools to become a rather enjoyable piece. While its roof at the moment isn’t anything more than a seven or so out of ten, I’ve had hidden gems surprise me in the past (Latest example: Demi-chan). I’d definitely recommend people at least give it a shot, such that I can see it being talked about more on Twitter so I can interact with them. No bias here!