Tsuki ga Kirei – 04

Man – how the hell am I going to survive 8 more episodes of this?

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 01I’m a bit worried that we may be getting to that stage where I’m starting to care too much about Tsuki ga Kirei.  That may not sound like a bad thing – and it’s certainly way better than the opposite.  But it does pose a couple of potential problems, one of which is that my objectivity (which, in truth, is always relative when it comes to criticism anyway) could start to suffer.  It’s also just plain old emotionally draining to be so invested in a series and characters that you live and die with every development.  I loved this episode but damn – by the time it was over I was exhausted.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 02I think Tsuki ga Kirei takes place at a kind of literal meeting point of “romance”, “drama” and “slice of life”.  Anime fans (and not just them) have tended to take a modernist view of SoL as pertaining only to snapshots of nothing of consequence, of amusing idyll – but really, what could be more representative of the term than giving an audience what plays very much like a slice of the characters’ lives?  That’s what watching this show is like – being a silent observer at Akanae and Kotarou’s adolescence.  Naturalistic doesn’t begin to cover it, but it’s a start – the events of the narrative are as unforced as in any character drama in recent memory.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 03I saw a lot of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth after last week’s cliffhanger ending, smug predictions that As the Moon, So Beautiful was about to descend into cliche anime romance tropes and (shudder) “melodrama”.  Well, it didn’t.  Here’s the thing – “drama” is not a four-letter word (it’s five – I double-checked).  Any series about middle-schoolers and relationships is going to have drama because, guess what – when you’re a middle-schooler life seems pretty fucking dramatic. Especially when you’re talking your first halting, fumbling steps into the world of romance.  It would be totally unrealistic not to have traumatic, dramatic events unfold in Kotarou and Akane’s lives – the only thing that tells the tale is going to be how well those events are portrayed.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 04Well, if this episode is any guide, we’re in for a fantastic couple of months.  This was one of the better school trip episodes of the decade, and not only because of the developments between the leads.  As they usually do Kishi and Kakihara get the background details spot-on (this show is as observational as it is naturalistic).  Anyone who’s been to Kyoto has observed the endless packs of junior-high kids on class trips, and how they behave (just like this).  I loved the interactions amongst both the boys and the girls – and the teachers, too.  The cat-and-mouse with the cell phones, the after-hours chat sessions, the irresistible curiosity (and a little resentment) from classmates towards friends getting a few steps ahead of them on the romance road.  A show about middle-schoolers where they act like actual middle-schoolers – what a unicorn that is.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 05When it comes to Akane and Kotarou this episode didn’t disappoint – though it certainly did torture.  Akane, unsurprisingly, needed a bit of time to process what Kotarou had asked her – she was as surprised as we were to hear it.  Class trips are the craps game of teen relationships – the stakes get raised, everything is on the table, and it can all go right or wrong in an instant.  It’s an opportunity and a trap.  Naturally our two heroes are mostly separated – each within their own class and their own circle of friends, who mostly mean well but can’t help but torture.  But Kotarou and Akane are adorably fixated on each other, even if they rarely make any contact.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 06From the moment the two started texting in their rooms, I was on a knife’s edge.  “Send it!” I shouted as Kotarou’s thumb hesitated after typing his invitation to meet outside Daimaru Depatto at Noon the next day during free time.  I groaned in agony as Roman and Daichi’s roughhousing got Kotarou’s phone confiscated, knowing it would lead to disaster.  Really, the whole thing put me in mind of Takaki’s train journey from Byousoku 5 Centimeter for high anxiety – and believe it, that’s high praise coming from me.  But it was all a bit of a crucible for Akane, I think – it forced her to confront the truth.  Namely, that she was really, really hoping the boy would show up in front of that department store.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 07The final sequence was really great on just about every level.  Let’s start with the fact that Aira finally realized just what an ordeal Akane was being put through, and set her free.  Then, just when it would have been the cliche thing to have Chinatsu be a threat, she (and her phone) turned out to be a savior (though Akane clearly still sees the threat potential).  Tsuki ga Kirei isn’t following anime formula here – it’s letting the lives of the two leads direct where the story goes.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 04 - 08Ultimately, Kotarou and Akane do meet.  And it’s awkward and uncomfortable – because really, how could it be anything else?  Akane is a little unreasonable but she knows she’s being unreasonable and doesn’t know why, and knowing that makes her even more unreasonable.  Kotarou can’t quite bring himself to explain what happened right away but on some level, I think he realizes an explanation would do more harm than good at that moment.  And he gets his answer – not an eloquent and specific one, but one whose meaning is as clear as he could possibly hope for.  This is as convincing a start to a relationship as we’ve seen in a school romance for a good while, and based on what Tsuki ga Kirei has already pulled off, things should only get better from here.

Romake:

Setsukomake:

Shoumake:

 

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12 comments

  1. d

    I feel that I’d be emotionally fucked when this is all over, absolutely well done by studio feel. Animes that managed to get me so emotionally invested like this are few in numbers, and this certainly one of them. Watching the relationship between them really does drain my energy, but what the anime has to offer here is too great to ignore. I’m ready to be drained for the rest of this series because it made me feel like it would be worth it.

  2. I actually also like the fact that the series seems so normal, and also that a decent part of the speculation out there has been off (including my own). And that it is off not because of “clever story telling”, but rather because many viewers are used to various literary formula used through the years in various mediums.

    Nothing wrong with the formula, mind you … not the point. The point is the freshness that comes from that unaffected naturalness of interaction. This sort of thing is rare to find (even IRL) and is a delight to discover … well, at least it is for me. And for me this series gives off that “scent”.

    My only hope is that it will keep that millieu it has been able to cultivate thus far to the end amidst the inevitable story development and progress into new territory – and hopefully all the way through the end of the cour.

  3. Hey Enzo! Great writing as always, especially your insights on Kyoto. Hearing romance from the perspective of an older person feels similar in some ways, but vastly different in others. Maybe I’m just too young and inexperienced to truly understand the trappings of love. Nonetheless, glad to see we shared opinions and came to the same conclusion that the omittance of melodrama was a good thing indeed.

    Emotions still ran high, and this episode was charged with positive teenage energy, that ironically peaked in the moments of silence.

  4. “Older person”?

  5. M

    You a geezer.

  6. You definitely aren’t a middle schooler, hahaha

  7. That moment someone calls you an “oji-san”

  8. C

    Your objectivity “could start to suffer”? Oh please, it’s been out the window since the very first episode. :) Don’t get me wrong, I love this series too, but for someone who’s been complaining on and on about the CGI in shows like Ajin, it’s definitely less than objective of you to not say a word about the background zombies. Whoever decided it’s a good idea to give walking b/g characters this kind of unnaturally slow and smooth leg movement has certainly done a good job in breaking the immersion every time the zombies roam about. The upper body movements are mostly within acceptable range, but every time I see those fcking floating legs I want to scream, because almost everything else is done very well, so this POS element really sticks out. :( Not that I love the the overall show any less for it, but whoever did this one thing should be let go.

  9. Man, I don’t think the issue is anywhere near as egregious as you make it out to be. They’re going for a certain look here that’s hardly photo-realistic – pastels and watercolors, a kind of impressionistic thing a la Hourou Musuko. If you don’t have a huge budget to begin with it’s a good approach, but it matches the material. You’re obviously free to obsess over whatever you want to, but someone disagreeing with you doesn’t automatically mean you’re a paragon of objectivity and they’re blinded by bias.

  10. C

    When I made my comment, I didn’t even know if you disagreed with me or not, only that you hadn’t mentioned this issue, which I attributed to being too taken in by everything else to let it bother you or warrant a mention. Where is this paragon of objectivity thing even coming from? I sure don’t think of myself that way. Whether you’re blind or not, I don’t know, except that for some reason you didn’t seem to notice my smiley and became defensive in a weird way. You’ve been pretty vocal about CG issues before, so I was expecting you to mention this uncanny valley type thing but you haven’t, and now you mentioned losing your objectivity so I cracked a joke, which apparently is not OK with you… I have nothing against pastels and watercolors, in fact I LOVE the rest of the artistic look of the show, and that is EXACTLY why this stupid slo-mo walking thing is bothering me so much, because it clashes with EVERYTHING ELSE and destroys the ensemble in those scenes, I sincerely hope you’re not going to act as it you have a special prerogative to complain about the kind of CG YOU don’t like, but others should shut up about their peeves. This has nothing to do with the budget either, unless you seriously think that making the legs move a bit faster would have broken the bank.

  11. My apologies if that came off harsher than I intended. But hey, you started your comment by accusing me of being blind to the series’ flaws, and when you do that it’s implicit that you consider your own perspective to be much clearer.

    It’s a difference of opinion, plain and simple. You see a glaring flaw, I don’t.

  12. C

    OK, np, but still for Pete’s sake, I didn’t accuse you of anything, I was riffing off what you’d said in the review. With a smiley and all. I say again: because of your track record of complaining about CG issues, I was pretty sure you’d agree with me on this, that you simply hadn’t gotten around mentioning it because you’ve got too much positive stuff to talk about and it’s not a priority for you. So basically I was fishing for commiseration about this one issue, because it really is a major thorn for me with this otherwise near perfect series. If it had been about “flaws” as in plural, I think I’d have mentioned something else as well, so I honestly don’t know where you got your generalization from.

    I have to say tho that at this point I really have very little doubt left that you’ve lost your objectivity, because even if you don’t think it’s as big deal as I do, if you can’t even see where I’m coming from with this AT ALL, you are indeed wearing rosy glasses with this one. And in any case, it you’re so sensitive about someone else saying you’re maybe not objective, then why admit to it in your own review? I don’t understand the logic here.

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