Tsuki ga Kirei – 08

I’m going to die from cute.  With a huge grin on my face…

Let me just stipulate a couple of things up front:

  • Yes, I know the animation was sketchy in this episode.  Budget, schedule, whatever the reason.
  • I don’t give even the smallest damn.  I loved it to bits anyway, so that’s the last I’m going to talk about it.
  • The omakes for this show are better than 95% of the anime airing this season.  The last two lines of dialogue (from Kotarou’s parents) were the funniest thing I’ve heard in anime this year.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 01I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that 24 minutes of anime made feel – and I mean all of it, because it was fantastic from the cold open right up until the fade to black after the omakes.  Hell, they even made the finest possible choice in insert songs – “Natsumstsuri”.  This is the third time I’ve seen it used in anime (Watamote and ReLIFE both used it as a special ED) and I’ve loved every one of them.  It was totally appropriate in context here, and it’s an amazing song to begin with.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 02So much strikes me after watching a narratively perfect episode like that, to the point where it’s hard to know where to begin.  I mean, for me it really didn’t put a single foot wrong – and each success kept building on the last right through to the final scene (I’ll get there).  Tsuki ga Kirei just keeps surprising me, to the point where it shouldn’t be surprising anymore.  It pisses on anime romance convention with extreme prejudice – this show does what it wants whether it’s expected or not, and what it wants is almost always the right thing to do.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 03Let’s talk about cute.  Kawaii can certainly be a problem in anime, especially in massive doses.  But that problem arises when it’s manufactured, self-aware cuteness – which, let’s be honest, is very nearly all of it.  Anime that’s trying to be cute to ingratiate itself to the (disc buying) audience isn’t cute at all.  The reason Tsuki ga Kirei is so kawaii – and Kotarou and Akane are maybe the most adorable anime couple ever – is because they’re incredibly natural.  This series doesn’t lurch forward in fits and starts – it flows effortlessly like a stream.  It really feels like we’re eavesdropping on these kids’ lives, watching them slowly evolve as they discover love and coupledom.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 04Now let’s talk about drama.  Who needs it?  Not me – not when this is the alternative.  There wasn’t a speck of conventional drama on this episode – it didn’t gnaw on the bones of Chinatsu’s failed coup d’état last week at all, in fact.  It was just Kotarou and Akane, Akane and Kotarou – inching their way forward as they grow bolder towards each other.  Dealing with the reality of being a known entity as a couple.  Wrestling with the dilemma of names (as if adolescent romance isn’t hard enough, the whole issue of first names is a huge additional stress-creator in Japan).  There was plenty of tension, but it flowed from the sheer level of emotional engagement with Akane and Kotarou.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 05I could rattle off all the individual moments that were so incredibly winning – Kotarou’s inability to stop smiling as he played the taiko, thinking about Akane.  Akane sniffing herself and giving herself a (totally unnecessary, but she wasn’t to know that) spritz of body spray before meeting Kotarou in the library after practice.  Roman proving himself the perfect wingman (and relationship coach) again.  Kotarou’s reaction to Akane asking to go see him practice – and her asking in the first place.  Akane’s rapt expression as she watched Kotarou dance.  The Shrine priest giving Koutarou a 1000 Yen note and sending him off to take Akane to the matsuri at Hikawa Jinja (one of many beautiful spots in Kawagoe, a city you really should visit the next time you’re in Tokyo).  Akane telling her friends she feels safe whenever Kotarou is with her.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 06And as for that festival sequence – wow.  It kept topping itself, one great moment building on the next – I kept expecting an awkward moment, a stumble, but it never came.  It was like being at the blackjack table and splitting cards, then doubling down, then doing it again and again, and finally the dealer busts.  Akane in a yukata.  Akane buys Kotarou a potato squeezie as a belated birthday gift.  Kotarou (quiet but fierce) musters up the nerve to call Akane “Akane-chan”.  The gallant placing of the band-aid.  And then, the kiss – no silly interruptions this time, but a full-on kiss.  Finally, almost too good to be true, the strains of “Natsumatsuri” begin on the piano, and we see that Akane and Kotarou have written the same wish on their wind chime romance tags.

The should probably just retire the first love genre at this point, I think.  That’s not going to be topped.

Tsuki ga Kirei - 08 - 07Yeah, I know I’m gushing – but sometimes an episode and a series just deserve it.  What an honest to goodness celebration of everything that’s beautiful and heartbreaking about first romance Tsuki ga Kirei is – so simple it should have been done long ago, and often, but almost never has been.  And it shouldn’t be ignored that these omake are really smart and perceptive exclamation points and palate cleansers at the end of these episodes.  That bit with Kotarou’s novels and “You really have a pretty good grasp of how women think” and “He really doesn’t understand how women think” – so brilliant on so many levels.  A perfect end to a perfect episode.

Aoi to Kanekomake:

Sumahomake:

Inabamake:

Romake:

Aomake:

Ryoukomake:

Okaa to Otoumake:

 

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10 comments

  1. Hah! Die! Writhe in the agony and ecstacy of cute and expire! lol

    I certainly couldn’t blame you one bit – this was so adorable my face was grinning almost the entire time. So lovely, and so natural too, like you pointed out.

    Yessiree and Bob’s your uncle … if this series keeps on track it could easily make the top ten list of the year for me.

    Its interesting that for some viewers (a broad swath of tastes covered here) never really clicked with this series, and while I can understand in a way … there sometimes come along series you just know are really well done but just can’t connect to it … even so for those who do what else is there to be other than grateful,eh?

    Oh, and if you are an anime blogger you can shamelessly gush out your happiness! XD

  2. J

    Glad I wasn’t the only one with a large grin on my face the whole time. You pretty much described it perfectly that it feels like we’re eavesdropping on their lives. As someone who watches both Renai Bouken(Where kisses are left and right) and Tsuki Ga Kirei, this definitely elicited a more “Squee”-ish moment from me. Part of me really wishes that these omakes were their own thing, gaaah, the best part about this series is that it works so well with it’s medium since it really utilizes the sounds that I can’t imagine it anything except animated form.

  3. J

    This episode did the impossible – it made me yearn for my teenage days. Every step reminded me of my fumbling awkwardness on my journey through adolescent relationships, but for once it wasn’t a critical, self-pitying reflection.

    By all rights this should be one of the best episodes of anime this year. Unfortunately, despite it’s near flawless execution it won’t come close to being the best (the last two episodes of Uchouten Kazoku and the entirety of Futatabi-hen will see to that), and it’s a real shame this series has gone largely unheralded.

  4. H

    Great episode. The only complaint I could possibly have is regarding two of the omakes with the teacher — the whole thing with a drinking young woman desperately wanting to get married is just not funny and is overdone to death in anime.

  5. My rebuttal to that would be that it reflects what’s actually a very real social issue in Japan. Namely, that young men are substantially less interested in relationships and marriage (and even sex) than young women these days. So a woman in Ryouko-sensei’s position might very well find herself frustrated at not being able to find any males in her age group serious about being in a relationship.

  6. r

    This was absolutely glorious. Besides things enzo said, the visuals of the festival date were amazing. The backgrounds made me want to be there sooo bad. Lucky you, enzo, that you got to see the real shrine (windchimes, too?). If the animation being rather wonky at times was what was necessary to get those beautiful shots then I call it a very good tradeoff.

  7. Yeah, there was definitely a tradeoff there – save budget in the A-part and spend it on the festival stuff.

    I have been to Hikawa Jinja but they didn’t have the chimes when I was there – I think they only do it for major festivals. They did have them at Yasakuni Jinja during one of the matsuri I attended there – I think there are photos of that in one of my Tokyo posts.

    Kawagoe is quite underrated, I think – very cheap and relatively fast to get there from Tokyo. I mean, it ain’t Kyoto or anything but it’s a nice, quaint historical excursion.

  8. M

    The natural way the characters interact with each other is really impressive.Even big budget tv shows don’t get how normal teens behave.

  9. This show is such a treasure! I’m constantly amazed at how well it captures youth, awkwardness, love…I’m surprised every episode that the series delivers what it’s trying to with such quality. The show is so much better than it reasonably should be.

  10. Y

    I finally got caught up with this series (lazy Sunday afternoon binge…). The only thing I would add is that for a fan of Japan like me, it’s a real pleasure to watch. I don’t often feel like Japan itself is a character in the story, but in this show, I do. The opening shots in the first episode is a great example. I also loved the episode in Kyoto for that (it was fun to recognize all the places I’ve been too). The characters are so natural and believable that I feel like I’m getting a peak at something I’ll never be able to experience: being Japanese in Japan… A rare gift for a gaijin otaku like me… 😉

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