Tsuki ga Kirei, or “as the moon, so beautiful.” as English title (a famous Japanese way to say “I Love You”), is your very definition of a slice-of-life romance show. Tsuki ga Kirei pays exclusive attention to the atmosphere, the small moments and characters’ reactions, while main plot and dramatic tension taken a back seat. It’s adorable, yes, not in the way cute girls doing cute things behave, but in its realistic approach to that innocent, awkward stage of our life – when, you know, it still matters a whole lot when you receive a text from the person you like, or getting nervous before the match in a sports festival. This week, the show spends an entire episode detailing a day of our characters participating in a said sports festival. We get to know more about the supporting casts and we also follow Kotaro in his house before and after the festival, and we have more cute moments for our duo Kotaro and Akane. This is a solid Tsuki ga Kirei episode so far.
As typically a bookish type person, Kotaro also loves to write. He’s a bit shy and defensive though, never let anyone to read his works, or in his everyday life, doesn’t let his mom to come for the festival. It would be embarrassed to fail, after all. This whole sports event where both our duo would get really clumsy and embarrassing, one fell hard while running, the other dropped the baton that lead to the loss of the team. But the show does a great job to not overplay those embarrassing moments and present them like normal situations. Because they are. Other shows tend to make a big deal out of character’s issues, to the point those moments can really affect the mood of the festival. Not here. The main emphasis, after all, is entirely fixated on characters’ passing feeling than any conflict, like how the show concentrates on Akane’s insecureness towards losing her potato plushy (is that really a POTATO?), instead of how she’s messing up because of that. I also like how sometimes the show would focus on Kotaro looking at body parts (either by accident or by his friends’ suggestion) of the girls without any sexual tension, in an awkward innocent not pervertly way.
This episode introduces us to the other two members of the cast, Chinatsu and Takumi. Although I enjoy the easy-going antics of Chinatsu and her moment with Korato in a medical room, especially her lousy treatment to Kotaro really speaks to that carefree side of her, the guy Takumi just tries so hard to impress Akane. From the look of it, those two are set up to be romantic rivalries to our main couple and if that’s the case then I ain’t particularly fond with it. I like to see them as real people, not the obstacles the leads have to pass to be with each other so I hope the show understands that. Tone down the romance, play up the slice-of-life aspect. I also enjoy Roman and his straightforward crush for sensei, kudos the show for make it subtly by showing it rather than screaming it aloud for the world to hear like other shows. Speaking of Roman’s crush, the shorts about various romance after the credit were a nice touch, both fleshing out a bit of our side characters, and taking more edgy side to this so far bright, pure-white world. But it’s real as well, at this stage of their life many starts to behave more grown-up, while others still act like a kid, this show really understands that.
And in the end, it’s so warm seeing the two helping each other out, texting to each other and Korato grows up a bit in the process (he’s still embarrassed to show his writing to others, but decided to show it because he’s passionate about writing). This show is adorable, but the “adorable” part is what I’m worrying about. So far, its adorableness comes from the show’s realistic portrayal of first love, and the sweet, light moments of preteen life. If they play up the cuteness, the show will become nothing more than another “cute characters show” and it will lose its sparks immediately. Two episodes in, Tsuki ga Kirei proves to be one of the most true-to-life representation of what 14-years-old kid life is about. This show is standing strong.