Posted on 5 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tsuki ga Kirei

It’s hard for me not to go overboard on Tsuki ga Kirei: out of all the show I’ve followed this season, I resonated the most to this one; but even when I’m judging this show objectively, Tsuki ga Kirei is one of the most perfect one, in a way that it achieved exactly what it set out to do, and achieve it flawlessly most of the time. The story that they tell – detailing the first love relationship of our young Kotarou and Akane – is decidedly simple, mundane but honest that it feels more like a love story taken from young best mates. It has that “sincere” quality, something that the anime medium often cranks it up to the max with “moe” and exaggeration everywhere. Not here. Tsuki ga Kirei has great flair of visual storytelling (something that benefited from being an original show, they don’t tie up to your usual LN and manga visual cliché), using show-don’t-tell approach that often focus on small moments and little gestures than big emotional melodramatic scenes. The characters never play off their roles, they’re the most natural group of kids that feel exactly kids their age: naïve, inexperience and pure. This show ends up at top of its genre as I consider it the most effective romance anime out there. In short, I freaking love almost everything about this show.

What Tsuki ga Kirei will be remembered the most for lie in real depiction of first love relationship. The more you watch romance anime, the more you surprise at how simple, yet distinctive achingly honest this show aim for. Ordinary romance anime would spend its entire time on how boy gets girl, throw in some other love interests that make them realize how much they mean for each other, and if we’re lucky we might actually see they confess to each other in the end. Tsuki ga Kirei is an entirely different beast, we got the confession right at the end of episode 3, and from there we follow every stage of that relationship and see their love progressing. Moments like Kotarou had to search the internet on what people do when they’re dating, finding a way to spend time alone together, or thinking how to continue their love after graduation – all feels so real and progresses so naturally that I suspect anyone who have been in relationship will find a thing or two from this show that speak directly to their experience.

Moreover, they understand that in order to make this relationship work, we have to relate to Akane and Kotarou and they did a damn fine job at that. Both have their own lives and their own troubles to deal with, so we can see them as characters who have distinctive personality, with well-defined goals and struggles. In one of the episode, they both reach a new low in their personal dreams, as Akane underperformed her track competition and Kotarou got a call from a real publisher just to receive an advice that he had no talent in serious writing. Then in small moments when those characters act without much thinking, it’s a treat to see how their personality plays out: I love how every time Kotarou get excited he will punch the light’s chord in his room, or Akane whenever she gets nervous she will press that pushie hard. Their circle of friends also adds to the naturalism of the story and although they aren’t developed much, they clearly belong to this universe.

The visual storytelling is another great strength of the show. As both Kotarou and Akane are introverts and tend to keep their feelings inside without saying out loud, it’s showing their subtle gestures, their glances that we get to know a lot about them. As a result, this show is decidedly quiet, there’s not much monologue going on but that is the reason why this show feels just like in real life. The designs are simple, again emphasizing on subtle over excessive details. Great shot compositions everywhere. This is one of the rare show where I can argue that the visual components play as an important part of the show and they achieved it almost exactly what they’re aiming for.

Another factor that feel like a character itself that I feel the need to acknowledge, it’s LINE. Just like kids their age, Kotarou and Akane’s main communication is through LINE and we witness a huge chunk of amount that they exchanged through LINE, as they are, no shortcut. It’s just like how real kiads would do and to achieve this effortlessly is no small feat at all, so congrats to Tsuki ga Kirei for its respectful use of social chatting. The shorts in the end also a part of this show’s identity, as they depict the love relationships from Kotarou and Akane’s friends with more bawdy and comedic tones, which in turn made that world so inviting to watch.

Although the show succeeds most of the time in term of production values, I can still see some production troubles from the show and the delay in airing in later half further reflected that. Tsuki ga Kirei does suffer from that as in one of the episode the production values just fall apart. But I’m genuinely surprised that after that disaster episode they managed to keep up a consistent quality and the more I know about their trouble backstage, the more I’m in awe about their efforts. It’s obviously a product of many sleepless nights from the production team so I thank studio Feel for their outstanding performance.

And all of what I was written above was just how I access the show objectively and that kinda demerit one of Tsuki ga Kirei’s most appealing factor: it’s right down charming that touch the hearts of viewers with its bright and delightful portrayal of pure love – I don’t deny I fall under its spell, actively care for the couple and goddamnit I just want them to be happy together. Tsuki ga Kirei is breathtakingly intimate in narrative scope and I know I will remember the show and its characters very fondly. Arigatou.

Posted on 1 July 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

There sure is a lot of crying going on in this finale (mine included, MANY TIMES), and that was one significant factor Tsuki ga Kirei pulled off in their last episode – they go for big emotions here – for better or for worse. The “worse” part, this emotional outburst goes completely against the show’s quiet tones presented in earlier episodes, and those scenes unfortunately bring Tsuki ga Kirei into an ordinary romance anime territory with all their usual cliché – “boy gets girl, boy loses girl” stuff. The “better” part then, after following their relationship for 12 episodes, Kotarou and Akane more than earned the emotional impact they presented here. The stakes are much higher now, as they have issues both from external threats and internal fallouts. Having Kotarou screaming “I Love You” to a running train, or Akane crying whenever she has a chance feel rightfully resonate with us viewers. Just like hidden waves just keep bubbling up under the surface to transform into massive tsunami, this is a stage where those two need to be actively acknowledge how much they are meant to each other. So in the end, not the best ending I could have hope for, but still an emotionally satisfying one.

I love how Tsuki ga Kirei wasted no time telling us the main conflict, as Kotarou receives a “rejected letter” seconds into the episode. Thus, the two will have to do with long-distance relationship, but will they survive? Akane is insecure about their status: her sister feels it’s better for both of them if they break up, her best friend Chinatsu tells her AGAIN that she confessed to her man, and Kotarou doesn’t address that issue, or any issues at all, instead taking the load all by himself. Now about Chinatsu, I know many of you would absolutely hate her by now, what’s up with all the confession again and again that she knows would hurt Akane and break their friendship? I just say it’s how extrovert works, they have to let it all out and no hard feeling after all said and done. They move on. Akane understands that trait of her friend so she can take it well.

But she won’t take it as well when it comes to Kotarou, because he doesn’t tell her any of that. Indeed, he doesn’t tell her lots of things, one of them is his ongoing online novel – about their relationship (poor Akane just aware of its existence by Chinatsu, again – just to show you how attentive Chinatsu is with the world around her). His novel, I take it as the literary version of this series, takes a lot of viewers’ hearts for its true and honest depiction of first love. But the true question remains, raised by a random user named Akane “What happens next?”. That’s for you to know and for me to find out, kids – It’s an ongoing question that both Kotarou and Akane need to search for themselves, and in that extend all the lovers out there. I think this question hits home hard, so that I remain a bit baffled by the ending credits. Cute and heart-warming, yes, but we don’t really need to know the outcomes. We’re here to witness their first love in a very first stage, and whether they gonna be together for the rest of their lives or not isn’t our main concern. In fact, I believe this story is stronger if the two can’t make it till the end (yes, I’m cynical). This end credits make me again want to pair up Tsuki ga Kirei with Flowers of Evil as a companion double-edge piece: one depicts the light, the brightness of first love relationship, and the other details how such relationship can go horribly dark and twisted.

As a whole, Tsuki ga Kirei has been a wonderful ride. I won’t say much here as I will save my thoughts for the final review. Just let me say I really respect the efforts studio Feel put in for this little gem. I know they were having productions issues in the latter half of its run, judging by the constant delay in their broadcast. But knowing all that made me even more impressed with the final products, as save for one episode they were exceptional. Also, I’m very happy you made it till the end, Kotarou and Akane-chan. Bravos.

Posted on 25 June 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

Tsuki ga Kirei again manages something I thought was difficult to achieve: it surpasses itself once more time. I was afraid that after the Kawagoe festival, there isn’t much left drama for the lovebirds now that Takumi and Chinatsu are all out of the picture; turn out that not only this episode enhances their relationship through their cute Christmas date, they showcase attentively Kotarou’s efforts for the exam and address beautifully on how much parents can sacrifice to support their child, even most of the time those kids don’t care about it. There’s only one episode left but at this point I can safely say that Tsuki ga Kirei has been a consistent ride, and I come to genuinely care about Kotarou and Akane more than I need to. Tsuki ga Kirei scratches the itch I don’t know I have.

This whole episode details Katarou’s utmost efforts to study for the upcoming exam. His grades are low, thanks mostly to his writing and the Hayashi practice, so he must study hard, night after night, to get a good enough standard score to apply for Koumei school. The results are not that rewarding though, for getting better grades is a long process, not a quick shortcut. He also feels that he needs to try harder to prove his parents that he made up his mind. I admit that I feel a bit irritated of the way Kotarou communicate with his parents about his school’s choice because I did the exact same things when I was his age. It hits a bit too close to home for comfort. Now that I’m more than double his age, I can clearly see how stupid and miscommunicated his actions just to show his little rebellion: hunger strike (when he clearly needs food to survive), avoid talking to the parents and didn’t inform them the school he picked. I totally understand his points of view, but that’s why I wanted him to be more open. Talk to them what you really want instead of this silent treatment, kid, your parents deserve better than this. At long last, upon knowing how his parents support him for his decision, he finally says something that he should’ve done to his mother long ago: Arigatou.

One of this episode’s best moments, however, come from Kotarou’s Mom as we witness how much she, like most of our parents, really, care for their own child. We have the impression before that she’s the type who want her son focusing on a good career path, and every step to that goal needed to be well-planed and perfect. Imagine her shock then that not only her son decided to pick school against her knowledge, it’s 2 hours away because of some girl he likes attending to that school. Must be a blow for her but one thing I really appreciate about her, it’s that she’s not a control freak. She gives Kotarou a necessary space for his own, and upon seeing how hard Kotarou is currently trying; she asks his homeroom teacher to give him a chance. The whole sequence when she talks to the homeroom teacher gives me a great impact from its show-don’t-tell approach, as we are only allowed to witness them exchanging gestures through the window. Subtle has always been a definitive style of Tsuki ga Kirei, but here it adds extra context: her action is supposed to be restraint, quiet, out of spotlight; just like how she makes him rice balls in the middle of the night for him to study, just like how she’s despite against the idea, still supports him because it is what he wanted; just like all the things that parents do for their kids and they just take them for granted.

And Kotarou and Akane’s love still progresses solidly. As they don’t have much time for each other during this study period, they LINE-ing each other and go out during Christmas. Akane makes him a handmade scarf and I swear her messy scarf is worth ten thousand times better than she was to buy one. Her sister makes a really good point of the burden the two gonna face if that love dies down (and from previous experience, I’m talking about her accurate thoughts on Chinatsu, I say you should listen to your sister, Akane, and listen well). Their time spending together, doing various activities alone just like a normal date would be, feel so warm and intimate. Whatever future (and the final episode) comes, I come to feel certain that the kids going to be happy together for a long time. This Tsuki ga Kirei’s ride has been a real treat, I swear. I will be sad to see it finally concludes.

Posted on 19 June 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

Kotarou and Akane have reached a stage where they need to think hard about the long term of their relationship. Akane is about to move town, so how they going to keep up their relationship? Usually for a teenager’s romance it means the end. Full stop. LINE and texting can keep them for a while but with two separate lives it’s hard to consider each other important anymore. Tsuki ga Kirei again succeeds at displaying their relationship at a deeper stage, where negative feeling starts to bust in the way and whether or not they really are serious about their dating. This episode had me at the edge of my chair till the end, just to show how adept Tsuki ga Kirei is at their pacing and natural progression. Really, I have no complain about this show. They’re as mundane, true to life and as intimate as ever.

Finally, the Kawagoe festival – where Kotarou is about to do the Hayashi dance – has arrived. As expected from this show, the festival itself breathes life with various festival activities. Akane, in particular, has a chance to hang out with her club friends for what possibly their last time, watching Kotarou do the Hayashi moves from afar, and eating imokoi with her mouth full. In order words, enjoying her time. Takumi, on the other hand, has an ulterior motive, believing this festival is a good chance to confess his love for Akane. Through various silly unfortunate chain of events (they both lost on rock, paper, scissor huh?). Takumi did, and Akane flat out rejects him. I don’t know if it’s a good idea, since he knows full well who Akane dating. Sure, Takumi just wants a chance to let it all out, even he understands completely that Akane will reject him. It feels like a victory for Akane, as she gives him a straightforward rejection. It feels like a defeat for Kotarou though, when you imagine that this kid comes all the way to see his girlfriend after a hard performance, just to see her alone (again) with another guy.

Kotarou’s frustrated, and true to his first love inexperience and his introvert nature, he holds his feeling all in and can’t let it out. I actually feel a bit taken back when it’s reveal Kotarou was watching those two talking. I mean, misunderstanding is the most stupid, well-worn trope in any romance and at first glance Tsuki ga Kirei seems to be falling into that trap. But it’s not really about misunderstanding in this context, Kotarou’s mad because she spent time alone with Takumi, which she did. This silent treatment doesn’t do any of them any good, Kotarou gets even more frustrated and it hurts Akane. Now, imagine it from her point of view, she just rejected Takumi because she knows she’s in love with Kotarou, she’s rushing in to meet him so they can have some time together and then THIS. She doesn’t deserve that. Seeing her crying in that festival, where she’s supposed to have fun, make my heart swell. That drift makes both of them suffered. They want to reach to each other but are unable to, so they’re retreating in their bed, embracing that pain. This dark moment fits right in any Makoto Shinkai’s moments (without all the sentimental of course) I tell you, but it’s a necessary step for the two to experience the low of their relationship.

Their main concern, however, remains the fact that Akane’s moving away soon. Trying to spend little time left together won’t solve the problem, thus Kotarou researches for the high school that Akane’s applying – Koumei private High School. I tip my hat for Tsuki ga Kirei how they handle the ending moment here, everything is perfect. Showing the reveal of Kotarou applying for her school through Akane’s point of view is a good touch, as she takes a more active role in this sequence (Although, I actually came to believe it’s that potato pushie that made up Kotarou’s mind. Long live the pushie). While Kotarou has been the one who’s more active in this love, this is the time where we can see how much Kotarou means to Akane and how his decision really makes her happy. She reaches out and kisses him for crying out loud. Kotarou’s willing to study in the same school with her, despite the fact it’s two hours away, might affect negatively to his writing and his parents aren’t even informed about that. But that’s the SACRIFCE he needs to make to be together, and he’s game for that. Well, that somehow resolves their conflicts (it actually doesn’t), so I hope that they can learn from their mistake and be open to each other more. The last couple episodes they have been closer and much more natural with each other, now it’s the time for them to become a permanent part in each other’s lives.

Posted on 10 June 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

A little bit of note that Tsuki ga Kirei was delayed a fair bit this week. Apparently, the Japan broadcast was still on schedule but Crunchyroll experienced a bit of extra time subbing it, which my guess is that the production cut a bit too close this time prior to airing, which also mean we might have a rushed, unpolished production just like last week. My worrying thought didn’t come out true, thankfully, because Tsuki ga Kirei again excels this week, producing one of their most solid episode. There are plenty of moments to love this week, ranged from their well-earned LINE messages (gosh, made me realized that we hardly see any real conversations through messaging device in other anime, even in films), their uncertainty about which school to choose, to Akane’s last competitive track to Takumi and Chinatsu’s mutual moments. Tsuki ga Kirei is simply at its top form this week.

The time for graduation is getting near and our kids have to pick their future high schools. Both Kotarou and Akane have little idea where they end up with, Kotarou largely due to whether or not he’d pursue his writing. The publisher few episodes back suggested him to try writing light novels, but he’s unfamiliar and even uncomfortable with light novel format, thus he asks his senpai about the medium and tries to read some. His parents both care about his future choice, but each of them have different idea on how to push him on the “right” track. His mother increasingly concerns about him getting in good school with good grade (typically Asian mom). His father, in his very timid fatherly way, suggests him to do whatever he likes to do (I love the way he even doesn’t look straight to his eyes when he discusses with Kotarou – Again, a very Asian style of communicating between Dad and son – you know, we don’t really fond of expressing our thoughts to each other). I could sense his wise advice coming from a guy who regret not following what he loved when he was his son’s age, and now he doesn’t want his son to follow his footstep.

Akane’s issue is more apparent, though. Her father might relocate again with his new position, it’s the biggest, most obvious obstacle they could’ve have in their age: won’t be able to meet each other due to long distance. Akane doesn’t like moving away from Kotarou and the environment she has grown accustomed with. But first, she has other things she needs to focus on: her last track competition. After last week when the two of them spend almost all the time together, this week they spend most of their time doing their own things (which is good) and keep in touch through LINE. Those LINE exchanges are adorable and I really appreciate the show for not only showing their reactions when receiving and texting, but the detail of their conversations as well. She has a big day coming up, but she doesn’t wish Kotarou to come because she would get embarrassed and distracted from it, as a result Kotarou still comes… in secret. It’s a charming action since the reason he comes isn’t about getting her attention, but because he just wanted to see her running. While she succeeds in her last race, beating her personal record and coming first in a race, we can’t help but feel sadness. The way she looks at the track one last time (she might not do running again in her high school), and her last bento with sincere clubmates who were together for 3 years- are powerful and intimate. Once again Tsuki ga Kirei shows us that the show isn’t strictly about romance, but about the coming of age tales from those kids.

Takumi and Chinatsu have some time to shine in this episode too. Takumi (now I just realized that he was the same age with Akane and Chinatsu, despite his more mature look) realizes that Akane might move to other city, so he works up the courage to ask the track girls to the coming festival. Chinatsu, once again despite her carefree appearance, is way more observant than the rest of the cast, noticing that Kotarou sneaked up to the competition to watch Akane, and Takumi’s deeper thoughts. They, in a very “Scum Wish” way, share the same sadness feeling of seeing the one they like be happy with other people; in other words, they share empathy. Takumi might try to express his feeling to Akane, since he “hasn’t even taken a shot yet”. Chinatsu also remark that they can’t change how they feel – but girl, remember that the feeling can indeed change as time goes by. As she grows older that melancholy feeling might become something that she’d be fond of when looking back.

Posted on 4 June 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

Boy, the production has a nosedive in quality this week. It doesn’t hurt the show much though: the confident pacing and rock-solid chemistry between Akane and Kotarou are still there, but this episode shows how the time-rush and low-budget have finally caught up with the quality of Tsuki ga Kirei: many off-model characters, jerky animation where the characters move like in Flash, most notably (and painfully) in the sequence that featured Kotarou, his sensei and the old man in the hayashi music practice. I might be in the minority here but I would have much preferred even if the show takes more weeks off for polishing the final product. I don’t mind waiting, but I do mind the rushed, poor quality that could have benefited much better if they have more time and resources.

In term of this week’s content though, we have another winner episode in our hands. The young birds, after last week’s declaration of love, now have to deal with the pressure that the whole school know and talk about their relationship. The couple keeps it low-key of course, never talk to each other in class, but sharing bento together in the library and walk home together. When being confronted by her group of friends the things she likes about Kotarou, she can’t describe it clearly, she just does. Later down in the end of the episode, she can be able to express it much better. On Kotarou’s side, Roman and Daichi rightfully suggest him to wait for Akane in the form of “club activity”, something that our Kotarou never thought of. Friends’ supports are important as this stage of their relationship and I’m glad that their friends are fairly positive about them dating: to be able to share their feeling about the relationship, listen to others’ experience, and receive some neat advices from your friends.

But this episode is all about the two of them sharing some quality times together: both as a part of the other’s life, and as a date when there are just the two of them. It’s the way they express their love for each other in their own ways making this love so relatable. It’s cute to see Akane comes with Kotarou for his hayashi practice (thank God he didn’t mess up), oh and how Kotarou blushed just by saying her name out loud in the library, and her wearing some perfume before meeting him. When she realizes that she had missed his birthday, she determines to find him a birthday present. The present turns out to be another identical plushie that she has, but the way Akane manages to find her courage to give him a present making all the efforts worthwhile. And he band-aided her injured foot (you should’ve realized it sooner, Kotarou) is one of my favorite moment in this lovely episode.

The two of them have a wind-chimes festival together, where Akane wearing an adorable dress, shopping together, eating together, sharing a (real) kiss, and writing their romance wishes in a wind chimes. Hmm, it might look cute (and it is) that the two of them writing the exact same thing in wind chimes (a great touch of visual telling there), but when you two going together and write their wishes down together, what they want to say is rather obvious. But there’s no denying that their relationship is in a more intimate stage than ever before.

The shorts this week are in overall solid this week. I don’t pretty much like sensei and Roman’s segments, but the rest is hilarious and charming. My favorite two are Sakura segment (man, she’s becoming one of my favorite now) – detailing quite on point the insecure-ness of the a teenage girl: wanted attractions from the boys, yet still sensible enough to know that her fantasy is way off-mark. So cute – and Kotarou’s parents one – how the two of them seem to serious about NOT to read his writings, but of course they DO read them (parents, right?) and have very opposing opinions about his writings (and the way men and women differ in their way of thinking too), haha. We’re talking about the male’s gaze, and that segment speaks some truths on that too. I mean, even in real life, most male directors and writers don’t really understand the way woman thinking either. David Lynch, Akira Kurosawa, two of the greatest directors of all time, treat their women’s characters quite insensitively. Dazai – Kotarou’s idol, on the other hand, was quite adept of writing female’s psyche (his work Schoolgirl is a great example), so there’s hope that our Kotarou can learn from his inspiration.

Posted on 26 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

With this episode Tsuki ga Kirei marches on its impressive run. If there is one thing that I’m still impressed about Tsuki ga Kirei, it’s that despite its slow-pacing, the story never stands still. Each episode is a steady step-forward, clearly mark-out stage from its main couple’s relationship. I wasn’t at all expecting that much tension from this week, just to show how I am personally invested in its characters and their situation. Again, I totally feel for the total defeat of Chinatsu in this episode, but lest we forget that she was the one who planned to disrupt this couple with all her might. Originally, she staged for only 4 free passes to the amusement park with the intention of using Takumi to hook up with Akane and she has some free time with our main. Kotarou and Akane’s classmates though, are all in for an opportunity to go out for a date so the trip ends up with 9 people, leaving Roman an odd one out. You could argue Chinatsu crossed many lines of actively hurting Akane’s feeling and using Takumi for her own gain, which I totally can’t defend her, but I still read her action as purely self-centric behavior. She just doesn’t think her actions would cause those consequences that far ahead and while it’s dangerous, you can’t really blame her for things she doesn’t aware either. Okay, now I’m defending her, but I believe when Kotarou roars like a lion in front of Takumi declaring what is rightfully his, it blows much harder to Chinatsu than he outright rejects her.

And what a natural progression of this first love has come to be. After last few episodes about how to behave when you’re actually in a relationship, the next step is to acknowledge your relationship to others. And this episode is all about opening your relationship’s status to your friends without feeling reserved about it. Like Chinatsu few episodes back, Roman is the guy who can read between the lines so he caught on with Kotarou – Akane relationship. Special shout out to Roman as the buddy who got his friend’s back and do whatever necessary to support his friend. Unlike Roman, others don’t have a clue about this relationship and for once, Takumi also finds this trip a good opportunity to spend some time with Akane. When Kotarou catches up with the two of them walking together, for a moment I thought he would be silent and walk away without calling them back – and indeed, most of other shows will fall for that route, but we’re talking about Tsuki ga Kirei for Peter’s sake, so Kotarou instead steps up and declares in front of Takumi that they’re in relationship. Yes, what important is to acknowledge your love. Boy, what a truly great moment. Takumi, surprised, but take that news really well too. The subtle body languages in those scenes certainly enhance the character’s emotions, as you can read the reactions of both the four main casts. Tsuki ga Kirei’s visual storytelling is truly magnificent.

The rest of the time afterward, Kotarou and Akane have their first real date, alone together, in this amusement park. There are some truly intimate and sweet moments out there, certainly helped by contrasting them with Chinatsu and Takumi’s sadness. They eat together for a first time, playing together and kissing each other in a firework backdrop. Well, they aren’t technically kissing though but it feels much more intimate than any other actual kissing out there. At least, Chinatsu apologizes to Takumi and even texts Akane about not being able to confess her love. There’s nothing you need to say sorry about, Akane, because when it comes to deciding between your and Chinatsu’s own feeling, it’s a clear answer. The couple goes a long way since they’re first dated, and I’m not even hard-pressed to say this, considered that this is a story about first love from some middle-school kids, but this is a real depiction of how two individuals falling in love, along with what a true growing up would be like, and those alone make Tsuki ga Kirei stands above the rest of your average anime offerings.

On last note, those shorts this week are still pretty on par, although they run a bit longer than I would’ve preferred (because, geez, it means the actual story is cutting short). Those shorts are pretty much a part of Tsuki ga Kirei’s identity right now, and so far they’re all gorgeous. And I couldn’t say this last week because of the recap, but the new OP is solid as well, make me wonder if the overall production (especially the CG extras) could have been improved if they have some more extra time for correction?

Posted on 13 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

This week our duo Akane and Kotarou experience their first taste of hardship, also known as the hard truth about their dreams. Both determine to do their best after the pinky promise (which give me chill every time because it reminds me of an episode of xxxHolic about a girl who always breaks promise – an example of how a single quirk from anime can affect your real-life perception), Kotarou had to meet the publisher and Akane for her track competition on the same sunny Sunday. And they both failed, in their own ways. Fortunately enough, their hardships comes from their own struggling to reach their dreams, not from their relationship itself. They spend some quality this week in the corner of the library, when they mostly share their own progress to the other. Those quiet scenes are excellent all around. The duo keeps having a space between them but you can feel the warm atmosphere hanging around. Two sequences of them in the library, the first filled with hope and quietly excitement, the second is saturated by disappointment, both connected by the pinky promise. Such intimate and affecting moments for the two lovebirds. Also, the shorts this week from Tsuki ga Kirei are solid too, now I’m a fan of Miu and Inaba couple because they’re soooo relatable. And cute. While I’m not much a fan of Roman and sensei gags, this one goes reasonably smooth enough. But Sakura’s fantasies short is my favorite short this week.

For Kotarou, the publisher flat out comments that Kotarou isn’t suitable for serious writing, instead he persuades him to try his hands on Light Novel. Looking by his effortless and calm manner when talking these things to Kotarou, he must have done it from time to time: crushing other young aspiring writers’ dreams into pieces. But hear me out, before everyone gets mad at him for being a senseless a**hole, I approve with what he did here. In fact, I’d feel much more angry if the guy keeps selling other’s dreams when he knows they couldn’t make it far. It would be very painful to see a person who isn’t talented enough just keep pushing their head against thick wall. His Mom, as well, clearly disapproves him of becoming a writer. That doesn’t mean he can’t become a writer, it’s just that he has to try harder than before. Likewise, Akane’s situation doesn’t improve at all. I’m glad that she has a courage to tell her best friend that they’re dating, but when Chinatsu confirmed that she knew all along, it confuses Akane to the point of losing her concentration for the competition. Or maybe her sister was right when she said that dating, studying, and running at the same time might be too much for her that she ends up failing every single one of them. Worst of all, she loses the race to Chinatsu, and Takumi is clearly let down by her under-performed records. I love the reactions of Akane’s parents when hearing their sweet daughter is dating (especially Papa – his girls are slowly taken away from him by annoying brats that he knows nothing about. Of course he’s worried), and Akane’s reactions when her sister “exposed” her secrets are really endearing.

Now, Chinatsu. Frankly, it’s hard to read her motivations since we don’t know much what she been thinking, but let’s try to break her actions down a little. Apart from seeing Akane as her best friend, Chinatsu also regards Akane as a worthy rival, both from running track to that love interest. In running, she’s determined to give more efforts and in the guy she likes, she basically declares a “warning note” to Akane (I notice the word “notice” she was using here). As a friend level, her actions could potentially damage the friendship she and Akane have, and I think most of us will say that her pushing for confession to Kotarou to “have a proper closure” is way over the line. You don’t mess romantically with person who already in the relationship, missy. That’s a rule. But saying that, I know Chinatsu is a type of person that when receiving a proper rejection, she’d just smile and move on. On top of that she would never betrays her own feeling, doesn’t matter how others will react to that. In short, Chinatsu confessing her love to Kotarou is just purely Chinatsu being herself, and I certainly don’t blame her for that; I just wish she’d come to understand that she’s being unfair to Akane and most of the time when that happen they become too hard to be friend again. I guess we will have a proper resolution next week. For one thing that Tsuki ga Kirei does absolutely right so far, the conflict never drags out for too long, usually an episode or two in length. Tsuki ga Kirei maintains its beat throughout this episode, fleshing out our characters not by their romance, but by their own struggles with the adult world. And that’s swell because we need to root for them as well-formed individuals before cheering for them as a couple. Keep them going Tsuki ga Kirei.

Posted on 5 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

This show is so unfair.

Like, after spending 5 episodes of cutely awkwardly topsy turvy Akane – Kotarou first love, how can we even root for poor Chinatsu? Even the show itself seems to know that too, as when Kotarou confessed to Akane few episodes back, we had beautiful full moon in bloom right in front of them (Tsuki ga Kirei!!). Poor Chinatsu, on the other hand, just “deserves” a reflection of a moon, lurking from afar from her and Kotarou. In addition, why add her as the most charming character of the show, whose have such a great, easy chemistry to everyone around her? I actually didn’t think she would fall for Kotarou considering she helps the two out last week, at least not yet. Our couple will have a bit of hardship now as Akane clearly feels insecure whenever Chinatsu’s around Kotarou (her voice changes!), simply because she can make a natural conversation with Kotarou in public while Akane can’t. To top all that Chinatsu and Kotarou will have plenty of time to be together, now that she’s going to the same cram school with him. Takumi, another external threat, is going to make his moves soon since he doesn’t have much time to be running alongside Akane. Not only those potential threats but the couple themselves don’t do too well too, Kotarou is slipping at his grades and Akane performs poorly at practice. There will be trials and tribulations for our duo’s romance but hey, what is love without pain.

Akane and Kotarou now officially become a couple, and this episode details exactly how two young people in their first stage of love would be like. This show never ceases to amaze me how sensitive and relatable they portrait their characters in those situations. They’re dating but they still can’t find a courage to talk to each other at school, so they seek advice from their most reliable sources, first of course, the internet (ask Mr. Google) and then the adults that closed to them. Again, the show excels on emphasizing visual cues from little gestures, facial expressions and their speech patterns instead of relying on obvious expositions. When you know a character enough you can tell his personalities just by the way he moves, and Tsuki ga Kirei is a masterclass regarding that. Kotarou is much more lively and relatable when he performing a traditional dance or exercising his excitement with sit-up and boxing in his room than any monologue could mutters. Akane’s subtle reactions while staying near Kotarou really inform us what she really feels. The show’s awareness for physical space is a highlight as well, just look at the last scene about the positions of the two where Akane seems to be further away from Kotarou. Great stuff.

And then they’re holding hands. Boy, never in my experience (even my own) that such a simple holding-hands moment fills me with so much joy and excitement. I really like the way they tried out the library but failed (again, Chinatsu) and how the bookshop-owner sensei helps the two lovebirds out: give them some time alone together; ya know, just the two of us (what kind of book shop that have no customer by the way? Usually they would fill with patronize who read books free for hours). For the amount of time they been thinking about each other, it’s rather surprising to notice that they have very little real conversations to each other (boy do I look forward for more), and when they do talk, it’s sparkling. But that is so Tsuki ga Kirei: slow, mundane in twenty minutes and then hits you in the gut for the last few minutes. As this episode further demonstrates, sometimes you don’t need too many big plot twists and tear-jerking situations to win over the viewers, you just need one good resolution that hits hard.

ps: Want to mention it but can’t fit it anywhere in the post, but I do really enjoy the shorts this week. The shorts explore the teen-romance in much lighter tone and each story adds something hilarious to the table. Those shorts are not mere extras by any mean, but they help enriching the romance theme of the show. Tsuki ga Kirei, as boring as it might sound, is still going strong.

Posted on 28 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

I’m totally impressed with Tsuki ga Kirei thus far. This show has its own voice and after this episode I’m confident that we will have the constant quality in display for the rest of its run. Nothing can beat consistency, I assure you. This week, the kids go to another city for a school trip and it’s…wait a minute…Kyoto. Within the first few shots of the city I could easily recognize that favorite town of mine (if you ask me how much I love Kyoto, let just say it’s THE city that I wanna live in. And I might). I’m digging it how the show handles the aftermath of the confession last week: take it slow and give it some more thoughts. Her delayed response really is the most natural decision come from Akane and it might be her best decision, at that stage when she isn’t sure if she’s romantically interested to Kotarou (whether she has a crush on Kotarou, yes, but how many crushes you have back in school life? Once every few months right?). Remember that she doesn’t deny when her friends ask her if the boy she’s interested in was Takumi. Chinatsu, on the other hand, plays off her role as a romantic rivalry, though there was never any romance to begin with, and actively assists the duo. I love that behind her cheerful and out-there personality, she reads the situation so spot-on; and she handles the situation effortlessly. Minor issues that both Kotarou and Akane would find to awkwardly to address, she brushes it off with ease. Such a good characterization for a character who doesn’t have much screen-time. Bravo!

While the romance aspect is this episode’s main focus, the slice of life part really brings the calm, grounded and bright atmosphere to Tsuki ga Kirei. The school trip plays out exactly like any regular school trips, with great details to the settings, and to the small activities of the students. There’s this group of girls taking selfie, the other group playing cards, most of them would skip early bedtime for playing around and talking romantic stuffs. In this world, all the surrounding characters feels breathable (for the lack of better word) in the environments around them. Both Kotarou’s friends and Akane’s friends are highlighted not by their distinctive traits, nor by their development, but by their everyday interactions with the world around them and their own self-position towards that world. Hands up for Aira (one of Akane’s friend) for giving her some space that most of the kids that age ain’t sensitive enough to realize. Again, this show’s characterization is top-notch.

The episode also highlights the anxiety of our Kotarou and Akane towards their newfound relationship (or the lack thereof) and it’s as honest and awkward as it might get. They’re afraid to talk to each other, but always aware of other’s whereabouts (man, so true!). Kotarou’s nervousness of texting the girl and then has his phone taken by the teacher in the process are nicely played out before the climax. And when the climax kicks in, the tone, the pacing and the whole execution were incredible. He’s late to meet her, he doesn’t respond her phone, he shows up in poor, soaked state: all the conditions that could make any girl mad, although we’re in his shoes so we know he deserved better. I understand both the frustration of Akane and the helplessness of Kotarou. He even doesn’t try to justify himself, which make me hold him in higher regard. Akane’s response later perfectly leads the show into the right direction and closes the episode on a high note. She just wants to talk to him more. Usually other romantic anime speed up this process (and to be fair, even in real life), but unless she knows more about him, unless she spends some more time with him, she wouldn’t know if she really likes him.

I was initially considering about the combo of Tsuki ga Kirei – Scum’s Wish for portraying both spectrum of teenager’s romance, but now I’m leaning towards this one – Flowers of Evil double series for addressing contrasted sides of growing up. They’re both set in adolescent phase, when most of them are still unsure about themselves. While Flowers of Evil leans on its dark side that tackle on obsessions, youth-frustration and identity; Tsuki ga Kirei is pure white that focus on the brightest side of first crush and self-grown, and friendship. That not to say this one isn’t complex, far from it, because Tsuki ga Kirei tackles such seemingly simple premise with keen eye for details and a deep understanding of growing up process. It’s simple, true, but it’s the kind of “simple” that isn’t easily obtained.

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