Kotarou Azumi and Akane Mizuno became third year students at junior high school and are classmates for the first time. These two, along with fellow classmates, Chinatsu Nishio and Takumi Hira, relate to their peers through mutual understandings and feelings. As their final year at junior high school progresses, the group overcome their challenges to mature and become aware of changes in themselves.
It is true that school-life is one of the most common genres in Japanese animation. From specialty school (magic, cooking etc) to school-life with mysteries or supernatural. In short, it is a genre that has been widely exploited in all respects. As for Tsuki ga Kirei, it doesn't pretend to revolutionize the genre and doesn't propose an original plot at first.
In fact Tsuki ga Kirei is exceptional in its simplicity. The relationships between the different characters are particularly well developed. The series accurately combines the gestures, facial expressions of the characters without exaggerating the reactions, which in some scenes may seem surprising and unexpected. The
series doesn't necessarily focus on the dialogues and emphasizes the subtlety of the reactions of the characters making the relationships very realistic.
The other point is the meeting of our two protagonists: Akane and Kotarou. Initially they don't know each other. They notice briefly in the classroom and do not talk to each other. Their relationship is built slowly but surely. At first, they look at each other several times discreetly, meaning that they are interested in each other. Then, following certain trivial events, they meet several times. Of course, you may be a little irritated by their behavior because they are shy and because they do not dare look at each other to discuss. But gradually they learn to know each other.Also social networks play an important role in their relationship and in general we notice the omnipresence of LINE (very popular in Japan) among students.
This relationship will gradually evolve into a romantic relation. And with this type of relationship come all the difficulties that go hand in hand, namely the acceptance of the relationship by the entourage and the friends. Jealousy? Envy? Different feelings that lead some characters to interfere in the Akane-Kotarou couple and possibly create love triangles. Do not expect ridiculous infidelities that would be completely out of step with the personality of our protagonists. Of course there will be difficult times calling into doubt the feelings of another or his, wondering how their relationship is solid. And thank God! the series does not propose forced drama with characters who cry to each episode in order to move its audience.
Furthermore our characters live with their families. Surprisingly and relatively rare in a school-life, we see the parents of our two protagonists. This aspect contributes to the realism of the series allowing us to see the relationship of our protagonists with their family. Especially that of Kotarou with his mother who regularly opposes his son because the latter privileges his dream of becoming a writer to his studies. Akane's and her sister's relationship is also very interesting, as she often gives advice on Akane's love life. Besides our two protagonists also have their occupations: Akane participates in the athletic club and Kotarou at the festival of the city. The series devotes time to show their perseverance and motivation to achieve their goals. To return to what I was saying on LINE, I was surprised by the modernity of this series. Especially when a publisher recommends Kotarou to write light novels ((Kotarou doesn't seem to know it) or the big sister who laughs when she sees Akane knitting a scarf for Kota. (She also mentions that they are in 2017)
Concerning the secondary characters, Chinatsu and Hira receive a screen time sufficient for their characterization and develop their interests and objectives. For the other characters I wouldn't say they are useless because regularly, in several scenes, some play a prominent role in the Akane-Kotarou relationship. I regret that the series doesn't spend more time for these characters. Although at the end of each episode we see small short films showing funny moments among the various couples formed of these supporting characters. Contrary to our two main protagonists, they have already developed relations. I thank the writer because he has not censored allusions about the nights that the couples spent together.
On the technical aspects, the artistic direction has the merit of being unique with simple chara-design without weird hair colorings (except Roman lol). The soundtrack plays an important role in creating a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. But many scenes have no background music, preferring to highlight the sound effects. No use of artifices to reinforce dramatic moments, just discrete tracks. I don't forget the remarkable performances of Nao Touyama in the scenes where the characters don't speak allowing the viewer to rest while contemplating the cityscapes or the daily life of the characters. However I have spotted is the use of the CGI on the characters in the background which is frankly unpleasant and which I hope will be corrected in the blu-ray. (I sometimes feel they limp)
I personally had a great time watching this series. I agree that the series doesn't have a deep or complex plot that allows it to stand out from other works but nevertheless I have no really honest criticism to make it except one or two above-mentioned. The guiding principle of the series has always been respected and has mantain a certain coherence from beginning to end. If you are looking for a school-life with genuine relationships, I can only recommend that you throw yourself on it. On the contrary, if you prefer school-life with redundant gags and more eccentric characters, the series is not for you. However, I think Tsuki ga Kirei is a unique experience that should be watched by anyone looking for novelty.
When attempting to define romance, a few notions come to mind: a feeling of excitement, a remoteness from the mundaneness of everyday life, or perhaps a quality of mystery. These are the qualities that litter the romance genre today. However, one cannot discount the impact that simpler techniques create; subtle changes in body language during an involving conversation, an alter in the pitch of a voice after an unexpected text, or the absence of any background music so that any impertinent buffer is removed at a crucial developmental moment. It is in these archaic ways that Tsuki ga Kirei manages to strike me as not
just a school romance, but as a relevant and relatable tale of finding acceptance in one’s self. By adapting these aforementioned techniques, it is no wonder that Tsuki ga Kirei is seen as an excellently produced tale in the field of romance.
Before embarking on Tsuki ga Kirei’s emotional roller coaster, there is a key symbolic concept that is readily used during the series’s runtime and that involves the use of the moon. There is a saying that goes as such: “The moon teaches us that darkness can’t hide the beauty of life if we know how to reflect beauty”. It is with the use of this abstract idea, that the growth of the main characters in the story can break out of their apprehensive shells and eventually find affection for another person. An example which illustrates this is during the ending sequence in each episode, a moon appears on the top right-hand corner of the screen. Starting from a new moon and concluding with a full moon, the moon hints that in the end, the romance between Akane and Kotarou has been fully realised and will come into fruition. This is further shown, as a full moon is often seen as a symbolism for height of power, the peak of clarity, fullness and obtainment of desire: which in this case is romantic tension.
In addition to this allegory, quotes from a famous Japanese author, named Osamu Dazai, are tastefully used in each episode. These quotes are directed from Kotarou’s point of view and are applicable to the advancement of the story. In episode 1 the quote “The feeling of joy is perhaps like a speck of gold, glimmering faintly at the bottom of a river of grief” is used, while in a later episode the recitation “This is what I want to believe implicitly: Man was born for love and revolution”. These aren’t utilised without any ulterior purpose simply to sound high-witted, but are imperative to give the viewer the ability to follow the state of the story, as well as to read the character’s mindsets at that point in time: starting from the initial moment when affection is first sparked, until the eventual full-fledged liaison.
As stated in the introduction, refining of simple techniques are used in Tsuki ga Kirei. These techniques are made use of because in essence, this is a simple story: two middle schoolers meet by sheer chance and a romance blooms. The advantage of such a straight-forward setting is that the more vital features of a good story are highlighted, while simultaneously a large audience is able to enjoy said story, since there is not a lot of challenging information which needs to be digested firsthand. There are no deeply psychological traits here, nor are there any surreal plot-twists. In all honesty, that is precisely what made this anime so effective to me. All the viewer’s focus is predominantly extended to the relationship between the characters, without much distraction from anything else. Tsuki ga Kirei, in this way, is a profoundly efficient tale as every scene exists simply to further and more strongly achieve a realistic narrative.
Correspondingly, the efficient nature of the story is accentuated by the barren use of any major drama or comedy segments (in the main story at least). While these attributes are certainly existent, similarly to the quotations of Dazai, they are applied elegantly and are spread enough apart from one another, so that no overwrought or soppy scenes would strive the viewer away from the shows’ principal backbone; which once again is the successful capturing of a realistic and believable cast of characters set in a logical and credible environment.
The only issue I personally experienced with Tsuki ga Kirei’s story, ironically (as this is the event that sold most people into becoming infactuated with the show), is with the ending itself. Although beautifully executed, I feel as if it ventured away from what the production attempted to achieve and that is centrally a credible chain of events, but I digress as I was relatively pleased with the finale.
Matching the astounding storytelling, what makes the characters so rational is that they all have their own respective backgrounds, quirks and set of values. This makes each persona their own, instead of relying on tired tropes which bargain on a gimmick to describe their personalities. Equally, one of the most notable achievements in Tsuki ga Kirei is the manner in which the characters enhance each other throughout the series, but more on this later on. Foremost I want to talk about the two protagonists: Azumi Kotarou and Mizuno Akane, starting with Azumi Kotarou.
The story is told chiefly from the perspective of Kotarou as he gradually develops a meaningful connection with Akane, while exploring the changes that occurs in his adolescent mind. What makes him such a proper protagonist is that he acts, sounds and thinks like a child in his age. Combining a fascination for classical writing and love for shadow-boxing, he feels like a living, breathing person and in the same fashion as the story he is shown in a diffident, simplistic light, once again rejecting any unnecessary personality traits which would likely distract from his maturation as a teenager. He is an individual filled with a past of embarrassments and regrets; he has felt failure many a time yet he is determined to succeed in the end. The outstanding writing and characterisation allows for Kotarou to feel genuinely authentic as he is not shown to be without flaws, yet simultaneously he has enough motivation in himself so that he is an ever-changing and distinctive person, without the limits seen in typical male protagonists.
Akane is the female leading character and, besides acting precisely how a middle-school girl would, has her own key traits which allows for her to have an ineluctable bond with Kotarou. She too has experienced sorrows such as constantly moving homes and failures such as losing sprinting races, which permits her have this innate and almost platonic initial connection to Kotarou, as they both share similar feelings and so can converse about their problems together. However, unlike the way in which Kotarou is portrayed, Akane has experienced and tasted success; she achieves high grades in school and readily surpasses her previous record times in track and field. She also often plays with this potato plush toy, which underscores her anxious nature, increasing the amount of realism in her personality. This opposing nature in character, leads to our main male lead to almost yearn for and strive to be like Akane; this leaves the story space to work with and manipulate its runtime and thus leading to maximum evolution in their romantic relationship, which suggests why Tsuki ga Kirei is so efficacious as a romance.
As previously stated, a remarkable achievement of Tsuki ga Kirei is how different characters enhance each other during the runtime of the show. This enhancement is achieved by the surprising use of both sets of parents of the main characters. For both parties, parents provide much-needed support, be it in a direct way such as motivational talks, or in a laconic and unhurried way such as the making of a celebratory lunch box. Parents are underused in media in my opinion, as more often than not only one parent exists as the focal role for development. This is a waste of good influence, however, as parents are constantly around the characters we follow in stories, so the presence of both a mother and a father is more likely to lead to strengthening of the more relevant characters.
Although the side-characters do not have as much exposure as Kotarou and Akane, they do a great job of adding gravity and intensity to the relationship between them. They are all well crafted and balanced and often have their own battles and desires, which creates increased tension in the overall atmosphere of the series. Something, however, that I would have liked to have been done better is the reasoning behind the actions that some characters take later on the story. I can’t help but feel as if these were slightly rushed so that the intrinsic romance is focused on instead. In a way this is forgivable, as teenagers often act irrationally and radically, particularly in situations such as love which they may not have as much experience in.
The art, although once again simple, contributes greatly to the relaxed atmosphere of the anime. Backgrounds are meticulous compared to that of the foreground and the designs of the characters. This, together with the use of blank space and white accenting is perhaps to further emphasise how simple humans, especially in their younger ages, truly are as well as the nostalgic feeling of first falling in love. The facial expressions characters make, although lacking detail, are accurate to the emotions felt at that point in time.
The animation, however, is more polarising. Despite the fact that many frames are drawn to highlight an accurate representation of a character’s actions, the flow of these frames is commonly ruined by sloppy editing, leading to an almost jerky aesthetic. Furthermore, the use of CGI in the background for crowds of people makes casual movement robotic to say the least. These CGI models don’t carry themselves as fluidly as the drawings do and often end up looking comedic. In retrospect, however, Tsuki ga Kirei’s production team was struggling to release episodes on time, so this is less of an issue concerning talent and more of an issue on time management.
One of Tsuki ga Kirei's most surmounting achievements for me, were the extra phonetics the voice actors made during a lot of the dialogue segments. This produces an almost lifelike status when hearing characters converse, as their conversations mimicked that of an actual discussion. Not only this, but especially in the opening episodes the awkward disposition between Kotarou and Akane’s relationship was further realised by this effortless technique. Besides this, the voice-acting itself was as well pleasant to listen to, especially knowing how both protagonists’ actors were relative newcomers to the industry, accommodating for a more genuine-sounding series as the viewer relates that unfamiliar voice to the specific character being voiced.
The soundtrack itself was comprised of some wonderful vocal insert songs and a pleasant array of classical instruments. These were used sparingly and so no particular soundtrack ever felt forced or hackneyed, which is quite rare for a show especially when you have marathon-ed it, like I did. Perhaps a hindrance I felt with the show’s musical score, is that no singular song especially stood out to me. This may, of course, simply be a result of the abundance of different soundtracks used.
From its hyperrealistic setting with stunningly crafted backgrounds, to its effortless communication of emotion at just the right times, Tsuki ga Kirei is an anime which promptly came to my surprise from the very first minute of the first episode. Euphoric yet wistful, joyful yet dismal, melancholy yet hopeful, the innate beauty which Tsuki ga Kirei permeates can dispense a wide array of emotions. For myself, this allure lead to tears being shed through almost every episode despite there being no logical reason to. But in shows like these, reason should be the last thought in your mind:
just sit back and cherish the inevitable void you will feel once the 12th episode hits 24:26.
[Final Score: 8.2/10]
Final comment: An absolute gem of a school romance; there may never be another like it of its caliber for me.
Honestly in my opinion, this show is one of those original work gems that stand out for this season of Spring 2017!
An Original Work containing Romance, mixed along with Middle School themed characters, plus those awkward and moments we all had at some point in our lives. As what some others have said, I also agree that this show is something refreshing and nice to watch.
The story has good development overtime. It's not really rushed a lot with tons of scenes and action that was all done in one go. The story progressed at a reasonable good pace. Though, there's a notable amount of
time-lapsing to transition to each episode. I did like the development for the characters too, since it went at a pace that isn't too fast for viewers to try and understand, and not too slow where the viewers will be bored.
The art is good quality. There were a few scenes that were done well. However, I do have some issues with a few particular scenes that could be revised for the DVD/BD Release. But other than that, I don't think it would affect much for my rating. Art wise for the characters, I liked it, and found Akane cute too.
The sounds is something that I found pleasant. The casts all fit with the characters represented too. What stood out for me was the noises that Akane makes. "Eh?" "Aah!" Un!" Like Kumiko noises. Kotarou on the other hand, "Ah.." "ooh.." "Un." basically like Akane but a male version. (lol) Though, that did motivate me to work on a video dedicated to both of their noises that I could find from every episode.
The characters, I don't have much to say (As it also contains spoilers if I do say something about them and the others) but characters that will make you want to like, laugh at, or maybe be going, "What? No! Don't you dare do that!" It's a typical range of emotions and stereotypes that you find in Middle/High School. I do find that the staff and producers managed to make the characters feel more interesting instead of bland.
My enjoyment with the show was lovely. I did like it how in the ED, there's text conversations that is interesting to read. I do believe someone made a forum post dedicated to translations for the conversations. Anyways, the Shorts after the ending were entertaining too. Some in which are hilarious. When I get my Blu-Ray order in October, I will definitely re watch the show to see if they changed anything from how it was aired this season.
Overall, I loved Tsuki Ga Kirei. As I stated, it's one of those original work gems that is both good and refreshing to watch. I've started to support this show by ordering the Blu-Ray. You should too if you enjoyed it! My last thoughts is that it would be lovely to see an OVA or an adaptation (like light novel, manga) for Tsuki Ga Kirei. Who knows what Studio Feel. and the staff members might do for now. Hopefully, maybe something that is good as Tsuki Ga Kirei :)
Every season we can watch average animes, good animes but few times we have the privilege of watching an amazing anime that will be part of us for a long time. Tsuki ga Kirei will fulfill our expectations and more.
Even if the story could be at the beginning simple, it will start advancing in a way that will keep us entertained until the end. The story has excellent pacing and covers the insecurity, the desires, the doubts, the dreams of a group of teenagers.
We follow the story of a couple from the start until the end (in some way), their names are Akane and
Kotaru. They are just typical teenagers, and their relation starts from the immaturity and the usual shyness, the fear and the anxiety that can be found in the real world every day. As the relationship progress, we can visualize how the casual insecurity, the distance, and the everyday life issues appear and how they try to surpass them. From my perspective, that is one of the reasons to watch this anime because in some way we will feel related to that kind of relationship.
The anime has a great narrative combined with great visual art, and perfect sound timing creates a masterpiece that you will enjoy. The characters are well developed, they transmit their feelings, emotions to the audience and not only the main ones, but the extra characters also add some atmosphere to the story.
The music and the songs are great. They used it in the perfect timing, and it doesn't destroy the narrative or the visual. The story is balanced in the perfect sense of the word.
One last advice, please read the line messages, there are some translations if you don't know Japanese, they are short stories about the relationship and will add more ideas about it. You could try to guess if they are related to them or not :P
You should try to watch it if you like romance stories and a slice of the life stories. If you are seeking fights, actions or anything different, you should skip this anime.