Tsuki Ga Kirei Review – As The Moon, So Beautiful

As The Moon, So Beautiful

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Romance, School, Slice of Life
  • Airing Date : April 2017 – Jun 2017
  • Studios : feel.

Contains Spoilers


Tsuki Ga Kirei Introduction and Story (Spoilers)

Tsuki Ga Kirei is the story of Kotaro Azumi and Akane Mizuno, two shy teenagers that become a couple as they experience the last year of junior high together. Akane is the school’s star track runner while Kotaro aspires to become an author. Despite belonging to different cliques, they find an attraction to each other through their common introverted qualities. As the series progresses, we see how they develop as individuals, with their peers, and with each other while viewers get a first-hand view of what it’s like to be a Japanese teenager.

What You Liked About Tsuki Ga Kirei

While anime has plenty of school related titles such as Azumanga Daioh and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, those tend to be comedy oriented with their numerous hijinks. In the case of Tsuki Ga Kirei, you’re going to get one of the most realistic portrayals of early Japanese adolescence. In addition, the series educates all viewers in Japanese culture, literature, and geography.

Discussion Time

Tsuki Ga Kirei is one of those animes that you’re either going to love or hate for numerous factors people can agree to disagree on. A significant number of fans enjoy anime for reasons ranging from its imaginative creativity to being a gateway to Japanese culture. Tsuki Ga Kirei is a pure example of being the latter. If you want a realistic anime, no anime can get any more real than this. If you’re looking for something like Haruhi, this isn’t probably for you but still worth giving a chance. If you want a crash course on what being a Japanese teenager (in love or not) is like, then Tsuki Ga Kirei is the anime you’re looking for.

Why You Should Watch Tsuki Ga Kirei

1. Realistic Portrayals of Japanese Education and Youth

If you’re familiar with a previous Editorial Tuesday of ours that elaborates on Japanese education, a large portion of what we share in that article is significantly present in this anime. If you haven’t read it, please do so as it can help you contextualize some aspects of Tsuki Ga Kirei. In this anime, it tells the experience of the last year of junior high in Japan. Towards the second half of the anime after summer vacation, the kids are focused on getting ready for high school and it shows how they take night courses at Juku, or cram schools in order to get ready. Some of the characters share that they are able to get into the school of their choice by recommendation based on their athletic achievements as opposed to taking a test, which does happen in real-life.

In addition to how students study hard for high school tests, the first half of the series demonstrates how ninth graders spend the first semester by finishing the last of their club activities, and how their final sports meets are emotionally a big deal to them. Tsuki Ga Kirei also has the students attend a school trip to Kyoto, which is pretty common for non-Kyoto junior highs to have sometime before summer vacation so they can learn about Japanese history and culture.

Last, while some people have been critical of smartphones affecting people’s ability to communicate face-to-face, Tsuki Ga Kirei provides a strong argument that it has benefits that outweigh the consequences. In this series, we see Akane and Kotaro use a messaging app called LINE, Japan’s biggest social network, to talk to each other. In fact, some social Japanese studies show that mobile communication does help some people come out of their shells, and this anime does a great job of helping the central couple overcome their insecurities by corresponding on LINE.

2. Portrayal of Environments

In addition to how school life is portrayed in anime, many of the landmarks featured in Kawagoe, Tokyo, and Kyoto are accurately represented as if you’re really there. In one episode, the characters visit the LaQua shopping mall and go on rides at Tokyo Dome City in Bunkyo Ward. If you ever find yourself in that part of Tokyo, we can promise what you see in that episode is a 100% accurate representation of what you would see in real-life. In Kyoto, you get to see its shopping malls near the station along with its traditional temples. For Kawagoe where the series mainly takes place, you get a feel of what Japanese suburban life is like outside of Tokyo. For you fans reading, if you ever visit Kawagoe, you are free to visit Kumano Shrine or enjoy a meal at the Gusto Diner just right by Hon Kawagoe station where Kotaro and Akane’s families meet each other the first time.

3. Solid Soundtrack

This anime features a strong collection of Japanese hits from the 1990s and 2000s. In episode 8, it plays Natsu Matsuri (meaning Summer Festival), a 1990s J-Pop classic by JITTERIN’JINN. Some of you may be familiar with the song through Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution series or in some of their other music games. If some of you attended or worked at a Japanese junior high school, it’s likely you recognized Tabidachi no Hi Ni in episode 7, a song that is frequently performed in junior high graduations and/or chorus competitions. So if you want to familiarize yourself with some catchy tunes that fit the emotions of this series, we strongly recommend this series.

Why You Should Skip Tsuki Ga Kirei

1. Generic Character Designs

While anime has a reputation for spiky and colorful hair with outrageous outfits, this anime takes a simple approach to reflect its realism. With the exception of Roman’s pink hair, expect the character designs to be simple and generic. Try to imagine a Where’s Waldo-like page of a who’s who in anime while including Akane and Kotaro and chances are, they’re not going to stick out in comparison to the likes of Goku, Naruto, and Sailor Moon.

People enjoy anime because it artistically takes a distinct level of creativity that breaks the barriers of the imagination (and you readers are free and encouraged to dispute whether or not Tsuki Ga Kirei fits that criteria). If you’re the type of person that prefers the bombastic style of anime, it is possible that Tsuki Ga Kirei isn’t for you. As we have shared, this anime takes a more realistic approach to this story so we can also acknowledge it wouldn’t be fair to fault the series for that. However, the designs are simple and foundational for any level of artist to take reference from if they want to learn how to draw anime style.

2. Maybe Not for People Who Enjoy Comedy

While the series focuses on the comedy in the after credits shorts where the other characters get to be featured, the main story contains almost no comedy. It is understandable that fans do expect a comedy with school dramas in conjunction with other famous school themed anime, but you have to wait until the after credits to see them. While they are funny, they could have had a place within the tone of the series itself if timed right. Junior high is a time for awkwardness and it’s only natural to convey that awkwardness with humor from time to time for viewers to relate. The main story could have used a little more of that as opposed to being saved as fan service, especially the stories that contain that of another couple in Kotaro and Akane’s class along with the implied relationship between Roman and the class’ homeroom teacher.

3. Rushed Ending/Ends Out of Convenience

The story can be a little slow but it still flows organically in conjunction to its episode count. However, the rest of the ending just feels too convenient and forced. While the series appropriately ends upon graduation, how Akane and Kotaro manage to maintain their relationship in the years after junior high is merely highlighted through a simple montage in the ending credits. It feels as if it just takes the easy way out. The events of what is presented in the credits could have easily been a dedicated episode by itself.

While it does have a happy ending with a hopeful theme, it does leave some other things rather open-ended. For example, does Kotaro become an author or your typical salary man? Does he still write novels for that site that Roman introduces him to? What happens to Kotaro and Akane’s friends? Does Akane’s friend still try to pull the moves on Kotaro as they attend high school together? Does Roman try to hook up with the teacher all the way? It would be nice to explore that with an extra episode or two. Hopefully, a future OVA can assist with that.


Final Thoughts

While Tsuki Ga Kirei doesn’t have your eccentric class clown, the mysterious transfer student, or the overachiever with a superiority complex, you just get kids that you can see every day in Japan. You get an idea of how those years not only symbolize a certain kind of freedom, but a very sensitive time of self-discovery.

As for why the series is titled as Tsuki Ga Kirei, it takes influence from a saying by Natsume Soseki, a famous Japanese author who felt that two people in love didn’t need to directly say it, and is also meant to be a demonstration of how nobody has to be direct when communicating in Japanese. In fact, the Japanese version uses it as wordplay for Kotaro to ask out Akane. After saying tsuki ga kirei desu ne (meaning “isn’t the moon beautiful?”), he follows it up by saying tsukiatte kudasai meaning “please go out with me.” So if you want to pick up people in Japanese, that scene is the perfect reference!

For those familiar who have seen this anime, it largely emphasizes that Kotaro is a fan of Osamu Dazai, another famous Japanese author. Some of you readers may recognize the name from Bungo Stray Dogs. Similar to his portrayal in that respective anime, the real Dazai was a suicidal womanizer. While Tsuki Ga Kirei makes no mention of his actual faults or left-leaning politics, his writing style (which is semi-autobiographical and emphasizes on human relations) plays a big influence on Kotaro’s relationship with Akane and his writing.

So after you finish this anime, maybe you can read some of Dazai’s famous works (such as No Longer Human) to see what other influences are present. So what do you guys think of Tsuki Ga Kirei? If you have seen it, please leave your thoughts in the comments. If not, we hope our review can give you a good idea of what to expect.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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