Tsuki ga Kirei — final impression

As the final episode proper ends, Akane is on the train to her new home, her father having been transferred to another office. It’s spring break, she and Kotarou have graduated from middle school, but she’ll be in another town in another high school two hours away by train. Kotarou is watching the train move out of sight as he reminisces about his first love, while Akane does the same. A bittersweet ending to a romance that week after week had me besides myself with anxiety, shouting at the television whenever one of them screwed things up again, or weeping in relief when things went right. I could have lived with that ending, not knowing how it would’ve turned out in the end, but with strong hints that it might not have lasted. As the credits roll, we get one last shot of the Moon, then fade to white and let the ending song roll.

Tsuki ga Kirei: the moon is beautiful

And yet… Would it be too much to ask to cheat? To have a proper, they lived happy ever after ending for the best, most real feeling romance in anime I’ve ever seen? Sure, first loves don’t last, it’s rare that you meet the love of your life in middle school and stay together all the way through high school, uni and getting a real job. It wouldn’t be realistic in a series that never went for anime clichés, but

In my family at least, everybody’s first, serious relationship has resulted in marriage or kids. My brother met his girl friend in high school and they’re still together, with two children and a book published. As for long distance relationships, I met my wife online and we spent our first three years shuttling between Holland and england. It can happen. And surely now would be the time for one of those after credits codas the series had been using so well to check up with minor characters? Surely…
Tsuki ga Kirei: perfect ending

Yes. This, this is fine.

Tsuki ga Kirei is my anime of the season and this ending was perfect. It made romance anime relevant again by ditching all the usual cliches, setting the story in middle school rather than high school hence making Akane and Kotarou a little bit younger and more naive than otherwise and refusing to make any of its characters into clichés. Akane may be shy and somewhat anxious, but she is also the star of the track team. Kotarou might be an impressionable Dazai quoting book nerd, but he also likes boxing and he’s not into otaku stuff. Even the incidental characters, like Akane’s friend Aika, have some complexity to them, ie. she’s somewhat brash and loud, but genuinely cares when Akane loses her stress release stuffed toy. Tsuki ga Kirei never stopped moving the romance forward, starting the first episode with the two of them getting curious about each other, having them going out by episode three and out to the world by episode seven, ultimately ending, well, see above. I hope this will inspire other anime romances.

Tsuki ga Kirei: always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Remains only to say something about Chinatsu. Poor, poor Chinatsu. Akane’s best friend who made the unfortunate choice to fall in love with Kotarou just slightly too late to ever have a chance. That moment in episode seven where she sees Kotarou walk hand in hand with Akane, when she tried so hard to get his attention earlier, is heart breaking. She was the best kind of romantic rival, one who actually hurt as she lost, who wasn’t mean or stirred up shit for the sake of it, didn’t try to steal Kotarou, just a girl who struggled hard to reconcile her feelings with her friendship with Akane and ultimately succeeding. I wouldn’t mind an OVA in which she finds her own love as well. She deserves it.

First impression: Tsuki ga Kirei

Two class mates get traumatised by their families when they unexpectedly meet up at the same restaurant.

Tsuki ga Kirei: family is always embarassing

There is after all nothing as embarassing as your family prematurely meeting the boy/girl you may be developing a crush on. Nothing certain here yet, no contact. Just coy glances when he/she isn’t looking, looking away when he/she notices, an acute awareness of the other’s presence. Most romance stories in anime start when boy meets girl and one or both quickly falls in love. This sort of drawnout, uncertain longing is rare. I like it better than the usual anime shenanigans, the slowness and mundanity lending realism to the story.

Tsuki ga Kirei: slightly anxious

The girl, Mizuno Akane is sporty enough to be on the track and field team and suffers from anxiety enough she carries around a small stuffed potato thingie to calm herself. It’s an anxiousness not played up as cute, but something she just has to deal with in her day to day life. Not overdramatised, nor debilitating, but just something she has to deal with. As she had to do in episode two, when she lost her safety potato and promptly lost her baton during a relay race.

Tsuki ga Kirei: slightly dorky

The boy, Azumi Kotarō, is a bit of a dork, in the literature club, aiming to be a writer and in love with Osamu Dazai‘s writing, who seems to be the sort of writer slightly dorky, intellectual teenage boys would fall in love with. His joy at getting a text from Mizuno to the point of shadow oboxing is exactly the sort of thing a teenage boy would do, having to get physical to deal with his feelings. He feels real, and the fact that he couldn’t “save” Mizuno in the second episode, even if he did find her potato thingie, helps. In short, I like this mundane, realistic, slow love story because it’s so different from any other anime romance.