Kotarou Azumi is a quiet third-year middle school kid (and would-be novelist) who has been exchanging quick glances with Akane Mizuno, a shy girl who enjoys running. The two start texting, first about school-related matters, but soon the texting turns more personal. But how will they fare when peers and parents compete against their time together, and rivals appear?
This show maybe demonstrates that a series can be TOO low-key and "realistic" for its own good. Kotarou is a soft-spoken student with dreams, but maybe not quite the capability to make a couple of his dearest dreams come true, which has got to be frustrating for him, but while you can guess how he feels, he doesn't always express it that well. He's a good listener though- he's paying attention to the things he's been overhearing from other students- and he consistently takes the necessary steps to hold on to his growing relationship with Akane; for example, when it becomes obvious that the other students think that a boy in her track club, Takumi Hira, would be a good match for Akane, Kotarou quickly takes the step necessary to head this off. He rarely makes missteps with her, though sometimes things happen beyond his control.
Akane, for her part, is uncomfortable in front of people (though she can bear it for track; she loves running that much.) She has a squeeze toy she uses to relieve stress (she says it's a "potato mascot".) She has an older sister who has her act together better than Akane, or at least can feign it (a skill older siblings can be masters of.) She also has a friend named Chinatsu Nishio, a short-haired, cheerful girl who first meets Kotarou when she ineptly bandages his injured hand. Chinatsu has a thing for Kotarou too, but again, when circumstances call for firm action, Kotarou makes his feelings very clear. He's not the wobbling waffler so many other male leads (even in romantic anime) are. (A photograph is used to convey heartbreak here, extremely effectively at that; I'm not saying subtle NEVER works, just that it doesn't ALWAYS work.) Chinatsu is surprisingly straight with Akane about her own feelings for Kotarou - even after he's rebuffed her once- which you have to admit is unusual (and risky, in several ways.) Meanwhile, Takumi is still working on Akane. Takumi is a bit gratuitously critical of Akane- and NOT just for her track performance- a subtle hint (this show THRIVES on subtlety) that he wouldn't really be a good match for her.
As a matter of fact, Tsukigakirei's cast seems to mostly function as obstacles to Kotarou and Akane getting together- either they have other plans for one or both of our pair, or they're being overly intrusive, or they're trying to steer them to other people. The parents and teachers are even worse, separating them from either their means of communication, or making it impractical for them to even physically meet.
But DOES love conquer all? If it isn't clear by the end of the main body of the show, perhaps the closing credits of the final episode will tell us...
I've just a few more isolated complaints and/or comments:
1. We never see Kotarou practice his dance in costume. (Hint: that's HIM in the opening credits.) I would think he'd have to learn to make his dance moves with that getup on.
2. At one point Akane gets mad that Kotarou didn't tell HER that he'd turned down Chinatsu. (She'd heard about this FROM Chinatsu.) Why should she be mad? He TURNED CHINATSU DOWN, and he wanted to avoid embarrassing Chinatsu, OR potentially alienating her from Akane (after all, HE didn't know that Chinatsu was blabbing- well, technically TEXTING- all this to Akane.) He's not trying to hurt or deceive Akane in any way; he's just trying to keep everyone friends with each other. But I don't think he explains this effectively to Akane. And there's an earlier scene, where through communication problems he nearly stands Akane up, when it also seemed to take FOREVER for him to tell her the simple facts that would immediately absolve him of blame. Someone aspiring to be a writer (as Kotarou is) should be better at finding the right words.
3. The music is by West Ground; I didn't much care for their rock songs in Fuuka, but they're really not TOO bad with ballads, and the closing music (and animation) for this one is sweet enough.
4. At the end of most episodes of the show we have some blackout gags in the form of brief exchanges between other couples, wannabe couples (where there's at least ONE wannabe anyway), or people who are at least THINKING about each other. Most of these exchanges are apparently aimed at finding comedy in the different ways males look at things versus females- or vice versa, if you prefer. A few of them are actually funny (I'm thinking particularly of the one where Kotarou's mom and dad offer their separate critiques of his writing.)
I already knew that I had a problem with those sort of shows where people just gaze meaningfully at each other. We're not QUITE that bad here, but still this show's drama seems to have a fairly weak heartbeat, though finally discovering some pathos near the end. These are good kids, I wish them well, but to paraphrase Captain Kirk, I didn't find them sufficiently entertaining. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: My notes say "girls in bath" so there must be some fanservice in there. (I THINK this was during a class trip.) The problem is that the show doesn't even have that much to hold your attention, much less offend.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Tsukigakirei © 2017 FEEL
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