The story of Kota and Akane is refreshingly, awkwardly told in a manner that makes it an enjoyable journey throughout its run.

Title: Tsukigakirei: as the moon, so beautiful
Genre: Romance
Studio: feel
Director: Seiji Kishi
Series Composition: Yuuko Kakihara
Music: Takurou Iga
Air Date: April 7, 2017
Streaming on: Crunchyroll, FUNimation (Dub)

Tsukigakirei is an anime that ended regretfully. It’s odd to say considering it didn’t give indications of there being more, but I say that not out of malice, only that this show stuck with portraying its story in a way I wish continued. Though if that meant this was the way we would see awkward teenagers enter a relationship, at a point where friendships and cliques can be fragile, and how they manage to interact despite their personal troubles and then troubles out of their control, then so be it since this is told exceptionally well.

Awkward is one of the better ways to describe the anime and its two main characters, Kotarou (Kota) and Akane. They both at first could not seem any different: Kota is a Osamu Dazai admirer aiming to become a novelist but has no standout features save for his bedhead, and Akane is a runner who’s put a few years into track who now has to deal with being in a new class. Combined with class distinctions and societal pressures, it would seem unlikely that these two with different activities would ever get together.

Yet all it took was them randomly meeting at a restaurant — and thus, start their comfortingly clumsily romantic tale.

TsukigakireiThere were other moments that brought Kota and Akane together, but sometimes I found the random occurrences to be more engaging than, “They got assigned for clean up duty, so you know something’s bound to happen with them there!” After all, you don’t expect to see your new classmate at the same restaurant. You also then don’t expect your parents to meet that classmate’s parents at the same restaurant like it’s nothing.

Actually, there’s a lot of little things like that that make Tsukigakirei not only enjoyable but refreshing, even if unoriginal. I mean Akane being petty about her sister egging her about potentially having a boyfriend is fine, though taking a lot of pictures of your sister’s phone screen is just next level pettiness if you ask me.

Of course, like most love stories you know these two will get together somehow, but it’s how Seiji Kishi, Yuuko Kakihara, and the rest of them feel and handled how they faced the challenges of being together made this anime engaging and a crusher as it headed towards the finish line. One challenge they had to face was having friends falling for them, in Hira and Chinatsu respectively. It makes sense as to why: Hira, on the track team, naturally begins to admire Akane after years on the team, while Chinatsu (also on the track team)’s consistent interactions with Kota and his bedhead change her thoughts on him completely.

The eventual heartbreak for the two then makes it pretty tough, but how it was handled was great. Most anime generally has the character who lost out feel unauthentic; Tsukigakirei handles it with the four well, and showing the repercussions as the anime went on was a nice touch.

The clumsiness also turned out to be super important, which is odd to say considering romance can get awkward. I feel like Tsukigakirei made sure that it was the right kind of clumsiness — like how do you deal with being in a relationship in middle school, how do you keep this a secret from your sister (note: Akane’s sister doesn’t) and your family, when is it ok to hold hands, etc.

The good thing is, I’d contend it stops getting awkward when something out of Kota and Akane’s control occurs. That’s when not only do we see the characters change, it also made me wonder what was actually the best for the two of them (hence why I say it ended regretfully). Not only is it a case of them seeing what they want, but then seeing how family and friends aided or added to their struggles felt right. This act could have ended poorly, but because of how it started, and how the characters grew because they got to know each other, the ending worked well. Now whether they should have cried so much is debatable…

Tsukigakirei
Sometimes a scene can linger to make it work, which Tsukigakirei does to tell its story.
Tsukigakirei
It’s the little moments that contribute to Kota and Akane’s relationship, good or bad.

The moments between the characters I’ll cherish, but honestly, all the extracurricular things that happened stood out to me more. No, I don’t actually mean the shorts that happened at the end of each episode, which I guess provided some details about the characters Akane and Kota interact with on a day to day basis, but I didn’t care for them much (I did care for someone to save Ryoko from Roman. Teach, you can’t date a student, stop!). I mean the moments of unnecessary gossip! Or the times where Kota would get hyper because something great happened and punch the air (I can confirm I didn’t punch the air at that age but since I’m swinging my arms around that counts right), or whenever Akane squeezes her pink squeezie when she’s stressed, etc. They don’t seem like much, but it felt appropriate in this anime.

The visuals made me think of Bunny Drop and Wandering Son, where the shiny vibrant style is super nice to look at. The backgrounds looked exceptional too, and at times I felt the show knew it as it lingered at certain points. Towards the end the sound was good, but I don’t think it was a major key for the anime as it didn’t stand out to me.

TsukigakireiSometimes, you don’t have to be complicated to be great. In Tsukigakirei’s case, keeping it simple led to what eventually became a complex outcome. For a romance involving kids told well, Tsukigakirei is one anime to recommend to those looking for a excellent love story.