Friday, April 7, 2017

Tsukigakirei Episode #1 Anime Review

How excruciatingly arduous and unbearable it is to live.

What They Say:
It’s the third year of middle school. Kotaro, a bookish boy aspiring to become a novelist, and Akane, a track girl who loves to run, meet in the same class together for the first time. They’re put in charge of the equipment for the sports festival, and slowly grow closer via LINE. How does Kotaro deal with his growing feelings for her? Meanwhile, Takumi has been in love with Akane since first year, and Akane’s friend, Chinatsu, becomes interested in Kotaro. A refreshing story of young love set in Kawagoe.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
During the various periods of self-reflection that exist within our lives, the time we spent in high school almost always finds a way to steal that sepia-tinted flashback spotlight. However, often overlooked is the time we spent in that step before high school, when we're all still learning our place in this world; when we're learning to walk. No, I don't mean that literally -- I'm talking about those two (Or three in this case because of Japan's difference in schooling) years of middle school. For myself and many others, these years would play an incredible part in determining the person we aspire to become once these twelve painstaking grades and snooze-oriented mornings come to an end. Queue, Tsukigakirei.

Directed by Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats/Person 4 The Animation), Tsukigakirei hones in on the daily lives of Kotarou Azumi and Akane Mizuno as they begin their last year of middle school. Right off the bat, we see some serious contrast between these two characters. Kotarou always has his nose in some book while thinking of some deeply philosophical inner monologue while Akane, on the other hand, spends most of her free time hanging out with her friends or practicing with the track club. However, this doesn't stop the two of them from awkwardly exchanging glances at one another as they struggle to understand both their hearts and hormones. These exchanges don't follow the typical anime-esque pattern of over-the-top redness or unrealistic clumsiness. Instead, they feel more awkward and unmanufactured -- the way we felt the first time we locked eyes with someone we thought was the most beautiful thing in the world. And the realism is punched in even harder when you see just how often these two are caught looking at each other.

Whether it be figuring out how to get the other's phone number without sounding interested or winding up at the same restaurant without knowing, the innocent, romantic tension between Kotarou and Akane grows with each second. Tsukigakirei deviates from the typical slice of life romantic tropes we've grown accustomed to and focuses more on the struggles of young love and coming to terms with oneself. Some may think the series seems slow or boring because of this -- but me? I think it makes it all the more special. It isn't often we see romance depicted like this and it isn't often that middle-schoolers feel like middle schoolers. The problem with a lot of similar anime set at this same grade level is that, more often than not, the characters are too well defined. I'm not saying the complex or overly animated characters are a bad thing, but the fact is when you're in middle school, you don't exactly know who you are yet. You're just another face in the hall trying to blend in with your surroundings.

And even though the series is just beginning, I can already feel an attachment already between myself and this world. This anime is subtle, slow, and filled with more care than you can possibly imagine.

In Summary:
Tsukigakirei is an absolutely adorable tale of young love seen through the eyes of two kids coming to terms with their feelings. It has the sentiment of a Shinkai film while feeling artistically reminiscent of a Hosoda one. And despite how early it is in the life of the series, the amount of emotion put into crafting it is almost tangible. These characters, unlike so many others in similar anime, feel like they were directly tailored toward each and every one of us. Tsukigakirei is meant to be relatable and nostalgic, and it accomplishes this without a hitch.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

1 comment: