Tsuki ga Kirei (月がきれい, tr. “As the Moon, So Beautiful”) is a 12-episode romance anime series from 2017, produced by Feel. It was written by Yuko Kakihara and directed by Seiji Kishi. [Header image from Lost in Anime]
Kotaro Azumi is a junior high school student and aspiring novelist. His classmate, Akane Mizuno, is a track-and-field athlete who suffers from anxiety. Both are somewhat awkward and painfully shy, but they’re drawn to one another. The series follows the development of their relationship and how they deal with the obstacles life throws at them.
Tsuki ga Kirei is a low-key affair — so low-key, in fact, that nearly four years after its airing it has almost been forgotten. But ironically, that is precisely what makes it appealing. Tsuki ga Kirei is not a melodrama. The main characters’ romance evolves organically. The challenges they deal with — particularly gossipy classmates — feel realistic. There are no heroes or villains: romantic rivals aren’t malicious; they’re just people who happened to develop feelings for the wrong person at the wrong time. Akane’s anxiety isn’t a beast to be slain, but a problem to be managed. The show even depicts shy teenagers accurately: they’re not loners; they have friends, but they often have trouble speaking up or being heard.
Tsuki ga Kirei is also the rare teen love story that portrays the central relationship as being healthy and beneficial. So many teen romances either cynically portray young love as immature and toxic or else elevate it to the status of world-changing importance. Tsuki ga Kirei suggests that two adolescents can be good for each other, even if they’re still learning the ropes.
It could be argued the low-key nature of the show is also a downside, and to some extent that’s true. Not much really happens in Tsuki ga Kirei, and there are lots of long pauses and stares. I think that works to the series’ benefit, but your mileage may vary.
The show’s soft, almost watercolour aesthetic masks some animation issues. You likely won’t notice them if you’re not paying close attention, but once you see them, you can’t unsee them. Static crowd shots and lifeless backgrounds look pretty, but they’re jarring when juxtaposed against motion in the foreground.
Weeb level: 7/10. The show isn’t heavy on typical anime tropes — if anything, it eschews them. However, it is deeply steeped in Japanese culture. References to Japanese literature, especially the works of Osamu Dazai, abound. Knowledge of the Japanese publishing industry and how it’s viewed by the broader culture is assumed. Traditional Japanese music and dance play a major role in the plot. So does the structure of the Japanese education system.
Fanservice: 1/10. This really isn’t that kind of show. Most of the episodes have a couple of comedic skits involving peripheral characters tacked onto the end, and a couple of them might have some light fanservice, but they’re frankly so forgettable that I couldn’t tell you for sure.
Quality: 8/10. Tsuki ga Kirei won’t set the world on fire, but it’s a solid show that’s well worth your attention.
Where to watch it: The series is available subbed on Crunchyroll or dubbed on Funimation. A dual-language release is available for purchase on Blu-Ray.