First fight. Romantic rivals. Long distance relationships. The conflict in Tsuki ga Kirei is real to life. I meet consistently with college students who attend my church, and these are some of the problems they’re dealing with in relationships. And of course, I’ve been there myself.
The beauty of Tsuki ga Kirei is in evoking an idealized and lovely version of adolescent love, while infusing that image with legitimacy through reasonable (if poor) decision making by characters, the awkwardness of youth, and situations that the characters deal with (and which most of us will deal with at some point, too).
But what I think is interesting about Tsuki ga Kirei is that instead of making these situations, these relationship “markers” into obstacles, as you would see in many anime focusing on romantic relationships, both new (ex. Nisekoi) and old (ex. Maisson Ikkoku), this series takes the route of a Kimi ni Todoke or Ore Monogatari and turns these troubling events into detours, challenges that might upset us, might cause us trouble, but which also navigate it to the place we would like to go. Akane and Kotaro grow more intimate each time they deal with a problem; they’re learning to be a couple by facing couple issues.
The depth of the characters, best expressed when they’re in their households and being as annoying as we all our around our family, allows for the show to move in this direction, as they react in the way real people might. In episode nine, for instance, Akane doesn’t tell Kotaro about her family’s possible move to Chiba (hinted at earlier in the series by the way) – it’s not for sure yet, after all, and it’s an uncomfortable subject for the girl to bring up – but she does let it slip to Takumi of all people. It’s only when Kotaro tells his secret that Akane feels led to tell hers.
But even in something like that, in the missteps of youth (not that we’re not above making such mistakes – I do silly things like that even at my age!), I trust the show will do what it’s done all along (no matter what the resolution is). Akane and Kotaro are going to grow, because they’ve demonstrated that while the problems they’ve encountered can be hurtful, and while they’re frustrating, they don’t break them. Indeed, they’ve thus far just drawn them closer together.
My relationship with my wife has been the same; we bond more intimately as we go through hardships together. But it’s not just in marriage or relationships – I’ve seen time and time again in my life the value of challenges, the gift of failing, the blessing of detours. I would like to say that acting like a maniac, as you would in a romantic comedy, is just silliness in a series, but I know I often do the same, overreacting when a detour is set in my path. I learn the hard way when I act like that, when I’m openly frustrated at plans doing awry. It’s humbling to realize that at twice their age, and, you know, being real versus being animated, I need to look at a couple of 15-year-olds and the example they set, that although we might be sad or vexed, we need not depair, for detours are just that – a different way, a new way, of taking you where you were meant to go.
Tsuki ga Kirei is available for streaming at Crunchyroll.