Tormented his whole life by people poking fun at his unusual name, Nasa Yuzaki has poured all his energy into becoming a nationally recognized student. And now, he’s on the cusp of attending a highly ranked high school, but Nasa’s teacher reminds him that life doesn’t always go as planned. Cue a beautiful girl who Nasa feels he just has to talk to, though unfortunately, while going to meet her he walks right in the path of traffic.
But that’s not even the unexpected part.
Nasa is saved from death by that very same girl who then does the most unusual thing of all: She proposes marriage to him before disappearing. Several years later, as Nasa tries to make sense of his new life as a working adult, she surprises him again by showing up at his doorstep to make good on their promise.
Thus right from the start, Fly Me to the Moon marries an element of the unknown with romantic comedy. While the unusual commitment that the girl, Tsukasa, makes to a boy she’s just met is strange in itself, stranger still may be how she’s able to save him with surprising speed while healing her own wounds like she’s Wolverine. One minute, blood is pouring down her face and the next, nary a scratch on her despite taking the worst of the accident.
But the questions about who or what she is must be saved for future installments; that isn’t what volume one is about. These chapters, instead, have fun with the idea of a couple suddenly marrying and then having to figure everything else out, including sleeping and cooking arrangements, and the bathing situation. But what stands out in these scenarios is just how pure they are. For instance, one repeated gag is Nasa’s desire for an “all you can hold buffet.”
Forget sex. Nasa just wants to hold her hand.
Which isn’t to say that Nasa isn’t a hot-blooded male (in one scene he mentions seeing a glimpse of Tsukasa’s bra). But his approach to Tsukasa is gentlemanly, as he feels out what’s appropriate for him to do or say. While having such a protagonist is nothing new, it’s refreshing to see that misunderstandings don’t become opportunities for fanservice. Oftentimes, the whole “nerdy guy sees / touches something he shouldn’t” setup ends up relegating the female character to second status—she becomes nothing more than an archetype and material to feed the reader’s imagination.
But Tsukasa is developed differently. There’s little depth yet, as we don’t know her circumstances (or even life form), but we get to see her sassiness, humor, and especially through the hilarious “bonus manga” at the end of the volume, her otaku-ness. In fact, while I don’t yet have a good grip on whether the story will ultimately be fulfilling, these extra strips that close volume one demonstrate what the mangaka is doing most right so far—creating humorous situations and cute conversation. Having not read Kenjiro Hata’s other major work, Hayate the Combat Butler, I don’t know if this is how he’s approached other characters, but I love how he imbues Tsukasa with this serious, straight-faced silliness, as when she gets her new husband to pretend to impaled by the seiyuu who voices Saber. And indeed, the first few chapters of Fly Me to the Moon are filled with not-so-hidden references to other series, including Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari, and Slam Dunk.
However, the rather simple art style and the very setup of boy marries girl at (almost) first sight creates a slightly amateurish tone. I felt like I was reading fan fiction put to manga form—engaging and highly developed fan fiction, but fan fiction nonetheless.
Still, the humor of volume one, and the promise of further development in both the potential sci-fi element of the story and in the relationship between Nasasa and Tsukasa, are enough to excite me for future volumes. Let’s just hope the latter can happen without compromising the comedy and innocence that could potentially make Fly Me to the Moon into something quite special.