Now that Nasa and Tsukasa are officially wed and living together in domestic bliss, it’s time they figured out the essentials of married life—establishing a regular bathing routine, meeting each other’s relatives and friends, considering whether or not to buy wedding bands, and avoiding being kidnapped by your in-laws. Okay, that last bit is a little unusual, but zany comedy is much of what punctuates Fly Me to the Moon (Tonikawa), Viz’s romantic comedy release about a couple that starts backwards, marrying first based on a life-altering, chance encounter. In volume two, additional supporting characters are introduced, including Nasa’s childhood friends (and a possible love rival) and Tsukasa’s “sister,” (and a possible live rival) who isn’t ready to give her up to a man, much less one she doesn’t even know.
Coinciding with the release of its anime adaptation (which confusingly goes by a different title, Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You), volume two of Fly Me to the Moon continues with the surprisingly wholesome vibe of the series. While it does feature some fanservice, a little bit of language, and in this volume, a female character who makes penis jokes, in truth the mangaka holds back on every turn. These moments don’t exist to titillate readers; instead, Hata-sensei is endearing us to the characters and creating humorous situations without relying on cheap thrills or laughs. He’s more interested, for example, in teasing both Nasa and the reader about their expectation of fanservice with Tsukasa in the public bath than actually featuring any.
In fact, the comedic elements are a fundamental part of what’s making this manga a success, with Hata creating humor sometimes by subverting expectations, as when what seems to be a major villainess turns up at the couple’s door and Tsukasa just slams it on her, and also by continuing to press Tsukasa’s geeky nature. Otaku and pop culture aficionados will enjoy the continued references through this volume, which include Rumiko Takahashi , a Buster Chain (Fate/Grand Order), Rurouni Kenshin, Fate/stay night, Star Wars, Terminator, The Avengers, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and The Walking Dead. There’s even a majority of a page dedicated to discussion of Roland Emmerich’s directing career (let’s see another manga do that!).
Meanwhile, little hints continue to be gingerly laid about where the series is ultimately going. Despite major reveals in volume two, the mangaka still keeps Tsukasa’s backstory close to the vest; the series has so far focused primarily on what happens when two come together as one, but the stage is set for more major conflict—that is, can the love between two people who haven’t been together long withstand whatever it is that will pull Tsukasa away? Her origin is becoming increasingly a mystery even as hints are dropped: Is Tsukasa a government experiment? A Moon alien? A goddess? The literal Princess Kaguya? Relatively little time is spent on the mystery, but it’s certain to become increasingly important as the plot progresses.
At this point, I should again mention the on-going anime series which has thus far been a middling adaptation of the manga. The gags in the latter come fast and furious, and the anime is having difficulty adapting them properly. And with the development of Tsukasa’s and Nasa’s characters coming largely through the humor, their anime counterparts aren’t as well-established. The Nasa and Tsukasa from the manga are smarter, funnier, and more interesting.
That’s all to say that if you’ve been turned off by the anime’s mundanity, there’s still reason to consider reading the manga: it’s smarter, ferociously funny, and just as sweet as the series. Indeed, you might even find yourself over the moon for it.