Otaku USA Magazine
Tsukigakirei [Review]

Newly minted love birds

What happens when you take two very different teenagers from what seem like two worlds that clash in a big way and throw them into a relationship? It might look a little something like the gorgeously animated Tsukigakirei. It’s an emotional and endearing tale that follows two newly minted love birds as they navigate the ups and downs of being in a relationship that’s half-secret and half-challenge, thanks to everything going on in the pair’s lives.

Meet Kotarou (Kota) and Akane. Kota has his sights set on being a novelist and absolutely adores the Japanese author Osamu Dazai. He’s calm, but shy, and tends to be too embarrassed to show his fledgling novels to others. On the other hand, Akane is a member of the track and field club at school. The two run in completely different circles with even more different interests, so it seems that they’re not quite destined to meet or even spend time with each other if they did. One chance encounter at a restaurant and their lives are changed forever.

From their random meeting at the restaurant, Kota and Akane become fast friends and lovers, and the pitfalls that normally come with being in a relationship in middle school gleefully rear their heads. They’re stuck dealing with some rather frustrating things, like keeping their courtship to themselves and a secret from family—your sister, in Akane’s case. Love blossoms quickly and messily between the two, which is expected at that age, but it’s never been told with such a lighthearted touch that perfectly captures those feelings of first love so poignantly.

With that said, it’s a little difficult to get into the show, simply based on its somewhat slow pace and frustratingly awkward characters. But if you can get past that, once you’re invested, you’ll find yourself hooked after the first few episodes. You’ll also find a lot to love about the gorgeous animation with thick, white highlights and exceptional background artwork, which can somehow outshine the narrative at some points.

Even when it feels somewhat unbelievable, such as the way the two can come together in such a smooth and unassuming way, it’s still an extremely touching love story with moments that you’ll look at with familiarity and even feel a blush creep to your cheeks during. This is adolescent love, as messy as it can be.

Studio/company: Crunchyroll
Available: Now
Rating: Not Rated

For a second opinion on Tsukigakirei, check out Ink’s review from last year.

This story appears in the August 2018 issue of Otaku USA Magazine. Click here to get a print copy.