The Summer 2021 Preview Guide
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-
How would you rate episode 1 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
What is this?
Makoto Misumi is just an ordinary high school student living a regular life, but all of a sudden gets summoned to the other world to become a "hero." The goddess of the other world, however, insults him for being different and strips his "hero" title, before casting him off to the wilderness at the edge of the world. As he wanders the wilderness, Makoto encounters dragons, spiders, orcs, dwarves, and all sorts of non-human tribes. Because Makoto comes from a different world, he is able to unleash unimaginable magical powers and combat skills. But just how will he handle his encounters with various species and survive in his new environment. In this fantasy, Makoto tries to transform the other world into a better place despite the humans and gods having turned their backs on him.
How was the first episode?
There's a lot of potential to be had in Tsukimichi. Our hero Makoto is basically pulled into a fantasy world and is discarded because he is deemed “too ugly” by the goddess of the world. Yet despite his dire situation, the anime swerves pretty hard into the “humor” of the situation. Some of the jokes are centered around Makoto not understanding just how overpowered he actually is but the majority of them focus on the fact that Makoto is “genre savvy” and knows how stories like the one he is in usually go. Thus, a lot of the humor is simply contrasting how his isekai adventure should be versus how it really is.
The thing is, when you think about it, while the specifics are different, the broad strokes are the same. Makoto is an overpowered protagonist who is transported to a fantasy world and meets a beautiful woman that agrees to become his companion as they travel through a fantasy world.
What's really interesting isn't the ways of how the anime changes the minute details of the formula but rather how it changes the big swaths. The idea that Makoto is able to talk to any race except humans is a plot point that, while helpful now, almost certainly will become a huge problem when he encounters any humans in the future. Likewise, the fact that he is removed from the main conflict between demons and humans allows for him the freedom to choose his own fate to an extent—and to potentially form his own faction of sorts as he keeps making new friends. However, at the same time, the very fact that he is so powerful and has been rejected by the goddess makes him a target of interest for both the humans and demons—with both sides as likely to kill him as court him.
All in all, I think that this first episode isn't quite as clever or funny as it tries to be but still manages to lay down an interesting premise that is different enough from the standard formula to be entertaining.
You know, I wasn't super into Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-, but I can respect what it's doing. It parodies the isekai genre without leaning too hard on wink-at-the-camera otaku humor, has a down-on-his-luck protagonist without making it too mean, and manages to stand on its own as a fun, engaging fantasy story that people who aren't already eyeballs-deep into the medium can enjoy.
The charm became evident to me in the start, when the main character, Makoto Misumi, wakes up floating in a field of stars instead of his bed. He's an otaku, so he gets a handle on what's happening pretty quickly, but he's still surprised, upset, and a bit confused about just why it's happening, when he should be having a typical morning eating breakfast with his family. He's informed by Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto that as the son of two legendary warriors from another world (which he had no idea about), it's up to him to become the new legendary hero.
...Except the goddess calls him a fugly little bitch, refuses to train him, and punts him to the edge of the world where she won't have to look at or think about him. This is the point where things could easily have gotten too mean for me personally, as either crude KONOSUBA-style insult comedy of The Rising of The Shield Hero-level revenge fantasy against mean ol' women. But it doesn't go that direction. Instead, Misumi meets Emma, a sweet-natured orc girl with the face of Miss Piggy and the voice of Saori Hayami.
A distinctive visual style helps a lot too. The character designs are more cute and cartoony than sexy, with a bit of an old-school feel I can't quite put my finger on. Even if Masumi isn't a slender bishounen, I'll take someone relatively interesting-looking over a Kirito clone any day of the week. The voice cast is great, including Natsuki Hanae putting some great comic timing to use as Masumi and the aforementioned Hayami.
It's just… I'm not feeling it, you know? I can step back and see the appeal and everything it's doing well and its quirky sense of humor, but at the same time, it's just not for me. Maybe it's because I'm so tired of the kind of isekai it's parodying. Regardless, even if it's not my thing, I wholeheartedly recommend people check this out if it sounds like theirs.
Whenever a particular subgenre becomes ubiquitous, it's inevitable that more parodic or comedic takes on the subject matter will start to propagate as well. It's just how it goes when people are exposed to the same basic ideas time and again, and we've seen the same trend in isekai the last few years. There's of course KONOSUBA, but any number of other series have tried their hand poking fun at their creators' chosen genre. The problem, usually, is those comedies are still playing inside baseball, relying on references and general knowledge that assumes a deep familiarity – and affection – for the larger isekai landscape. While Tsukimichi doesn't quite escape that hang-up, it does better than I expected.
Most of that comes down to delivery. While this first episode's gags aren't anything amazing, they're delivered with just the right level of enthusiasm and, more importantly, speed to keep from dragging things down. While our hero Misumi has shades of a self-aware otaku already familiar with his new fantasy world through video games, his main reaction to his wacky and dangerous new world is mostly one of exasperation. He's been tossed into a world of danger run by a Goddess whose first action was to call him an ugly little Melvin and throw him to the literally edge of the Earth, and takes everything in weary stride from there. Plus, he seems like a pretty nice guy all around, and is buoyed by a characteristically boisterous performance from Natsuki Hanae to boot. I also liked that our first sidekick was the cute orc girl Emma – it may be as part of a punchline to subvert Misumi's expectations, but she's got a genuinely charming design and seems very sweet.
It also has surprisingly strong production. Misumi's design is purposefully unmemorable, but in a way that's close to the generic everyman protagonist of a romcom anime rather than the tracksuit-wearing potatoes of his peers. We don't get to see much of the rest of the cast, but they generally look more interesting from the OP, and more importantly there's some striking action animation sprinkled throughout this intro. It's nothing amazing, but considering how often these kinds of series get stuck with stiff, slowly melting animation, I can't complain about a show that's just run-of-the-mill pleasant to look at.
All that said, while this premiere was a mildly pleasant surprise, I don't know if it'll be enough to keep me coming back. There's nothing objectionable, and there were some funny gags – plus some surprisingly well animated action sequences – but I've been burnt out on isekai as a concept for so long that the idea of following another one just isn't that appealing. But I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and after several bad-to-mediocre entries I'm certainly grateful to have had a good time with Tsukimichi, if not a long time.
I was torn between ratings with this one, but ultimately decided to go with the higher one because I had a much better time with Tsukimichi – Moonlit Fantasy – then I anticipated. It's the right kind of self- aware isekai; rather than being world-weary about its genre, it recognizes that isekai is a collection of ridiculous tropes and enjoys that fact. Hapless protagonist Makoto doesn't get hit by a truck or summoned in a burst of light, he's just asleep and suddenly floating in space with the Shinto moon god, Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto. (Another World’s Zombie Apocalypse Is Not My Problem!'s heroine has a similar experience, albeit god-free.) It turns out he's been summoned because his parents did a reverse-isekai to Japan, and now their most beloved thing must be returned to the goddess who granted them passage…and she wants nothing to do with Makoto. At all.
At this point the story could easily have gone into revenge fantasy mode, and I am delighted to report that it doesn't. Sure, Makoto gets banished to the ends of the earth, but at least Tsukuyomi pops back up to let him know that the goddess sucks (which in all fairness, he did mention before as well) and that he'll be fine because he's ludicrously overpowered for reasons. And hey, after three days of wandering the barren wastelands, Makoto learns that he can punch straight through a giant two-headed dog monster's neck and decapitate him! (His dumbstruck facial expression during this says it all.) It's certainly not the isekai fantasy he was expecting, or that his light novel author father wrote about, but he does somehow manage to kind of make the best of it.
In some ways, this episode is good because of the things it doesn't do – turn into a revenge fantasy, take itself too seriously, pile too many gags on top of each other, make fun of Emma for being anime Miss Piggy, etc. In fact, I was pleased by the way Emma was treated overall, because it would have been very easy for this to just make fun of the fact that she looks like a bipedal blonde pig. Instead, she and the rest of the orcs are just people Makoto meets along the way, and if something about Emma's fingers was really unsettling to me, I don't think it was the goal of the character design. This is silly and knows not to overplay its hand. It may not be the slickest looking show this season, but it has enough sly(ish) references to other stories and knowledge of its parodic target that it could turn out to be a lot of fun.
Given how absurdly ubiquitous the light-novel isekai fantasy has become in recent years, I'm more than happy whenever a more satirical take on the genre comes along to take it down a peg or two. Tsukimichi is exactly that: A straightforward but genuinely funny takedown of your usual isekai clichés. Since the general pattern of humor is to directly subvert the broad archetypes of isekai anime, the jokes can be hit and miss, but what ties it all together is that this series possess what so many of its straight-faced inspirations lack: a strong protagonist.
Makoto Misumi is no reinvention of the wheel; he is, in fact, barely distinguishable from so many similarly designed main characters that you'll find in so many series like this: He's a bit short, he's prone to flailing about in times of duress, and he's got messy black hair with that distinctive ahoge cowlick that identifies him as the doofus hero of an anime comedy. In his writing, too, he's nothing particularly novel, in that he's a generally nice and well-meaning but otherwise typical teenage boy: Awkward at school, unlucky in romance, and happy to spend his free time reading fantasy novels and enjoying his sexy cartoons. That is, until the mystical Tsukuyomi whisks him off to a void in space-time and reveals that Makoto is to be returned to the stereotypical fantasy realm that his parents originally hailed from, so that he can be the hero its goddess requires.
Nothing special, right? Well, sure, and that'd part of the point,, considering that Makoto's story is a satirical one. More importantly, though, is that if Tsukimichi proves anything, it's how much execution matters in turning a decent premise into a great premiere, and it all begins and ends with Makoto. For one, he's voiced by Natsuki Hanae, who absolutely kills it when it comes to selling Makoto's charm and earnest, fumbling attempts at heroism. This should be of no surprise, since Hanae has made a career out of voicing characters like Demon Slayer's Tanjiro and Motherflippin' 9S from Nier Automata (aka some of the industry's Goodest Boys™️). The jokes at Makoto's expense are also consistently funny, without veering too far into shrill or mean-spirited territory.
Sure, this world's goddess rejects him as a disgusting and vile worm that isn't even worthy of a heroic title, but his natural superhuman abilities make it easy for him to accomplish such feats as wandering a desert alone for three days without dying, and accidentally obliterating the insides of an enemy monster with a single kick. Later on, he attempts to save a community of pig people from a mean Dragon named Shen. Shen, as it turns out, is positively tickled by Makoto's exploits as a thoroughly average human teen, so she decides to transform into a plucky anime girl and become his first sidekick. It's fun stuff! Speaking of organ annihilation and dragon battles, the show's production values are just shiny enough to sell the conceit that Makoto really is a supremely strong badass with the potential to be a true hero…if only he didn't find himself transported to a universe that seems to actively seek out new and creative ways to make him look like a dork. I don't know, maybe Tsukimichi only seems like such a find because the rest of this season's premieres have been so underwhelming by comparison. Either way, though, I had a blast with this one, and I'm eager to see what's next for our hapless hero as he tries (and presumably fails) to live out the isekai fantasy of his dreams.
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