TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 8 of
TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You ?
In this episode Tsukasa and Nasa finally get to Nara to meet Nasa's parents. Nasa has consistently pitched them as being odd, and the parents even admit to being oddballs themselves, but the surprise here is that they are nowhere near as extreme as expected. That's not to say that they aren't antsy and overexuberant, but given anime's tradition of featuring truly outrageous parents, Nasa's come off as quite mild by comparison. They are just normal folks who seem to be more nervous about meeting their son's new wife than Tsukasa is about meeting them. How many parents of adult children could relate to the father being flustered about not knowing what to say to Tsukasa in the morning?
The first half or so of the episode deals with the first encounter with Nasa's parents and further humor about sleeping arrangements (Nasa realizes that as cute as Tsukasa sleeping on his arm seems, it is also rather uncomfortable). Maybe the most interesting detail here is that neither of his parents seems thrown off at all about Tsukasa marrying their son; as the father shows at the end, they are, instead, incredibly grateful to her since they know that she is the one who saved Nasa's life. Although Tsukasa does not make a big scene of it, she clearly values that acceptance.
Between that part and the sight-seeing in the second half, the episode drops numerous crucial hints to the overall story. On several occasions, Tsukasa makes comments suggestive of her having personally experienced Japanese history from the Asuka Period (538-710), including talking about historical figures as if she knew them and describing life at the time. In Nasa's father's study she also seems able to read a document in Old Japanese (or at least I'm assuming that because that was what would have been used during the Asuka Period), which would be exceedingly rare for someone who is not a scholar. This, more strongly than anything before, suggests that Tsukasa is either immortal or at least extremely long-lived. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (and thus Princess Kaguya) officially dates to the 10th century but elements of it appeared in the poetry collection Man'yōsuū, which was assembled from poems written in the 7th century and first half of the 8th – in other words, heavily overlapping with the Asuka period. I suspect that is not a coincidence.
Once again this episode is filled with all sorts of cultural references, though most occur during the sightseeing in the episode's back half:
- Mizutamari Bond is an early Japanese YouTuber who seems to have been most active in 2015 and 2016. (This is based on shaky auto-translations, so someone please correct me if I'm off on this.)
- The Great Buddha refers to a massive bronze statue at Tōdai-ji, a Buddhist temple which was until the late 1990s the largest wooden structure in the world. If you ever get to Japan, this is a must-see attraction. (I have been there twice and was awed both times.)
- Nasa's comment about his mother and the deer refers to the (very tame) deer at Nara Park, which can be fed by tourists. (Nara Park also includes the Tōdai-ji complex.)
- Hōryū-ji is recognized as the oldest wooden structure in the world. It was originally commissioned in 607. Tsukasa accurately recounted the circumstances of its reconstruction in 670, though it also saw major work done on several other occasions over the centuries.
- Prince Shotoku was a regent and politician under Empress Suiko, holding power from 593 to 622. He commissioned the construction of Hōryū-ji Temple (and has been archeologically confirmed to have had his palace located on the temple complex) and was an important figure in the spread of Buddhism in Japan.
- At 17:40 Tsukasa appears to be referring to the NES/Famicom version of the 1980s arcade game known as Kung-Fu Master in the States and Spartan X in Japan. The urban legend Tsukasa refers to was an actual rumor in Japan.
- Heijo Palace was the administrative center of Japan for most of the Nara period, from 710 to 794. Its fate was as described by Tsukasa, and what she describes about Suzaku Gate (which was the palace's main entrance) is also true.
By the end of the episode, Tsukasa and Nasa return to a crisis: their apartment building has burned down, which turns Nasa's comments earlier in the episode about how he wouldn't lose much to a fire into foreshadowing and irony. Prior to that ending scene, the episode delivers the usual mix of humor, romance, and sentimentality which has worked so well for this series so far.
TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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