Episode 12

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Tsukigakirei ?

And so Tsuki ga Kirei wound its way to a charming, mildly heart-rending end. Presented with a challenge that would stop most adolescent romances in their tracks, Akane and Kotarou persevered, reaffirming how much each of them has helped the other grow. The ending we arrived at might be almost too upbeat to believe, but I certainly don't mind watching good kids earn a happy ending.

Tsuki ga Kirei's final episode began with a dash of bitter realism, as Kotarou learned that he hadn't actually gotten into Akane's high school. This was a smart dramatic choice that did nothing to diminish the significance of his battle across the two previous episodes. As Akane said, the fact that he struggled so much for her sake was the important thing. Kotarou worked hard and clearly demonstrated how much he valued their relationship, but having him simply rise from a mediocre student into an exceptional test-taker would have been cheap and dramatically unsatisfying. The fact that he failed also meant this episode had a meaningful conflict at its center, as opposed to being just a feel-good victory lap.

This episode's early scenes helped to underline both Akane and Kotarou's insecurity visually. Early shots framed Kotarou in classic corner-of-frame fashion, creating a sense of being overwhelmed by his failure and the trials ahead. The show mirrored shots of Kotarou and Akane dwarfed by each of their bedrooms, increasing the sense of distance between them. Even Kotarou's normally warm and friendly bookshop was framed in deep browns and shadows, emphasizing his sense of isolation.

The episode's middle segment was a little shakier. First off, though this episode's particularly heavy focus on texting felt realistic, it also wasn't that dramatically satisfying. It's difficult to gain much emotional information from watching someone's smartphone, and the plentiful number of such shots ultimately made me suspicious that the show was simply trying to avoid more animation. Secondly, the time devoted to Akane and Kotarou graduating felt largely like dramatic space-filler. There was very little either of them could do to impact the conflict at this point, so a number of scenes didn't really feel like they were contributing much of anything. That sense of dramatic space-filling came to a head in the climactic riverside scene, where Akane suffered a breakdown of insecurity that seemed predicated mostly on this episode's need to have a final conflict in general.

Even though I wasn't really sold on it as a naturally evolving conflict, the actual execution of that river scene was beautiful. Tsuki ga Kirei pulled out all its animation stops to carefully portray Akane's tears, and the use of the rocks crossing the river as a kind of emotional barrier was a great visual touch. While the sequence's larger narrative context felt a little contrived, the show's execution still brought it home.

In the end, the finale sequence was one of this show's best. Using Chinatsu to bring the two of them back together was a very charming touch, and having Kotarou's writing finally come into play as a key dramatic device was a clever validation of both one of his core passions and the relationship he'd shared with Akane. Tsuki ga Kirei swung for the fences with that last segment, dressing Kotarou's final dash in all the visual splendor it could muster. After a series largely dedicated to emphasizing the mundane moments of adolescent romance, I couldn't fault it for treating these kids to a hopelessly romantic ending.

Overall: B+

Tsukigakirei is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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