Tsukigakirei Episode 6
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
This week's Tsukigakirei was easily one of the show's best episodes so far, though I'm sure Akane and Kotarou would disagree. This wasn't an easy week for either of them - after consolidating their relationship and promising to do their best in their respective passions, they were each dealt an unfortunate hand of failure and disappointment. But the articulation of their struggles and the ways they each clearly grew from the experience made this a standout within Tsukigakirei's formidable run.
On Kotarou's side, this episode was a real turning point in his literary aspirations. Kotarou has been facing consistent pressure from his parents to give up on his extracurricular activities and focus more on his studies. But for Kotarou, there's nothing more central to his identity than his love of classical literature and his desire to one day write great literature himself. His faith in that future has helped him hold on to his sense of self even without his parents' support, but when he finally gets the chance to talk to an actual editor, he's told that he just doesn't have the talent. Not only is literature not a great fit for him, but it's not even much of a career path - but hey, has he considered writing light novels?
As for Akane, a great deal of her self-confidence and social life comes from her place on the school track team. Akane has mostly taken her track talent for granted, but in this episode, she fails to perform for the second time, even falling behind her time from the previous year. She can't pretend she was just having a bad day anymore - she knows she was unfocused, and that personal drama is directly impacting her passion. So Akane has to decide how she really wants to spend her time.
Both of these events are serious blows to Tsukigakirei's leads, but they wouldn't be nearly as impactful if not for this episode's terrific buildup. There's a lengthy sequence in this episode's middle act dedicated solely to establishing the tone of Kotarou and Akane's twin crucibles, as Kotarou heads into the city and Akane gets ready for the track meet. As an expectant insert song gets louder and louder, the specificity of actions like Kotarou buying a train pass and Akane lacing up make their experiences feel viscerally real. Small details like the distinct animation of all the runners on Akane's starting line amplify the sense of this being a lived moment. Tsukigakirei brought all of its aesthetic strengths to bear in articulating the tension of their trials, marrying generally strong aesthetic techniques to the show's commendable willingness to let silent sequences stretch on for full minutes of episode time.
The scene directly following Akane's track failure was likely my favorite of the episode. Tsukigakirei has often used long distance shots to convey a sense of emotional isolation or disarray, but the sequence of Akane consoling herself on the stadium steps felt like their most effective application yet. From the naturalistic awkwardness of Takumi's attempts to pep her up to the smart use of shadows to echo her feelings, the scene was simultaneously a great example of Tsukigakirei's purposeful visual storytelling and its distinctly realistic writing. It was easy to relate to Akane's feelings of immediate disappointment and larger uncertainty, having definitively failed at the one thing she could call her own.
Overall, this episode demonstrated Tsukigakirei at its awkward, heartfelt best. From the small character exchanges to the larger dramatic beats, everything was tightly calibrated to articulate the lived poignancy of Akane and Kotarou's very bad day. After being forced to question the basis of their self-images, the result of these two actually growing closer felt like a tremendous victory. I hope next week brings these kids the comfort they deserve.
Tsukigakirei is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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