Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
“Too Late” picks up right where “Human Shock” left off, and I'd say it's a slight improvement over that already solid episode, if only because the story gets to build up to a pretty funny joke as its capstone, instead of an awkward cliffhanger. The little girl that showed up out of nowhere last week is Rinon, an adorable little ragamuffin who is searching for her missing sister, Toa. We eventually learn that Toa was deep in debt after failing to secure a profitable career as an adventurer, and Rinon has been living on the streets ever since Toa was presumably captured by her debtors. Also, bright red hair aside, Toa is the splitting image of Makoto's old pal from Earth, Hasegawa (she of the ample bosom and endlessly flowing tears).
We're not entirely sure what the significance is of Toa being Hasegawa's doppelganger— maybe she got hit by the Isekai Truck mere moments after Makoto got whisked away, or something—but its enough of a mystery to get Makoto in an uncharacteristically serious mood, and soon enough Tomoe and Mio are on the case. Now, if you're only experiencing the plot of “Too Late” through my abbreviated recaps, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this might be a fairly lame setup for an episode of Tsukimichi, and I'd be lying if I said the hunt for Toa was a particularly interesting or well-written adventure. The “twist” is that Zetsuya's most powerful hero, Mils Ace, is the one who has kidnapped Toa, and his goons have gone so far as to attack Makoto's crew and coerce Rinon into stealing their valuables to pay off her sister's debt.
If I were grading Tsukimichi on its ability to thrill and excite me with its storytelling prowess, this would be a C-tier episode, at best. At no point are Mils Ace and his cronies presented as anything other than obviously skeezy, and the search for Toa is barely a search at all. One minute, Mio and Tomoe are off to find her, and by the time we catch up with the pair, they've broken into Mils' base of operations and revived Toa from her near-death delirium. It's one of the inherent pitfalls of these kinds of isekai stories, since our heroes are so powerful and over-leveled that it's pointless to even pretend that such a basic rescue mission would pose a problem for them. If Tsukimichi were playing these beats completely straight, it'd be like spending a half-hour watching your buddy grind out low-level daily quests for an MMO that he's already pumped a thousand hours into (read: Boring as hell).
Thankfully, Tsukimichi is a comedy first and foremost, and what makes “Too Late” worth watching is the fact that it does what any good sitcom does: It takes some tried and true story cliches and uses them as hooks upon which to hang some funny jokes. I won't pretend that Tsukimichi had me busting a gut or anything—this isn't Asobi Asobase, after all—but the show knows how to squeeze some chuckles out of me, which is all it needs to do. The running gag of Tomoe sliding further and further into her pit of weeb indulgence is especially great; this week has her insisting that she be allowed to use the word “mineself” instead of “myself”, because God forbid she slip out of character as she and Rin are taking out low-level goons without breaking a sweat.
Speaking of which, the climax of the episode is where “Too Late” really gets its work done, because it keeps up the show's smart use of its characters' strength as comedic fodder. It isn't just that Rin and Tomoe turn Mils and every last one of his goons into human paste by the time Toa is rescued; the ladies straight up obliterate the entire town in their quest to prove who between them is truly worthy of a head pat and a “Good Job” from their beloved master. Toa makes for a great straight woman to the monsters' antics, manically nodding her head whenever either of them want her to confirm that they brutally slaughtered more of the bad guys than the other.
If I had one complaint about this turn of events, it's that the show's middling production values end up limiting the impact of the comedy. A lot of the action ends up being communicated through quick cuts and still slides, which is functional, but not great. I can only imagine how much funnier Tomoe and Mio's merciless smackdown would have been if the show played the spectacle straighter and turned out some genuinely impressive action animation. It would have been funny to emphasize how completely stupid the entire situation ended up being for all parties involved.
Makoto, for his part, also gets to play the straight man for the majority of the episode, and he's just as good at serving as the beleaguered, responsible adult to his monster girlfriends' antics as he is when the entire universe is actively shitting on his every attempt to succeed. That's a good sign for Tsukimichi's future, since it means that the show has just a bit more flexibility in how it structures it gags and whatnot. I'm also glad that the show is continuing to utilize elements of Makoto's past life in building this new story. It helps make him feel more like a real person, and it's infinitely more interesting as character development than simply having him aimlessly wander while he builds his harem. If Tsukimichi can keep this up, it may just earn a spot on the coveted list of “Isekai Anime That James Actually Had Fun With.” Don't let me down, show!
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