Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
“The Greedy Wagon's Journey" is far from a terrible episode of television, but I think it is easily the weakest one that Tsukimichi has delivered so far. It's the kind that makes it difficult for me to even begin this review with some sort of interesting preamble, or a humorous breakdown of a funny scene, because there's just so little to the whole affair that feels like it is especially worth discussing. So, apologies ahead of time if this write-up turns out a little dry; Tsukimichi just isn't giving me much to work with, here!
There really isn't any plot to speak of in “The Greedy Wagon's Journey", even though the gang is ostensibly doing some work for the Rembrandt Trading Company. A “plot” indicates some kind of conflict that needs to be overcome, or, at the very least, the sense that the story has a clear direction that it is headed in, and the Rembrandt job is so flimsy that I completely forgot about it until the random cliffhanger that closed the episode. Instead, what we've got is more of a collection of scenes that seem to each exist to primarily serve one of two functions: Either they introduce even more characters to the swiftly expanding cast, or they elaborate on the Fantasy RPG mechanics of Tsukimichi's setting.
So far as the characters go, the main trio that we get introduced to are the adventurers that Makoto and Co. meet on their way to the village of Tsige: Louisa the elven “Bless Gunner", Hazal the “Alchemy Meister”, and the dwarf Ranina, who is a super buff “Priest Knight". They're…fine? They're perfectly fine. I'm honestly not sure whether they're going to be a permanent fixture of the cast, or what exactly their characters are supposed to be adding to the party dynamic or the banter between our leads, but none of them are actively annoying or offensive or anything. There's also a handful of alke that we meet later on who have managed to transform into less obviously spidery forms, but I'm even less sure of what their deal is supposed to be, so…yeah, I don't really know what else to say about them.
So, that means that the rest of the episode has to lean on its world-building material. I will admit that, while I'm normally completely indifferent to the ins-and-outs of any isekai fantasy world that is meant to resemble your typical fantasy video-game, the material hunting gag that the episode pulls is maybe the strongest of the bunch. Despite being the central figures of the last couple of episodes, Rin and Toa have almost nothing to do this week, except for when Toa gleefully rips out the eyes of the bug monsters they keep encountering on the road. It's a basic joke, highlighting how the usually mundane tasks of an RPG would probably be pretty gross and off-putting if you really had to get down and dirty in those monster guts, but it works.
I guess that's my chief complaint about “The Greedy Wagon's Journey”, though; outside of one or two bits like the eyeball scooping incident, the episode just isn't very funny. Tomoe gets manipulated into wandering around on her lonesome as a “knight errant" for the entirety of the story, which is kind of amusing, but the episode never pays off the joke by cutting away to her woefully inept attempts at training or what-have-you. Likewise, Mio revels at the opportunity to have Makoto all to herself for the adventurer, but Tsukimichi doesn't even do anything with that, and the jokes practically write themselves! Beyond the usual sight gags of Mio seething in the background, there's one single scene where Mio ends up disappointed by how quickly Makoto kicks of his clothes and passes out in bed. It's somehow less than the least the show could have done.
The bottom line is that, while this wasn't an awful episode of Tsukimichi, it's the first occasion where it felt like both the show and the audience were wasting their time and effort. The weak jokes, cheap animation, and lackadaisical pacing are the hallmarks of a story that is treading water until the credits finally start rolling, since it didn't really have anything in mind for this week's episode, but it had to put out something, you know? Here's to hoping that the show will be able to pick up the slack next time.
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