Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
How would you rate episode 3 of
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- ?
I've made no secret of how burnt out I am when it comes to the last decade-or-so's trend of isekai light novel adaptations. Before anyone gets to sharpening their pitchforks (or worse: preparing pedantic comments for the forums), I am obviously aware that #NotAllIsekaiLightNovels are bad. I'm a big fan of Re:Zero, for example, and, um…The Devil is a Part-Timer! is kind of an isekai, right? Does Amagi Brilliant Park count?Okay, so nobody in their right mind is going to call me a fan of the genre, but I'm not going into any of these shows wanting to dislike them! A lot of them are just, y'know…bad.
But some are good! Take Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy-, for instance: I really enjoyed its premiere episode, and I was genuinely excited to get the opportunity to cover it for these weekly streaming reviews. The last time I had to hit the isekai beat was Death March to a Parallel World Rhapsody, which is a show I completely forgot about until writing this very sentence. If there is anyone in the world that would be happy to be proven wrong by a genre that has burned him time and time again, it's me.
So, now that we're a few episodes in to Tsukimichi's run, is the show living up to the potential it demonstrated in its premiere? I'd say it is, yeah! It's no great masterpiece or anything, but "Black Spider of Disaster" and "Human Shock" do a fine job of leaning into the series best attributes, and nothing overly stupid or lascivious has happened to ruin the fun in the meantime. It remains a funny and exceedingly likable spoof of the isekai trend, albeit a loving one, and it has just as much fun indulging in some of the genre tropes as it does in lampooning them.
Out of all of its main ingredients, I'd say Tsukimichi's secret sauce is its cast, especially the chemistry between our hero Makoto and his dragon partner/girlfriend/maid/bodyguard/bully/slob roommate, Shen (aka Tomoe, which is what I'll be calling her from here on out). Makoto is a solid lead if for no other reason than the fact that he's allowed to have a personality, and some flaws and hurdles to overcome in the strange Wasteland he's found himself in. Sure, the Kai power that he received from Tsukiyomi has left him so overflowing with mana power that he may as well be a god himself, but Makoto's had to deal with the terrible wrath of the spiteful Goddess, a population of humans who perceive him to be a demon lord of darkness (on account of all that magic power), and the endless shenanigans brought about by the monster women who keep crashing into his life.
Speaking of monster women, my favorite aspect of Tsukimichi is easily Tomoe, who is a laugh and a half, whether she's using her vast dragon power to facilitate Makoto's heroic journey, or actively sabotaging his life by ransacking his memories for her favorite reruns of Japan's TV dramas. She's a scheming monstress that dreams of living out the adventures of a noble samurai, and I love her – so much so that I don't even mind the fact that she's shaping up to be the lead girl in a whole harem of murderous monster ladies that Makoto is inadvertently recruiting. It helps that Ayane Sakura works so well with Natsuki Hanae during the many moments of banter and shtick. Chemistry is a hard thing to convey in animation, but this pair has got it.
Mio, aka The Black Spider of Disaster, is also a fun addition to the crew, but her arrival in Episode 2 is also when Tsukimichi really starts to double down on the game-y aspects of this isekai world. I normally start to violently roll my eyes whenever an anime makes its “unique fantasy setting” function like some bargain-bin MMORPG, so I suppose it's a testament to how much I'm vibing with Tsukimichi that I found its gamification to be…perfectly fine, I guess. The whole deal with Makoto building up his own personal kingdom of monster folk inside of Tomoe's pocket-thing is actually pretty fun, since it seems like I game I'd have fun playing, myself. I'm less keen on how the human village functions like your stereotypical RPG introduction town, complete with an adventurer's guild that doles out all of its quests via an E-SSS ranking system; it can even use magic scrolls to measure out people's “levels” and stamp them onto an ID card.
Look, I have to be honest: When it comes to level ups, new skills, and all of the complex inner workings of an isekai world's magic systems, I generally could not care less. I find all of that stuff to be tedious filler at best, and eye-gougingly boring, at worst. If you're the kind of reader who is keen on in-depth breakdowns of which character is what level, or how Makoto's Kai powers are bucking the established rules of the system, I'm probably going to end up disappointing you. For instance, when Makoto fights Mio in Episode 2, I found the action to be well-animated and decently storyboarded, and it proved to be a very entertaining sequence all around. I honestly cannot recall what exact tricks and reveals led to Makoto firing that giant fire bow and making the spider go boom, but it was cool to look at!
“Human Shock” is decidedly less pretty to look at, and while it will be a shame if Episode 2 ends up remaining the peak of the show's visuals, I'm not too bummed, since the writing and performances are more important for a comedy like this anyways. “Human Shock” also plays around with the “rules” of the fantasy world in a more interesting way to me, too, with Makoto having to find a way to learn to speak Common and mask his positively evil-looking magic aura. This is also where Tomoe and Mio cement their relationship as partners in service but rivals in love, and while it may be a tired old dynamic, it's pretty cute here, especially when Makoto has to pick out their names. The ladies may have nearly 3000 levels split between them, and powers beyond human comprehension, but they're not above squabbling over Makoto's attention, either.
It's a funny reminder of how, with his godlike powers and army of monsters at his beck and call, Makoto has kind of stumbled his way into being this world's anti-hero. I don't know if the show is actually going to go anywhere with this idea, but I'm just happy that the story has any direction whatsoever. Makoto has a legacy to uphold, and his pursuit of his parents' old trail is a great way to keep the story connected to his Earthbound routes while also teasing out potential mysteries to be found regarding Makoto's place in this new world. As long as Tomoe and his other friends stick around to keep the jokes coming, I'm excited to see where we go from here.
Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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