The Parting of Ways
Graduation partially assuaged my concerns in a semi-useless fashion. Those anxieties were suddenly reintroduced when Chinatsu couldn’t resist dipping her hands into Akane’s cookie jar, followed by a turbulent date ensuing between Kotarou and Akane. Despite my frequent complaints of unnecessary drama in previous episodes, I’ll happily gobble my damn words up today. Because this episode, I lived for it.
Getting angry at Kotarou for not trying to comfort a crying Akane… for not trying to hug her in the reassurance that she was no burden to him… for not pursuing after her as she ran off with tears streaming down her face into the sunset. If you saw my live reaction, you could probably pinpoint the moment my heart fell apart into two pieces.
To top things off, It was so sad seeing Akane contemplating whether or not to leave the sweet potato plushie behind on the window sill. I can understand that maybe the memories of Kotarou were too painful. But for me, the sweet potato plushie helped them get together, and represented so much about their relationship. I honestly thought everything was over, but a couple of things allowed me to hope yet again.
“The true substance of love lies in the act of howling words of love with a desperation of a man jumping into the high seas” – Dazai
“13.70”, Akane’s record time for finishing the 100m sprint, was a heartfelt expression of love from Kotarou. It was such a direct and effective way of communication and helped to convey his true feelings to Akane. Some of that was previously lost in the clouding of emotions arising from anxiety and jealousy, but a genuine love pierces through all the obstacles that stands in its path. “13.70” may not rival the best pieces of literary work, but remains a magnum opus by virtue of the sheer emotions it could elicit from people, myself included.
Chinatsu actually redeemed herself towards the end, and I wouldn’t even begrudge her for the way she conducted herself throughout the series. In hindsight, Chinatsu’s actions were not irrational. They were what you would expect from an adolescent inexperienced regarding love and romance, and a similar sort of confusion was often noticeable in Kotarou and Akane as well. She decided to confess despite knowing that she’d most likely be turned down. But at the same time, she cared a great deal about her friendship with Akane. In the end, she showed Kotarou’s “13.70” to Akane, ultimately putting her friendship before her personal feelings.
He ran like the wind, like never before, as if his life depended on it. And as the train pulled out of the station, I knew Kotarou was living on borrowed time. His howl of ‘I love you’ acted as the climax of the episode, and had me tearing up all across the board. Did anyone else notice Akane finishing Kotarou’s sentence, on the miracle of having someone reciprocate your love? As the final shot pans to a beautiful moon hanging in the sky, signifying the poetic expression of love championed by the series, this would have been close to a perfect ending.
Hatsukoi – A General Conclusion of Sorts
Ladies and gentleman, the dark horse of the spring season triumphantly rears its head one last time. My coverage gamble paid off incredible dividends, and words cannot describe how I feel right now as this amazing journey comes to an end. Tsuki ga Kirei is easily my most emotional invested series of the season. Sure, it may not be a messiah that the industry currently needs, or the first thing that comes to mind when people ask me about anime. But it was a promise come true from the age of yore, that finally arrived to the jubilation of eagerly awaiting anime fans. It was the thing we didn’t realise we had all been secretly waiting for, forgotten amidst bygone dreams that were unfulfilled in the wake of disappointment.
I cannot recall a show in recent years that successfully evoked the melancholic tinges of first love in the way Tsuki ga Kirei does. The chains and shackles forced upon the industry by the conventions of modern anime are completely thrown out of the window this time around. It was so lovely following Kotarou and Akane all the way through to the end. There weren’t excessive internal monologues, and the melodrama was played out effectively in a way that you would expect of real life. They were just young, shy and inexperienced lovers. And it is here that I want to make a distinction between mere attraction and unconditional love. A difference that can be expressed as spur of the moment rush as opposed to a defining feeling that gravitates around a singularity. You will notice I didn’t start calling their feelings for each other ‘love’ until a lot later, because what they initially had was an interest or attraction, that managed to successfully develop into feelings of true love.
People tout that the whole ending is unrealistic, tempting me to say ‘Just shut up and enjoy what you’re given’. Instead, I’ll try and offer some form of reasoning that does not give discourse to uncivilised discussion. Perhaps in a casual sort of relationship, that may be the case. But we’ve clearly seen that this relationship has been special from the get go. I may be spouting nonsense here, but I do believe there are people who you would give the whole world for. The red string of fate well and truly guided Kotarou and Akane together. There were moments where I expressed doubt towards the two resulting from communication issues, potential third party interferences like Hira and Chinatsu, and potential problems like having to maintain a long distance relationship. The two continued to find a way just like they did in Kyoto, and I always knew deep inside my heart that they would ultimately end up together.
I would have been satisfied nonetheless even if the series had concluded in a bittersweet way, just short of the credits. If it makes sense, I would have held Tsuki ga Kirei in higher esteem for making a brave choice, despite the fact we wouldn’t get the desired ending. But I’m very thankful towards whoever read the script, went to the toilet to cry, before suggesting a happy amendment agreed upon by everyone else. You can feel the love felt by the creative team towards their characters, that they refuse to sacrifice the happiness of Akane and Kotarou for the sake of adding ‘value’ to the story, in whatever way it may be arbitrarily defined. For this reason, the circumstance permit for an exception to the incorporation of a Deus ex Machina which I would otherwise disapprove of. Plus, it had been alluded to all along in the various LINE message sequences that varied week upon week in the ED theme.
Hopefully, Tsuki ga Kirei sets a new trend with its resounding success in my eyes, and presumably the eyes of many others. It is wholly possible for a wonderful and thoroughly engaging story to be told, without lazily depending on the crutches of modern cliches and tropes. I can’t claim that I can relate to our characters once they got together. My experiences are pretty much limited to failed attempts at romantic courtship, and past that stage, I have no more memories to relive. But you know what? That doesn’t stop me from really enjoying Tsuki ga Kirei. Just because I myself didn’t get this happy ending myself, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t wish it away from others. At the moment, I’m wondering whether or not it is worthwhile to hold out in the hopes of eventually seeing love successfully come to fruition. But would it be worth waiting on something down to the whims of a chance that may never come to pass? Perhaps this naïve optimism can only bring unhappiness for most, but I’m truly a dreamer who agrees with the answer that Tsuki ga Kirei came up with. I believe in finding happiness at the end, even if it means waiting for a really long time.