「新世界へ」 (Shin Sekai e)
“To the New World”
Well all is well that end well, at least in the world of Tsuki to Laika. I don’t think too many will prove surprised by how things ended: of course Irina’s role in Zirnitra’s foray into space would be revealed, obviously Lev would have some hand in it. Sure, the manner of said reveal was up in the air (I for one wasn’t completely sure Lev would do the honours), yet I think such things are mere semantics at this point. The happy couple were properly reunited, Irina bless her heart got the accolades she rightfully deserved, and the next stage of adventures in space was properly teased. No matter how much the course of events may have benefitted Zirnitra (never think a politician, especially a Soviet-esque one, will ignore such an opportunity), in the end it was smiles all around, and I for one couldn’t be more satisfied. Anyways, onto those impressions!
Tsuki to Laika really is an oddball anime for the current age. An eclectic mix of historical fiction, supernatural legends, and romance, it wasn’t a show which had a lot in the way of front-loaded action or suspense, and indeed remained somewhat under the radar during this season. Such reservation, however, shouldn’t be treated as weakness, for what Tsuki to Laika lacked in direct appeal it more than made up for with wiry strength.
What arguably sold me on Tsuki to Laika was its almost lackadaisical and optimistic approach to its central premise. Although ostensibly a fantasy retelling of the early Space Race from the Russian side, the series never really ventured into the aspects one typically associates with the Soviet era – i.e. purges, disappearances, the wholesale degradation and brutal putdown of basic human dignity. Instead we received an almost lighthearted tale, one using the trappings of totalitarian excess without ever focusing on its harsh realities. Lev was never under noticeably serious pressure during his rise to fame, Irina never put through the sort of hell which sees suicides committed through bullets to the back of the head. One could consider this a downside but for me it helped accentuate the main selling points of this series. Tsuki to Laika is an inherently character-driven story, and it is through its characters that it ultimately succeeds.
Where Tsuki to Laika specifically succeeds is in regards to the main duo of Lev and Irina. The development of Lev’s and Irina’s relationship for example was quite pleasant to watch unfold, for not only was it gradual and consistent, but also had a wonderful air of naturalness emerging from the circumstances of their involvement. Both of them entered as total strangers, both had goals only aligned at face value, and yet both found common cause and intimate interest through the trials and tribulations their duties forced upon them. It’s the sort of organic romantic development many series strive for, and while Tsuki to Laika doesn’t indulge in actual romantic success (kisses and hand-holding are expected at some point after all), it did enough to check off the appropriate boxes and keep you interested in finding out what happens next.
Of course, not everything was peaches and cream here. That lighthearted attitude at work can conversely be considered a downside, for while Tsuki to Laika had plenty of cute moments, it also lacked any serious sort of conflict and suspense. Moments of uncertainty never lasted long over the course of the season; whether down to the actions of Lev or Zirnitra’s leadership itself, everything which may have resulted in serious issues and difficult choices seemingly got solved with nary a hiccup in return. Again, not something which overtly affected how this season played out, but it’s something which if this show continued would deleteriously impact any continuation. No matter how adorable one little vampire may be, at some point you need difficult decisions, because only through them can proper character development – and audience interest – be retained. Tsuki to Laika has the first part of requirement in spades, it simply needs to realize the full effect of the potential conflicts on display.
In the end, however, I cannot rag on this show too much – I enjoyed it, it tickled my fancy in all the right ways, and I had a blast covering it from start to finish. Although we are unlikely to see any serious continuation of Tsuki to Laika in anime form (and I am somewhat satisfied given the happy ending), this is certainly one show who anyone with a flair for lighthearted romance and/or historical fiction will find plenty to enjoy. It may not have been the best of series to ever grace our screens, but Tsuki to Laika was definitely more than good enough for the task at hand.