Tsuki ga Kirei aka as the moon, so beautiful, is in many ways the unexpected gem of the Spring 2017 anime series. It’s certainly the show I’m most looking forward to each week.

Tsuki ga Kirei is simply a charming show built on a romance that feels natural, unforced, with main characters that are convincingly teenagers.

Akane Mizuno is an athletic star performer at her school, but often nervous to the point of needing her stress ball to keep calm enough to face the world. On the first day of her third year, a classmate catches her eye and suddenly she doesn’t know what to feel.

Meanwhile Kotarou Azumi is an aspiring novelist full of early teen angst and nihilism. Somehow Akane catches his eye, and he’s just as confused. This isn’t something that fits into his world at all, and he has no idea how to handle it.

This is what makes Tsuki ga Kirei work so well, what makes it feel so real. These aren’t adults in kids bodies, these are kids starting to become adults and they’re horribly confused by it all. The body language, the general tone, how they react, all feels so natural to watch.

Oh, and they have horribly embarrassing parents.

As a result, Tsuki ga Kirei, Akanecchi (as her friends call her) and Kota (as his friends call him) all have this utterly adorkable feel to them as the romance begins to grow.

Tsuki ga Kirei is often rendered as “Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ne” or “The Moon is Beautiful, Isn’t it?” and is a way to say “I love you”. According to the Wikipedia page this is credited to the novelist Natsume Souseki who “believed that two people in love do not need direct words to convey their feelings”.

In one sense this comes up with Tsuki ga Kirei’s reliance on mobile phones and social media. It’s really quite amusing to see Akane and Kota be able to talk freely on LINE, but stumble and stutter when they try to talk to each other face to face. It is also directly referenced in episode 3 Howling at the Moon when Kota works up the courage to ask Akane to go out with him.

Another refreshing aspect is the general standard of the writing. You may recall my rantyness at the Idiot Plot final episode for Say “I Love You”, especially with respect to mobile phone batteries dying at plot-convenient moments.

Tsuki ga Kirei on the other hand…

In episode 4 Passing Shower the school bans phones on the trip to Kyoto, and conducts luggage inspections to enforce that. The kids’ reaction to this is about what you’d expect: smuggling ahoy!

The teachers’ reactions are again logical: luggage inspections to detect the contraband phones, and confiscations whenever they do find them. The kids attempts to foil the inspections meet with mixed success. Such as the girl who tried to imply that a certain container was, um, very personal and succeeded in embarrassing the male teacher into moving on.

Only to be busted when the female teacher, who clearly knows what she’s doing, decided to take a look anyway.

So Kota losing his phone to an alert teacher later on in the trip worked dramatically for me. I really appreciated the writing here. It created a tension by removing communication at a key moment but did so in a justified way that built on what had gone before. Unlike that never to be sufficiently damned final episode of Say “I Love You”.

So far I’m really enjoying Tsuki ga Kirei, it really is a charming show that’s a pleasure to watch. It’s a good measure of Tsuki ga Kirei that one of my running gags is to tweet on how lewd the ED is because they end up, gasp, holding hands.

Alas, I didn’t find the ED on YouTube, but here’s the quite pretty OP that gives you a good feel for the look of the show: