My love and adoration for romance is something which, at this point, should almost go without saying. I am an inveterate shipper and will almost always find myself attached to at least one relationship in any piece of media that I can find. In addition, I often find myself drawn towards romantic media, especially with regards to anime.
With that in mind however, I do often find myself frustrated by some of the more annoying and, unfortunately, ubiquitous tropes within the romance genre. Things like the will-they/won't they, the almost kiss, the assault on a male protagonist due to some innuendo laden accident, and other such commonalities of the genre more often than not fill me with frustration and a deep desire to see such tropes and archetypes subverted in the media I consume.
Thankfully, today's article will be on an anime that presents such a wonderfully grounded romance, with likeable characters and is fundamentally built on subverting some of the more frustrating tropes of the romance genre whilst still presenting a worthwhile and entertaining story. I am talking about Season 1 of Tonikawa: Over the Moon For You, initially airing on October 3, 2020 and with an upcoming Season 2 to premiere on November 22, 2022 on CrunchyRoll.
Let's get into it.
- Directed by Hiroshi Ikehata
- Produced by Seven Arcs
- Number of Episodes: 12 + OVA (as of November 22, 2022)
- Available on Crunchyroll (Sub & Dub)
One evening, a young man named Nasa Yuzaki meets a mysterious girl. While attempting to talk to her, he nearly ends up in a fatal car accident. After the girl saves him, Nasa declares his love for the girl and his desire for the two of them to date. The girl agrees only if Nasa will marry her first, before disappearing into the night.
When Nasa turns 18, the mysterious girl, named Tsukasa Tsukuyomi, returns and states that she is there to keep the promise that they made to each other years before. Now married, Nasa and Tsukasa must navigate the strange life of a married couple, with all of its joys and confusions. All while the mystery as to what exactly Tsukasa lingers in the the background.
Season 1 of Tonikawa is one of my favorite romance anime to watch on CrunchyRoll. Whenever I need some nice, relaxing and easy-going entertainment, I can rest easy knowing that it can provide. So many romantic comedies deal with misunderstandings or dense characters who can't accept their feelings for one another but do absolutely nothing to justify why two individuals might actually enjoy each others company or even be likable in the first place.
Nasa and Tsukasa are just absolutely adorable. Their interactions are almost sickeningly sweet and oftentimes very innocent, though the series does discuss some of the more physical aspects of a relationship in a very grounded way. You can easily see and empathize with both people and this is absolutely critical to actually enjoying the romance. They are just so sweet and innocent that I find myself just rooting for them in every single moment. In addition, Nasa is so refreshing as a male protagonist in that he is openly communicative with his partner and this sidesteps so many of the frustrating "JUST KISS HER ALREADY!" moments that would otherwise bog down the anime.
The rest of the cast goes a long way towards helping the general friendly atmosphere, with Nasa's college friend Kaname providing a wonderfully enjoyable level of snark and playful scheming to the relationship. Even the few moments of what would be, in a lesser anime, a serious moment of drama or a strain on the relationship is treated mostly as a humorous misadventure that ultimately helps strengthen the bond between Nasa and Tsukasa. There is even a great example of trope defying when Kaname's sister reveals that she has a crush on Nasa, but it holds little to no weight on the tone of the series and is mentioned but never affects the characters relationships or friendships. The "rival" just accepts that she lost out on dating Nasa and moves on. If only other anime could learn from this.
And that really is the heart of the series, the earnest chemistry of the leads and the rejection of standardized romantic tropes. Like most romantic comedies, the success of the show relies on you buying the chemistry between our leads and these two really really work. While the first episode is somewhat contrived and seems to focus far more on advancing some of the underlying mystery behind Tuskasa, a plotline that doesn't really fully resolve by the end of the season (perhaps we will learn more in Season 2), the show quickly picks up from their and falls reliably into slice-of-life relaxation.
The show doesn't really care about whether Tsukasa is some immortal being or not (the question is left unresolved) and instead cares far more about how the new married couple will handle sleeping in the same room, or visiting the in-laws. Its stuff that real relationships deal with but not the kind of content that is often seen in romance anime.
As strong as the characters and story are, the same can't quite be said for the animation and soundtrack. Don't get me wrong, they aren't terrible at all and in fact there are a few shots and scenes that are absolutely stunning to watch, its just that the show really relies more on its dialog and ambience rather than stellar visuals like one might find in a more action-oriented series like My Hero Academia. So I do have to ultimately rank those categories lower than either story or characters.
All in all, Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You is a relaxing and deeply compelling exploration of a grounded romance, which is its primary draw for a romance fan like me. The series goes out of its way to explore the married life of its protagonists, which is something rarely touched upon in the romantic comedy genre and it makes me deeply sad that there aren't a greater variety of shows within romance anime, if this is the kind of work we could be getting. Thankfully, Season 2 is set to come out later this month so I will likely have a whole brand new set of wonderfully realistic romantic fluff to partake in as the holiday season comes upon us.
That is the end of my review, but I would like to inform everyone that I plan to take a personal health week next week so there won't be any article on November 11th. I will be using next week to prep for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is my planned next article so I hope you all will enjoy that review when it is released on November 18th.
FINAL SCORE - 7.5/10
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