What’s it about? Nasa Yuzaki, a boy with a rather unfortunate name, has spent all of his life working hard to be better than his namesake. By the end of his middle school career, he’s worked hard enough to be able to get into his top picks for high school…that is, until he gets hit by a truck on the day of his high school entrance exams. At an all time low, Nasa lays waiting for death…until Tsukuyomi Tsukasa, a complete stranger, appears over him, having tried to save him from the crash. Nasa instantly falls in love and in his pain-addled state, declares his affection. But there’s a catch to Tsukasa returning his feelings: she’ll only become his girlfriend if they get married.
Content Warning: Blood, Car Accidents
What if you married your wife before you even asked her out on a date? TONIKAWA asks us that very question, and eagerly expects you to come along for the ride to find out.
TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You (hereafter TONIKAWA) is a Crunchyroll Original series produced Seven Arcs, the studio behind Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Sekirei. Along with Seven Arcs on production, Ikehata Hiroshi (FLCL Progressive) will be serving as the Series Director for TONIKAWA, with Series Composition being handled by Hyodo Kazuho (ReLIFE). Additionally, music for the series is composed by Endo (Akiba’s Trip: The Animation).
Excitingly, our main leads also have some star power behind them: Tsukasa is voiced by Kito Akari, a seiyuu who needs no introduction as she recently voiced Nene (Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun) and Nezuko (Demon Slayer). Male lead Yuzaki is voiced Enoki Junya, who notably voices Takeru (Digitmon Adventure tri).
TONIKAWA’s release is well-timed, as Viz Media recently started localizing the manga. Volume 1 dropped in early September: volume 2 is soon to come in November, with releases matching their typical “every two month” schedule. That’s partially why I wanted to watch TONIKAWA: I tend to like to be able to read the source alongside the anime, when I can. Plus, the premise of “cute girl meets cute guy and they get married before they date” is pretty good romantic-comedy fodder.
For the sake of going in unspoiled, I held off on reading the manga so that I could genuinely react to this premier episode as earnestly as possible. Really, outside of the premise and some key art, I didn’t know much about TONIKAWA prior to the first episode. However, I’m happy to say that it’s already a strong contender for my Surprise Favorite of the season, though time will tell.
Now, that all being said, let’s get into the premiere.
Episode 1 of TONIKAWA starts in media res, which is a pretty interesting–but not necessarily unusual–way to kick off a rom-com.
Really, it starts with Yuzaki lamenting his pending death one snowy night. As he lays bleeding out in the snow, a stranger’s shadow crosses over him and tells him that he’ll be okay: the damage done to him isn’t enough that he’ll die from it.
In fact, said stranger says, “It takes more than this to kill someone.” And the stranger is right: Nasa goes on to survive and thrive, though that’s in the back half of this first episode.
So, let’s go back to the real beginning, or at least, back to Nasa not contemplating his potential demise.
Nasa Yuzaki is a 3rd year middle school student cursed with the same name as America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NASA. Due to being teased all throughout his childhood, Nasa became intensely focused on being the best. In fact, he hit the books with a specific goal in mind: exceeding his embarrassing namesake and soaring farther than NASA’s ever gone before.
Thankfully, by the time he’s getting ready for high school, his work has paid off, and he’s well on his way to being accepted to any school, including his top choice.
Flying high on the heels of his pending success, Nasa makes his way home, meandering through the snow on a cold, Winter night. Along the way, he encounters a stranger: a very cute–nay, beautiful–girl named Tsukiyomi Tsukasa. It’s love at first for Nasa and as he crosses the street to go introduce himself, it seems like he might have a chance, at least just to talk.
Then Nasa gets hit by Truck-kun.
Both he and Tsukasa are hit in the crash, though she’s by and large unharmed–it’s Nasa who’s taken the brunt of the damage.
After comforting Nasa and asking the driver to get him to a hospital, she goes to leave, but Nasa’s determined to talk to her, at least once. As Tsukasa walks away towards a full moon, Nasa compares her walking towards the to Princess Kaguya from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter: an apt comparison, as it seems that Tsukasa and Nasa may never have a chance to meet again, just like Kaguya and her lost love.
Barely hanging on, Nasa forces himself to his feet and goes after Tsukasa and in his addled state, confesses his tender, new feelings to her. Tsukasa hears him out–after reminding him that he’s got some pretty serious injuries that are a bit more important than trying to introduce himself to her–and agrees to accept his feelings.
But there’s a catch: she’ll only date him if he marries her.
This first episode set-up really works to establish TONIKAWA as a potentially, genuinely funny series, which I wasn’t expecting. After all, it’s one thing to know a series is a romantic comedy: it’s another to find that it’s genuinely funny, and TONIKAWA is genuinely funny, all while avoiding fan service or any demeaning tropes. I’m happy to say I found myself chuckling more often than not, which is always a nice treat when trying out a new rom-com.
The premise, in and of itself, is hilarious enough: boy meets girl and they get married. It’s also simply, though this works to the plot’s advantage: it gives the story plenty of room to develop over the next eleven episodes. It also effectively skips a dating arc and jumps us right into the romantic aspect of this rom-com romp, which adds to the story as well. It’s easy to say that I’m smitten with TONIKAWA: question is, will it keep this up and continue to build up a genuinely hilarious–and sweet–premise.
TONIKAWA’s premise isn’t the only nice thing about it: art wise, episode one is really lovely to look at. The style is decidedly more cute than beautiful, though in many ways, TONIKAWA balances both in spades throughout this first episode. While the character designs are simple, they’re also well executed, and in general, both our leads are genuine cuties with very likable personalities, at least from Nasa’s perspectve.
In addition, the environments and scenery of the series is just as lovely. Everything has that “anime screenshot” vibe, and easily could serve as desktop wallpaper. It’s clear that Seven Arcs is putting their best foot forward: I earnestly hope that we’ll continue to see this level of quality throughout the cour.
TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You is an easy recommendation from me. It’s sweet, it’s funny, and it’s really, really good. Whether you’re watching everything or sampling just a few shows, consider adding TONIKAWA to your list, at least for the first few episodes. There’s a lot of potential for this to be a really sweet rom-com about a young newlywed couple learning how to make a life with each other.
While the first episode doesn’t necessarily blow the plot out of the water, it does leave a lot of room for growth and a lot of space to explore Nasa and Tsukasa’s new lease on life. With a stark lack of fan service and a more realistic -and truly comedic- take on a young romance, it’s easy to see how that could happen, too.
Safe to say I’m eagerly awaiting episode two: in fact, I think TONIKAWA will become one of my weekly series, if things continue in an upward direction. Expectations are hesitantly -but excitingly- high: let’s see what the next few episodes bring to the table before I decide to swan-dive into the franchise, though it might be hard to keep my TONIKAWA love at bay for the next week.