Title: Tonikaku Kawaii / Over The Moon For You
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Year of release: 2020
Look, I get it. Anime is brimming with personal fantasies. That’s fine. I understand. I usually avoid them when they’re clearly not for me, but this one promised cutes – and I’m down for cutes. But the sheer amount of concessions required to get over Tonikaku Kawaii’s ridiculous premise is absurd, and I can’t be bothered to do the required gymnastics for something so obtusely vanilla.
The fantasy this one is going for is childish, but I’m sure teens and tweens lap it up: married life. It gets there via convolutedness that few anime can match. Our protagonist, Nasa, has absurd amounts of self-confidence, and when he sees a really cute girl on the sidewalk, he begins crossing the road to introduce himself. I can’t relate to this sort of thing in the first place (seriously, who just walks up to random children in the street like “I’m so totally into you go out when me” when you’re 15?!), but what happens next will blow your mind: a truck hits him. That’s the punchline to his confidence. Ba-dum tss.
I know that being hit by a truck is the usual cue for isekai protagonists to die-and-be-reincarnated-into-a-fantasy-world, but Nasa’s fantasy world looks an awful lot like the one he was just in. The girl goes to his aid, and walks off after realising he’s going to be okay. The adrenaline rush he has propels him to his feet and he chases her down, where he confesses his love for her. Before passing out, she tells him she’ll accept his feelings – if they can get married.
Now, I realised this a little later in the episode, after a 3-year time gap and the pair are reunited and getting married, but at the time, Tsukasa (the girl) was 13ish to Nasa’s 15ish. Does this sound like normal behaviour? This doesn’t feel like normal behaviour, but the anime plays it up as cutes. It’s weird, man.
During this 3-year time gap, Nasa quits school and moves out and can’t stop thinking about this tween he met once on a fateful night. Bit weird, and when he becomes 18, I’m getting questions, but I can move that aside as ‘anime things’ – the same ‘anime things’ that dictate much of the self-confidence he has which is at least mildly amusing. But Tsukasa’s questionable behaviour isn’t given a mysterious air to it, and Nasa’s monologues can’t stop going ‘SHE’S SO CUTE!’ for five seconds to pay it any mind, and I’m just sitting here wondering what the hell kind of aliens-for-characters I am watching.
As the episode ends, after dunking their registration papers to a pervy old man commenting on Tsukasa being a ‘cutie’, the duo do the ‘anime thing’ that all straight couples do which is blushing over hand-holding. Nasa thinks on the prospect of Tsukasa moving in with him – and that’s where the anime really begins, with its setup finally over and ready to do the domestic cutes with newly weds that don’t even know each other. It’s Tsurezure Children with extra, extra steps.
Well done, Tonikaku. You spent 20 minutes setting up your couple to move in together and form their romance. Other anime after the same fantasy choose arranged marriages or even step-sibling-incest, but you’ve chosen to blow all and any reason out from beneath you. You’re floating up into the stratosphere, chasing your fantasy with a completely ridiculous, questionable, at-times uncomfortable foundation, all to do a basic, bland, simple, plain and safe romantic comedy pairing with shallow characters, and I am too busy seeing red to see any cutes.