TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You – 1st Episode Review
Synopsis: Nasa Yuzaki falls in love at first sight after an encounter with the mysterious Tsukasa. When Nasa earnestly confesses his feelings, she replies, “I’ll date you, but only if we’re married.” Nasa and Tsukasa’s cute and precious newlywed life of love is about to begin! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Tonikawa is a typical, quirky romance anime where our heroes are thrust into an overly contrived situation, yet begs the audience to look past the overly absurd, comedic set up and still find its tugging at our heartstrings to be compelling and emotionally powerful. I’ve never been all that big a fan of these types of romance series, but Tonikawa really takes the cake by thrusting Nasa and Tsukasa together into newlywed life purely based upon Nasa’s ‘love at first sight’ obsession with Tsukasa.
Linny: Issues with the set up aside, what really makes this show all that much harder to take seriously is how it chooses to portray its comedy. Jokes and gags are played out in an exceedingly over the top fashion, to the point of becoming entirely absurd. Normally that’s par for the course for anime comedy but when you then expect the viewer to become wrapped up in already thinly justified romance, it becomes a terrible combination. You cannot have both at the same time. Nasa engages in a fair amount of screaming and flailing, despite being hung up on wanting to be taken seriously after being mocked for his name his entire life. He’s a very goofy character despite being primarily introduced as a workaholic loner. It’s all these clashing tones and portrayals that make TONIKAWA hard to swallow for the average viewer. For something that’s put romance at the forefront of its story, there’s a lot of exaggerated comedy that doesn’t blend with the rest of the show.
Tom: Maybe I’m biased having ‘finished’ the game of love for almost five years now, but I’ve also never been one to believe in love at first sight. Becoming infatuated, if not obsessed, with someone’s appearance isn’t love, it’s just lust. And lust is fine, it’s what often drives young love to sprout, especially in a teen’s formative years. Yet Tonikawa isn’t interested in acknowledging that truth, but seems instead to actively encourage Nasa’s instant attraction to Tsukasa as something earnest and deeply real. We never once actively push back against Nasa’s rush to date Tsukasa, even if it means accepting her shocking condition of requiring him to marry her. The show basically endorses this encounter as true, honest love, and doesn’t seem interested in countering that idea even once.
Linny: It doesn’t help that Tonikawa does a bad job at playing out Nasa and Tsukasa’s first meeting. Nasa falls for Tsukasa after she apparently saves him by acting as a shield between him and on oncoming truck. While there’s an insane amount of blood spilled everywhere, the show seems to brush it off as Nasa’s alone, even though Tsukasa is technically the one who took the brunt of the impact. Yet she walks away with not even a scratch and neither Nasa nor the driver of the truck seem to be startled by this beyond a throwaway line. Even after Nasa is fully recovered from the incident months/years later, he never once pauses to wonder how she came away unscathed while he broke both legs and had to be nursed back to health for an entire year. Now, Tsukasa’s invulnerability could be some big reveal down the line but the cavalier reaction to her durability makes the other characters come off unbelievably dumb. Yes, the show isn’t meant to be taken too seriously given that Nasa agrees to marry Tsukasa within minutes of meeting her but this specific case of someone possessing superhuman abilities being completely ignored is downright puzzling and sticks out like a sore thumb.
Tom: I imagine Tonikawa isn’t nearly so problematic if you’re still able to identify with Nasa’s immediate and immense attraction to Tsukasa. If you still believe in Love at First Sight, and find Nasa’s ‘love confession’ to Tsukasa earnest and true then Tonikawa probably manages to pull at the heartstrings as intended. But if you’re someone who’s long stopped believing in Love at First Sight, and sees those feelings as little more than Lust mistaken for something greater, Tonikawa is going to feel entirely off-kilter.
Linny: Uneven tone aside, TONIKAWA doesn’t bring much to the plate that would appeal to anyone who isn’t a fan of those tropes. Yes, the manner in which the story begins is unusual because while quick and sudden marriages are a common trope in romance, this time both parties are very willing to start a life together. But it doesn’t do much at all to make their affection for each other seem convincing or deep on any level especially given how neither of them know anything about each other besides their physical appearances when they agree to marry. Heck, TONIKAWA even fully embraces the most cliche romance trope of all, the protagonist Nasa being so innocent that he gets excited and blushes over just holding hands. There’s all these jokes and cliches that have been done to death and TONIKAWA does very little to make them feel refreshing this time around. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of comedic romances, you can consider TONIKAWA an easy skip for the season.
TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com