Another predictable isekai anime? Really? No Hawk, it’s parody. Oh, it’s parody, you say—well that just makes everything better doesn’t it? People get overwrought about isekai. Then in turn they get overwrought about parody isekai too. Opinion about isekai in the anime world can be very strong! But for Tsukimichi, the truth is this: this is a really good anime. […]
Another predictable isekai anime? Really?
No Hawk, it’s parody. Oh, it’s parody, you say—well that just makes everything better doesn’t it?
People get overwrought about isekai. Then in turn they get overwrought about parody isekai too. Opinion about isekai in the anime world can be very strong! But for Tsukimichi, the truth is this: this is a really good anime.
Really fun characters with great VAs to go with them, snappy dialogue, fast pacing, interesting artwork, and peculiar story adorn this unusual iteration of isekai. It’s very entertaining. Even among 12 episode shows, I rarely will finish a series in less than 24 hours, and I did with Tsukimichi. I quite literally couldn’t put it down.
As of now, there’s only one season, so I’ll keep this spare as usual to allow space for S2 material. I definitely will be looking forward to S2!
This is a fantastic cast! Between the characters and their voice actors and the dialogue paired with them, it’s a pretty exhilarating experience for the viewer.
Makoto Misumi…can it get much more ordinary than that? That’s not quite like “John Smith” in English-speaking cultures, but it’s pretty close. I presume this is intentional by the author, probably attempting to make fun of the “ordinary guy” trope in isekai. And in many ways he is an ordinary isekai MC. He’s cast into another world full of fairy tale creatures, lush or desolate landscapes, castles and princesses, tribes banded together by race or species, and magical powers galore. He has superior stats (though this is never fully explained, which I find curious), and once he adds magic to his abilities, he’s pretty much unstoppable, as he demonstrates fully later in S1 (more on that below). He has a well known VA in Natsuki Hanae, very popular for titles such as Demon Slayer (Tanjiro Kamada) and Tokyo Ghoul (Ken Kaneki). He’s always great. And last but not least among the typical isekai MC trappings, Makoto quickly builds a harem.
Yep, this happens. They make fun of it in the dialogue a little bit, but it happens nevertheless. But the two main girls in this group are the biggest reason I really like these characters.
The dragon Shen becomes the strong-girl Tomoe, clad in the flowing attire of an onna-musha and playing the part thoroughly well. She’s big, strong, imposing in size and visage. And Ayane Sakura, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite people in the world of anime, does a superlative job with this voice. Sakura-san has been very active in this 2020-2021 time, playing prominent roles in popular shows like Girlfriend, Girlfriend; The Quintessential Quintuplets; Mieruko-chan; Osamake; Attack on Titan, and of course MHA as Ochaco Uraraka. She may be one of the most versatile voices out there these days. I’ve noticed her many times with both the littler voice like with Ururaka and with the rather boisterous voice she uses here in Tsukimichi. I really like the boisterous voiced Ayane Sakura. If you haven’t watched Girlfriend, Girlfriend, you haven’t seen the best of that voice! It’s both imposing and totally hilarious at the same time, whenever she wants it to be either.
This character does something that I really like, and which makes up kind of a theme running through this show: she doesn’t do much that’s anime typical. In fact, her dialogue is very peculiar. I really like when an author is skilled and fluent enough in his or her own language to do the kinds of things with dialogue that the author does with Tomoe here. One of the things I think is so exceptional about the Monogatari series is the author’s intentional word play, not only with the words themselves but with the way the kanji characters are arranged. You see some word play in comedy anime, but more often than not it’s homonyms or something fairly simple like that. This show is very notable for word play. And Tomoe provides the best example. I don’t know exactly what Japanese words she’s saying, but in the subtitles it’s coming out as “mineself.” She insists on calling herself “mineself.” What is this? It’s hilarious even reading it! She says it with a straight face and in that aforementioned Ayane Sakura voice. I would burst out laughing whenever she would say this. I never understood it one bit, but it never got any less funny for it!
And what’s with her obsession with historical dramas? That’s where she ends up getting her samurai-girl personality, as she looks back through Makoto’s memories (one of her skills) and watches all the Japanese historical dramas he’s watched. But I never quite understood this part of her character. I still found it really funny, as it kept popping up every episode or two and driving Makoto nuts. But like the thing with “mineself,” it was a curious and enlivening touch on this wonderful character.
The other really fun character from this main duo of the harem is Mio. Mio is a giant spider that wants to eat everything, so much so that she is a bane to the world she inhabits. Once Shen and Makoto defeat her, she—predictably—falls for Makoto and also takes on a human form. And this person is voiced by another of the liveliest voices out there right now, Akari Kitou, of massive repute for the rather voiceless Nezuko from Demon Slayer and the much more vocal Tsubasa from Tonikawa. Kitou-san aces Mio’s voice, whose yandere tendencies and voracious appetite give rise to a multitude of vocal changes. Kitou is well known for her clear and pretty voice, so this occasional foray into a more threatening tone is something we’re not as accustomed to from her, but she did great with it as expected.
Emma is kind of a member of the harem, as much as a pig-faced orc princess can be I guess. Saori Hayami’s voice kept messing with me here. I couldn’t help but think of Yumeko from Kakegurui despite the voice coming out of a pig. It seemed like a bit of overkill for this odd character, but hey, I can’t object to that traditional Saori Hayami voice. It’s always a privilege to hear.
This anime got my attention for a lot of reasons, but one of the more notable and confusing reasons was the names of two of the characters. Why are Aqua and Eris in this show?
It’s not Aqua and Eris from KonoSuba, but the names were obviously chosen for obvious reasons. They play a very limited part in the show—they’re a couple of elves in that faction of fantasy characters—but it’s one of the most memorable things in this show—for obvious reasons!
Oh yeah, Miyuki Sawashiro, one of my favorite VAs of all time, makes an appearance in this show. She plays the belligerent Sofia Bulga, who gets taught a serious lesson by Makoto near the end of the first season. I love this voice so much, and particularly coming from a mighty character like Sofia is supposed to be. She’s only in the show briefly, but it’s enough to get my heart going.
If there’s a theme with the characters, they all have a bit of a quirkiness about them. They’re all just a little different from typical isekai characters, while also possessing some of those familiar qualities. I like that. I always say that there’s a place for typical, and typical doesn’t have to mean bad or even ordinary, but when something isn’t typical but still plays with the typical, that shows creativity. And creativity is what separates ordinary anime from the best anime. A show can’t even enter the top ranks of anime without some element of creativity, breaking out of the mold in some form or fashion. And Tsukimichi does that, and particularly so with its characters.
Like much in this anime, the artwork is just a little different. I wouldn’t say necessarily in a positive way, but it is different.
The faces and eyes are bit unusual. Makoto is supposedly “ugly,” or so the goddess of this other world says. He’s drawn with really small irises and pupils, something we often associate with the oddly ugly character. But otherwise he looks completely normal. Then you have Tomoe and Mio. If I had to characterize the unusualness in their appearances, their faces almost seem flat. I’m not sure why that’s my impression, but my impression it is. Especially with Tomoe. There’s a lack of depth in her face somehow. Both she and Mio are pretty in an anime way, but not astoundingly pretty by any stretch. I think it’s hinted that they also aren’t supposed to be the typical beautiful harem members, but there’s enough typical about their appearance that it’s kind of hard to believe they’re not supposed to be super beautiful. Whatever this effect is I’m sensing, it doesn’t make me imagine these girls aren’t supposed to be beautiful.
The coloring is also a little strange. Typical of isekai, everything is very colorful, with lots of varied and unusual colors everywhere. But it’s not as heavily saturated like we expect of isekai. In fact, I feel like it’s intentionally not very saturated. The colors are lightweight and not at all vivid. Even Tomoe’s red eyes and teal hair are not eye-popping. It’s rather curious.
I’m tempted to say the art is not great quality, but I’m not sure that’s the case. I wonder if the artwork is the way it is for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but there’s just enough within it that’s of normal and expected quality that I can’t say the artwork is deficient across the board, to the point that I’d think the artwork isn’t good. So why the faces, etc., look a bit unusual occasionally is a curiosity to me, but I don’t think it’s from a lack of quality.
Nevertheless, the artwork has some really nice cinematographic moments. Some of the glances from the characters and just the orientation and placement of everybody in the frames sometimes is really fun. So overall I like the artwork. It’s not going to win any awards, but it doesn’t have to. As I say, it does its work. This is a character-driven show, and the artwork effectively supports the characters.
The story is simultaneously predictable and also highly unpredictable. For example, initially we see the typical transition to the in-between world where a goddess awards skills to the hero and sends him flying from the sky into his new world. But in this case, the goddess doesn’t grant him any skills at all (only something she deems a curse more than likely), and doesn’t send him to save a world. Instead, she is disgusted by his physical appearance and so she essentially banishes him to the desolate parts of this other world. Then the one named Tsukoyomi interferes and gives Makoto superior physical and magical stats, and with this and his ability to understand and speak any language except human language (courtesy of the haughty goddess) he falls to his new world superior to any other being. Can it get any more untypical yet typical than that?
Things like the predictable species and environments and magic all appear, but they’re always just a little different than expected, like the Aqua and Eris thing with the elves. The adventures all feel kind of typical as well, but they rarely work out as predicted. Most of them have a slightly uncomfortable feel about them. It’s that feeling you get when you’re watching something you feel is supposed to be comedy, but you feel like something really terrible is about to happen so it makes you feel unsettled. This show totally has that feel.
I laughed and laughed at all the wacky dialogue and quirky characters in this show, but I always had that feeling that something was off here. The adventure near the beginning where this world’s “strongest adventurer” captures a girl that looks like someone from Makoto’s previous life is one of the things that gave me this feeling early on. A handful of people are killed by Tomoe somewhere along the way during all this as well–can you imagine Kazuma and Aqua killing someone in KonoSuba? There’s a difference between defeating monsters and killing a handful of adversaries in combat. I was surprised when this happened.
Then the capstone that marked this unusual feeling came at the end. An explosion in Makoto’s growing village kills one of his friends and severely wounds many others. Through the chain of events that follows, Makoto determines who is responsible for the explosion. Here is where the show really broke from the predictable. This show went from slightly unusual isekai comedy to vengeful death in a flash. Makoto hunts down the humans that caused the incident with the explosion and with a darkened brow and a voice full of wrath, he mercilessly kills them. I was shocked. The sensation was very similar to Made in Abyss, where everything is kinda-sorta alright until suddenly all hell breaks loose. It wasn’t quite that stark here, but this show became a lot more serious very quickly. I suddenly realized that this show wasn’t going to be all bright sunlit scenes and fun adventures. Makoto unleashed his power and showed himself a zealous and powerful leader over his village.
This is all followed by the encounter with Sofia and her compatriot and Makoto’s battle with her. Makoto loses a couple of fingers in this battle, which is also somewhat shocking, even though it followed the rather brutal events of the previous episode. The comedy never went away through all of this either. Tomoe recovered her normal personality, Makoto didn’t brood over the loss of his friends for too long, and the banter picked up again right away.
In similar circumstances, I would accuse this show of what I like to call genre confusion. It’s isekai comedy until it’s isekai drama. Sure it’s isekai, but there’s a lot of difference between comedy and losing your comrades and extracting vengeance for those deaths. That’s Akame ga Kill! territory, which is anything but comical. You start off thinking “Oh, KonoSuba even if it’s not,” and you end with some Overlord mixed in there. Even if you’ve never watched this show but have seen those others mentioned there, you probably understand how odd this would feel. It feels like it doesn’t know what genre it is, like the writers couldn’t control the story enough to keep it in a certain genre. But I feel this actually was more intentional in this case, so I cannot knock it for it. I’m not sure what the intention was, but I believe it was more intentional than not. Part of that has to do with the idea of “parody” that hangs over a show like this, making me unable to easily predict where the show is going or easily evaluate whether what happens makes sense or not. So whatever the intent, the effect is interesting.
So what’s with parody and why does everyone get so excited about isekai parody? It’s like some kind of badge of honor, like “Oh, look at me, I know what isekai parody is.” Seriously, you just heard someone else say it. That’s even the case with me. I don’t know if this is exactly “parody” or not, isekai anime or otherwise. Sure it seems a little unusual for isekai, and I know it’s poking fun at the genre in a similar way that KonoSuba does. But does that constitute parody? By definition it does, but in isekai’s case, couldn’t it just be another kind of isekai? Isekai is actually a pretty varied genre if you stop and think about it. If you consider it, Sword Art Online, Overlord, Log Horizon, InuYasha, and No Game, No Life are all isekai. Which of those is “typical” isekai? None of them are. There’s a lot of typical tropes within the genre itself sure, but lots of anime genres have that. As in beach episodes, summer festivals with fireworks, and impromptu onsen visits in rom-com. Those tropes could easily be parodied, but even if they are, no one gets overwrought about it like they do with isekai.
So I don’t quite get what people’s deal is with “parody isekai.” What makes Tsukimichi, Sentouin, and KonoSuba so different that they’re suddenly more than just another kind of isekai? If I had to guess, it’s simply the fact that they do poke fun at typical isekai tropes. As said, that’s what parody is, but I don’t get why it’s so significant with isekai. I know people say “Oh another typical isekai,” but why don’t they also say “Oh another typical drama” or “Another typical sci-fi Western?” Because those genres have lots of tropes too, and if you think about the spectrum of isekai as mentioned above, some of those genres overuse tropes way more than isekai. In fact, if you think about it, the more typical isekai tropes an isekai show has in it, the more people start to call it “parody.” I mentioned Sentouin and KonoSuba, but what about a Cautious Hero? Death March to a Parallel World Rhapsody? They have typical tropes, and are also subject to the charge of being parodies.
Well, as long as it keeps it interesting, I certainly don’t have a problem with it. You can hardly argue with the success of KonoSuba and Sentouin and the like. Everyone who knows anything about anime knows those shows, and they deserve that recognition. I’m just curious why people make such a big deal out of isekai “parody.” I haven’t found the answer.
Regardless, I really like this show. Parody or not, it felt a little different, and I loved how it did that. The characters and their dialogue are exquisite, driving this show forward with every episode. I’ll wrap this up with how I started: as much anime as I watch, it’s very unusual for me to finish a show within a 24-hour period. I could not stop watching this show. The only reason I didn’t finish it between sun up and sun down was because humans have to sleep at some point, and I started it late at night. It was that engrossing.
I highly look forward to the next season. The story doesn’t have a lot of continuous threads running through it, so it’s pretty open in the direction it could go. If it continues to simply set up situations for these characters to show themselves off in, that would be perfectly acceptable. You could listen to these guys go at it for hours and not get tired of it. That’s a sure sign of great characters. So if S2 keeps up the good work, certainly this anime will become a fixture in isekai. People didn’t expect a ton from it when it came out, yet lots of people knew what it was when it finished, many branding it the top anime of Summer 2021. I look forward to a similar showing from S2.