With its dull premise, bland character designs, and production values that seem to be funded entirely with change that's been dropped in the street, you can be forgiven for overlooking Tsuki ga Kirei. There just isn't anything about the show that draws your attention.
Unless, of course, you happen to catch 15 seconds of it and realize--oh, hey--it's a goddamn masterpiece.
Tsuki ga Kirei is every inch the old writer's adage "show, don't tell," taking us through a tale of first love told as much through silences and facial expressions and body language as through its actual dialogue (which, for the record, is some of the most realistic ever to grace an anime romance)--which is especially fantastic because it translates into the world of the show, as well: every character notices, infers from, and reacts to how everyone around them behaves. Y'know, like actual people do. (Not to say I don't enjoy a good running narration or series of unrealistic expository soliloquys, but having to suss things out from facial expressions and behaviors is pretty satisfying.)
And, as such, the characterization is, not surprisingly, equally brilliant, with everyone, from the protagonists to the most tertiary of the tertiary supporting cast, being fully realized and in some way essential to the story. They are so charming and relatable and lovingly crafted that it's as though they are the performers, rather than just being the avatars for the voice actors. That is, they don't just exist in this world--they live in it.
And, ultimately, that's the show's strength: everything about it is grounded, unadorned, bereft of cliche. It's filled with the mundane, but only insofar as it is fixed in the recognizable, the believable. No one's conveniently oblivious. No one's given a melodramatic speech detailing every one of the emotions they've felt all season. The characters talk like people, react like people. There's nothing contrived about the dramatic situations or the people involved in the dramatic situations. And real-life bustles on despite the drama.
Oh, and the protagonists are about the most adorable thing ever. (Ever.)
If there is a problem with the show, it's the animation, which may as well have been cobbled together from the husks of cancelled film school projects. But even that mostly works in its favor, as it, by necessity, further emphasizes the truly important elements of the story--albeit by handwaving the less important areas with cheap CGI. It's a damper, but it's not a dealbreaker--by any stretch.
Not with characters this charming. Not with a story this crafted--and surprising and heartfelt and honest.
It's an instant classic.
That is, if you happen to notice it.