Upcoming anime, TONIKAWA (also known as Fly Me to the Moon), premieres in less than a month. Ahead of its premiere, Crunchyroll Expo hosted a panel with voice actress Akari Kitō and author Kenjirō Hata to share details on the anime and the original manga. Hata is famously known for his previous work, Hayate the Combat Butler. The series follows a “newlywed” couple whose relationship begins when Nasa, the main character, is saved by a girl after he's hit by a truck. Despite his injuries, he searches for her and asks her out, even if this is the last moment in his life. She promises to date him only if they get married.
Although the panel was kept short, both Kitō and Hayate had much to tell the audience about the adaptation. The announcements included the extended cast list as well as the opening theme song, “Koi no Uta (feat. Yuzaki Tsukasa)” by DJ Yunomi, and the ending song, “Tsuki to Hoshizora (The Moon and the Starry Sky)” by KanoeRana.
How did you react when you found out your work would be getting an anime adaptation?
Kenjirō Hata: I'd say, with Weekly Shonen magazine serialization, getting an anime adaption is one of the big goals and I was really happy to have gotten to that point.
How did you come up with creating this story?
Kenjirō Hata: Well, my previous serialization, Hayate the Combat Butler, another romantic comedy, I worked on for thirteen years. And the thing with most romantic comedies is that they end once the protagonist and heroine get together. But the story of what comes after that, the relationship that the couples develop and their marriage, I wanted that to be the starting point this time instead of the goal. Because that's honestly the most complicated part of a relationship. So, I wanted to teach the young kids reading it about that, through the manga.
What was your reaction when you got the role as Tsukasa?
Akari Kitō: Actually, when I was a kid, I watched the anime for Hayate the Combat Butler. So, the chance to work on something he created was a big surprise, and a total thrill.
Have you been doing anything special in preparation for this role?
Akari Kitō: I think the first thing I did was read the manga, and it was a ton of fun, but this really is just a manga about watching a couple act lovey-dovey with each other. So, reading it, I thought, “Oh, this is so cute and sweet,” but once I realized I would be playing this character, it snapped me back to reality and made me kind of embarrassed. But as I continued reading it, I decided to do my best to convey how cute and touching the story is.
What did you think when Kitō was chosen for the role?
Kenjirō Hata: Well, we had her audition as normal, but to be honest, I thought she was the only one for the job and I'm glad she took the role.
Akari Kitō: I'm glad to hear that!
Recently, fans in Japan often use the term, 尊い (toutoi), meaning precious, to describe the close relationship between Tsukasa and Nasa. This word means more than just “cute,” and it's used very often by fans. In every chapter, there are lines or scenes that fans call “precious.” Is it hard to come up with this every time?
Kenjirō Hata: I wouldn't say its hard. I just kind of hope that the intention comes across clearly.
What are Tsukasa's “TONIKAWA,” or irresistible cute characteristics, from Nasa's point of view?
Akari Kitō: Well, Tsukasa normally comes across as pretty cool and detached, both in terms of her personality and her appearance. But the way she shows her cute or silly side around Nasa is a big part of what he finds really cute about her.
What do you think is the “precious” charm point in Nasa and Tsukasa's relationship?
Akari Kitō: I think a big part of it is how they worry about each other more than themselves, and the respect they have for one another, is really precious.
What did you think of the clip of the anime shown earlier?
Kenjirō Hata: The director Ikehata-san and the rest of the staff worked really hard on it, and I think they did a great job.
Akari Kitō: Right, it's really impressive to see the feeling of the original manga captured successfully while in motion.
What aspects of the show do you want overseas fans to pay attention to while watching?
Kenjirō Hata: Well, the theme of marriage is something that crosses all borders. Because there are people in every country who think their wives are cute. I think it'd be great if people enjoyed that aspect of it.
Now that you've seen the three other supporting characters, could you introduce them to the viewers of Crunchyroll Expo?
Kenjirō Hata: I actually haven't seen the animated versions in motion yet, but I'm looking forward to it.
To Kitō-san, how was the recording of the opening song for the anime?
Akari Kitō: Well, it was a very unique song, unlike anything I had ever recorded before. So it was pretty difficult, but I now feel glad about having a one-of-a-kind song to my name.
What were your thoughts on the opening and ending themes that were just announced?
Kenjirō Hata: The composer complimented the manga, apparently being a big reader of it, and that familiarity has gone into their work. The lyrics and music are both a really good match for the setting so I'm really pleased with it.
I heard that you've known Endō.-san [the composer and lyricist of the ending theme] for a very long time. He created the ending song as well as the background music for the show. What are your thoughts on that?
Kenjirō Hata: Yes, Endō. and I have been acquainted for a while. He's a fan of my work so he has a great understanding of it, which is reflected in the music and lyrics, both of which I ended up liking.
Lastly, would you both share a message you have for fans across the world?
Kenjirō Hata: The people who are working on this anime have my total trust. Because of that I'm pretty sure it will turn out well, and I hope you all look forward to it.
Akari Kitō: TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You is a story that makes you happy just watching it play out, and we're working hard to make sure the anime can do the same. So, please, be sure to check it out! Thank you so much.