#1 Bog standard “sick girl” plot
Romance stories revolving around sickly girls are remarkably common and also very predictable. Not just in the sense that the plot will be formulaic, but also because you can expect it to be an award-winning “classic” adapted into half-a-dozen different mediums. I don’t care for it. I don’t care for I Want To Eat Your Pancreas or Your Lie in April. And I most certainly don’t care for Looking Up at the Half-Moon.
First releasing as a light novel in 2003 before being adapted to anime in 2006, Looking Up at the Half-Moon follows Yuichi Ezaki. While temporarily hospitalized, Yuichi learns that there is a girl his age in a different ward of the hospital. This girl is Rika Akiba, and with the help of a meddling nurse, the two finally get to meet. They hit it off, become friends, and promptly begin making a nuisance of themselves all around the hospital. However, as feelings between the two begin to bloom, Yuichi is also aware of a terrifying reality: Rika’s room is in the part of the hospital for the terminally ill patients.
Surprises are scarce throughout this plot. Entire scenes and plot twists played out exactly as I expected, based on the deluge of similar “sad sick girl” stories out there. As morbid as it sounds, I genuinely had to laugh when Rika’s health suddenly deteriorated at the peak of a happy moment for her. You can’t accuse me of being cynical when my worst predictions keep coming true.
#2 Absurd melodrama
On top of the tear-baiting premise of the overall story, Looking Up at the Half-Moon has plenty of other cheap melodrama to go around. Its characters are outright absurd and seem to make decisions based solely on what will get them into the most spectacular arguments.
The worst of these is Rika’s doctor, who ends up becoming jealous of Yuichi’s friendship with her. This dude is well into adulthood, yet is so envious of a bunch of teenagers that he commits himself fully to sabotaging their friendship. He instigates fights between them, lies about Yuichi, and just generally makes everyone around him miserable. Some of his actions stretch believability far beyond a breaking point and his entire character arc is just pathetically weak.
Other characters don’t fare much better, including Rika and Yuichi themselves. There is an episode where the two are fighting and Rika deliberately locks Yuichi out on the roof of the hospital in the freezing cold. Despite earlier learning that he has a weak constitution. There is also some relationship drama, including several sex scandals. Several more fights between Yuichi and Rika, and even more adults who want to separate the two from each other.
All this drama is tiring to sit through. And, combined with the anime’s short runtime, it left me with little reason to actually care about the characters.
#3 Complete indifference
On that note, it’s not just the characters I didn’t care for. The anime as a whole just doesn’t invoke any emotion in me. Its drama is mostly annoying, sure, but its romantic, funny, or tense moments didn’t spark anything either. I sat through the whole anime stone-faced, feeling nothing for any of it.
Honestly, that’s just the worst result possible. Nothing the anime does is good, nor is it bad enough to be worth discussing. If it did something outright terribly, at least that would be fun to talk about. I’d rather watch a trainwreck like School Days than an anime like Looking Up at the Half-Moon; just because the former at least elicits an emotional response.
Looking Up at the Half-Moon is so ineffectual, it feels like a slog even with its reduced runtime.
More like this…
Air: Plot revolving around a sickly love interest.
Katawa Shoujo: Protagonist with a heart disease.
Momo: Tragic anime with a shorter (6 episodes) runtime.