Square of the Moon: Phase 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, September 23, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What They Say
Addicted to psychically induced pleasure, women submit to monsters’ otherworldly sexual practices! When a band of sexy warriors vows to destroy the demons, violent, gory carnage is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world!

The Review!
The True Night is almost upon them as the Light Hunters' plans have gone well while Izumi's group has fallen apart.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though an adult title which often means a very basic stereo mix that's mostly center channel driven, this show has quite a bit of action to it that uses the stereo channels pretty actively, though usually in a full manner, but it has a bit more oomph than most other adult releases. Dialogue is still mostly center channel based but overall everything has a nice wide feel that's clean and clear during regular playback.

Originally released to video in 2002, the transfer for these two episodes on this release is presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The show has something of a somewhat budgeted release from Green Bunny but they make up for the cut corners with some really creative camera shots and styles mixed in, particularly that of using grainy photo stills to accentuate a normal still or panning sequence. The show transfer has a good look overall though it does highlight some of the cheapness of the animation such as the simple line work in some of the characters. Colors look good and maintain a nice solid feel and the materials are mostly free from aliasing as well as cross coloration. There was some chroma noise in the beginning of the first episode but it pretty much disappeared as things moved on.

Unfortunately not using the Japanese artwork, Kyoka gets most of the cover and a full color piece as her flower covered blue kimono falls away from her while Mizuki is in the background through a purple filter as she gets accosted by a number of tentacles. The back cover provides a playfully sexy shot of Kyoka in a maid uniform along with a very minimal summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features. As is usual, most of the information is crammed into a small area near the bottom with all the logos and icons so it's fairly easy to find the information but it could be laid out a lot better. The reverse side of the cover has one panel that's got a great shot of Izumi being taken by Ryo while the other panel lists the chapter stops, bilingual cast listings and the usual mixed production credits.

The main menu is a nice looking simple static piece of Kyoka in her standard black garb with the white wings of Chiro behind her set to a black and purple background that's all set to a loop of the opening song that plays in full. It works well just from the artwork though it is a pretty simple layout in generalThe navigation is straightforward along the right side and access times are nice and fast. The disc did properly read our players' language presets and played them accordingly. While not overly flashy, the menus here are on par with other adult releases from Anime 18 and they get the job done.

The only included extra is a video art gallery showcasing pieces from the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the problems that some of the adult shows run into, especially when they come from a game or other source, is that the plot can overwhelm the sex. Some shows are surprisingly heavily laden with plot and things to get done that while it may work well in other venues, when it's brought here it may feel awkward. Square of the Moon doesn't exactly fall into that category but similar to the first volume, the sex isn't the main focus her as it's really the storyline.

What it does is, it leaves you wanting more of the show for more of the sex to be put into it because you want to see the characters that you've come to enjoy and like become more intimate. The first volume did a solid job of introducing a fairly standard plot and dressing it up nicely with attractive characters and a few quirks to it and then closed things out by forcing Izumi to wipe everyone's memories. Since that point she's been working on the destruction of the demons to the exclusion of all else and has such a single minded nature about it that she has little concern for her own health anymore or her own welfare. With the loss of everyone that she worked with and the loss of Ryo, she hasn't the same will to live.

For those whose minds were blocked and remain so, life is a curious struggle. Things that they believe they should be doing feel awkward and almost forced. The focus on the new relationship between Kyoka and Ryo is a perfect example. Izumi reworked them so that they're now lovers and have someone but both of them can't quite put their finger on why it's not right, though their bodies are certainly willing. But like anything else, there are things skirting at the edge of their minds and events unfold that cause the memories to come back full force and with those who were already unblocked able to collect everyone together, they're able to stop Izumi from throwing her life away in despair. She's not exactly chided for what she did but they make it clear to her that they're all in this together.

The timing of this of course all works nicely as it shifts into the last episode of the series and those on the Light Hunters side begin to use Miyasaka's Kotodama in order to try and revive the Queen of the Night now so that they can bring their vision of the world about. The relationships and interactions between the characters that was the foundation and basis of things in the first episode are brought about here as the group, sans Izumi and Ryo at first, work through the various demons and other creatures scattered about throughout the massive building that the Light Hunters work out of. There's a mix of sex and violence along the way, mostly in terms of the secondary characters in order to prove it's still an adult release, but the focus is most definitely on finishing out the storyline.

As much as I lament about the lack of sex to it, it's definitely still here and what we do get is fun and enjoyable as the tentacle stuff goes though there are some scenes free of it in the series in general. And as much as I would like more of the sex in here, it's because I actually like the cast, the concept and the overall execution of the premise and would like to see more of it. Story driven adult anime isn't an exception but really fun and enjoyable well done ones are much farther and few between. Square of the Moon doesn't reach a high level in that regard but it is very enjoyable and it knows exactly what it is but it doesn't dumb things down just because of it. This is a great little four episode series that was probably on someone's drawing board for a regular production but couldn't get made unless they went this route.

In Summary:
While not heavy in the sex scene realm for this volume, Square of the Moon brings us the closing set of adventures for the group of good guys as they battle against the Light Hunters. Revelations of ties to the past with Princess Kaguya brings an interesting twist into the show that's already set with an interesting storyline and mixed with some good solid sex scenes. This is one of those shows that could have pulled off several more episodes easily and expanded the work nicely but instead it's a bit more compact and less fulfilling but it's still quite enjoyable and a real nice change of pace from the "real world" style shows that have typically filled up the market as of late. Definitely worth checking out for an enjoyable mix of sex and story.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Sketch Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Anime 18
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Square of the Moon