Full Moon Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: D
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Full Moon

Full Moon Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     June 21, 2006
Release Date: June 27, 2006

What They Say
Mitsuki Koyama dreams of becoming a singer... but she only has one year left to live! With the help of Takuto and Meroko, two Spirits of Death, she passes an audition, gets a manager, and starts recording her first song! Watch Mitsuki as she tries to make her dreams a reality.

Contains episodes 1-4:
I Want to Sing!
My Promise to Eichi
Along Came the Manager
Thoughts on a Song

The Review!
When twelve-year old Mitsuki finds out she has a year left to live, she relentlessly pursues her dreams of becoming a singing star.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a pretty well done stereo mix which is utilized for the various songs that fill the show. The dialogue sections are more center channel based or have a slightly more full feeling but it all comes across very clean and without any noise or distortions. The dialogue portion doesn't have a lot of standout moments but it's well balanced by the vocal pieces. The English language side is problem free but the Japanese track has a glitch that will be more noticeable to some than others; at 83:10 on the track, there's a split second jump to it that affects only the music at the moment. But it does put the audio track slightly ahead of the subtitles. When watching it without noticing the glitch, as our initial viewing session was done, it wasn't noticeable at all. When looking at it again after hearing the glitch, it's a bit more noticeable. It shouldn't happen but I'm hard pressed to call it a dealbreaker since I don't think most people watching it will even notice it. But it is just one more issue with the release.

Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source material for the show look to be in really good shape but it's not entirely problem free. With it being a shoujo series, there are a number of the usual design elements that go into it which result in something of a soft looking print, often accented by the colors used. The transfer looks really good throughout but there's some edge cross coloration that shows up in certain areas, typically along the edges of hair, as well as some less than solid colors when there are close-ups of Mitsuki's hair. There's very little noticeable aliasing though which is a plus but the show isn't a heavy action piece either. For the most part, this is a very good looking transfer that will look good to most viewers.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, the first volume looks good here with its main shot of Mitsuki in clear vibrant colors while a memory-image of Eichi is behind her and both of them set against a starry sky with feathers falling about them. The English language logo is nicely done as it retains the full name (though solicited just as Full Moon) and the banner strip along the bottom for the volume number and title isn't obtrusive. The addition of the Shojo Beat logos doesn't detract at all. The back cover is a bit text heavy though as it provides brief summaries for each of the four episodes as well as talking about the manga. The discs features and technical information is all over the place and the runtime is in small type in between a group of technical logos. There's a lot of production information and legal text along the bottom which is done in very small type which can be a bit tough to read as it's white on pink. The layout is decent overall but it just feels a bit too text heavy. The insert replicates the front cover artwork and brings in the chapter listings for each of the episodes while the reverse side is a big advertisement for the Shojo Beat brand, from the magazine to the Full Moon manga and to other manga. It's a good looking piece overall though and if it helps bolster the shoujo side a bit I can't complain.

The main menu is a nice simply setup that plays up the starry and romantic nature of the storylines premise with a shot of Mitsuki in the foreground that's clear and detailed while behind her is Eichi which has a softer more ghost-like feel to him. The background has the stars and sky close to them which fades into white and blue around the edges. The layout is straightforward and easy to navigate and the logo looks great here as it include the full title just like the cover. Access times are nice and fast and the disc picked up the players' language presets without issue.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a short but successful manga run, Full Mon O Sagashite was made into an anime series and it ran for fifty-two episodes, the first four of which we get here. By all appearances, it looks to be essentially a port of the Japanese release with the addition of a dub, subtitles and translated openings and endings (though it's not the original ending, but rather a static screen; the Japanese version was almost like a recap of the episode that just played with clips from it, so it's not a loss of actual closing animation). The Japanese release went with two volumes every month until the end of its run though while the English version is set, so far, to do one volume every four months, essentially turning this into a very long series. Thankfully, that problem is the only serious complaint about this release though there are other issues.

With its origins in the manga but stretched out and reworked for broadcast, I have no idea how closely it follows the property in the long run but the beginning looks to be pretty close. We're introduced to twelve year old Mitsuki, and cute and bright young woman teeming with life but with a real problem. She's got a lump in the back of her throat and the doctors all want her to get it taken care of with surgery. The problem is that if they do it, there's a huge chance that she'll end up losing her voice over it. But if they don't, it may be life threatening. Mitsuki's had a hard life so far having lost her parents some time ago and only being taken in by her grandmother two years ago. Her grandmother is a mildly well to do type from the old school who simply is like a milder version of a wicked stepmother. She and Mitsuki clash often, and often with Mitsuki wilting under her, but this is mostly because Mitsuki has a dream that she's holding dearly onto and wants to achieve.

From the time she spent in the orphanage, she had gotten very close to a young man six years her elder named Eichi. In the time since she's developed even more of these feelings into a young girls crush, though it's true love to her, but is unable to carry through on it since he was adopted by parents who then moved to America. She's not been able to get in touch with him since nor he with her. With the way her mind works, she intends to becoming a singing star someday in the hopes that her voice will reach him in America and he'll understand her feelings. Now at twelve years old, and he at eighteen and far away, the one chance she has to do this is threatened, but so is her life. Mitsuki's actually been able to do fairly well with her voice and has passed the first round of auditions in a talent search, but without the ability to raise her voice higher she's not likely to pass the next round.

Everything changes in a moment though when out of the poster that Mitsuki has of astronomy that Eichi had introduced her to comes a pair of young people close to Mitsuki's age. Mitsuki freaks out at this and the pair suddenly realize that Mitsuki can actually see them, something that she shouldn't be able to do. It turns out that the pair are actually Shinigami (translated as Death Spirits) named Takuto and Meroko. They've come to check up on Mitsuki since she's apparently slated to die in a year and their arrival has tipped Mitsuki off to it, as well as the way each of them end up blabbering about it since they keep forgetting that Mitsuki can see and hear them. This revelation really hits home for Mitsuki and she suddenly becomes incredible determined to pass the audition so she can reach out to Eichi.

This causes a problem for the shinigami as it means Mitsuki could have a real lingering attachment to life when she passes away and that would create a lot of trouble and paperwork. So Takuto decides in his infinite male wisdom to turn Mitsuki into a sixteen year old physically and heal her throat problem so she can sing fine. Figuring that there's no way she could pass the audition based on the number of people there, both of them are shocked when Mitsuki actually performs so beautifully that the rest of the auditions are canceled and a manager is being assigned to her for her debut. Once the shinigami understand the actual reasons behind her need to sing, they find themselves having to help out maintaining the illusion for Mitsuki so that she can take care of the potential lingering attachment due to Eichi.

With a couple of shinigami around and the kind of tricks that Mitsuki has to engage in through which she can mange being both her twelve year old self and her sixteen year old self, there's a fair bit of comedy that comes into play. Mitsuki's grandmother plays the straight card while the ever helpful young doctor, who apparently used to be famous in a band, is completely clueless and easily taken advantage of as Mitsuki makes him into a legal guardian so she can properly get a manager. There's also the household servant and Mitsuki's house who tries to get away with things when her boss isn't around and Mitsuki can use her to achieve her goals as well. Mitsuki basically does whatever she can to get closer to her goal, but she is at the core a very nice girl so there's nothing really bad or mean done, though she does engage in a bit of blackmail.

A lot of the comedy really comes from the two shinigami as they use their powers and lack of real world understanding to make situations worse. Meroko for example really turns a simple situation into insanity as she starts transforming into humans so people can see her and she ends up acting like she normally does, all pumped and hyper, which isn't like the people she's been changing into. Takuto of course is the one that caused all the trouble to start with by transforming Mitsuki into an older and blonder version but he's a bit more cautious with his powers overall. The pair have a really amusing relationship though since Meroko is obviously in love with Takuto but he's just blasé about the entire thing and just unsure of how to handle this continually downward spiraling situation. With the setup like this, it's easy to see how the storyline can go on for a bit as Mitsuki starts her entry into the music business.

A show like Full Moon isn't something that I really expect to see make it here in North America, especially in the market today, and while there are problems on the disc with the release, I think it's the release schedule that is most detrimental to its continued health. Especially after the way Viz quietly canceled their other girls show a couple of years back in the height of the anime boom, Corrector Yui. On the disc itself, there's a small handful of problems with different kinds of severity depending on your opinion. The blink and you miss it audio glitch is something that would be best if it didn't' happen but it doesn't affect dialogue and only hits a quick instance of bouncy music, it may not even be noticeable if you aren't looking for it.

The closing sequences are done without the original endings, which were recap clips, but to me it's far worse that they're again doing ending sequences for an entire series in one way. They credit only a few of the characters (in both languages) but not full credits for each episode. And probably the worst sin is done against the dub fans in that any singing part is left in Japanese but there are no separate sign/song subtitles. Signs in general are ignored as is, but if you're watching in English, you'll get no subtitles for the songs. The Japanese track makes out better with all songs subtitled as well as the opening and closing sequences " a huge change for Viz " but the lack of them on the English side is a serious slap in the face. A slap Japanese language fans have been taking from Viz for years now.

In Summary:
Full Moon is a very cute title and one that I found far more entertaining to watch in its Japanese form than the preview disc that came out a month or two back. Taken in full for the four episodes, the storyline isn't anything new and there aren't any real surprises, but it's very well executed. The character designs are appealing, the animation good throughout without any real noticeable corners cut and the music is certainly enjoyable. There's enough quirks to the way the show is setup and there's an actual goal and timeline that things must be done within that it has a sense of urgency to it, giving Mitsuki a real reason for being the way she is. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the show but it's with dread because of the time between releases which can cause something of a fatigue with the series as I've felt it with other Viz Media series.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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