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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 69.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Moon Phase

Moon Phase Box Set

By Danielle Van Gorder     July 11, 2008
Release Date: March 18, 2008


Moon Phase Box Set
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
While Kouhei ranks among the best in paranormal photography, he's never actually seen a ghost! So when he fails to capture a hauntingly beautiful young girl on camera, he knows there must be an explanation. Driven by curiosity, his spiritual insensitivity proves a curse indeed as the young photographer crosses barriers best left alone, stumbling into the arms of a haughty vampire and a world he cannot comprehend.

The young vampire Hazuki, having waited years for someone to finally set her free, proves unwilling to part with her unwitting hero and follows him home, promptly adopting his life as her own. And as the adolescent vampire wreaks her own flavor of havoc, mysterious forces conspire to reclaim what was lost. Some riddles are best left unsolved...

Contains all six volumes (episodes 1-26)!

The Review!
Kitty-eared vampires, talking cats, adorable preteen shrine maidens, and the incomparable Elfride - what's not to love?

Audio:

For my primary viewing session I listened to the English dub, followed by the original Japanese audio. The mix overall seemed very good, with some nice directionality and a good balance between music, dialog, and BGM that really helped to enhance the more moodily atmospheric moments in the show. I noticed no audio distortions or dropouts in either language track.

Video:

The show is presented in original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with anamorphic playback. While the show is from 2004, the video doesn't look nearly as nice as that should imply. While some of the washed-out brightness might be design, the areas where the dark colors bleed together, especially during action scenes, looks like a definite flaw. It's not terrible, there's definite room for improvement.

Packaging:

The box is a nice, solid chipboard, with a simple picture of Hazuki on one side, and Elfride on the other. The images are relatively simple, with plain white backgrounds, but the use of positive and negative space works really well. The series logo is in an eyecatching red foil. Oddly enough, the rest of the box uses a solid black background. For those wanting more of the gorgeous series art that's available, what's inside the box shouldn't disappoint. The discs themselves are in three two-disc digipacks, with episode listings inside the front flap of each. The remaining three sides (including under the discs) are devoted to more character art - primarily Hazuki, but most of the female characters in the series are also represented. Filling out the box is a top-loading cardboard box featuring more Hazuki art that contains the same booklets as the original release, filled with plot summaries, interviews, fun series details, and more character artwork. My only real complaint here is that the discs overlap, forcing you to take out one disc if you want to get to the other, but that's a purely personal pet peeve.

Menu:

The menus here are simple yet effective, with closeups of various characters off to the right, with beautifully detailed backgrounds. There's some nicely moody instrumental music that plays in the background that really set the tone well. The menu is clear and easy to navigate, and response times were fast.

Extras:

The on-disc extras are fairly minimal - character profiles, a textless opening and ending, and trailers for other FUNimation titles.

Content:

Kouhei is spiritually deaf and blind in a family of talented spiritual mediums, something that bothers him although he tries his best to hide it. But while he can't see spirits, he has an unmatched talent for capturing them on film, even when he doesn't want to - something that makes expanding his photography career beyond paranormal magazines difficult, to say the least. But when he sees a mysterious young girl on the roof of a castle while on assignment in Germany, everything changes.

He just wants to capture her on film, but she's a prisoner in the castle, held there by dark forces that Kouhei's allies are vulnerable to. When he goes into the castle to investigate, he finds far more than he bargained for in Hazuki's supernatural guardian, and in Hazuki herself. You see, she's a vampire, and bent on making Kouhei her slave by drinking his blood. Nothing goes quite as either anticipated, and after a string of occurrences both dramatic and amusing, Hazuki ends up living with Kouhei's family in Japan while she searches for her missing mother.

Her path isn't an easy one, though. Count Kinkell, the man who imprisoned her originally, will stop at nothing to get Hazuki back, because she's far more important than she realizes. He sends enemy after enemy after her, including the mature and beautiful Elfride, to bring her back to the castle and under his control. But, despite her uncontrollable brattiness, she gathers allies of her own including Kouhei's brother Seiji, the shrine maiden twins Hikaru and Kaoru, and other, more unlikely cohorts. But her enemies are powerful as well, and it's going to take all of the hidden abilities that both she and Kouhei posess to win free and survive.


In Summary:

It's clear from the very first time the opening plays that while this is superficially a horror series, with vampires, dark forces, and deadly battles, in the end it's really all about the cute. And the comedy, of course. Hazuki's cute, the nekomimi are cute, Hikaru and Kaoru are cute, Artemis is cute...you get the idea. The show seems to be designed to make even the hardest heart go "awwww" at some point. The interactions between Hazuki and Kouhei are absolutely priceless, although the sibling-like bickering made it hard for me to buy that there was a budding romance in the works. In fact, none of the "romances" in the show really worked for me - Hazuki and Kouhei, Kaoru and Kouhei, Hikaru and Seiji, etc. But this is a show more about family than it is about love, both the family you're born with and the family that you gather as life goes on.

Hazuki's growth, from an emotionally stunted brat of a child to a young woman who can rely on others (although she's still a bit of a brat) is very well executed, and fairly compelling. While the drama adds spice to the show, what makes this series work are the character interactions, and the comedy that naturally flows from those interactions. The random situational bits can be fun too. This series definitely isn't for everyone. Hazuki herself can easily grate, and the plot occasionally veers towards the eye-rollingly outrageous. But if you find yourself unable to resist the call of the nekomimi, it's easy to just sit back and enjoy Moon Phase.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles, Trailers, Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Panasonic DVD-S25S Progressive-Scan DVD Player and Panasonic TC-26LX85 26" Viera LCD 720p HDTV (Component Connection)

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