Moon Phase Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: 15.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Moon Phase

Moon Phase Vol. #4

By Bryan Morton     December 28, 2007
Release Date: December 17, 2007


Moon Phase Vol. #4
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Even as Kouhei and his family risk all to save Hazuki from her fate, the formidable Count Kinkel refuses to be thwarted by human designs. As his plans grow darker and the web draws tighter, death and destruction nip at the heels of all. The Count's powers lie beyond compare, and not even dawn's light can offer new hope.

Despite certain failure, failure which could prove fatal, the Mido clan must set aide their fear. And when the young vampire rises up to reshape her own destiny, the consequences will prove disturbing indeed. Some riddles are best left unsolved...

Episodes Comprise
15 - It's More than a Responsibility!
16 - I Have to Eat Cat-Ear Buns!
17 - Big Brother, Why is this Happening?
18 - Yahoo! I'll See You Soon!

The Review!
Big changes are on the cards with this volume of Moon Phase, as the Count sends another minion to retrieve Hazuki from the Mido home. And this one’s not planning to play nice…

Audio:
Audio for this release comes in 2.0 Japanese and English, and 5.1 English versions. I listened to the Japanese track for this review. As stereo mixes go, it's pretty good, with some good use made of dialogue placement and background effects to add to the atmosphere of the show. There were no obvious problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. Despite a lot of the scenes making heavy use of colours at the darker end of the scale (all in the name of atmosphere, again), there's a fair amount of detail to pick out in the animation, and it all comes across well & the transfer in general looks good. There were no obvious problems.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Another static screen in the usual style of Revelations' release – featuring Hazuki, looking back over her shoulder with a worried expression and a castle in the background, on one side of the screen, with options for Play All, Episodes, Setup and Extras running along the bottom.

Extras:
Creditless versions of the opening (Nekomimi Mode version) and closing credits. That’s your lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Hazuki's been refusing to speak to Kouhei, and no-one seems to know why. To Elfriede and his grandfather, it looks like a lovers’ tiff - but that's not the cause. Kouhei himself has no idea what he's done wrong, but no matter how often he asks, all Hazuki will give him is the silent treatment. Frustrating? You betcha. A little subtle prodding by Elfriede finally gets to the bottom of the problem: Kouhei's comments that he wasn't Hazuki's slave, and that he was only helping her because he felt he owed it to her. That's not the way Hazuki wants things to be - and so Elfriede persuades her that, with full moon approaching, maybe it's time that she found herself a new slave. Deep inside Hazuki, her Luna persona finds that idea quite appealing - but Hazuki herself isn't so sure, and when Kouhei finally figures out what the problem is, he's keen to put things right.

Later, Kouhei begins to doubt himself - his ability to finish anything he starts, his ability to protect Hazuki, his ability to do just about anything, really - and turns to his grandfather for help: he wants to learn the occult arts that his family are supposed to be so good at, but that he's simply never been able to master. His grandfather's answer is simple enough: a smack around the face, and a flat refusal. It's not that he doesnt ant to train his grandson - he just feels that the time isn't right yet. Unfortunately, Kouhei's already been playing around with the occult on his own time - and his efforts could turn out to be dangerous, as their latest adversary arrives on the scene, with devastating results…

This disc starts off cheerfully enough – Hazuki and Kouhei arguing is nothing new, and even though there’s a serious purpose to the first episode here there’s also a lot of fun to be had from it – but the story soon shifts into a far more serious mode, beginning with Mario’s introduction in episode 16. On one level, he’s another “monster of the week” type – one of the creatures from Count Kinkel’s stables, more powerful than the ones who had previously been sent to recapture Hazuki – and that did annoy me a bit. I didn’t want Moon Phase slipping into some sort of “battle, victory, comedy, repeat” formula, and with Mario that looked like the way we were heading. That’s not how it turns out, though, as Mario’s first battle with the Mido family quite literally lights a touchpaper under the storyline and shakes the whole idea up significantly, starting with the apparent deaths of two primary characters. Surprised? I certainly was – between cat ears and falling washpans, death and destruction wasn’t really on the list of things I was expecting from Moon Phase, but that’s what we’re getting.

The key to all this is characters growing up. Hazuki is still the little girl at heart, but she’s learning all the time about what it’s like to be a girl in the real world, and that’s beginning to be reflected in her personality, along with the darker influences that her Luna personality still has on her. More noticeable, though, it Kouhei’s development, as he learns about the responsibility that comes with having decided to protect Hazuki, and finds himself forced to learn his family’s occult arts to make sure he’s able to carry out that task. As a result, the Kouhei you see in episode 18 is very different from the Kouhei of episode 15, with the events in between that led to that change laying the foundations for what should be a very interesting final “chapter” of the series.

In summary:
This volume of Moon Phase really does turn things upside down a bit, in ways that surprise and entertain. The only things that would worry me from here are that first, there’s a lot of ground still to cover – mysteries have been introduced and not resolved, and time’s beginning to run out – and second, I’m hoping not to see any dramatic returns from the dead unless there’s a very good explanation for it. At the moment, though, Moon Phase is ticking most of the boxes I like to see from a series, and is keeping me thoroughly entertained. Definitely recommended.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Textless Opening & Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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