Moon Phase Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • 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. #5

By Bryan Morton     March 03, 2008
Release Date: March 24, 2008


Moon Phase Vol. #5
© Revelation Films


What They Say
With the danger behind them, Hazuki and the Mido clan enjoy life's fullest moments. While the young vampire struggles to come to peace with her battling personalities and her place in the world, Gramps and Elfriede seek to secure their safety against further attack. But in the quiet hours of the night, one small mistake has dire consequences. As their world comes crashing down, both Kouhei and Hazuki curse the fate which left them powerless. As the past bears witness to the present, the future is rewritten with one single event. Some riddles are best left unsolved...

Episodes Comprise
19 – Day on the Mountain, Monkey in the Spa, the Cat's Whiskers… And Who Are You?
20 – Grandfather, Why Are You Dressed Like That?
21 – Big Brother, Where is This Nursery Rhyme From?
22 – I Didn't Know You Were Like That!

The Review!
While Kouhei trains to become strong enough to protect Hazuki, a new threat lurks around the edges of the mountains – one that may be more powerful than anything the Master has sent before now. Will he be strong enough to protect those he hold dear..?

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 Artemis this time, posing on one side of the screen, with options for Play All, Episodes, Setup and Extras running along the bottom.

Extras:
The usual creditless opening and closing sequences, along with a set of text character profiles that include the new villains introduced on this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Hazuki and Kouhei may have survived the attack on the shop, but they've forgotten to tell Hiromi that - and in the months since the attack she's been hoping they're safe and refusing to believe they're dead. Back at the shrine, Hazuki's still only allowed to see Kouhei once a month, when she feeds on him - otherwise, he's devoted entirely to his training, and while he's making progress he still has a long way to go to match the powers of others in his family. But his time is running out, as Hazuki's half-sister Artemis arrives to deal with Hazuki...

The relationship between Hazuki and Artemis isn't spelled out on-screen – it falls to the on-disc extras to fill in just how much the pink-haired one despises her older half-sibling, and it's those feelings that make her the villain of the piece here. If I hadn't known that in advance (the first thing I do when I load a new title is check out the extras – fortunately, in this case), a few scenes here may have been just a little more confusing. While Artemis is small and cute, there's a barely-concealed aura of danger that surrounds her, and along with her clearly-powerful sidekicks Jeda and Vargas you can tell she could present the gang with quite a challenge. If they ever get around to facing her, that is.

That's this release's first problem. Vargas and Jeda first appeared on the previous volume, Artemis gets four episodes on this disc to really make her impression, but the three of them don't get half as much exposure as they should – they just spend a lot of time on the fringes of the story, causing the occasional problem, but never really looking like they're going to kick ass. There are some really good possibilities thrown in here, but they're not fully taken advantage of.

The second problem is the return of Ryuuhei (Kouhei's grandfather) and Elfriede – no triumphant return for them, just the revelation that they've been watching in the shadows for a while now and staying out of the way to give Kouhei an incentive to work on his own powers. Of what happened the night of the fire or in the months since then, there isn't even a hint – they're just back, and the viewer is left to accept it, like it or not. They both make a few appearances over the course of the disc, but nothing they do or say has the feel of having any real importance, and that's another disappointment in itself.

Instead, we get four episodes that focus almost entirely on Kouhei's efforts to better himself, and to be brutally honest, that doesn't exactly make for exciting viewing. The whole "I must become stronger!" thing is something I associate more with shounen fighting shows aimed at teenage boys (think Naruto) – previous volumes of Moon Phase have painted the show as having a little more soul than that, but while Kouhei's training scenes aren't as testosterone-laced as Naruto's, they still just don't feel right.

So has this volume managed to get anything right? Well, Kaoru and Hikaru gets some good scenes to themselves (Kaoru in kitty mode is comic gold), while the feelings flowing between Kouhei and Hazuki get some exploration, leading to a major issue at the end of the disc that I'm not going to spoil but that really throws their relationship into trouble. There's also a major revelation regarding Kouhei's capabilities, of the sort where you wonder why nobody mentioned anything sooner. Are they enough to save the disc? Not really. By this point in a series, I'd expect more of importance to be happening than the treading-water we get here – definitely not up to the standard set by the show's previous volumes.

In summary:
Overall, this disc fails as it just feels that it's not really going anywhere – things happen & revelations are made, but in ways that leave the whole experience underwhelming. Even the introduction of Artemis and her sidekicks can't raise the tone enough to make these episodes really interesting. If you're collecting the series, you'll obviously need this disc – fortunately it's not indicative of the quality of the series as a whole.

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

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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