Moon Phase Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     May 17, 2007
Release Date: May 15, 2007


Moon Phase Vol. #6
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Like a child's rhyme, from beginning to end and back again... Hazuki and the Mido clan have come full circle, but the stakes are far higher than ever they were: no longer the specter of death, but the loss of a soul.

Kouhei, having seen Hazuki's true form, cannot reconcile the little vampire he has grown to love with the monster before his eyes. And to save the others, Hazuki must embrace her fate, sacrificing all that she has come to love in order to save it. As the castle which had been her cage for so long seeks to close them in, those thought lost seek the riddle's solution...

Contains episodes 23-26:
Big Brother, Am I That Scary?
Goodbye Big Brother... I'm Going Back? I'm Really Going Back?
Big Brother, They Say It's The End! Will You Always Be My Slave?
Up and Down, In the Sun, Floating Away... What is It?

The Review!
The series draws to a close with an emotional ending and then two episodes of just plain silliness.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is pretty good and very useful throughout as there is a lot of well placed dialogue in quiet scenes that add to the overall eerie ambience that the show promotes. The more active scenes have a fuller feel to them though it's really just the end sequence that has a strong overall feeling with its music. The show isn't terribly heavy on action so it mixes in some dramatic musical cues to the dialogue and it works well. We sampled parts of the English mixes, presented in 2.0 and 5.1 tracks, and among all three of them we didn't notice any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Overall this looks to be a rather good show and the quality pretty strong but similar to other recent releases from FUNimation like Speed Grapher, there's a strong feeling of softness and fuzziness to the end result. This may be intentional in some areas due to the nature of the show, but there are scenes where the colors are so strong against each other, such as the greens and blacks, that they tend to shift a bit too much. This seems to hit mid-range shots more but is noticeable in some close-ups as well. The other part that is hard to pin down is that some of the blacks don't seem to be all that dark and tend to have more of a dark gray look to them. There are a lot of good looking deep black areas but there is more emphasis on a lighter and softer look. Thankfully, the transfer is free of problems such as cross coloration and aliasing. The sheer amount of noise in most scenes seems to be even stronger with this volume which is causing many areas to just block horribly. Moon Phase was never a truly impressive looking disc but this one feels like it just dipped a fair bit lower in quality.

Packaging:
Hazuki and Artemis are together again with this cover but unlike the previous one they're much closer and have much better expressions. The combination of the two is a bit of cute overkill but it works nicely with the mix of colors and the overall style. The silver foil used for the logo is once again very well done here as it's a great looking accent but not overpowering. The back cover works a very simple but strong approach as it keeps to a black background with the elegant writing here and there. While the technical information continues to be too small and out of the way, the rest of the cover is very well laid out with a look at the summary, the episode numbers and titles, and several good looking shots. It's very nicely done with a bit of restraint I think. The included booklet, though short, is packed of great material, such as rundowns on the episodes on this volume and interviews with some of the voice actors and key creative staff. Add in some gorgeous artwork and a good paper stock and it's a good read. Also included with this volume is a handful of postcards featuring gorgeous illustrations of Hazuki in outfits and positions that may have you questioning yourself.

Menu:
The menu layout is simple but nicely effective with a close-up shot of Hazuki from the front cover along the right side. Combined with the really nice logo and design for the Phase portion of it, the navigation strip looks really good and keeps to the overall theme of the show. Add in a really nice bit of haunting instrumental music and you wish that the loop was smoother so that you could leave it on for awhile without realizing it. Access times are nice and fast and the disc had no problems in reading our audio playback preset. A surprise change with this volume is that the subtitle tracks are now labeled which makes changing it on the fly easier (as slates/songs are listed as English and the full subtitles are listed as Japanese).

Extras:
The extras are pretty basic as we get only the textless songs section for the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a rather good set of episodes in the last volume there was a lot of hope for payoff in the series finale. The ups and downs of the series were certainly evident throughout but the potential of ending on a high note was certainly there. With the final four, they do manage to end things on a good note at the end of episodes twenty four. Unfortunately they decided to tack on two more episodes, one of epilogue material and another just for the hell of it I guess.

With the main goal of bringing Hazuki back to her cage home and returning her mentally to her Luna status, Jeda has moved forward with his separate plans to do just that. Artemis and Vargas have been playing back and forth with Hazuki and the rest but Jeda is certainly playing for keeps. While the mini confrontations build up as Hazuki deals with Kouhei's sudden freaking out over what he's really seeing her for goes on, Jeda has slipped into their camp with the use of a controlled Seiji. Using him as a way to tweak Hazuki into going along with his goals Jeda is able to position things just right to have her leave of her own accord. While the emotional tweaking works there's also a bit of physical pressure applied to all of her friends as well.

It's fairly obvious how the show will go and it's easy to imagine it going through the remaining three episodes on the volume. Everyone gets a nice little bit of screen time and even the annoying characters such as Hikaru and Kaoru get some nice moments as it all comes together. Kouhei's growth through the last several episodes is also nicely highlighted as he fights against backsliding to his old ways. But instead of going through the three remaining episodes by extending things with dramatic turns and some back and forth the end it in just one. That leaves them with two episodes worth of follow-up material, something that a relatively content-light series like this can't really handle.

In looking at the follow-up episodes it's really hard to figure out what the entire goal was in general. The first one is easy enough to see and fits the mold of a traditional epilogue piece by leisurely taking its time showing how everyone has adapted since the conclusion of the real material. Hints of potential future issues are highlight but it tends to spend most of its time with small character moments and some mildly amusing comedy. As an end episode it would have been perfect if they decided not to end on episode twenty-four. Episode twenty-six however just goes over the top in trying to be an outright comedy that makes no sense. For no reason, the home where they live in the city is now transplanted to the middle of the ocean and has been floating about for six months. Everyone's adapted nicely except for Seiji who is constantly freaking out. It's mostly just simple character comedy but it feels so out of place after the previous episodes that it was hard to really enjoy it.

In Summary:
Moon Phase was a series that started off with a whole lot of neat atmosphere and excruciatingly slow pacing. Along the way it minimized both of those and provided some general weirdness, humor and delightful character moments. As a whole I can only view Moon Phase as a weak series that had a very clear idea of what it wanted to be but it wasn't something that clicked for me. The series had some really neat elements to it with the vampires and how it was all portrayed and it came together well towards the last two volumes but it wasn't a series that had me eager to see each new volume. Nicely packaged and with some great little extras it stood out nicely but in the larger picture with a number of dark shows being released at the same time it ended up overshadowed by them. Moon Phase will find its audience and they'll adore it. For me, even as much as I liked it towards the end, I'm simply glad it's over.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening,Clean closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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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