What They Say
Like a child's rhyme, from beginning to end and back again... Full circle has Hazuki and the Mido clan come, but the stakes are far higher than ever they were-no longer the spectre 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...
23 – Big Brother, Am I That Scary?
24 – Good-Bye Big Brother... I'm Going Back? I'm Really Going Back?
25 – Big Brother, They Say it's the End! Will you Always be my Slave?
26 – Up and Down, In the Sun, Floating Away... What Is It?
Hmm. There may be 26 episodes in <em>Moon Phase</em>, but the main event clearly ends with episode 24. That leaves two episodes of filler sitting at the end of the series with nothing better to do than confuse me – and that's not a good thing…
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 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. The final episode is at the other end of the colour scale, with plenty of bright, vibrant colours, and again it looks the part. There were no obvious problems.
The release comes in a clear keepcase, with an image of Hazuki and Arte on the front – Hazuki shown in a cute dress with Arte clinging on to her. A full-size, text-free version of this images is used on the reverse of the cover. The rear has the usual screenshots, plot synopsis and technical information. All in all, another decent package.
Another static screen in the usual style of Revelations' release – featuring Hazuki this time, posing on one side of the screen, with options for Play All, Episodes, Setup and Extras running along the bottom.
The usual creditless opening (Nekomimi Mode version) and closing sequences are provided, and that's all.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
While Hiromi visits the ruined shell of the Mido home, where Hikaru is being held by Artemis and her associates, Kouhei is getting his first real look at Hazuki - with his training complete, he's finally able to see through her cute exterior to the demon within, and the shock to his system is immense. His reaction to her is also a shock to Hazuki, as she's unaware of her own true nature. Back at the Mido home, Hikaru does what she can to protect Hiromi, even though that may cost her her life...
Another disc of two halves, here. First up we've got the conclusion of the show's main storyline, which covers the first two episodes of the disc. The storyline around Artemis and Kouhei's emerging powers hadn't impressed me last volume – this volume doesn't really change much in terms of what's going on, but it looks a little more into the relationships between Kouhei, Hazuki and Artemis to try and explain the situation a little better and move the story towards a resolution, with Arte's protectors Jeda and Vargas being the main threats to our "good guys"
The irony is that it's Kouhei's desire to <em>help</em> Hazuki that led to the emergence of his powers – which directly lead to him being completely terrified of her. We never get to see what he sees – to the audience, she's the cute little vampire she's always been, and that's also how she sees herself – but you do get to see something of the struggle that both of them have to deal with the situation. I'm a sucker for any storyline that lets you see how a character ticks - that's what we get here, and it's a very enjoyable part of the tale.
Arte, on the other hand, is less interesting – a two-dimensional character whose actions are borne from jealousy, she's someone I wasn't able to warm to, while Jeda and Vargas are equally shallow and just there to do the dirty work. As a way of moving the Hazuki / Kouhei issue forward they do the job, but I can 't help but feel that the characters aren't use even remotely as well as they could have been. The end result is a bit of a mixed bag – it has the darker feel of the best Moon Phase episodes and some great character moments, but still manages to be a bit unsatisfying at the end.
If this first two episodes were just a bit unsatisfying, though, the final two are deeply so, as this is a case of a series that should have quit while it was ahead, but didn't. Episode 25 – the final episode of the original TV, as I understand it – is an epilogue piece that takes us back to the antique shop for a last blast of the show's more comic side. Life has returned to pretty much normal, which means that this is an episode much like any other from mid-season and not what you'd expect to see at the end of the series. Episode 26 takes that further into the ridiculous, with the shop now floating in the middle of the ocean for reasons unexplained. Both episodes just had me asking "why!?" – at episode 24 the show had reached a natural conclusion, tied up most of its loose ends and had nowhere else to go, and tacking on two comic episodes just felt completely out-of-place and took away from the sense of closure there had been. Completely pointless, and because of that a lot less enjoyable than similar episodes earlier in the series had been.
Moon Phase ends with a bit of a whimper – there's some good stuff here in terms of developing the relationship between Hazuki and Kouhei, which is after all the foundation of the show, but villains that it's hard to get a feel for and some tacked-on comic episodes that do nothing for the series spoil the good work. While I'd recommend Moon Phase as a series, this final volume is some way off being its best work.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Closing Sequences
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system