Moonlight Mile Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Moonlight Mile

Moonlight Mile Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 02, 2008
Release Date: May 20, 2008

Moonlight Mile Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Vol. 03 Conspiracy of Honor

Will ship out as soon as we stock the item. May incur extra shipping if multiple shipments are necessary to fulfill order.

The Review!
Focusing on design and engineering intrigue, Moonlight Mile builds up a bit more of its vast cast of characters that are in pursuit of their dreams of space.

Moonlight Mile is a rarity for a TV series in that it has a Japanese 5.1 mix to it. It and the English 5.1 mix are both done at 448kbps and are pretty good throughout in terms of clarity and directionality across the forward soundstage. Rear channels aren't heavily used but what gets a decent workout in several scenes is the bass level. Moonlight Mile isn't an out and out action show as it's more intent on dialogue and atmosphere - as well as various quiet space scenes - but when it is active it works pretty well.

Originally airing in the first half of 2007, the TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. While a recent series with some solid source materials, the show is one that looks like it's done on a budget and has some noticeable distracting issues. The main one is that there's a fair amount of gradients visible during a lot of the single color backgrounds, notably in space at times. This causes a bit of blocking in a few areas as well but never to a really bad level. Colors in general look solid but there are sections, again in the darker areas like the blues and blacks, where it's noisier than it should be. While Moonlight Mile isn't a standout show because of its source materials, the end result is fairly decent.

The front cover works fairly similar to the earlier volumes of the series as it uses the lunar landscape as its main backdrop piece. It does work it a bit differently this time though as it puts it to one side and has the Earth on the other while Goro and Lostman are between along with a fair amount of space technology. It's a bit cramped and busy but there is a certain feel to it that lets it work for anyone who is a space enthusiast. The back cover is oddly laid out with a lot of text to it. Each side has a small strip of shots from the show inside of TV monitors while the center has the basic premise of the series and these episodes. Below that are some mediocre taglines about the show which is followed up by the production credits and technical grid. The overall background image is that of a moonscape which fits in nicely. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for Moonlight Mile isn't a surprise as it uses a lot of great looking space shots with the moon. What is problematic is that instead of letting the majesty of the scene speak for itself, they decided to use very large text for everything in addition to the already big logo. The font for the navigation text even goes for the obvious angle of using the NASA style which just makes it look all the more ugly. This was a design where less would have been better unfortunately. On the plus side, the menus are all very quick to load and submenus are easy to access and work with. Individual episode access is available from the top level and like just about every release from ADV Films we had no problems with our players' language presets.

The only extras that are included with this volume are the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The conclusion to the first season of Moonlight Mile actually managed to defy my expectations by making me want to see more of it. Whether the second season actually gets produced is another matter, but this show has finally made me want to see the manga version more than the first two did. And that's solely because the show finally starts to delve into the material that was covered at the very beginning with the bipedal robots and the military aspects which have only gotten mild teases since then.

This third volume is still somewhat difficult to work through in its own way simply because of the kind of pacing and style it wants to use. With no real payoff to be found here, it can turn into a show where there isn't any real point to it. Yet at the same time, the journey is usually where the best material is and there are some very enjoyable if predictable elements here. The first three episodes deal almost exclusively with Goro one again as he's now back in Japan and helping out as one of a group of Building Specialists assigned to run through a series of training tests with the Moon Walker, the bipedal robot that's been in development for some time. The tests have gone flawlessly underwater when it comes to the flat surfaces but the inclined and other tests are requiring more skill which is why they've been brought in.

These episodes split the cast in some interesting ways as there are quite a few factions involved in what's going on with the development. Goro and the other astronauts are treated with disdain by the engineers since they've viewed as outdated glory hounds that the old management level folks fawn over. Within the development section, the divers that help out with safety and other aspects end up having some serious issues with the actual development team after an accident occurs that kills one of their best members. Since an accidental death could be detrimental to the project as well as the careers of the astronauts involved, a cover up is put into place. That puts Goro in an awkward position since he doesn't believe it's the right thing to do, but it also puts the supervisory engineer, Kosuke, into a moral position that he cannot handle.

That accident turns coworkers against each other as the higher ups begin to figure out how to handle things so that the project can go forward. But any incident like this will cause problems, especially when people like Kosuke are instructed to not say anything or even console the family afterwards, something which deeply affects him. The storyline turns into a bit of an investigation mystery as to why the Moon Walker performed like it did at the time of the accident and it naturally leads to an element of corruption that must be dealt with. These are minor aspects of it as it's the cast of characters that are fun to watch during it. Goro's personality is just very pleasing now that I've seen it for a bit and the way he's able to befriend people so easily is fun. The way he just slides himself into Kosuke's life so easily is disconcerting to someone like Kosuke, but even he has to admit that the astronaut isn't who he thought he was at first blush. Even better is that Riyoko finally gets some quality time with these episodes and in her relationship with Goro. How can you not like a show that actually brings sex on the beach into play?

If there is one thing I don't care for with this series, it's the way that Lostman seems to come up with the short end of the story. He really only makes a serious appearance with the fourth episode here as he's brought back into the military once again and is hounded by a pair of paparazzi. The paparazzi aspect of the story is incredibly weak as well, especially when the two go on about the grand import of their work and make it out to be something truly amazing. It's hard to take them seriously in the face of people who are working life and death situations to help move mankind out into the stars. Lostman's story itself is actually quite good as the tease we've seen about the militarization of space is given more time as he's brought into Area 51 to begin the real work. This is another world building episode where the cast is expanded and we see the very different route that he's taking to get to the moon, something he comments beautifully on when he talks about not wanting to take the same path as others.

In Summary:
Moonlight Mile is the kind of show that really does need a full length season as it feels very incomplete because of this split. Moonlight Mile has been held up, rightly or wrongly, against a couple of much stronger shows that have been out in recent years and it's little surprise that it really doesn't stand up in comparison. The show has a fairly rocky start, an odd set of characters and a lot of gratuitous sex put into it to help push the "more realistic" atmosphere. I actually liked that component and I liked that it played to the politics and so forth. It's simply that it's told in an awkward way that also deals poorly in showcasing the passage of time. I adore space themed shows, but Moonlight Mile is one that I feel would be far better served by being done as a live action prime time show in Hollywood. Give that a few seasons to run as an hour long drama and it'd be the right kind of fascinating science fiction. In this form, it just feels stilted and awkward. Yet I want more. Something at the core of this show just works and I have hopes that they'll get the chance to tell it or that the manga will come out over here.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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