Square of the Moon: Phase 1 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Anime 18
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Square of the Moon

Square of the Moon: Phase 1

By Chris Beveridge     April 08, 2005
Release Date: April 12, 2005

Square of the Moon: Phase 1
© Anime 18

What They Say
An evil force uses mind control to lure its prey into an unbearably erotic trap! Victims are drawn into an intensely pleasurable dream state that they’ll do anything to prolong, even as monsters feed upon their life force. A new hero rises to thrash the monsters and rescue the world’s women…and gather an adoring entourage along the way! Episodes 1-2.

The Review!
Battling against the Light Hunters, a group of young warriors with varied powers do all they can to turn back the growing evil.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though an adult title which often means a very basic stereo mix that's mostly center channel driven, this show has quite a bit of action to it that uses the stereo channels pretty actively, though usually in a full manner, but it has a bit more oomph than most other adult releases. Dialogue is still mostly center channel based but overall everything has a nice wide feel that's clean and clear during regular playback.

Originally released to video in 2002, the transfer for the two episodes on this release are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The show has something of a somewhat budgeted release from Green Bunny but they make up for the cut corners with some really creative camera shots and styles mixed in, particularly that of using grainy photo stills to accentuate a normal still or panning sequence. The show transfer has a good look overall though it does highlight some of the cheapness of the animation such as the simple line work in some of the characters. Colors look good and maintain a nice solid feel and the materials are mostly free from aliasing as well as cross coloration. There was some chroma noise in the beginning of the first episode but it pretty much disappeared as things moved on.

Unfortunately not using the Japanese artwork, the cover for the first of two volumes for this series features a couple of the women from the show in states of undress and with one of them having some tentacle fun at the same time though that's kept to the background. The character designs here and what little there is of a background doesn't really sell this show well and it's unfortunate since there's quite a bit of story underneath that's worth pushing. The back cover provides a better looking shot of Makoto in a slinky outfit along with a very minimal summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features. As is usual, most of the information is crammed into a small area near the bottom with all the logos and icons so it's fairly easy to find the information but it could be laid out a lot better. The reverse side of the cover has one panel that's got a great shot of Manami being devoured by the little buggers while the other panel lists the chapter stops, bilingual cast listings and the usual mixed production credits.

The main menu is a fairly simple static piece of Izumi standing naked as she touches herself while the background is a partial piece of one of the city backgrounds that's all set to a loop of the opening song that plays in full. The navigation is straightforward along the right side and access times are nice and fast. The disc did properly read our players' language presets and played them accordingly. While not overly flashy, the menus here are on par with other adult releases from Anime 18 and they get the job done.

The only included extra is a video art gallery showcasing pieces from the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the PC game released back in 2001, Square of the Moon is an interesting four part series that we get to see the first half of with this volume. As mentioned earlier, the animation at times has something of a cheap feel to it that's treated in a creative manner to lessen it but it's also a show that's very focused on a plot and the sex scenes, what few there really are, are there in service of the story. It's a rarity in the adult anime world but Green Bunny tends to put something like this out every so often.

The show initially opens by introducing us to Ryo, a (college!) student who's being chased by something in the city night and is mostly being observed by a few others high atop the buildings. They like what he has to offer in how he handles himself through the city so they want to bring him to Izumi to meet to try and recruit him. At the school late at night when Ryo goes there to meet her, he's accosted by a couple of the guys as they try to establish an order and tell him how impressed they were at his abilities. Once he's brought before Izumi though he's finally clued in about what's going on. She leads a group of them that use the cover of the Astronomy Club to get together in actuality as a band of warriors from the blue moon in the sky called the Kashan. Their mission is to stop the Light Hunters that infiltrate the world by going after people and playing with their desires.

Ryo's felt to have quite a power so they're eager to bring him into the group that's relatively small with two men and two women. And Ryo does have quite a power though it's unrealized at first but as he gets into the danger he's able to at long last transform his sword into something much more powerful that when combined with his strength is quite deadly. Each of the people in the group seem to have powers though it's more focused on the women, such as Izumi's various magics and her healing ability as well as that of erasing memories or Kyoka's which has a pet dragon-like creature that she's able to command.

Ryo gets introduced to the Light Hunters quickly while mulling over the decision to join as Izumi shows him one in the park. It's taken to a woman and is using its tentacles to enrapture her with pleasure that she desires, fulfilling the dream for her that's keeping her mind occupied. Go on long enough and she'll eventually die and it'll get her energy. The Light Hunters are drawn to people with strong unrealized dreams and actively exploits them. But there are also more human looking members among them that are working to bring their Queen of the Night to this dimension in order to establish a True Night and the Kashan are also the only thing standing in opposition to that.

For an adult release, the show is very minimal on the sex scenes in the first episode and about the same in the second episode, though that one opens with a really well animated and stylish foursome sequence that has a very attractive female character to it. The first episode has a couple of minor sequences but it's very much focused on the storyline here and the darkness surrounding it. It's got plenty of violence to it and it does get bloody but it's not over the top in what it portrays. When the adult series, especially ones based on games, are more focused on the plot than the sex it's usually because there is a really good story backing it up. It's mixed in the first couple of episodes here but it's a nice change of pace to have sex scenes that really are a natural extension of the story.

The show's style is really interesting. With a lot of it taking place at night, they're able to use darkness to help cover up some of the corners being cut. Other visual tricks such as the handycam jitter and changing a still to look like a grainy photograph gives it some flavor. I also really liked the way the character designs turned out with this. Manami and her outfits actually make her feel young even though it probably dates the show. Izumi handles things well as the standard schoolgirl dress with glasses and Kyoka hits up the attractive blonde well. But the woman who opens up the second episode really topped them all. Even the male characters have a good edge to them here with angular faces and tall solid bodies that avoid that wimply lead mentality that so many shows are infected with.

In Summary:
Square of the Moon has an interesting enough premise and is really designed to look like a TV series, from its opening sequence to the way it all plays out. If you took out the sex or changed it to regular torture sequences it'd probably play up as an average series but when you put it in the adult category it really stands out since they're trying to do so much more than just the sex here. Creative visuals, very good looking designs and plenty of plot, Square of the Moon is an interesting series that I look forward to seeing the conclusion to.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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