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 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Critical Mass Video
- MSRP: 24.99
- Running time: 60
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Square of the Moon
Square of the Moon: Rise of the Light Hunters
Square of the Moon: Rise of the Light Hunters DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
May 18, 2010
Release Date: May 04, 2010
Square of the Moon: Rise of the Light Hunters
© Critical Mass Video
Battling against the Light Hunters, a group of young warriors with varied powers do all they can to turn back the growing evil.
What They Say
Evil creatures use mind control to lure their 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 rescue the world's women... and gather an adoring entourage along the way! Contains episodes 1 and 2!
The audio tracks for this release are fairly straightforward and unsurprising with a pair of stereo tracks encoded at 192kbps. 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. This release is a repressing of what Anime 18 released several years ago so there are no differences when it comes to the video. 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 but there’s a fair amount of cross coloration throughout. There was some chroma noise in the beginning of the first episode but it pretty much disappeared as things moved on.
The cover for this edition is the same as the previous except it has a different background to it. The cover for the first of two volumes for this series features just one of the women from the show, one of the harsher ones in fact, as she looks all tough and macho here with no real overt sexuality to her. It's all set against a drab broken down building kind of view which just adds to the dark and dreary nature of it. The back cover provides a better view of things with multiple character shots in a collage over a nice piece of animation from the show itself of a couple of the characters. It's a bit murky in some areas but unlike the front cover it actually works pretty well. The summary is pretty brief but they do a nice job of showcasing the plot more than the sexuality, though that's there in a fair amount of detail through the shots from the show. The technical grid is solid across the board and it conveys everything cleanly and easily. No show related inserts are included and while this is in a clear keepcase, there is no reverse side artwork.
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 way, way 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.
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, This is the kind of adult show that tries to be a bit more and not all about the sex and does a decent job at it and the end of the second episode does leave you curious enough about more. I wish that it had gotten a proper new release done with all four episodes on one release however.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery
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.