Moon Phase

Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase is a 25 episode series, with a 26th bonus episode (unrelated to the main story). FUNimation released the series as Moon Phase.

Moon Phase is a vampire anime. But instead of being totally bad ass like Hellsing, or sexy and Gothic like Vampire Knight, it's sickeningly cute (or it tries to be) but also too serious for its own good. I would have enjoyed it far better without the young vampire Hazuki/Luna, but then there wouldn't really be a story. Actually, I think there would, because the other characters are really interesting, there just wouldn't be a focus or a catalyst.

My problem with the show lies in its failed effort to balance overly cute characters with a serious story line. Ditch the idiotic and pointless random cat ears (and sometimes tails), have Hazuki look older than a 12-year-old (and act older than a 5-year-old), and it might actually be a decent show. The darker sides of the story (particulary Elfriede's past, Kouhei's latent powers, the disappearance of Kouhei's mother which I don't recall ever having been fully explained, or the also rather unexplained death of Hazuki's mother) would make a great show on their own, but they're over shadowed by too many goofy and over dramatic scenes.

Moon Phase follows freelance paranormal photographer Kouhei, who appears to be in his early 20s, and is a magnet for paranormal activity, even though he can't interact with it in any way himself. He can't even see the spirits that tend to congregate around him. He is also what is called the Vampire's Lover, which means he can't become a vampire's slave, and his blood has the power to free other vampires from their masters. While on a photo shoot of an old German castle he runs into Hazuki (also known as Luna, her more malignant alter ego), a teenage vampire who is being held captive in the castle. By drinking Kouhei's blood she frees herself and is able to escape the castle. As she is basically just a child, Kouhei takes her to his home to live with him and his grandfather Ryuuhei who owns an antique shop, and who is also a powerful spiritualist and exorcist. Many vampires are out to get Hazuki both for her power, and to bring her back under control at the castle. Kouhei and his family (which includes his grandfather, his cousin Seiji, his fiancee (by an arranged marriage) Kaoru, Kaoru's twin sister Hikaru (engaged to Seiji), and Yayoi, a power exorcist in the family) work to protect Hazuki from those who are out to get her. Along the way the vampire Elfriede, who once worked to capture Hazuki, switches sides and also helps to protect her.

I'm a bit bothered by how actively Kaoru and Hikaru, who look to be about 12-years-old, pursue their affections for the much older Seiji and Kouhei (particularly by Kaoru's persistent attempts to pull Kouhei's attention away from Hazuki by acting like a cat). On top of the obvious romantic sensibilities between 14-year-old Hazuki and Kouhei. I know that these sorts of relationships aren't as big of a deal in Japan as they are here, but it doesn't make me any less disturbed by them. Though I don't suppose a brother-sister relationship is really appropriate when the girl in question is "kissing" you once a month so she can suck your blood. I was also kind of annoyed by how often the story needlessly draws out certain plot twists or secrets, especially when they're so painfully obvious to the audience. Hiding it from the characters is one thing, but continuing to try and make it some absurd mystery to the audience when they already know the answer is unnecessary.

The animation is quite good, at least. Though it's got to have one of the most annoying opening songs I've ever heard. I also must mention again how much the cat ears that appear on the heads of various characters (mostly Hazuki) for no real reason (other than to look cute, I assume), and on random pieces of scenery, really annoyed me. Moon Phase isn't horrible, though it could be much better. Maybe the balance is better in the manga, but I doubt it. I wouldn't watch it in English though. Hazuki's English voice is probably one of the reasons I disliked her so much, and the same goes for Kaoru. I also wondered why "cute animal-like side kick" equals "speech impediment." I watched it on the FUNimation channel, so I didn't have the option to listen to it in Japanese. Unless annoyingly cute vampire lolita girls are your thing though, I wouldn't really bother.


xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: It's funny yet intriguing how we can notice the same things, yet interpret and embrace them in very different ways, lol.

Ah, finally found my speed-review: 5 of 5 stars.

Kris said...

"cat-eared cuteness and gothic drama"

Heh, you're right. My interpretation was more "cat-eared idiocy and forced drama."
If you hadn't noticed, I really don't like the trend where they tack things on to characters to be "cute" just for the sake of being cute, and with no real substantial reason. It would have been one thing if the cat ears like...I don't know...suppressed her power or her lust for blood or something. But they're just...there to be there.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: So in your opinion, a *trivial* reason for cat-ears is better than no reason at all? LOL. I don't mind it so much, whether there's a reason or not. Just like life, lol.

But u gotta admit, that opening tune is irresistibly "kawaii". Neko Mimi Mode! ^_^

Kris said...

Heh, well, it will turn into a "Geez you're never happy!" argument. A trivial explanation might actually be worse I guess. Because saying that the cat ears suppressed her powers would just lead me to say "Why does it have to be cat ears?" ^_^ I'm never pleased.

But I did find the opening kind of annoying. Liked it better when "Luna" sings it.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: "Curiosity killed the cat," but I'm asking anyway, lol. If you're "never pleased", then which is your favorite anime of all time? Have u mentioned it? Just curious.

Kris said...

Hm, that's hard for me to answer. In my top favorites.... Cowboy Bebop, Saikano, Gunslinger Girl, Chrno Crusade, FLCL, Azumanga Daioh, Nodame, Romeo X Juliet.
I don't have a single favorite. The ones I own (with the slight exception of Ai Yori Aoshi, which I enjoyed, but it's not one of my favorites), are shows I really enjoyed and want to watch over and over again.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: The reason I ask is to get an idea of the least-annoying anime ever, lol. In fact, I'm gonna play Devil's Advocate and re-apply your "Kris-styled" criticisms to eliminate a few from your faves, haha...

Cowboy Bebop: What's the point? Ed? Ein? When it ends, nothing's changed.
Saikano: What's up with that ending? A vacuum of non-existence?
Chrno Crusade: What's up with multiple spellings of Chrno-Chrono? Dumb.
FLCL: WTF? Out of his forehead? Totally makes no logical sense, does it? Snore.
Azumanga: What's up with that pervy teacher? Or Osaka? Annoying.
Nodame: What's up with that percussionist? Gay? With an Afro? Why?
Romeo X Juliet: Haven't seen yet...

Which leaves:

Gunslinger Girl. There's a clear purpose, an efficient point, without the needless moronic or cutesy crap. Plus amazing music. In conclusion, all other anime titles suck. According to your historical pattern, lol.

Kris said...

Lol, but you like some of those, too!

For me, with Bebop, everything just fell into place. It was one of the first shows I watched in its entirety. It had a perfect story, perfect characters, perfect voice acting, perfect music, perfect animation. I love it to death. You'll notice at some point, if you haven't already, that I like these sorts of lost, bittersweet sad female characters. Like Faye or (more specifically) Julia in Bebop.

You've got me on Saikano though. But it's one of those "apocalyptic" anime, which people rave and joke about in turn. Like Evangelion. In the manga it's a little different; he actually winds up on some sort of orbiting ship where he spends the remainder of his days with the sort of spirit of Chise to keep him company.

Chrno...Chrono...as I'm sure you know, is just the Americanization of the name. Because apparently Americans can't pronounce "Chrno."

FLCL...it sooo totally does make sense! Somehow.... :) Anyway, I'm sure it has something to do with sex, like everything else in the show.

Azumanga...I'd like to know what's up with the pervy teacher too. He's creepy.

Nodame...why is he gay? Why does he have an afro? Or why is he gay WITH an afro? Are these separate wonderings or do you really wonder why a gay person has an afro? ^_^

Romeo X Juliet - Why is the city floating in the sky, maybe? It's actually a really lovely show. FUNimation is releasing it this year in the states.

But I would be OK with saying that all other anime suck compared to GSG, because it is indeed awesome.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: Of course I like most of these! But I was using your own mind-set, your own logic to narrow down your own list. In as sense, I was being u, lol.

I don't really ask these questions. But it would seem, u do. ^_^