Moon Phase

Moon PhaseType: TV Series + DVD Special
Episode Count: 25 + 1
Genre: Supernatural / Drama / Comedy
Vintage: 2005

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 18 Jun 2007

Grade: A
grade revised 12 Jan 2010 (was B)

Quirky gothic fun from the director of Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko. For those who have never seen that series, this is a good thing; take my word for it.

Plot Summary
Kouhei Morioka is a paranormal photographer on assignment in Germany. He is investigating a castle when he spies a figure in his viewfinder. Having caught his interest, Kouhei decides to enter the castle to try and find the figure that he saw. What he finds is a vampire whose intent it is to make him a slave and thus gain freedom from the castle by giving him the vampire’s kiss – in other words, biting his neck for blood to put him under their spell. The other occupants of the castle do not wish for the vampire to leave the castle, and a conflict ensues, with the final outcome being that the vampire does get freed and ends up going to Japan to be reunited with Kouhei.

Did I mention that the vampire is a 14 year old girl?

The Review
Here’s a series that was a pleasant surprise in just about every way imaginable. It matches up a bunch of things that I like and has them all in one series. One very easy way to put it is imagine playing Castlevania, except instead of being Simon Belmont: Vampire Killer, you’re Simon Belmont: Vampire Onii-sama. Add to this that Moon Phase shares the same director and series composer as my favorite obscure series (Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko), and this was a series that I just had to check out.

Moon Phase is part gothic tale, part drama, part oddball comedy, and all good. There are several story arcs over the course of the series, but they are not delineated in the way that story arcs are traditionally done. Rather than cold stops and starts, the story is in constant transition. While multiple plotlines are unfolding, they all mesh together as one. The series starts off with Kouhei’s discovery and first encounter with Hazuki in the castle and her subsequent liberation from said castle. From there, many genres are blended to tell the rest of the story. The humor is offbeat and works just right… there is a running joke through the entire series where a washtub or tea-kettle will come crashing down on a character at just the right (wrong?) time. This device is used very similarly to the convention of falling to the floor quickly at a ‘slap-your-forehead’ moment as seen in many manga and anime. There’s no easy way to describe the way that this device is used, but it’s just so totally random and out of nowhere that it works despite – or perhaps because of – its being a non-sequitur.

Another thing of note for Moon Phase is its use of cinematography. It’s not too often in anime that cinematography stands out to me, but in this series it was done very artfully. There were many shots with purpose, and it was more like they were composed through a camera lens than being the digitally rendered backdrops that they actually are. The cinematographers for Moon Phase did a great job.

Overall, Moon Phase is an excellent series if you enjoy all things gothic. It’s a different spin on a vampire story, and even though it has an opening credits sequence that is so incredibly sugar-laden that it should be outlawed (which is quite alright by me, mind you), the story within is a great mix of paranormal, drama, and comedy that chances are you’ll find something to like about it.

So, why does Hazuki wear cat ears? Because it’s cute. Nyaa~

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