Reviewby Melissa Harper, Jan 10th 2007
Hazuki is beginning to get used to her new life with Kouhei, although she hasn't yet given up on Kouhei being her slave! The forces that imprisoned her are not going to give up without a fight, however. Hazuki and her new family must learn to rely on each other, and to trust each other, to be able to defeat the enemies that want Hazuki back at all costs.
The second volume of Moon Phase starts out in the same slow character development cycle that the first volume left off on, but shoots forward at an entertaining pace halfway through, for another big “boss fight” with the vampires chasing Hazuki. There is quite a bit more drama on this disk, more action, and a lot more information about the characters and the world they inhabit. In general, there is just more meat on this bone than the first, but if the loli-esque love story between Hazuki and Kouhei turned you off, don't look for matters to improve.
Episode six introduces the audience to the rest of Kouhei's spiritually gifted family. It would seem that his physic ineptitude has made him the black sheep of an otherwise very powerful family, who of course reside in Kyoto. Being an old, traditional family, they have arranged marriages, and the introduction of Kouhei's two adolescent cousins, one of whom is his intended, is meant to ramp up the romantic comedy factor, but the effort falls flat. It is difficult enough to think about little Hazuki being a romantic interest for Kohei, without trying to imagine a bespectacled, pre-pubescent girl as her love rival. These girls of course take an instant dislike to Hazuki, and start of the line of thinking that drives this and the next episode, that everyone loves Hazuki without her having to use her powers. Episode seven is solely focused on this thought, except a brief fashion show interlude, which will leave you pondering the difference between “cute” and “pervy.”
The action picks up in episode eight, which starts a longer story arc involving the abduction of Hazuki by Count Kinkel, one of the vampires interested in turning Hazuki into “Luna.” This obsession is yet to be explained in the exposition of the show, and viewers who don't already know the story are likely to be more than a little curious who Luna is exactly, why these sundry vampires wish Hazuki to turn into her, and why that would be such a bad thing. The lack of knowledge makes it a little difficult to care, and leaves you feeling like you missed something. Nonetheless, the action in episodes eight and nine gives the pace of the series a refreshing burst of speed. Even Grandpa gets to do his share of battle, and there is enough suspense to make up for the saccharine sweetness of the last few episodes.
The action grinds to a halt, or dramatic pause, if you prefer, in episode 10. At close to halfway through the series, this episode, focused entirely on Kohei in a hospital bed, cements the relationships of all the various characters. Hazuki finally has to confront the fact that Kohei is more than just a slave, and Kouhei's family has to come to terms with living side by side with a vampire. The cheese factor of this episode may turn the stomachs of a few viewers, as Hazuki reminisces about the “good times” with Kohei, but the drama isn't taken so far as to be ridiculous.
The look of the series is still crisp, with several interesting innovations to look out for. There is one scene drawn from the perspective of Kaiji, the cat shikigami turned adorable cat/child sidekick, who is hiding under a pillow, that is visually very interesting; the scene really looks like you are watching from under a pillow. In the action scenes, some artistic liberties are taken with replaces various textures with almost cubist artwork; this may be a little too weird for some, but it is certainly interesting. The music on this series has its moments, but most of the time is unremarkable. There are several moments where the orchestra really kicks in with a dark, gothic sound, but for the most part, you won't even notice the music.
If you are looking for a more comedic show, switch on the English voice track. Funimation has gotten a little creative with the translation, spicing up the dialogue to make everyone a little more sarcastic, drier, and more humorous. Hiromi was especially given this treatment; on the original track, she is a rather bland character, but Laura Bailey gives her a good dose of spunk in the dub. This isn't to say that the English track is better; Hazuki's voice in the original Japanese covers much better the various aspects of her character, while the English voice simply sounds snotty all the time. Also, the translational oddities of the first disc continue on the second, with random Japanese phrases surviving into the English dub. One particular example is that the phrase “Itadakimasu,” the traditional Japanese blessing of food, is left untranslated in the English dub. No matter your stance on translation debates, this is sure to leave you feeling at least slightly bizarre.
This disc comes packaged just as nicely as the first disk, in a sturdy case with attractive metallic lettering. There aren't any special features on the disc, but the box comes with some cute art cards, and a very nice insert booklet, which contains interviews with various members of the Japanese production staff. All the interviews are insightful to the show, and it is a very nice bonus, in a disc that is already a great value, having five episodes packed on it.
This show looks good, and the pace of it looks to be picking up. The story is not the most compelling, as a good deal of information is still hiding in the background of the characters, but there is enough mystery to generate a healthy amount of interest. The only real detraction is the love story, which is just hard to buy, being that Hazuki is quite obviously a little girl, and shouldn't really be interested in lovers of any sort. If one can get past the perv factor, however, this show is a really cute way to spend half an hour.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C+
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Innovative art direction, humorous English language track
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