You had me at "A slapstick adolescence idol success story."
Reviewby Liann Cooper, Mar 23rd 2004
Full Moon wo Sagashite
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Mitsuki made a childhood promise with her friend, Eichi, that she would work as hard as she could to reach her dream of becoming a singer. However, Mitsuki has a malignant tumor in her throat that prevents her from singing any louder than a whisper. On top of this, two angels of death, Meroko and Takuto, have informed her that she only has one year to live. Determined to keep her promise, Mitsuki sets out to become a famous singer before her one year is up.
At first glance, Full Moon wo Sagashite is deceiving. A show about a 12-year-old girl who magically gets turned into a 16-year-old singer? In addition, she has two Shinigami dressed up as a bunny and a cat who follow her around. What's so special about that? Despite the premise, the series actually runs a much deeper and emotional road. Based on the manga of the same title, Full Moon wo Sagashite's 52 episodes do not disappoint. Though the series starts off a bit slow, focusing mainly on Mitsuki's growing success as Full Moon, it picks up a good deal of steam in the later episodes.
With its bright colors, happy intros, and incredibly cute characters, Full Moon wo Sagashite proves that you really can't "judge a book by its cover." Trying to place your finger on why Full Moon wo Sagashite seems to stand out amongst all the other titles in its "genre" is difficult. Presenting itself like an after school special, the show faces the reality that Mitsuki is going to die, rather than try and sugarcoat the fact that Mitsuki may die. Despite this, knowing her fate is sealed, Mitsuki remains optimistic and full of life. She still tries her best to live the remaining year of her life the best she can. With this concept alone, the plot is rather dreary, but the series manages to balance enough happy moments in with the severely depressing ones to not push the viewer away. Each episode is introduced by Meroko with a brief recap of the previous episodes. Thankfully, that's the only appearance the recaps make. No flashbacks (Naruto anyone?), no recap moments in the middle of an episode, just a brief summary before the opening credits. This greatly helps in the forward progression of Full Moon wo Sagashite's storyline and keeps the emotional impact on a steady increase until the end.
Mitsuki, Takuto, and Meroko make up one of the best group of characters in an anime series in a long time. Mitsuki is an optimistic twelve-year-old going on sixteen--literally, Meroko is a playboy bunny with a heart of gold, and her partner, Takuto, is your typical brooding bishie. Nothing to write home about at first, but the chemistry among the three is amazing. This chemistry is aided by the well-executed voice acting. Jpop singer, Myco, makes her voice acting debut as a believable, 12-year-old Mitsuki. Not only is she Mitsuki's speaking voice, Myco also provides the singing voice for Full Moon. Takuto's dreamy voice is performed by Yasuo Saitou and rounding out the trio is the talented Chieko Honda as Meroko. Together they create a great group of characters that the viewer can completely relate to. Takuto and Meroko provide some much needed comedic distraction from the "Mitsuki is going to die" storyline. The interactions between the two are quite funny, especially as Meroko repeatedly professes her undying love to her obviously uninterested partner. With her bunny ears and top hat, one can't help but laugh at Meroko's failed attempts at wooing Takuto. Throw in Mitsuki, mix in a little jealousy, and situations get downright hilarious. One of the nice things about the characters is that they actually mature throughout the extent of the series. Far too many series have static characters that are the same from beginning to end. Without this strong character development and willingness to poke fun at itself, Full Moon wo Sagashite would probably drown after about five episodes in its own emotional soup.
Music plays a big role in the series; after all, it is a show about a singer. Full Moon wo Sagashite rotates three main songs: "Myself," "Eternal Snow," and "Love Chronicle." They are played during each episode, usually with Full Moon performing them, and also serve as the ending themes. With only three songs, you'd think the repetitiveness would get really old. However, even though they're a tad overplayed, "Myself," "Eternal Snow," and "Love Chronicle," seem fresh and fitting every time you hear them. Maybe it's the emotional significance of each song or the comforting and reminiscent sounds of 90s-like pop ballads. Whatever it is, you won't rip your hair out whenever you hear them played. As aforementioned, Myco provides all of Full Moon's singing. With that in mind, the songs are executed as one would expect, until you remember Full Moon is only 16. Myco does not sing like a 16-year-old. Somehow, when Mitsuki's body transformed into a teenager, her voice mutated into a 24-year-old Jpop singer's voice. In addition to Myco, The*Scanty also lend their musical talent. They provide the peppy opening songs "I Love You" and "Rock n' Roll Princess," and also manage to sneak in a couple of cameos during the series.
Artistically speaking, Full Moon wo Sagashite doesn't have anything too spectacular to point out. Character design is pretty generic, but appealing. The males have a tendency to look like each other, only with a different hair color. In Eichi-kun and Dr. Wakaouji's case, the similarity between the two was done on purpose, but regardless, the males seem to have the weakest design. Mitsuki's two curly ponytails seem about the only original thing regarding character design. Well, that and maybe Takuto's belly shirt that seems to get shorter every episode.
Yes, Full Moon wo Sagashite is an angsty show, but it's an angsty show fit for a broad audience. Whether you're 13 or 25, you'll probably enjoy some aspect of this show. So, if you need something to tide you over until SaiKano gets released this spring, or you're feeling a bit nostalgic for your old Lurlene McDaniel books, check out Full Moon wo Sagashite. Mmmm...Campbell's Angst Soup, nothing warms your heart more. Here's hoping it gets a domestic release soon.
Overall : A-
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : B
Music : A-
+ Strong character development, a storyline with emotional impact rivaled by few
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