Moon Phase

Genres: actioncomedydramaromancesupernatural

Plot Summary: Kouhei Morioka, a photographer by trade, stumbles on a dark castle in Germany where he encounters a young vampire girl named Hazuki who tries to turn him into her servant. Hilariously unfazed by her charms, Kouhei does set her free from a magical barrier and is shocked to find her living with him in Japan. A battle of wills, humor, and cuteness await!

STORY – 4.5

An entry that deserves acclaim for its brilliant execution, Moon Phase never once disappointed from the moment the audience entered a particularly spooky mansion in Germany in the eyes of a photographer. Here, the premise was enthralling the moment our main hero, Kouhei, stumbles onto a mysterious mansion and meets the vampire named Hazuki.

Rather than follow typical tropes involving Vampires, the show emits comic brilliance by making Kouhei the only living man who is impotent to a vampire’s “kiss”, in the same way Hazuki herself is one of a few vampires who can day-walk in the sunlight.

Objectionable Content, Moon Phase rarely uses language and any gratuitous scenes are kept to a minimum, despite the typical trope of teenage-girl-suddenly-lives-in-virgin-boys’-house scenario. In a way, Moon Phase is an example of the potential every show has when keeping sexuality in its proper, believable form. Sexual tension itself is not a bad thing (obviously) and can make for some easy comedy while an author considers the right payoff, such as the show Dagasha Kashi.

Moreover, while a comedy is still a comedy, Moon Phase wants everything, managing to touch the sky with its believable story telling of Mazuki and her wish to fulfill a promise and a mysterious orb that is part causing Mazuki pain.  Here along side you have Kouhei, who is loyal to a fault and willing to risk everything for a girl he barely knows. It is not just the mystery of love entwined, but how the show utilizes the loyalty of Kouhei to shines in contrast to the selfish nature of Mazuki (admittingly irritated her vampiric power is impotent to Kouhei), and makes not only for a great comedy but fits nicely with the titles and themes the show throws at the viewer. While Kouhei falls somewhat into the trope of boy-naïveté, I appreciated his insightful focus on his friends and in many ways makes the “brother” elements have a deeper meaning.

For any show worth its salt knows that contrasts not only aid the viewer to focus on the right material, but doubles as enabling pointed themes to hit their marks cleanly. Consider the intrigue the alter ego we find Hazuki has named Luna. The overtly cold nature of Luna does lend to some funny moments but also pinpoints the boding tragedy that is slowly engulfing Hazuki.

While Hazuki is capable of coming out more, over time her fight with Luna takes on desperation, the greater contrast and intensity that makes the humor cherished. What is awesome is Moon Phase effortlessly gets the audience involved into the protagonists and their future.

Such ability to wield a story is its potential can be seen in the arc with Count Kinkel, who will stop at nothing to steal Hazuki’s day-walking power for his own. Those episodes inside his mansion were creepy enough, but discovering that not only is our heroine cursed with slowly losing herself to another ego, but caught in the trappings of such an evil vampire, struck our hearts.

Not that Moon Phase does not pepper us with corny jokes along the way (it is a comedy, after all), but when adding the surprise twist of a vampire’s Lover just added legitimacy and purpose to the romance in so many ways. Unique and perky, yet foreseeable at times, Moon Phase smashes awesomeness out of the park. Every episode felt fresh, whether its Mazuki attempting to get another servant, the hilarious episode she tries to kill Kouhei, or the episode where Count Kinkel warps reality to force our heroine out in the open, Moon Phase tells a great story that is fun and engaging while deep enough to muse.

Perhaps one of Moon Phases finest moments comes from the episodes where Kouhei, still unaware of the boding behind Mazuki’s alter-ego, reminisces about the Mazuki he knew. This is a comedy, and yet the themes of redemption, of friendship hit out of the ballpark. For Mazuki’s plight is our own, her fading personality worth saving, even if she is a bit selfish since she is our friend. [spoiler]This even smartly extends to Mazuki’s estranged sister, who in much of the show is envious of Luna.

This is why, as we enter the final stretch of the show, the audience can overlook overtly convenient element of Kouhei’s grandfather possessing the knowledge Kouhei needs to save Hazuki, since the show’s foci remains on our heroes. Even in the ending, Moon Phase does not forget its own characters and fleshes several memorable scenes that are cheer-inducing.

All in all, the ability of Moon Phase to stay in its own genre, while breaking stereotypical limits typical of similar shows, is as commendable as it is memorable.

 EMOTIONAL DRAW – 4.1

Emotionally, Moon Phase is solid with moments of brilliance. From the first episode, you get hooked in with the innocence of Hazuki, whose plight is flushed out well as the show progresses. Every time Luna takes over in the latter half of the show, the audience can feel Hazuki’s pain, and similarly her slow realization of her love for Kouhei was touching. It was very impressive how captivating watching Hazuki coming to terms with who she is and the guilt that she feels.

While most comedies use stories as a device, but Moon Phase successfully was able to harness the power a good story offers its audience and author alike. Whether its Kinkel’s hateful curse upon Hazuki, the terror and injury to Kouhei, that awesome episode of Kouhei’s training, or the ending scenes with our favorite feline vampire, Moon Phase understood the power of a good story to push along themes.

Consider the romances, which for a comedy, rivals some of the better romance novels in its thorough and fulfilling payoff. Hazuki is not just a cute vampire nor is Kouhei a walking romance-monster, instead Hazuki’s personality shines as Kouhei’s nobility and strength is apparent even in their faults. I appreciated the morale of forgiveness, of how Moon Phase handles the deepest desire of all our hearts…to not be alone.

[spoiler-part2]Speaking of loneliness, how about that touching scene with Hazuki’s sister Artemis? Here we have Artemis, who hates and envies Hazuki throughout the show, hilariously incapable of ruining our heroines already doomed existence. I loved how much Artemis’ own fear of loneliness leaves her in a hapless state such that when Kouhei and his family opens their hearts to her, how powerful that scene was. Not even when we are talking of side characters, Moon Phase tactfully knew how to include its characters without dragging away from the story.

As for humor, Moon Phase scores well whenever it involves Hazuki, whose feline personality, selfishness, and Luna lead to hilarious moments. I found myself laughing a lot since Moon Phase never felt forced in its humor and stayed in character for the most part. Where it lacked, candidly, was with the Grandfather, who as a character was a bit too pervy for my taste, though not unlovable.

CHARACTERS –  4.34

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The Hero of the story, this boy is a pretty solid character. He’s brash and loyal, and perfectly complements the heroine, Hazuki. While I couldn’t say the voice was Jason Liebrecht’s finest, and felt at times off, whenever Kouhei is around Hazuki he redeems himself…which, thankfully, is most of the show.
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Hazuki/Luna – 5.0
Without a doubt, the star of the show. I can’t tell you enough how Monica Rial makes her adorably funny. Captivating as a character, especially in her tragic scenes, I was very impressed by how potent Monica was in every scene and in pulling her audience into her character. Always obstinate, and yet undoubtedly a girl, Hazuki is one funny vampire. The fact she fancies wearing cat ears is equally fitting for her character.

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Ryuuhei Mido – 4.3

The grandfather of Kouhei, he’s one weird funny dude. Actually, the pervy side was off-putting for me, but thankfully, he’s always cool in fights and even at the end is really impressive. Randy Tallman does the voice with gusto, as they say. On particular favorite element of Ryuuhei is his budding friendship with Elfriede, which I found very well done.

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Seiji Mido – 4.0

The cousin of Kouhei, this guy is just cool, though limited. He’s also a jerk at times towards Luna in the most horrid ways, but he makes up for it with his loyalty to the end. Sonny Strait does a solid job and I must say that the last OVA episode had me crying with laughter.

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Elfriede – 4.1

Once the daughter of a sick vampire, she becomes a good friend of the gang. While at times she is really weird, she has a past that is rather dark for a comedy, and I think helped make Elfriede reach some outstanding moments. The voice is solidly done by Stephanie Young.

CREATIVITY – 5.0

Where shall I begin? That theme song had me at the very beginning. Nek Mimi Mode (Dimitri from Paris) is so cute, the meows in the song are too much…I was so quickly ready for a comedy. From there, we strike into Germany with that castle and the rest is history. For the scenery was pretty solid and on occasion spectacular. Every major scene was carefully drawn to augment the characters and those funny faces the characters would make were so captivating.

As far as comedies go, Moon Phase managed to keep everything believable throughout the show. The way the vampires were treated was itself a feat, and I appreciated the care into making their scenes dissimilar in every episode.

Even the ending songs were soft, with a touch of sadness and worth a listen. Kanashii Yokan and Pressentiment triste (Marianne Amplifier Feat. Yuka, Required a bit of searching, found under the term V.A. in CDJAPAN’s listings) are somewhat similar, but I felt captured the tragic overtone that the show has with Hazuki to keep the audience reminiscing. Not that the humor would not already, but again, every frame can be useful as Moon Phase exemplifies.

Like all great shows have in common, Moon Phase inserted numerous Easter Eggs throughout the episodes. You’ll find those cat ears in clouds, the mountain shapes themselves, buildings, you name it. This is usually a clear sign the creators were having fun and rubbed off on the audience. A masterpiece.

OVERALL SCORE – 4.62

 

Extra Pics:

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