Saturday, September 3, 2005

Full Moon Wo Sagashite

Genre: Shoujo / Drama / Fantasy / Romance
General Audience
2002 Tanemura Arina, Toshiyuki Kato, TV Tokyo , Studio Deen, NAS

Full Moon Wo Sagashite DVDs
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Everything Full Moon Wo Sagashite

tsumenki's Description:
Gifted with a golden voice, twelve-year old Kouyama Mitsuki loves to sing more than anything. Unfortunately for her, things aren't as easy as opening her mouth. For starters, her imposing grandmother absolutely abhors music. More importantly, her cancer affects her voice, making it difficult for her to sing. When two shinigami (angels of death) appear from her bedroom wall and inform her that she only has one year to live, Mitsuki's determined to become a singer more than ever, especially since it means fulfilling a promise to a childhood crush. Moved by her situation, the shinigami turn her into a sixteen-year old for one audition, not knowing that her life is about to change. Get ready for Mitsuki (aka Full Moon) -- Japan's newest singing sensation!

(52 Episodes)

One Life to Live (with a Looped Soundtrack). >>> by tsumenki
One caveat -- it's too damn long. I didn't really notice the length as I was going through the whole thing, since it had a pretty good mix of showbiz gossip, family secrets, and (insert orchestral music: ta-da!) big underlying plot theme to keep me interested. But then again, I'm admittedly more patient than most viewers. Still, after I finished it, I was surprised that it took more than fifty episodes to tie the whole thing together (didn't she have one year to live?)

So why did I like it? First, the characters are endearing. Though optimistic, Mitsuki isn't ingratiatingly sweet like most twelve-year old anime heroines. She carries herself with an impressive amount of maturity and determination for her age, making it easy for her to slip into the occasional role of a sixteen-year old teen idol. I particularly liked her seiyuu's voice. It had a full and soothing quality that made it easy for the character's emotions to come alive. My only complaint is that towards the end of anime, Mitsuki's pining for her childhood sweetheart Eichi is enough to make you want to shake her to her senses.

The other characters are good foils to Mitsuki's bright-eyed hopefulness. Meroko, the cute female shinigami, eagerly shows her over-enthusiasm in some episodes and reveals a caring, empathic side in others. Wakaouji-sensei (Mitsuki's doctor) and Ooshige (Full Moon's manager) act as supportive surrogate parents for the almost love-starved little girl. Takuto, in particular, the male shinigami who turns into a stuffed cat every now and then, grounds her with the voice of reason (and partly, with the voice of a jealous suitor). He is arguably the character whose emotions drive the series, especially when the audience begins to piece his background together. His struggle for control over his duties as a shinigami, his feelings for Mitsuki, and his returning memories are integral to the story.

Another thing I'm not too hot about is the music. For a musically-driven anime series, I rather expected to be blown away by the music. The only reason that I find myself singing to Full Moon's songs is because they're repeated over and over again. Mitsuki sings around 2-3 songs throughout the series, roughly the same number of songs Naru sings in her one-episode singing stint in Love Hina. Granted, Full Moon's songs are important to the story's plot, but I guess I was really looking for more feet-tapping, head-bopping rhythms. Still, the most poignant moments of the anime (at least, personally) are the ones that occur when Mitsuki and Takuto are singing acapella (I think most of the songs sound better acapella). Really moving stuff. The art is not consistent in some places, but for the most part, it's not really an issue.

Full Moon wo Sagashite dares its viewers to evaluate life and dreams and family relations. Faced with the fact that she only has a year to live, Mitsuki strives to live each moment to the fullest. While we may never be blessed with a platinum record or a hit single, the anime urges us to take stock of the things that make life worth living.

Individual Rating: Art: 9; Story 8; Characters: 8; Sounds: 7

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