Ugh… what a mess. Before watching, I already had a hunch that watching Tsukuyomi Moon Phase wouldn’t be easy, but I decided to have faith in Akiyuki Shinbo, its director. I’ve loved most of his other works so far: Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, Pani Poni Dash and Soul Taker were excellent, so there would be a good chance for Tsukuyomi Moon Phase to be good as well, right?
Well, I’d like to thank this series for destroying my faith in Shinbo. While it’s not utter crap, Tsukuyomi Moon Phase is dull, annoying and just not worth it.
Let me start with the good part: character-development. Surprisingly, the part where Shinbo screwed up at Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei is one of the better points in this series. The cast of Tsukuyomi Moon Phase isn’t static, and it changes notably as the show goes on. Unfortunately, all the character-development in the world isn’t going to help if you can’t care about these characters, and that’s the big problem with this series.
Bluntly said, just about half of the cast of this series is incredibly annoying. Hazuki is a whiny brat, Koukei is a lacklustre male lead, Kaoru has the depth of a paper bag, Art is a shallow, dull and predictable main villain, and so on. The interesting characters do try to brighten up the mood a bit, but they’re almost always overshadowed by the dull ones. The central theme in this series, the chemistry between Kouhei and Hazuki (the two main characters) also feels fake. It felt to me like they were arguing for the sake of arguing, rather than that their personalities were clashing.
If that wasn’t enough, I also have my issues with the storytelling. The entire story is full of plot holes – both large and small. According to this series, the best way to clean out an oil-stain in your clothes is to enter a hot spring for a while. The ending also leaves too many things unanswered. Apparently the manga went on after that point, but Shinbo could at least have tried to wrap them up a bit.
Then there are the fights, probably the most blatant part of this series. On paper, it looked good: the combat system combines vampires with Shinto-styled spells and magical seals. The different characters receive a number of interesting powers that are perfect for forming intricate strategies against the enemies. The problem, however, is that for nearly every major fight, these strategies fail and eventually either Hazuki or Kouhei ends up saving the day with some hastily explained convenient godmode-power that basically renders all of these carefully thought-out plans useless. I can understand how a series would want to make its main characters a bit stronger than usual, but the powers that our main couple receives borders the ridiculous and they feel just downright lazy.
But well, at least since this is a Shinbo-series, the art and animation-style at least look great, right? Well, even with that I’ve got problems. The animation style indeed is typical Shinbo, with nice poses and camera-angles, but at the same time it pales in comparison to the visuals of both his previous and his later works: Petit Cosette, Soul Taker, Pani Poni Dash and Zetsubou-Sensei all looked ten times better than what was shown here. The animation for Moon Phase is inconsistent and all over the place: sometimes it’s normal, at other times it’s Shinbo’s typical style and yet at other times it looks like a desperate attempt to save budget. It can’t seem to choose for one proper style.
At least I can be positive about the music: while nothing special, there are a number of very sweet tracks that especially pop up during the climaxes. Overall, though, I just can’t recommend Moon Phase. It has its decent moments, but it never really stands out at anything. It went too far at trying to be “moe” that it rather lost sight of what was really important for this series, so much that I even couldn’t understand what it was trying to achieve in the first place.