Moonlight Mile, at first glance, appears to be a ripoff of the realistic slice-of-life space drama Planetes; but at its core, it's much more.
At first, Moonlight Mile is reminiscent of Twin Spica - two men have a lofty aspiration of becoming astronauts, in an era when mankind is finally looking to extend its reach into space. As the series goes on, we follow both Goro and Lostman as they become astronauts and hone their skills. However, about one third of the way through the twelve episodes, the tone changes - instead of being akin to Twin Spica, Moonlight Mile's tone is closer to Wings of Honneamise, focusing on how mankind can use technology that will work in space, the trials and tribulations that follow, and the rescue attempts that must be devised and made when the technology - or human error - fails. Really, not much of Moonlight Mile will remind you of Planetes - just the fact that they both are very realistic space dramas.
As someone who loves the idea of someday going into space, I can't get enough of these types of shows (the very few that there are); but though Moonlight Mile begins with a bang, by the end I had very mixed feelings.
First of all, Moonlight Mile can't decide what it wants to be, or what tone it wants to portray. At first you are watching a passionate tale of two friends with powerful goals; then, the tone changes to one of suspense, as you watch several potentially-fatal situations unfold; finally, the last third becomes even more derailed, with a conspiracy-type investigation that spans several episodes.
Second, the beginning of the first episode is incredibly misleading, Berserk or Gungrave-style. The opening scene of the series is of a woman landing on the moon, and eventually running into giant robots which presumably kill her. I can only guess that this happens in the second season, because the rest of that episode, and the series, involves nothing of the sort. People who would expect alien invaders and space battles would be sadly let down, as the subject matter is fully realistic and is more in line with Wings of Honneamise.
Third, I didn't care at all for how most of the women were portrayed, or for the two main characters - but I'll get to that in the characters section.
Fourth, there's a random hentai scene that is shown just after the misleading intro, that shows various people getting rammed (including overdone jiggling breasts flapping in the wind) - WHICH HAS NO PURPOSE AT ALL! It's never returned to, and never explained why they showed it. Ooooookkk!
Even with these problems, I ultimately enjoyed the story of Moonlight Mile, quite a bit.
The only reviews I've read for Moonlight Mile are based on the first few episodes, and condemn the animation as being cheap and low budget. I don't really agree. Sure, it's no Ghibli production, but the animation seemed just fine to me. The character designs are quite rough and most of the time, are quite unattractive (even the meant-to-be-sexual characters like Riyoko were unappealing to me); regardless, I thought the detail was decent enough and the CG, though not seamlessly-integrated, was fairly good. I did notice a few scenes where the characters move very little (except for the mouths), but overall the animation suited the series well enough in my book.
Orchestral in a different sort of way, Moonlight Mile's audio was almost perfectly selected for the tone and feel. There's a sweeping kind of ambience that the tracks instill, all of which made me feel like it was myself looking at the stars, wanting nothing more than to fulfill my dreams. Though I probably wouldn't buy the soundtrack, I have nothing bad to say about the audio.
Now, I know I'm not the target audience for Moonlight Mile (as I don't have the right plumbing between my legs), but the characters are what really miffed me.
First of all, there's Goro and Lostman - two womanizing slutbags that can't keep their pants zipped up. We watch the two as they move along their respective paths, having sex with whoever they come across - whether it's the stripper in Russia to the Broadway star, to the family woman and beyond. Lostman I can understand - he's meant to be a looker (though I would have appreciated the story a lot more if it wasn't damn near a central focus of the story, that he always was off with random women and needed to screw something before any mission for "luck"); but Goro?! The guy is unattractive, overweight, bumbling, and not overtly intelligent (though he proves his ingenuity throughout the series) - why are all the women falling over him, even before he is famous? These guys both continued to grate on me as time went on, though I'm sure a lot of men out there would love to give them a virtual high five.
Second, the portrayal of damn near all of the women, with the exception of some of the random shuttle staff and others that aren't major characters, is very misogynistic in a way. There's the ISA staff member who is overtly sleeping with one of the married astronaut candidates to "make her way up in the company"; the endless women who sleep with Goro, often in long term relationships, who never seem to get angry when he randomly leaves them for new territory and new women (right, cause THAT happens in real life!); and overall, the women are in general complacent and docile, and subservient to the men of the house. I know it might just be a Japanese societal thing, but this was easily the most off-putting element of the series. Though the idea of women as an inferior race is a commonly-accepted theme in most anime, Moonlight Mile is more on par with a series like Jyu Oh Sei for the intensity of the idea.
Regardless of the inherent problems that Moonlight Mile faces, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. There are very few realistic space anime out there, and Moonlight Mile can rightfully take its place as one of the good ones. Though there are some definite problems with the story and character portrayals, the positives ultimately outweigh the negatives. Hopefully the second season will solve the mystery of the first episode, and hopefully Goro and Lostman will become a little less slutty.
After discovering an element on the moon that, when used to create a nuclear reaction, would power the Earth for the next 1,000 years, the leaders of sixteen countries declared that their space programs would be combined into the International Space Agency (ISA) – and fifteen nuclear reactors would be built on the moon by the year 2023. Lostman and Goro are two young climbers who have conquered the highest point on Earth – Mt. Everest – and now look to the skies for their next challenge: to become astronauts and explore the stars. While Goro becomes a construction specialist, Lostman joins the air force; both will work their hardest to make their way into space, by whatever means necessary.
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.
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