Twelve year old Mitsuki's desire is to become a singer. She has the talent and a beautiful voice, but she also has a throat tumor which threatens to rob her of her gift of song. As if things weren't bad enough, two shinigami inform Mitsuki that she only has one year left to live. However, all is not lost, for they make a deal that if she goes with them, they will help realize her dream by changing her into a healthy 16-year-old, who is able to sing and apply for auditions.
StoryFull Moon wo Sagashite might very well be one of the best shoujo series to carry a heavy theme within it in such a bittersweet and lighthearted way - merging drama, romance, some comedy and a predominant musical thematic. There are few series that handle the overall presentation as well as Full Moon does, but the downside is that this may not be a series for everyone, as it's a series that goes well over 20 episodes and may strike some as repetitive with some of the same musical themes used throughout, character utterance (Mitsuki's "Echi-kun" might find itself old after some time) and its episodic progression until it hits heavy with some of the revelations, and one important twist that comes about midway through the series - which honestly, I didn't see coming. Yet, even with the anime series over the years that I've seen, I still have a fondness for Full Moon with respect to the story and characters presented, and I'll admit it, it's a nicely presented guilty pleasure. The story revolves around 12-year old Misuki, a girl diagnosed with throat cancer, and with a tumor that not only makes it painful to talk, the only treatment available would mean for her to lose her voice...and lose her greatest passion, singing. To make matters more complicated, her strict grandmother forbids Misuki to sing, not only in her concern for Misuki's health, but as those who watch the series progressively note, she holds a bitterness towards music for a personal pain.To take the story further, two shinigami or death gods, Takuto and Meroko, give Mitsuki a revelation, one in which Misuki passionately wishes to become a singer before that revelation comes to pass-and in turn, Takuto grants Mitsuki the ability to transform into a 15 year old singing sensation: Full Moon. Full Moon undergoes many trials and tribulations in the realm of singing, from becoming a start to hiding her identity and, off and on, Mitsuki dealing with the pain of her cancer among other trials that befall her. While I'm apt to say that it does follow episodic progressions, it's never unbefitting for its intended audience, and actually quite cute.In retrospect, I appreciated Full Moon while, if you watch many shoujo series and have seen some like Fancy Lala or even the elder series Magical Girl Creamy Mami and Magical Emi (all of which I have seen, at least in part, to date), you may be tempted to write this off as your standard "transfomer idol" series. Yet, Full Moon gives enough substantiated weight in its characterization that makes you, at the very least, care for the characters, and root for some of the romantic relationships that come to pass. I wouldn't call Full Moon one of the best series I've seen in retrospect, but there are times when it's not only very funny (Takuto and Meroko's exchanges are often hilarious) but also quite sad and sweet-and it deserves a place in the shoujo classic realm. The ending to Full Moon was probably one of a few series where I actually felt like I could shed tears in the end. It does tend to be overly, and quite sugary, sentimental in points, but I wouldn't say it takes away from the story overall.The intended audience for Full Moon are those who are more into the shoujo romance/drama and some situational comedy. Those who want action/adventure, it's safe to say you're in the wrong boat for watching this series. A downside to Full Moon is that I disliked points are which some of the themes are recycled, and it might not come across well to all because its idolized J-Pop, but it's one of the series that put Myco/Changing My Life on the map. Suffice to say, in my own opinion, I actually did enjoy the musical atmosphere of the series alongside the story.AnimationThe animation for Full Moon pales in comparison to some animation standards, but I actually give it higher because it adapts the manga counterpart rather well in character and setting design. Unfortunately, visually it only conducts itself as average compared to contemporary series, and shows its age quite distinctly. Those who typically watch shoujo series probably wouldn't give it much notice though, as its intention is to be very "cute" and it does succeed in doing so.SoundThe musical atmosphere of Full Moon is, indubitibly, a strong one, and if you consider other series as of late where music is a central focus (the darker, shounen central BECK, the josei, mature oriented NANA, and even other series like Chance Pop Central or Lemon Angel Project), Full Moon manages to suit it well. Yet, it's a give and take. The first opening theme "I <3 U" by the Scanty, is a fun theme that it's hard not to find it as cute and catchy, I enjoyed it more than the second OP "Rock and Roll Princess", but I'd give the second theme credit for going well with the sequence and the instrumentation. The endings are considerably stronger and more idol J-Pop. Of the endings, my favorites were "Myself" and "New Future", but one might notice that the quality of the songs may not necessarily differ in overall stylistic. Luckily, there are a few insert themes that give a bit more diversity, such as the Route L version of "Eternal Snow", and actually excels as my favorite over the original. The voice acting actually was what made me grade it down a little more than what I wanted to. Mitsuki's Japanese voice sounds considerably more mature than a normal 12 year old girl, but she does get into the heart of her character, and her performance is never forced. Takuto and Meroko's VAs, as well as the supporting cast are well suited for their roles. I did see only a portion of the English dubbed counterpart, and while I didn't feel the dub was up to the quality of the original, one VA I'd like to note is Mitsuki's (Katie Rowan), she does a decent job, but at the same time, I think the English VA work doesn't quite get into the emotional range as the original. To give due credit, however, the quality of the English version has improved tremendously with subsequent installments in the series.CharactersCharacterization in this series was quite good and made Full Moon more of an enjoyable watch for me. I did end up falling in love with the characters and they had enough development and stance where you could feel for their situations and see the chemistry among them. Mitsuki is a sweet character, and despite some points where she might be oversaturated in emotion, she's a sweetheart. She's relatable and well-developed over the course of the series, as are Takuto and Meroko, whom are more than simply side characters, but are actually given equal weight to Mitsuki for their roles and relationships. I was particulary impressed with the weight that Takuto's character received in his backstory, and he comes to have more of a sentimental role in the series with his relationship to Mitsuki, sharing both a musical past and despite his exterior, really cares for her. Meroko might seem annoying at first with her attitude and reluctance to help Mitsuki, but you gradually warm up to her as the series progresses.The side characters are enjoyable to watch in their own relations with the main three, and in retrospect, there were only one of the characters whom I found mildly annoying, but luckily he had only a short arc in which to develop him. Although I can't say Full Moon does the best job at character development, they are given enough weight to fuel the atmosphere of the series.OverallAll in all, I loved Full Moon as a collective series, despite its overall cons. it's a series that was well worth the watch and certainly among my favorite shoujo classics in its own regard.
Every once in a while, after I finish watching an anime, something extraordinary occurs; I'll sit back, and blankly stare off into space. The anime will have affected me so deeply that I remain completely dumbstruck even after the credits have finished. Full Moon wo Sagashite is one of the few animes to have instigated this phenomenon; after I finished watching it, all I could do was gape at my empty computer screen. What started out as merely a guilty pleasure soon became something I genuinely cared about. After about episode 10, I loved everything about the anime, from the girly character designs to the terrible JPop. Though I downloaded the anime expecting forgettable shoujo, what I received was far better. Full Moon wo Sagashite is a gloriously beautiful mixture of love, comedy, and melodrama. It hooks you from the start and doesn't let go until all 52 episodes are done. It doesn't matter if you hate shoujo. It doesn't matter if you hate long animes. It doesn't matter if you hate JPop. It doesn't matter if you hate love stories. It doesn't matter if you hate tragedies. No matter how jaded you think you are, you need to see this.
StoryAt first glance, Full Moon wo Sagashite's story shows great potential. Two shinigami tell an adolescent girl with throat cancer that she has a mere year left to live. Such a dark premise seems in complete contrast to the fluffy drivel that shoujo series usually spew out by the boat-load. Perhaps this can rise above the insubstantial and generic mass? Tch. Fat chance. Full Moon’s initial intrigue quickly gives way to a festering pile of nothing whose only redeeming quality is its diligence at sabotaging everything that could have been remotely good. It isn't even the awful storytelling that ruins Full Moon, but rather its absurdly augmented length. The first forty episodes could easily be condensed down to five (or less!) without sacrificing anything of significance. An episode or two of filler in a long series is sufferable, but forty is anything but. Worse, the filler is completely bereft of comedy, thought-provoking anecdotes, or ANYTHING to disguise the fact that it's wasting your time. The only things going on are Mitsuki's embarrassingly easy rise to the top of the entertainment industry, and the “wacky” hijinks caused by everyone being too stupid to function, the tone of which is an infuriatingly far cry from the utter desolation the first couple of episodes teases us with. If that weren't bad enough, bizarre coincidences and inconsistencies pepper the story. The shinigami Takuto and Meroko can phase through walls, yet sometimes they get severely delayed because of a locked door or another physical barrier. They also spend an insufferable amount of time trying to not be noticed by humans while in their (visible) stuffed animal form, despite the fact that mortals cannot see their typical form. Granted, the final arc manages to escape the brain-melting cycle of filler. The plot evolves (I would usually use the word 'devolves' in this situation, but here it is an improvement) into a mawkishly mediocre shoujo melodrama. By this time, though, exhaustion from slogging through endless amounts of fluff has settled in, and only audience members lacking crucial mental facilities will be able to muster excitement for the finale. The grimace-inducing pedophilic relationship that develops will wake everyone else from their torpor.AnimationTo compound it’s inadequacies, Full Moon delivers barely serviceable animation. Gaudy bright colors coat characters and settings alike, and character designs range from forgettable to contemptible. However, it isn't the (deplorably low) production values that makes the series unpleasant to look at- it's the complete lack of ambition. It doesn't care that it's ugly, and it certainly doesn't attempt to do anything other than look completely generic.SoundThe soundscape fares no better. One would expect a show about idols to have good music (or at the very least a wide variety), but Full Moon disappoints in both regards. Until the very last episode she has only two songs in her repertoire. Just two songs repeating ad naseum for fifty-two episodes making the prospect of watching the series on mute more and more appealing.CharactersIf this series was banking on it’s characters to make up for a vapid plot and deplorable animation, there was a grave miscalculation. Full Moon’s is a cast of paper dolls, whose only character traits center around how idiotic everyone is. Logic dictates that everyone should have died in some tragic incident long before the events of the show, due to rampant incompetence. Unfortunately for the audience, this is not the case. Given everything that these characters go through, it is a marvel how one-dimensional and soulless they are. Twelve year old Mitsuki armed with cancer and the knowledge of her imminent death? A mere bumbling idiot. Mitsuki’s guardian shinigami Meroko who has already died? Just as bumbling, if not more so. The only character with a shred of likability or any redeemable qualities is pop rival Madoka, who plays an antagonistic role, albeit a useless one.OverallI’ve heard the manga version of Full Moon wo Sagashite far outclasses this adaption, so if you're still convinced this trainwreck could be superb, you may have better luck looking there. I however have given up hope for this franchise and refuse to touch a manga with such a high likelihood of being abhorrent. As it stands, I can only recommend this series if: you're a very young girl you're sympathetic towards pedophiles (or are one yourself) you consider twelve episodes of content stretched out to over fifty to be "development" you relish terrible J-pop
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