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[Full Moon o Sagashite R2 DVD vol. 1 box art]
AKA: 満月(フルムーン)をさがして, Full Moon wo Sagashite, FuruMyu, Looking for the Full Moon
Genre: Shoujo / magical fantasy
Length: Television series, 52 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by Viz Media
Content Rating: PG (some mature themes)
Related Series: Full Moon o Sagashite Special
Also Recommended: Chance Pop Session, Fancy Lala
Notes: Based on the manga by Tanemura Arina (Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne), currently available from Viz under their Shoujo Beat manga line.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Full Moon o Sagashite

Synopsis

Mitsuki Kouyama is a 12 year old girl who loves to sing. However, she is very weak, and her throat hurts too much for her to sing (or to even speak loudly). Even worse, her grandmother she lives with hates music, so Mitsuki has to keep her love for music a secret. On top of that, she's sick so often and misses school so much, she never gets to make any friends. Poor girl.

Things don't get any better when two shinigami (literally "gods of death") named Takuto and Meroko come to her and tell her she only has one year left to live. This makes Mitsuki sad, as she promised a boy two years ago by the name of Eichi Sakurai that she'd become a great singer. Feeling sorry for her, Takuto gives Mitsuki a special pill that can turn her into a healthy 16 year old by the alias of Full Moon. This way, Mitsuki can live out her dream of becoming an idol singer and get Eichi to hear her song.

It's going to be a bumpy road to stardom, but Mitsuki's cheerful demeanor, as well as the help of Takuto and Meroko, will help her in that regard.


Review

Full Moon o Sagashite holds a place in my personal anime viewing career as the first anime I completed in its entirety. It was also my first exposure to the works of Arina Tanemura, as I watched this series before I read the manga or even read Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne. As such, it holds an important place to me in my anime viewing history.

When I wrote my review back in 2003, it was a very positive review from a simpler time in my reviewing career. Don't get me wrong; I still love Full Moon o Sagashite. However, looking back on it six years later, I notice some things I didn't notice before..

One thing that hasn't changed, though, is my love for the characters. Mitsuki is very likable, cheerful without being annoying, and cute without being disgustingly so. Takuto and Meroko are also quite likable, even though both of them have their moments of pouting, pigheadedness, and even angst. The supporting cast, like Mitsuki's manager Ooshige, the family doctor Doctor Wakaouji, and even Full Moon rival Madoka, are also likable. Even Mitsuki's middle-aged maid is a funny character. And any characters who don't start out on that end (specifically Mitsuki's grandmother) you're slowly warm up to once the story unfolds.

I also like the old-fashioned approach the series has. Full Moon o Sagashite re-introduces the idol magical girl series genre that was quite popular back in the 1980's, before every other magical girl show became a Sailor Moon-style action series. Mitsuki isn't your typical, peppy idol singer-to-be: her life stinks, and music is her only escape from reality. Takuto and Meroko are also not your ordinary, peppy idol singer anime mascots: in fact, they're strongly against her wanting to become an idol singer, and Meroko especially takes a while to warm up to Mitsuki. And Takuto starts off as antisocial and rude, unwilling to help Mitsuki's "selfish" dream, and Meroko starts off as clingy and selfish towards Takuto, only helping Mitsuki so she can get Takuto all to herself.

This isn't to say Full Moon o Sagashite is incredibly original, though. It deals with many themes typical of idol singer anime (obligatory rival, paparazzi, difficult struggle to get first song out). However, it does so in a matter that happens to be unique enough to avoid feeling like a Creamy Mami episode broadcast in 2002. Even the characters of the day can be just as entertaining and likable as the main cast themselves.

Unfortunately, I have to talk now about why I brought down the rating of Full Moon o Sagashite. I mainly have two problems:

1.) The filler.

While most of it isn't bad, filler is quite abundant in Full Moon o Sagashite. Similar to Sailor Moon, the anime and manga of Full Moon were produced at almost the same time, so a lot of excess filler is used to fill up space.

2.) Near simultaneous anime/manga release.

Similar to Sailor Moon, the anime and manga of Full Moon o Sagashite were produced at almost the same time (the manga started in January 2002, and the anime the following April), so a lot of excess filler is used to fill up space.

Unfortunately, this also causes certain characters to be given little to no back-story in the anime. It also causes a later shinigami's introduction (Izumi) to portray him as an evil, cocky pain in the butt, where he was actually quite a nice guy in the manga. Of the three shinigami, only Takuto's past is fully unraveled in the anime, and Mitsuki's relationship with Eichi is barely touched on after the first few episode until a dramatic 5-episode arc near the end of the series' run. (And what a doozy of a plot twist that brings, like in the completely different one in the manga!)

And lastly, since the manga was barely halfway finished when the anime ended, it makes up a new ending. It's actually quite good, though manga purists probably won't be as forgiven as those who've only seen the manga. (The manga repays the
favor by having the lyrics of a song from the anime in the final chapter. Neat.)

The art's not the best in the world, either. Although the characters are well-drawn and the backgrounds are fine, the actual animation leaves something to be desired, and the outfit designs of Mitsuki/Full Moon aren't nearly as captivating as the ones from Arina Tanemura's original manga.

The background music is fine but forgettable, and the opening/ending themes are a very acquired taste. The opening themes are Japanese rock songs done by a band called THE SCANTY, and the singer isn't exactly the most soothing voice in the world. The ending themes, as well as most of the insert songs, are done by Mitsuki's voice actress, myco. Mitsuki's voice takes a while to get used to, but I kind of like it. It's different from the typical helium-induced voices many shoujo heroines have. The rest of the voice cast does a good job as well, considering most of them were fairly new to voice acting at the time they worked on this series. The two major exceptions are Honda Chieko (Meroko) and Megumi Ogata (Izumi), who don't stray from their typical voice roles (bossy, energetic girl and feminine-sounding man, respectively).

Still, though, there's a lot to love about Full Moon o Sagashite. It's a bright, cheerful, fun little series that will appeal to both kids and shoujo fans alike. If you can somehow rent it or even buy it, I would recommend doing so. Shoujo series like this don't come every day.

A fun little series that every shoujo fan should check out. Subtract one or two songs if repeated songs or filler bothers you in your anime. (You might want to check out the manga instead.)Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: This anime is mostly family-friendly, although the idea of shinigami might shock a few parents. There is very little violence or sex, and even though FMoS does touch on a few morbid themes, it never becomes too depressing.



Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license fansub
Review Status: Full (52/52)
Full Moon o Sagashite © 2002 Arina Tanemura / Shueisha / TV Tokyo / NAS
 
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