Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Thirty-two - Moon Phase: Episode 1, "A little creepy, but maaaaan... those are some gorgeous backgrounds!"

If there's one thing about Japan, they're a little more... shall we say, liberal, about exploring their paraphillias than we are. One such fetish is the Gothic Lolita style where girls dress up like Victorian Dolls complete with frills, lace, and minimized secondary sexual characteristics (see: flat-chested).

It's safe to say that Moon Phase is very firmly rooted in its Goth Loli persuasions... along with several other archetypal otaku fantasies like the cute, chibi-vampire and imouto/onii-san (little sister/big brother) complex. It's wacky and a bit creepy, but sells... a lot.

Playing the role of the Goth Loli Vampire Queen is Hazuki, who has apparently been mystically imprisoned in a massive European castle for hundreds of years, yearning for an escape... which she seems to be going to find in the form of Kouhei, a Japanese ghost photographer who is visiting the castle on assignment from an occult magazine. He finds her irresistibly attractive and she...? Well, it's sort of hard to tell what Hazuki feels as she's supposed to be the mysterious outsider, an impossibly old soul trapped in a child's body.

The majority of the episode is just the initial setup to get the two of them in the same room together. Kouhei takes photos of the castle from a distance while Hazuki lounges about her gilded prison. There's a gratuitous bath scene (a standard for most anime) as well as plot hammers such as a sneaky exorcist and a magical golem guardian.

What is interesting about the title, despite its pervy, fan-service tendencies, is the massive amount of production value when it comes to the animation, particularly the setting and props. I mean, serious amounts of effort were put into these backgrounds, I am not kidding. They're just gorgeous.

It's such an odd combination of stereotyped ecchi and quality horror/fantasy art that I can't quite decide whether to despise or adore it... and, maybe, that's the point. That, in order to serve as contrast to the obvious perversions of the Goth Loli pairing, tremendous work was put into the sundries to raise the value of the series.

Granted, their character animations could be a bit better, but man... those backgrounds! Yum!

Either way, I feel both extremely uncomfortable and oddly transfixed by the opener... which is, I think, an apt feeling to have when it comes to vampire tales. So often, nowadays, we're given vamps that are nothing more than the Greek Gods reborn... sparkly, lustful Adonises who are nothing more than expressions of the desire for sexual domination, no longer the creatures of horror. While I cannot say that's the case here, as Hazuki is definitely a sex object of a different persuasion, the artifacts and creatures that they have surrounding her are much more suited to the horror of her monster mythology roots... at least, in the pilot episode. Much more Castlevania as opposed to Twilight.

I just wish that they weren't so pervy and blatant about Hazuki, herself.

One good thing about it, though, it's yet another anime title that features both the English and Japanese (with English subs) vocal tracks. Netflix has been getting pretty good about that lately and I'm always very happy to listen to a title in its original language than suffer what could possibly be a bad dub. It's just safer for me, in my opinion, to watch it subtitled.

I can't say that Moon Phase is appropriate for anyone younger than their teens and it definitely has some sketchy fetish action going on, but I also cannot say that I'm not intrigued. Just, remember, Caveat Emptor and don't say I didn't warn you.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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