Full Moon wo Sagashite Manga Review: A Beautiful Shojo Title for All Ages

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Movie goers like to point to Disney or Pixar for an abundance of entertainment any age group can enjoy. Full Moon wo Sagashite is such a title for young girls and women. Written and delightfully drawn by Arina Tamemura, Full Moon‘s story spanned 7 volumes and were published by Ribon between 2002-04. Studio Deen adapted the manga into a 52 episode anime in 2002, when the manga wasn’t quite finished. Both the anime and manga were licensed for US release by Viz Media, whom were perhaps years too late to jump on the animation bandwagon, as the project was dropped mid-way. Full Moon follows the touching story of 12 year old Mitsuki Koyama, who’s dream is to become a famous singer. The only problem is she has throat cancer. To make matters worse, two Shinigami (Grim Reapers) appear at her feet to inform her of her timely death in a year’s time. The catch? The two Shinigami characters also grant her the power to turn into a cancer free 16 year old girl at will so she can pursue her dream.

The first thing you will notice about the manga is the artwork, by Arina Tamemura. The character designs share a lot in common with other shojo titles – notably Fruits Basket, where the characters’ eyes are as big as their heads. The creative hairstyles and costumes sets the artwork apart – who doesn’t want to cuddle Mereko and Takuto with the animal ears and wings? Mitsuki also has an interesting set of ringlets, a rare sight in manga. On a downside, the minor characters look ordinary and generic. For most part there is a great balance between text and art detail, however sometimes the author tries to cram too many panels on a page at once, which can strain the eyes. However, each panel is detailed wonderfully with a variety of toners and brush strokes. The chapter and cover art shows off how great the colouring, costumes, artwork and toning is.

Those expecting a happy go-lucky story of Hannah Montana proportions will be surprised. Considering its target audience, Full Moon delivers some of the most emotionally dark backstories for characters of its genre. The focus on singing and the music industry feels more of a side-story rather than the central focus. The combination of comedy, drama, fantasy, and interesting retrospectives on life is surprisingly addictive and elaborate. Everyone’s back-story weaves into each other and strengthens the plot an extent beyond what you would expect from a story of its type. Like Chobits, Full Moon has a measly 7 volumes, but it uses its time effectively. Every page has some element of plot development, and what may seem like filler is usually much appreciated comic relief. The ending does not disappoint, all ties are wrapped up to a bittersweet standard which nicely reflects the underlying message and tone of the manga.

The characters are perhaps the most important aspect of all. They are a major driving force for the plot. The characters are lovable, unique, realistic and memorable. You may love mature but timid Mitsuki, or the blunt but lonely Mereko. They all had their unique back stories, and individual quirks. Parents should be warned that heavy themes of suicide and depression linger throughout – making Full Moon one hell of a roller coaster ride. However, it is handled in a tactful and tasteful way – no blood or graphic depiction of death is presented. The romance develops at a realistic and believable pace, however, the main relationship focused on in this manga may be uncomfortable to some – since there is a significant age gap.

Despite themes parents may think twice about, it is still a great story with an inspirational, uplifting message of living your life to the fullest. It is easy to collect thanks to its length, going for quality over quantity, with characters you love and want to learn about again and again. Full Moon is a fast paced compilation of everything entertaining – from it’s magical universe of Shinigami, to the singing, explorations of Mizuki’s dreams and conflicts as a young girl. Highly recommended for shojo drama fans, or for any males wishing to see shojo done right. It is one of the best of its type and worth a read by anyone who doesn’t cringe at the premise.

Rating:

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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18 Comments

  1. WillStocks

    A really well written review, I’m definitely going to order the first few volumes of the series. I’m also going to take notes on your writing style so I can improve my own, because yours is awesome! – if that’s ok? 🙂

    • Jordan

      lol my writing isn’t that great but sure if you like XD I am very flattered. Also good on you for ordering the series, it is awesome! I hope you like it 🙂

  2. AnnaLar

    Wynter great review! You made me order this Manga right away! Thanks!

  3. Lovely review of Full Moon, I’ve read it twice.

  4. Amanda Duke
    0

    Found this review a great read! I will put this on my amazon wish list.

  5. I really like your review and your right full moon is a great Anime I absolutely adore it <3 I wish Viz Media dubbing the rest of the episodes 🙁 I would like to know your opinion you think it's to late for Viz media to dub te rest of the anime do you believe they would consider the idea after almost 9 years ? Hope to hear from you soon

    Sincerly Laura 🙂 <3

    • Jordan

      Thanks Laura. As far as I know, Viz Media didn’t dub the rest of the series because the DVDs didn’t sell very well. Since they need to make some sort of a profit, even if the series is ‘good’, it’s not worth investing in something like that. However, they have the remainder of the episodes subtitled on their website. I am glad we got the manga at least. I don’t think it’s likely they’ll ever release the rest, as sad as that is.

  6. Louise Egan

    Great review! I absolutely love this series. I remember reading the first book and finding Mitsuki such an amazing character in the two extremes of her life.

  7. Mary Awad

    This review is 100% accurate. Full Moon is a beautiful manga with typical shojo aesthetics but with a dark, emotional plot filled with loss, tragedy and turmoil. I read it when I was younger but, after reading this review, definitely want to read it again with more mature eyes. It’s a wonderful work that comes as a surprise for most of the demographic it is targeted for. But sometimes it’s nice to switch it up!

  8. amdeit88

    Nice review! I personally liked this series and is not only one of my favorite mangas, but also one of my favorite animes that I would definitely read over and over. I would advise you to do this with other mangas and animes as well, and who knows, maybe you’ll get a few more people onto the bandwagon.

  9. sydneyschulte
    0

    I will start off saying that I am heavily biased in favor of this series–I’m a huge fan of Arina Tanemura’s works. I first read “Full Moon” when I was 12, and here I am, a couple weeks away 21, and I still cannot let go of it. It’s one of two series I allowed myself to bring to college. There’s something about it that’s still very powerful and relevant.

    I’m pleased that you call it a “A Beautiful Shojo Title for All Ages” even though its tone and content are surprisingly heavy for the shojo genre, but that’s why I appreciate “Full Moon” and other Tanemura series. I think it’s easy to write off the shojo demographic as a bunch of naive little girls who are happy-go-lucky. Arina doesn’t do that.

    If you read other series she’s written, you will notice she’s not afraid to write about heavy, loaded topics. She knows her audience can handle it, so she doesn’t skimp out on “going there.”

  10. I have not gotten the chance to read the manga yet but after reading this article I do now! haha. I really enjoyed watching the anime and shed tears good and bad when watching and listening to the beautiful music they used through its character and would have loved to enjoy more of it after the manga had finished since it was finished before the mange was at the time.

  11. Thank god someone else acknowledges Takuto and Mitsuki’s age gap

  12. This is a great review! I love this series and it was one of the first manga that I ever read, so it holds a nostalgic quality for me. I love the backstories of all the different shinigami, especially Izumi! Great series!

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