Full Moon wo Sagashite Manga Review: A Beautiful Shojo Title for All Ages
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.
What do you think? Leave a comment.