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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Moonlight Mile: Complete First Season
Moonlight Mile: Complete First Season
FUNimation // Unrated // April 21, 2009
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 9, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Series:
 
Anime shows are often outer space adventures involving huge mecha, galaxy-crossing spaceships, or system-sprawling empires.  Those are fun and I enjoy them, but some of my favorite SF anime series are the ones that take a more realistic, near-future look at space travel.  Shows like Planetes, which looked at the problem of man-made debris orbiting the earth, are easy to connect with.  Another such show is Moonlight Mile, the story of two friends who are both trying to get into space.  Gripping, beautiful, and unexpectedly engrossing this show has all of the adventure and excitement of a mecha series with the human face of a good drama.  FUNimation has now released the entire first season in an attractive two disc set that will be a great addition to any anime library.  


Goro Saruwateri and his American friend Jack "Lostman" Woodbridge are mountain climbers.  They enjoy the challenge of climbing the highest and hardest peaks, and the endurance test is something the savor.  After they reach the top of Mt. Everest however, they realize there's no where else to go... except the moon.
 
The countries of the Earth have recently merged their space agencies (and their budgets) into one multi-national organization:  the ISA.   The goal of this group is to return to the moon and start a number of fusion reactors using the heavy Hydrogen found under the satellite's crust.  An orbiting space station has been started which will be the launching point for the moon missions.  Both Goro and Lostman see this as their ticket to the moon and go their separate ways, vowing to reunite in space.
 


Lostman takes a rather standard route:  he becomes a hot shot fighter pilot.  Not only is he good, he's one of the best and when the ISA sees his application, they snatch him up in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately his CO demands that he goon one last mission, the US is in a war for oil, and he gets shot down and captured.
 
Goro on the other hand thinks outside the box.  He becomes a construction worker for a large Japanese firm.  He's also very, very good at what he does and the top management repeatedly offers him promotions to a desk job (with a huge increase in pay) but he always turns them down.
 
When his company gets the chance to nominate a single employee to go through ISA training, the competition is tough, and most of the college educated overachievers think that Goro has no chance at all, being a mere construction worker.  It's not until it's revealed that he's licensed to operate every type of heavy machineary there is, from multistory cranes to robotic lifting devices, that they start to worry and the method to Goro's madness is revealed:  he figures if they are going to build a fusion reactor on the moon, they'll need some very well trained construction workers.
 


This is a great series that starts off strong and doesn't wane at all.  It's a character driven series, with Goro getting a bit more screen time than Jack, that exams to exceptional people and illustrates how they go about achieving their goals.  Jack is the one who flies the straight and narrow, with Goro being a womanizing, over indulging lout, at least on the outside.  Seeing how they meet their challenges and watching their thought processes is just as interesting as the highly dramatic moments where someone's life is on the line. 
 
The animation is also excellent.  With only a dozen episodes in this first season they weren't forced to take a lot of short cuts with the animation.  The backgrounds are detailed and full, and the movement is really animated.  There is none of that panning across a static image to give the illusion of action.
 
The CGI animation melds wonderfully with the more traditional cel-based style too, something that sticks out like a sore thumb shows that are done on the cheap.  They're able to spend time making sure the backgrounds and other objects in the scenes with the CGI pieces are just as detailed and textured as the computer models so there isn't a jarring disparity.
 


The DVD:

 

Audio:
 
Like most anime series, this set comes with the option of the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub.  What's a bit surprising is that both of these are in 5.1!  Usually the Japanese tracks are only in stereo so it's nice to have the full surround on both languages.  The show makes very good use of the full soundstage too.  Doorbells ring from behind the viewer, sounds pan across the front and back, and voices even come from the rear when the speaker is supposed to be behind the viewer.  It gives the show a nice enveloping feeling.  The quality of the audio is top notch too.  The dialog in both languages is crisp and clear and the music has  a full range.  Overall this is a very nice sounding set.
 
Video:
 
There are six half hour episodes on each disc, and the because of that the 1.78:1 widescreen anamorphic image has a few more compression artifacts than I'd like.  Mosquito noise is present in several sections.  It's easy to spot during the opening credits.  There's a shot of the moon where the surface shimmers like it's covered with moving insects.  There's a fair amount of aliasing too, along with some light banding.  Aside from that the disc looks fine.  The colors are bright, the lines are tight and the picture is generally pleasing/
 
Extras:
 
Nothing unfortunately.
 
Final Thoughts:
 
With an excellent character based plot and some wonderful animation, this series is top-notch from beginning to end.  I was overjoyed to see a Japanese 5.1 audio track, but I think that space that it takes up, in addition to the six episodes per disc, cramped the shows a bit too much as there are some digital artifacts present.  Even with that flaw, that's never distracting, this set comes Highly Recommended.
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