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,
look at space travel. Shows like
Planetes, which looked at the problem of man-made debris orbiting the
are easy to connect with. Another such
show is Moonlight Mile, the story of two friends who are both trying to
into space. Gripping, beautiful, and
engrossing this show has all of the adventure and excitement of a mecha
with the human face of a good drama. FUNimation
has now released the entire first season in an attractive two disc set
will be a great addition to any anime library.
Goro Saruwateri and his American friend Jack "Lostman" Woodbridge are
climbers. They enjoy the challenge of
climbing the highest and hardest peaks, and the endurance test is
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
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
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
college educated overachievers think that Goro has no chance at all,
mere construction worker. It's not until
it's revealed that he's licensed to operate every type of heavy
there is, from multistory cranes to robotic lifting devices, that they
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
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
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
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
The CGI animation melds wonderfully with the more
traditional cel-based style too, something that sticks out like a sore
shows that are done on the cheap.
They're able to spend time making sure the backgrounds and other
in the scenes with the CGI pieces are just as detailed and textured as
computer models so there isn't a jarring disparity.
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
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
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
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/
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
per disc, cramped the shows a bit too much as there are some digital
present. Even with that flaw, that's
never distracting, this set comes Highly