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Box Front Japanese Title: Tekkouki Mikazuki (“Iron Armor Mikazuki”)
Director: Keita Amemiya (Zeiram, Mechanical Violator Hakaider)
Original Release Year: 2000
Running Time: Six episodes, approximately 50 minutes each

DVD 4-Disc Set Released By: Video Animation (Hong Kong)
Video: Anamorphic widescreen
Audio: Japanese 2.0
Extras: Wonder-7 mock TV episode, press conference with the cast and crew, “The Making of Mikazuki," promotional TV program
Chapters: 4 per episode
Subtitles: English (Engrish), Chinese
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0
Format: NTSC
Packaging: Four discs in two keepcases, housed in a box with a clear plastic slipcover
MSRP: Unknown
UPC #: 4988102822712
Catalog #: DVD-844-E
Status: Out of print


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Reviewed by:
Zillamon51
The Film: Mikazuki is a six-part miniseries made for Japanese television.  It tells the story of Kazeo, a young boy whose life is saved by the appearance of the giant robot Mikazuki during a monster attack.  When it is discovered that the boy has the unique ability to pilot the robot in battle, he becomes a member of the AIT team.  AIT is dedicated to protecting the Earth from Idea-Monsters (Idom).  These creatures are the manifestations of people's thoughts, and often appear in unthreatening (even humorous) forms before transforming into vicious monsters.  The show combines elements of Japanese giant robot shows (in which young boys and teenage girls wield weapons of mass destruction), daikaiju eiga (like Godzilla), and Super Sentai series (Power Rangers in the U.S.) into a visually exciting and emotionally resonant package.  Following are brief plot synopses of the episodes:

“The Mysterious Giant, Mikazuki, Appears” (Ep. 1):  While young Kazeo evades bullies in the streets of Tokyo, a giant slice of watermelon (!) appears in the sky.  Severely damaged by the Moonlight Machine (a giant robot resembling a vintage toy), the fruity menace morphs into a menacing monster.  This Biollante / Orga hybrid then battles Mikazuki, who has been summoned by the cries of the endangered Kazeo.

"The Door That Wouldn't Open" (Ep. 2):  The evil Yuzo Hun, who brings the Idom to life, uses the anguish of a serial killer to manifest a dragon-like door monster.  Kazeo learns a valuable lesson from Saori Izumi, the female AIT member who seems to become his mentor.

"Fly Mikazuki, from Zero to Gai!" (Ep. 3):  Wood, AIT’s most conscientious member, struggles with memories of his late father.  Akane, the Moonlight Machine pilot who has a crush on Wood, gives rise to the latest Idom.  It’s a glass windbell that shatters to reveal a huge, floating monster.  Mikazuki transforms into a sleeker flying mode called Mikazuki-Gai.

"New Giant Singetsu, Arise!" (Ep. 4):  A kaiju fanboy becomes an obsessive stalker when he is infatuated with Akane’s pretty friend, Yuki.  His knowledge of monsters creates the most formidable Idom yet, a giant egg that hatches a Godzilla-like monster.  It even has Godzilla’s distinctive roar!  Another Mikazuki-type robot appears, the powerful Singetsu.

"Serious Fight!  Mikazuki vs. Singetsu" (Ep. 5):  It turns out that Yuki has a connection with Singetsu which is similar to (but more sinister than) the one shared by Kazeo and Mikazuki.  Singetsu and Mikazuki work together to battle Spartacus T.C., a robot commissioned by AIT to replace the Moonlight Machines.

"Forever Mikazuki" (Ep. 6):  The plan of the evil forces behind the Idom comes to a head, as Mikazuki and Singetsu are merged into a device capable of pulling the moon out of its orbit and bringing it down to Earth.  All of the major characters come together at the end to aid Mikazuki in its final battle against the transformed Singetsu-Beast.

This is an excellent series.  It has very high production values.  The special effects combine traditional kaiju miniature work with modern CGI.  The CGI elements, while sometimes obvious, are easily the equal of the CGI commonly used in Hollywood movies and television shows.  The action is fast and exciting, but the show’s biggest strengths are its story and characters.

The overall story arc of
Mikazuki is continually engaging.  The characters are clearly defined, and well developed.  The viewer gets an idea of who’s who and how they relate to one another, and is drawn more completely into the big battles and effects sequences.  For English-speaking viewers watching this DVD with its confusing “Engrish” subtitles, that’s truly a testament to the careful scripting of the series.

The subtitles on this DVD are alternately frustrating and hilarious.  They seem to be a direct translation into English, with little regard for grammar or syntax.  Each disc also seems to have been translated by a different person, as characters’ names change from one disc to another.  For example, the boy who pilots Mikazuki is Kazeo Isurugi.  For the first couple of episodes, his name is translated into English as “Wind Rocker.”  In later episodes, he is given the Chinese name of “Guixiong.”  Akane Hino (pilot of the various Moonlight Machine robots) is most often referred to as “Proprietor,” in reference to her position as President of a military contracting firm.  She is later referred to as “Firefield Sea.”  Some of the translated dialogue is downright goofy, with lines like “Help us to beat off that monster” and “We twaddle all day.”  Perhaps funniest of all is when a female AIT member says to a friend who has been shot and is dying, “Refresh a little.”

The biggest problem with the subtitles, however, is the timing.  Sometimes entire sentences flash by in a second, giving little chance to read them.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the first episode, which was originally feature length, has been severely edited.  Only after watching later episodes are some of the plot nuances understandable.

The great story and characters, and cool special effects, would be enough to recommend this series.  What really makes it worthwhile for all tokusatsu fans is that the filmmakers themselves have an obvious love of the kaiju, giant robot, and TV superhero genres that really shines through in this series.
Mikazuki is very highly recommended.  Grade:  A

Video:
Mikazuki is presented in widescreen, and is anamorphically enhanced for 16:9 widescreen TVs.  Overall, the picture is crisp and clear, with vibrant colors.  On close inspection, there is some digital blockiness and pixelization.  In some scenes, there is also a "shimmering" effect, which also makes the picture appear overly digital.  Although noticeable, it doesn't significantly detract from the film.  Grade:  B

Audio:
The original Japanese language track is presented in 2-channel stereo.  The dialogue, music, and sound effects all come through nice and clear.  Grade:  A-

Extras / Menus:
The fourth disc in this set is dedicated to supplementary materials.  First up is a complete (25-minute) episode of the fictional TV show, Wonder-7.  The character of Akane Hino is a huge fan of this show, and can be seen watching it several times over the course of the series.  It's a hilarious parody of Sentai-style TV shows, complete with a transforming hero, talking weapons, a flamboyant villain, and a rubber monster.  The special effects are bright, colorful, and well done.  The fact that the filmmakers invested the time and money to make a full episode (when only a few brief clips are actually shown in the Mikazuki series) is a testament to the care that they put into the entire project, and their love for the works that inspired them.  Next up is a 5-minute press conference with the cast and crew of Mikazuki.  “The Making of Mikazuki” is a 23-minute program featuring behind-the-scenes footage, conversations with the cast & crew, and trailers.  The final feature appears to be a promotional TV program.  Hosted by Saori Nara, the actress who plays Akane / Proprietor / Firefield Sea, it runs 14 minutes.  It includes behind-the-scenes footage, clips of special effects filming, and footage and music from the show.

The menu screen on this disc is slightly confusing.  It’s the only disc with none of the menu options labeled in English.  Selecting either the first or last of the four options simply plays everything straight through.  The second option plays the press conference, which segues into the making-of featurette.  The third option plays the promo program.  All of these features are fullscreen, and in Japanese.  Only the
Wonder-7 episode is subtitled (in Engrish and Chinese).

The menus are simple and straightforward.  Although the text is in Chinese, most of the important stuff is also labeled in English.  This is an impressive set of supplements! 
Grade:  A

Final Analysis:
A good presentation of an excellent show.  The only significant drawbacks are the edited first episode and the goofy subtitles.  Highly recommended for all daikaiju eiga, Super Sentai / henshin hero, and giant robot fans.  Final Grade:  B
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Disc 2, Front (Left) and Back (Right)
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