This is a series that perhaps requires a larger than normal suspension of disbelief. For example, the reader must buy into the idea that teen suicides are turned into shinigami and assigned to a special Death Pediatrics Division. While they run around collecting souls, they deal with their romantic entanglements, while wearing fabulous outfits and occasionally manifesting as cute animal mascots. In Full Moon, the heroine is a 12-year-old terminal cancer case who gains the ability to transform into a 16-year-old idol singer. In the world of Full Moon, it is entirely probable that a pediatric oncologist is the former member of a famous boy band who still does music producing jobs on the side! There’s something delightfully loopy about Full Moon O Sagashite, and it is a very entertaining series simply because Arina Tanemura manages to pull of a funny and touching story about divine intervention in the life of a dying girl without making the story too sentimental to stomach.
Mitsuki is the heroine with a severe tumor in her throat. She’s an orphan, living with her strict grandmother. Her only dream is to sing and become famous enough that her long-lost friend Eichi will her of her where he is in America. Mitsuki is visited by shinigami or death spirits who take the form of a cat-boy named Takuto and a bunny girl named Meroko. They are on earth to stop Mitsuki from meeting someone who would prevent her death, but Takuto finds himself oddly drawn to Mitsuki and he helps her transform into a cancer-free 16-year-old so she can attend an audition. Mitsuki’s singing career as “Fullmoon” is launched. The thing that keeps Full Moon from being overly sweet is Mitsuki’s attitude towards her impending death. Wanting to sing to reach an old friend is a very romantic goal, but Mitsuki is almost bizarrely matter of fact in the way she refers to her upcoming demise. She’s not tearful or prone to emotion about it, but refers to death the way other people might talk about going to the grocery store the day after tomorrow. Mitsuki is passionate about her goal of becoming a singer, but the blase attitude that she demonstrates towards her terminal condition ensures that the manga remains intriguing.
As the plot develops over the first four volumes, Mitsuki starts seeing some progress towards her goal of becoming a singer. Meroko nurses her hapless love towards Takuto, while he seems to be falling in love with Mitsuki. The fact that Takuto and Meroko are the spirits of people who committed suicide adds an additional complication when they intervene in Mitsuki’s life, and events are derailed further when a rival shinigami named Jonathan shows up and tries to derail Takuto. Mitsuki’s doctor suddenly becomes her record producer and she sees an entirely new side of him. Takuto learns that Mitsuki’s love towards her lost Eichi might be less romantic and more pathological. Tanemura is always very good at juggling a variety of side plots. While Mitsuki is the focus, the characters’ concern over what might happent to Takuto if he doesn’t manage to collect Mitsuki’s soul is also explored, as is Meroko’s unrequited love and the mysterious past of Mitsuki’s doctor.
There’s plenty of humor in Full Moon as well and that also keeps the title from becoming overly sentimental. The shnigami have a habit of announcing themselves as if they are a bizarre comedy team, and Fullmoon’s manager is a drunk, which causes quite a few problems in business situations. Tanemura’s attention to detail is evident in the costume design and execution of all the characters. I enjoyed reading the first four volumes of this series very much, and I’m sort of kicking myself for not reading them earlier! I’m looking forward to reading the rest.