Coffee Moon, Vol 1 [Manga] Review - Stunning Artwork and Time-Looping Madness
Mangaka : Bota Mochito
Publisher : Yen Press
Genre : Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Seinen, Supernatural
Published : September 2022
If you took Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, and the writing team from Magica Quartet, and locked them in a hotel room for 48 hours, we think the result might look an awful lot like Coffee Moon by Bota Mochito.
Despite having a misleadingly soft title, Coffee Moon is a twisted drama about a teenage girl infinitely repeating her birthday, stitched together with a stunning art style, boldly defined characters, and a uniquely creepy atmosphere.
Join us today on Honey's Anime as we review Coffee Moon, Volume 1!
On a dreary, rainy day, Pieta is repeating her sixteenth birthday for the 1,033rd time. A thousand times before, she's woken up, eaten toast, combed her unruly hair, and gone to school to meet her friend Danae. Every morning, she's been splashed by a car, lost her umbrella, and found the lunch shop closed--but a thousand repetitions have prepared her for all of these unchangeable events.
Pieta seems happy with her looping, content to experience her "lucky day" over and over again, living in this moment of her sixteenth birthday. But when she accidentally brings Danae into the loop, the distraught Danae decides to try to break out of this madness. Together, Pieta and Danae go out on the town, try different cafes, and eventually wind up at a strange mansion run by an equally strange girl. As the clock crosses over to midnight, Pieta and Danae are abducted and forcibly taken back to the start of that same day once more.
When Pieta notices that same strange girl at her school, she attempts to apologize and clumsily asks to be friends--much to Danae's surprise. After all, that girl is Chiaro Tenebrism, the daughter of the city's enigmatic mayor. Silent and reserved, Chiaro is incredibly wealthy, but suffers from repeated attacks by extremists, including assassination attempts due to her father's outspoken idealogy. Regardless, Pieta insists on befriending Chiaro--and in doing so, sets in motion a new series of events that will upset her thousand-plus iterations.
Coffee Moon is truly a trip to read, and plays heavily into the visual medium of manga, delivering a full experience that only the visual arts can provide. The art style is a mixture of chiaroscuro and tenebrism (sound familiar?), two artistic styles that focus on a high contrast between brightly lit subjects (characters, mostly) and darkly lit backgrounds. Coffee Moon leans more towards chiaroscuro, which creates layered depth through the use of background lighting.
The result is a strongly impactful art style that helps cement the story, similar to how Puella Magi Madoka Magica's "Alice in Wonderland"-esque artwork ties into the narrative. Coffee Moon's world--a retro-futuristic blend of 1980's technology coupled with Roaring 20's New York--feels unnaturally creepy thanks to these artistic effects, and helps keep the reader on their toes.
1. Dial "M" for Mystery
Coffee Moon has a lot more going on than we've talked about--after all, we don't want to spoil everything for you! There's a supernatural mystery element to the story that'll become evident in time, but for now, it lends an additional level of uncomfortableness to the manga.
Coffee Moon does an admirable job of making you feel slightly unsettled all throughout, hence our comparison to the works of notable Western creators like Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman. The result is impressively memorable, and we doubt we'll be forgetting this one any time soon.
2. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun [Time Loop Remix]
Coffee Moon has an all-female main cast, with a heavy emphasis on friendship that fits nicely into the time-looping mechanic at play. When the story isn't actively trying to unsettle you, the characters come to life with boldly defined attributes and personalities. There are even a few light-hearted moments throughout, and some cheeky jokes about Danae and Pieta's contrasting chest sizes.
We're looking forward to seeing how these friendships evolve over time...and time...and time!
Coffee Moon isn't something we're going to forget any time soon, and it's definitely a series that we'll be keeping an eye on. The bold presentation, diving so deeply into a very particular art style so rarely seen in manga, really helps the story and its characters stick the landing.
With a mystery element that straddles the line between "intriguing" and "unsettling," Coffee Moon, Vol 1 is an artistic and narrative experience that will linger with you long after the final pages.
Are you going to check out Coffee Moon, Vol 1? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!
Author: Brett Michael Orr
I'm a writer, gamer, and reviewer of manga & light novels, from Melbourne, Australia. When I'm not creating a new world, I'll be absorbed in a good JRPG, watching some anime, or reading up a storm!
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