Seven anime Christmas favorites to watch with a cup of hot cocoa.
Shelf CenteredJan 12th 2003
Shelf Life: Shelf Centered
by: Bamboo Dong.
Smack dab into the middle of the first month of 2003 and things are still the same. Granted, the grudging feeling of resentment towards going back to school is increasing steadily, but the anime shelves at your local media store are still being restocked, and there's nothing yet incredibly exciting being released. For the time being, though, this week's releases will suffice, and give you more chances to replenish your anime shelves. Or to throw away into a dank well to never be seen again, which in itself would be the best plan of action for some of them. If I had my way with things, I'd replace a truckload of some of these titles and use the company's money for one good title, but what good would that do? There's always someone that buys this stuff, and I'm just another complaining fangirl, which makes me the bane of annoyance in the fan world. That, and the people who haunt message boards with Fan-glish and l33tsp34k. But I digress. There's a pretty limited number of things that I can get done my way, now that I think of it. Well, one of them is writing this, but forcing you to read it is another thing. Another is to extend my congratulations to Zac for his last Answerman column. Guess now I'll have to ask Ms. Answerman the questions I've been dying to ask forever now. When is the sequel to Trigun and Cowboy Bebop coming out?!?! I heard on IRC that Naoki Takeuchi has another season of Sailor Moon coming out—is that going to be on Cartoon Network after Sailor Stars is aired? I hope she can help me out with those. Enough tangents, though, here's this week's Shelf Life.
Excel Saga Vol. #4
ADV Films 100 min. 4/6 $29.98 01/14/2003
Cliché opinion #e^562458. OMG, Excel Saga is the funnyests s3r|3s 3v3r!!!!!!!!!!!! It's like Random Anime Title… on CRACK!!! LOLOLOL!!!!!!111!11! Well, no, it's not, but I like it, and it seems to be a crowd pleaser for many. The animation is decent, the music is adequate, and the plot is inconsequential. But it's quirky as hell, and if its random slapstick humor appeals to you then by all means get this next installment of the Excel Saga series. In this DVD, the producers are trying vainly to up the ratings of the show, and employ gimmicks like marketable toys and a game called Sexual Jeopardy. Very Excel indeed, and if you enjoyed the previous episodes, then this volume is sure to please as well. Excel Saga has never failed to make me laugh, and though this brand of humor isn't shared by a lot of people, it may just well appeal to you, so if you haven't seen it, try it out.
GTO Vol. #6
Tokyopop 125 min. 6/10 $29.99 01/14/2003
This series is filled with crude jokes, sexual innuendo, bizarre facial expressions, and more of the above. I like it. The characterization in the series is fascinating, as it delves into the leading character, and slowly branches out to the people nearest to him. Telling the tale of an ex-motorcycle gang leader who wants to be a teacher, and the antics that would naturally ensue, Great Teacher Onizuka is a surprisingly warm-hearted series that catalogs the positive impact that Onizuka-sensei has on his students, and the social interactions that he has to face every day either to or against his advantage. The strong element of humor in the series makes this series enjoyable to watch, but is by no means the focal point of the series. Tokyopop does a nice job with GTO, and if you haven't seen it, but want a crude and occasionally perverted series with a feel-good undertone, GTO is the way to go. This particular volume sees Onizuka tutoring the Vice Principal's daughter when incriminating photos and misunderstandings of the two are surfaced, and is good for plenty of story-telling fun. Even at volume six, it's never too late to start watching the series.
Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #4: Impatience & Longing
Central Park Media 75 min. 4/10 $29.98 01/14/2003
The second volume from the Black Rose saga is being released by CPM, and for Utena fans, this is definitely a good thing. Unlike the first two Utena DVDs that were released by Central Park, the Black Rose DVDs only have three episodes, but this doesn't present any complications, as I'm sure Utena fans could care less. Utena is an almost mind-boggling series with fantastical aspects of the plot that are both question-raising and addicting. With the advent of the Black Rose saga, the largely predictable and increasingly boring dueling sequences from the previous season are phased out and replaced with more character and story development, which is a welcome break. It's much better than the dry first season, and if you liked that, then you'll love the second season.
Yū Yū Hakusho: The Spirit Detective Box Set 1
Funimation Productions 480 min. 1/1 99.95 01/14/2003
If you missed a few episodes on TV or didn't catch Cartoon Network's run of Yū Yū Hakusho, then here's your chance to check out the first twenty-five episodes. It's a comical series with plenty of fighting and action to appeal to shonen lovers (of the action, and non-fanservice variety). The plot of the show basically follows a boy named Yusuke who dies, and gets roped into being a spirit detective and fights demons. Well, at least that's the extremely watered down version. In any case, it's a fun series to watch, but it gets pretty old after awhile. Meet a guy, insert comedy, fight the guy, insert revelation, insert comedy, and BAM, you either beat the dude or he joins you. Simple as that. It's Sailor Moon except with guys. I know I'm gonna catch flak with that comment and cries of unprofessionalism, but after watching the series, that's the only thing I gathered from it. So if you like stuff like that, buy it and enjoy it. You've got a little under a hundred episodes to go. If you haven't seen it, well then at least do yourself the favor of borrowing it from a friend, because even though it's repetitive, it's still pretty entertaining.
SoftCel Pictures 1/1 $29.98 01/14/2003
Bet you thought I was some conservative freak who always threw hentai titles into the last category, huh? Wrong. Dragon Knight is worth renting just for the comedy alone. Granted, the comedy is pretty lame, and is centered around naked chicks and a guy with a camera forced to fight monsters, but it's definitely worth the rental (ahem, for those of you mature enough). Based (sorta) on the RPG of the same name, Dragon Knight is about a guy who has to save a castle full of girls by fighting all kinds of monsters. Like the RPG, except with naked chicks tied up everywhere. Contrary to the Softcel label, though, the Dragon Knight anime's not hentai. There's naked girls, but no sex, which lets the title focus on something other than sex. There's a plot, sure, but the goofy, drop-dead dorky comedy is why I recommend it. And if you like this one, well, some other company has the rights to the rest of it, so just wait until then.
Descendants of Darkness: Vampire's Lure
Central Park Media 75 min. 1/? $29.99 01/14/2003
Descendants of Darkness, known in Japan as Yami no Matsuei, is an interesting series based on the manga of the same title. In the series, there's a bureaucratic agency that processes the soul of each deceased person and decides whether or not they should be rewarded or punished. Within this agency, there's a department that tracks down those souls that refuse to depart Earth. The thing is, the people from this department are already dead and have special abilities to use against the people they're up against, usually those of the vampire/monster variety. The notable thing about this series is the art and animation which is stunningly beautiful, and digitally animated so the movements are very crisp. The only downside is that since the series is only thirteen episodes long, and based off of a much longer manga series, the animated series only represents a small arc of the complete story, and doesn't explore the characters as much as could be wished for. The art is still refreshing to look at, though, so at least give it a rental to see what you think.
Zone of Enders Dolores, i Vol #2: Operation Escape!
ADV Films 125 min. 2/6 29.98 01/14/2003
Based on one of the side quests of the Zone of Enders videogame, ZOE Dolores is actually pretty good for a video game spin-off. In the second volume, Dolores's relationship with the rest of the characters is emphasized, and it's surprising how deep and almost sentimental this series can go. Well, I guess I wouldn't classify it as neither deep nor sentimental, but for a video game based series, I was impressed. If you like Zone of Enders, go watch this. If you enjoyed the first volume, go watch this. If you have no idea what I'm even talking about, go play the game, then go watch this.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Vol. #05: Evil Spirit
Yu-Gi-Oh! Vol. #06: The Scars of Defeat
Funimation Productions 60 min. 5/6/? $19.95 01/14/2003
To be honest with you, I don't like Yu-Gi-Oh!, and I never have. It's painfully redundant and it's hard for me to stay interested in a series about a card game. But to be fair, this series was made for children, so naturally it wouldn't appeal to me as much as it would to kids. So here, my opinion is skewed. If you like this series, or your kids like it, maybe they'll get a kick out of it. I don't know. If you're hoping to see this in Japanese, though, forget about it. TV edit, English dub—not that there's anything wrong with that, since I would hazard to say that the group of people who want it uncut and bilingual is relatively small. Like I said, it's for the kids, and for Funimation, marketing it for the kids is the only way to make money. I'm not a kid though, so biased me is throwing this here.
Great Dangaioh Vol. #2
Viz Inc. 75 min. 2/4 $24.98 01/14/2003
AIC's great sequel to Dangaioh is here, and frankly, I'm not impressed. A bunch of bad guys lay waste to every nation's military, but get completely owned by three robots piloted by three high school kids. I don't buy it. (Okay, I know my plot summary makes it sound like Evangelion, but that's my fault, since it's nothing like it.) There's plot holes everywhere, and it just seems like AIC didn't spend enough time on this release beyond making sure that Dangaioh fans would buy it. If you're interested in the series, watch the original Dangaioh. If you really want to submit yourself to the sequel, get the lamest mecha series money can buy and beat it five times with a stupid stick. This thing is a waste of your money. Go buy a carload of tacos instead, and throw them at people. It would be a much better way to spend your money. (Send me flames, send me tacos, I'm ready.)
AnimEigo 238 min. 1/1 $24.95 01/15/2003
Ah, the Crusher Joe movie. A chaotic space opera with your everyday space opera space crew fighting your everyday space opera battles. The action is fun, the mess they get themselves into is exciting, and the way they save their tails is thrilling. If that weren't all that the movie has to offer, I'd love it. The problem is, there's virtually no characterization whatsoever, and features merely action sequence after action sequence (at least the animation is really nice for an 80s flick). A space opera it is indeed, but with the most static and boring characters you could ever…not imagine. If it's just pure action you want, then this will be fun for you. But if you like your characters to have personalities other than your two-inch deep stereotypic space crew, go watch something else.
Anime 18 65 min. 1/1 $29.99 01/14/2003
What?! I'm so confused. I'm so very, very confused. There's a catgirl, a birdgirl, and some other girl who used to be servants to the main character, who used to be a prince, but lost his memory. Lo and behold, the only way they can make him regain his memory is to have sex with him over and over again until he remembers them? Couldn't they think of a better way to cure amnesia? Like, I don't know, show him pictures, or go on a walk to his former house, or something? I tried really hard to follow the shabby plot in these two episodes, but every little minute plot device was just another reason to have an orgy. Granted, some hentai is bloody funny to watch, but this is just… stupid. Beyond comparison. I don't have any words for this one. It's a doozy.
And thus concludes my column for this week. I bet I'm gonna get flamed for something. Oh well, it'll give me something to look forward to. But until next week, enjoy your anime, enjoy going to work/school, enjoy… uh… eating tacos, and—oh, never mind. I'm out of things to say.