Shelf Life
Copious amounts of Yoonk food

by Bamboo Dong, Aug 17th 2003
For many of you, the upcoming weeks will once again mark the beginning of that infamous and ever looming entity—school. Whether you're about to launch yourself into another year of junior high, high school, college, or even grad school, I'm sure the event is still greeted with mixed emotions. It could be a feeling of dread, eagerness, consternation or just about anything under the sun. After all, it's a big event, and everyone knows how utterly nerve wracking it can be. Of course, there's also a huge bunch of you out there that are taking an even bigger step—the first day at a new school. Regardless of whether you're going to junior high school for the first time, or are afraid of meeting your freshman college roommate for the first time, chances are you're a little worried, right?

So now let's talk about anime. Yeah, I know that was a huge topic jump, but admit it, even with all the new school fears, anime is still a small subject somewhere in your mind, right? How are you going to find friends that like anime? How are your new peers going to accept your love for Japanese cartoons? How is your roommate going to react to you papering your walls with anime posters, and having their room filled with the sounds of Japanese pop music and foreign voices as you hunch over your computer screen? How are you going to answer them when they ask you, “hey, is what you're watching kind of like that Pokey-mon my baby sister likes?”

Fear not, for as with everything else in life, the key to acceptance is just being you, being honest about it, and just keeping cool. As clichéd as that sounds, I really mean it. For example, if you're walking down the hall and you see a kid with an anime t-shirt, take that opportunity to introduce yourself in a calm manner. You might tell him, “Hi, I'm a fan of anime, too. I haven't met a lot of other fans around here, what's your name?” Or, “I like your shirt. Do you watch any other anime beside that?” Try not to pass off as an overly excited n00b by squealing in glee, pointing to his shirt, and screaming out “omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod EVA!!!!! Omigod, anime!!!!!!” This might scare him. As for any roommates that might give you crap about liking anime, just ignore them, and they'll stop pestering you. If s/he asks you if you like those crazy Japanese cartoons, just look at him/her and calmly say, “Yes.” S/he might then say, “dude, you're a freak.” Once again, say, “yes.” Most of the time, they'll never pester you ever again.

So, with the beginning of school inching closer, I wish all of you students the best of luck in your new endeavors. And with that, welcome to this week's Shelf Life.


Shelf Worthy

Junkers Come Here
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 1/1 $29.98 08/19/2003

Say it with me, everyone: YOON-kers. With Bandai's new release, Junkers Come Here manages to win the awards of being the best family film this year and also possessing the world's worst DVD cover for this year. With the cover going so far as to anally point out how to pronounce Junkers, it has the effect of looking like a cheesy Photoshopped drawing made by a kid trying to be funny. Aside from the downright lame packaging, the actual film is, quite simply, a masterpiece. It's a film that would appeal to families everywhere, fans of anime or not. Starring a young girl whose parents are almost never there, the story is a heartfelt piece about friendship, growing up, and just trying to make the right choices in a life where you can never really know which path to take. Hiromi's best friend is a cute little Schnauzer named Junkers who, incidentally, talks. He only talks to her, but he provides companionship and occasional wisdom that is certainly a boon in her lonely life. When her parents decide to go through a divorce, the movie truly takes a turn for the tear-jerking as viewers watch Hiromi struggle to retain happiness in her life. With themes like divorce and absent parents, this is a film that is both powerful and unconventional. With Junichi Sato helming the production, this movie easily rivals Ghibli titles for child-targeted charm and innocence. This is not only a must-have for anime shelves, but general family shelves everywhere.


Saber Marionette J Ultimate Collection
Bandai Entertainment 1605 min. 1/1 $199.98 08/19/2003

Wow. Just... wow. Assimilated into one box, the Saber J Ultimate Collection box contains all three of the J series, including Saber Marionette J, Saber Marionette J Again, and Saber Marionette J to X. Limited at only 5,000 copies, each one is signed by Tsukasa Kotobuki, the co-creator and character designer. Fans of Saber Marionette cannot afford to pass this up. Sure, it comes at a hefty price, but with over 60 episodes, this is a great deal. The story is set in a place called Japoness, a society inhabited only by men. The only females there are emotionless androids that perform all the womanly duties. One day, a boy named Otaru stumbles upon a marionette named Lime. What sets her apart from all the other marionettes is that she actually possesses emotions, giving the story chances for comedy, action, and even romance. She is soon joined by Cherry and Bloodberry, who also have emotions. The four of them embark on a journey to eradicate evil from the land, while giving viewers hearty opportunities to laugh and embrace the light-hearted warmth of the show. The show is well-written, humorous, and certain to please fans of any of the seasons. Hardcore fans, this is the best chance you'll ever get to own all three of these series.


Najica Blitz Tactics Vol. #1 (also w/box)
ADV Films 100 min. 1/4 $29.95/44 08/19/2003

PANTIES!!!!!! Mountains and mountains of panties everywhere!!!! I'm probably the only girl in the world that loves panty shot shows, but they amuse me to no end, and Najica is high on that list. With the first DVD + box being packaged with a pair of white cotton panties, you know right off the bat that in terms of white-flashing fan shots, it doesn't get better than this. Najica is a perfume creator working for the elite CRI Cosmetics company. At night, though, she works for the same company—as a secret agent. She goes around rescuing people that need to be saved, pummeling bad guys that need to be hurt, and being the all-around kind of gun-toting lady you'd see in Charlie's Angels. On her first excursion, she goes to rescue a girl from an evil lady. The girl turns out to be an android named Lila, who is now her new partner. What's amusing about Najica is the low camera angle in many of the scenes. This creates the opportunity for a torrent of panty shots that guys might find hilarious, but girls might find grotesque. Either way, if you're a fan of panty shows, this is high heaven for you. If not, well, it'd be best to stay away from this one.


Banner of the Stars II Vol. #1
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 1/3 $29.98 08/19/2003

Following up on two magnificent seasons, Banner of the Stars II continues to be just as splendid as its predecessors. In the aftermath of the war, Lafiel has been assigned to be a Territorial Ambassador, which proves to be pretty dull until she and Jinto hit Lobnas II. A small prison planet with only one inhabitable island, it's filled with political strife as four factions struggle to be recognized as the only regime. The first four episodes largely provide exposition, looking at the gender-segregated situation of Lobnas, as well as the positions of the four groups vying for power. Surprisingly, the episodes focus mainly on Jinto, with Lafiel taking a backseat to much of the action. As with the past two seasons, this show is starting off rather dull and painfully slow, but the quality of the storytelling is high, making it definitely worth seeing for any fan of the series. Space operas certainly don't get much better than this.


Rental Shelf

Neo Ranga Vol. #4: A Nation Apart
ADV Films 120 min. 4/? $29.98 08/19/2003

There's a god-like monster romping around Japan getting shot at by enemies. It's no surprise that the government is pretty pissed off. As we enter volume four of the series, things are just as unexplained as they were in the first one. Regardless, it's still somewhat entertaining to watch. There's a lot of people that don't like having Neo Ranga dance around the countryside, so the conflagrations are rising. Fighting is breaking out amongst the people and against him and everything is descending into chaos. The Painted Sisters must get the people to calm down before anything hits the metaphorical fan. Honestly, I don't know why anything in the story is happening. It may have been explained earlier, but this series is so jumbled and forgettable that it just doesn't matter. If you need a way to massacre two hours of your time this week, this would be great fun, but other than that, don't worry about missing this.


Sakura Wars TV Vol. #3: Crescendo
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 08/19/2003

With a volume title that fits perfectly with the ascending action in the series, the excitement kicks up in the third volume of Sakura Wars. With evil brewing in the distance, the girls need to band together and get ready to save the world. With the preceding volume, the thing that was dragging the viewing experience down was the constant squabbling between the girls. It got trite after awhile and having the stories be shifted around as individual vignettes really slowed the pacing of the series. However, now that fighting has broken out, there's more need for the girls to starting working as a team. While this is still looking a bit pessimistic with the camp being split between Sumire et al vs. Sakura, things are indeed looking up for the series. It's nice to see the characters being developed, especially with the brief interludes that show bits and pieces about the girls' pasts. Shedding more light on the girls than the OVA series, this series is something that would definitely appeal to fans of the games. If anything else, it's a fun watch and would be nice for a quick rental.


Dragon Ball: Piccolo Jr. Part 2 Saga Set
FUNimation Productions 2 $39.95 08/19/2003

Everyone knows that the best parts of Dragon Ball are the fighting, right? That should be reason enough for all you DB fans to check out the second Piccolo Jr. set. As our pals begin to get ready for the World Tournament, things get interrupted when Piccolo Jr. pops in without an invitation and tries to get jiggy with Goku. Turning even greener with fury, Junior decides to duke it out once and for all with his rival. These episodes take a bit long to get to all the hearty fighting goodness, but the slight plot twists make them fun to watch. With intervention left and right and empty threats being shouted every two seconds, this is Dragon Ball in all its pointless glory. If you're a fan of this show, you simply have no reason to not watch this. Check it out.


Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. #4: Truly Yours
Pioneer Animation 125 min. 4/5 $29.98 08/19/2003

Why, oh why did this show start to suck so much? Gone is the romance, gone is the story. Alas, now we're stuck with chasms upon chasms of empty fanservice and those annoying “misunderstandings” that only make you want to take an Uzi to the characters' dense minds. But for all the tons of fans out there who enjoy shows like Love Hina, I suppose it's only fair to recommend this as a rental. Possessing one of the unsexiest DVD covers in recent history, the fourth volume of Ai Yori Aoshi gives viewers more chances to wank with plenty of bath and beach scenes. Everyone takes a trip to the beach and with the exception of the ever-sweet and loving Aoi, deck out in skimpy outfits and try to get in Kaoru's knickers. Later on, the stupid girls manage to get themselves in every “misunderstanding” situation with Kaoru imaginable, leaving poor Aoi wracked with doubts and pain. If you liked the Love Hina anime, you'll love Ai Yori Aoshi. Check it out for a rental. If you completely turn off your brain, it's not that bad.


YuGiOh Vol. #12: Match of the Millennium Part I
FUNimation Productions 12 $19.95 08/19/2003

This is the start of the Ultimate Battle!!! It's even more Ultimate than the last Ultimate Battle! In fact, it's so Ultimate that you might forget that you're watching a show about loner kids with card collections! In this Ultimately action-filled DVD, Yugi must fight the Ultimately Evil Pegasus at the Ultimate Stakes. In the meantime, other people are slowing down the pacing with other Ultimate fun. Can Bakura prevent himself from turning into his Ultimately Evil side again? This volume lacks the emotion and characterization that made the last disc so appealing, but fans of the show should probably watch it anyway. After all, Ultimate Battles only come 20 times in a series. You can't miss any of them, right?


Perishable Item

Akiko
SoftCel Pictures 60 min. 1/1 $29.98 08/19/2003

Ugh. I've seen better amateur teen porn than this, and amateur teen porn is awful. Basically an excuse to show as many naked kids screwing each other as possible, Akiko is 60 minutes of plotless babble and mind-numbing sex fluff. For some reason, everyone at Nobel Academy is massively horny. Everyone is having sex with everything else. Some parent wants to know why, so a local research institution sends out the buxom Akiko to go undercover as a teacher to track down the reason. Even when the reason is found, so little time is devoted to it that viewers still don't know why anything is happening. There is zero character development, hardly any good animation and a Swiss-cheese story. To throw kerosene on this flaming piece of crap, the sex scenes are poorly drawn and anti-arousing with just how utterly bad they look. Unless you've played the Akiko PC game and are massively obsessed with it, just leave this title alone. Trust me, you'll get better results just downloading the first video off of Kazaa that has the word “boobs” in it.


Ranma Forever Vol. #8
Viz, LLC. 75 min. 8/8 $24.95 08/19/2003

Ranma ½ is no longer funny. The dramatic episodes are no longer dramatic. Ranma ½ is dead. Let it die. In this last volume of Ranma, a small plot is dragged into the story. It's so unmemorable it's almost not worth mentioning. Basically, Ranma learns of a promise his father made with his mother that stated that Ranma would be raised as a man or be disposed of with his dad. Boohoo. Sadly, whatever goals this volume was trying to accomplish falls flat on its face. All of the jokes have been rehashed at least ten times by now and all the dramatic plot twists have already been used up. If you're a newcomer to anime and want to watch this Ranma ½ show that everyone seems to know about, I'd recommend you get a hold of the first few seasons. This just isn't worth your time.


And that, my dears, is the end of that. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week!

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