Shaenon takes a tour of two works by legendary mangaka Natsume Ono.
Shelf Life Dressing Down
by Bamboo Dong, Oct 19th 2005
I've crossed the POINT of No Return in nerdiness. Oh sure, I go to a zillion conventions a year and watch cartoons every spare minute I have, but even then, I was at a POINT where I could still be saved. Not any more. It's recently come to my attention that the words “dress up,” in the context of costumes, have been stricken from my vocabulary. Too many times over the past couple of weeks have I told people they should “cosplay” as a certain character for Halloween, or asked them what they were going to “cosplay” as. Even when I talk about school uniforms now, it's usually, “Oh, the nearby Catholic high school? I don't really like their costumes. Er... uniforms.” Please tell me I'm not alone in this. Please tell me I can still be saved.
Welcome to Shelf Life.
Thanks again for reading! Join me next time for more... uh, anime.
Welcome to Shelf Life.
Kakurenbo - Hide & Seek DVD
Central Park Media 30 min. 1/1 $19.99 10/11/2005
Creepy children's laughter? Check. Glowing butterflies? Check. Dark alleys populated by child-stealing demons? Check. Kakurenbo has all the tools it needs to be a totally freaky film... and that's not even counting the actual storyline. Ringing in at only 30 minutes, it doesn't waste any time farting around with extraneous filler and cuts right to the chase with an ominous narration. Apparently, every now and then, when the lights in the town go out, groups of seven children gather together and play hide and seek in the lifeless city. Donning fox masks, they play until only one of them is left... but where do the other children go? Rumor has it they're taken by demons, and now one of the kids is risking his life to track down his missing sister. Somber and macabre, the mood is chillingly perfect. Add in a heavy dose of mystery, and you've got a stellar product. Viewers are kept in the dark the entire time, which only makes the final plot revelation all the more haunting. The fact that they were able to fit in everything in such a short time frame and execute it so well is amazing. Truthfully, the film could have benefited from being at least twice as long so they could flesh out certain scenes, but what they manage to accomplish in half an hour is rather impressive. Just in time for Halloween, this is just the thing you'll need to give yourself the willies.
Related Products: I can't really think of any hide and seek-type anime series, but for similarly spooky shows, check out Requiem from the Darkness.
Tastes Like: Chicken Chalupas. Oh, it's all fun and games while you're eating it, but SURPRISE!!!! Eat too many and the bowel demons will come out and bloody shank you.
Samurai 7 DVD 2 - Escape from the Merchants Limited Edition
FUNimation 105 min. 2/? 10/18/2005 $49.98
Samurai 7 DVD 2 - Escape from the Merchants
FUNimation 105 min. 2/? 10/18/2005 $29.98
It took every ounce of my willpower to not nerdgasm all over myself. Samurai 7 is so freaking awesome. The first volume was a bit dry and didn't exactly leave me gasping for more, but this second volume was an absolute blast. As the search for more samurai continues, there are plenty of excuses for more swordfights. Someone axed one of the government heads with a katana and now the streets are a-prowl with samurai hunters. This leaves our heroes with no choice but to scramble across the country in an attempt to keep the whole party safe from swarms of enemies. True, the action scenes make the episodes race by, but it certainly helps that the characters are so incredibly likeable. Every character is packed with personality, and unlike the annoying personas that can sometimes kill a show, everyone is nice, trustworthy, and classy—even the mechanical samurai, whose idiotic antics provide plenty of comic relief. Without a doubt, Samurai 7 is definitely a worthy adaptation of Kurosawa's classic film. Sure, it has weird robot dudes and femmy-looking bad guys, but it has everything that makes an action show exciting... phenomenal characters, thrilling fight scenes, and a fascinating story. Make it a POINT to pick this up the next time you're at the store.
Related Products: Be sure to check out another Kurosawa homage, the suspenseful and fascinating Kaze no Yojimbo.
Tastes Like: French onion soup; can't you just feel that classy, but deliciously prosaic taste dripping down your throat? Ah, the power of helping the humdrum.
Gilgamesh DVD 2 - Cage Without A Key
ADV Films 100 min. 2/7 $29.98 08/09/2005
Sometimes, a series can be so visually beautiful that you forget how little of the storyline you're actually grasping. Gilgamesh plays that hand well, and encapsulates viewers in a smog of artistry and classy artwork, all while smashing their brain cells with a hammer. The basic story arc is simple, to be sure, but there are quite a few leaps of time and logic that are never quite patched up. Tatsuya and his sister end up at Orga under the careful watch of the Countess, but while he's perfectly content furthering his powers, all she can do about is mourn about the past and ache for a better life. As she slowly edges out of the picture, the kids at Orga end up in the Core Settlement in a long battle against Gilgamesh. There are a few areas where it seems like an undetermined amount of time has passed, but it's never really clarified. In fact, there are several sections that seem a bit choppy, but overall, this series has really improved from the first volume. Combined with the stunning artwork and the dark, gothic atmosphere, it makes for quite an impressive viewing experience. If you're looking for something dark to get you in the mood for Halloween, this might be what you're looking for.
Related Products: This series screams X/1999 so hard it's voice is hoarse. People duking it out for control of the world's future doesn't get neater than that series.
Tastes Like: Godiva Dark Chocolate Decadence Chocolixer. My god, if you like chocolate at all, you need to get a hold of one. An entire cup of thick, expensive chocolate warming your taste buds...
Ghost Stories DVD 1 - Freshmen Frights
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $29.98 10/25/2005
Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?
<3. If I had the choice between arguing over whether or not ADV treated this title right, or having a good time with the finished product, I'd rather do the latter because it's damned funny. I was a little skeptical at first about a bunch of actors winging the dub track, especially after finding Milk-Chan to be a bit forced, but they really nailed it this time. Ghost Stories is best described as Scooby Doo without the Harlem Globetrotters—goofy, silly, and meant for kids. When a new girl moves to town, she's shocked to find a haunted school house next to her current school, so naturally, she and a bunch of kids go there all the time. Of course it's infested with demons and other glowy-eyed specters, but luckily, her dead mother has left behind a book of How-To tips on putting them to sleep. The problem with the series is, the actual story is really, really lame. It's a typical monster of the week show that isn't the least bit scary or imaginative, and the ways that the kids have to banish the monsters are always contrived and completely laughable. Thank god for the dub track! It's absolutely hysterical, and I spent half the time doubled up in laughter. It doesn't fall into the typical “hey, if it's dirty or sexual, it's funny!” trap, and instead opts to go for pop culture references and funny character quirks. I about died when the stereotypical pervert guy uttered, “Giggity... giggity... ” and the coincidental fact that the nerd character has clothes that say “2ool” on them is way too much. This is a great catch for comedy fans. Skip the lame-o Japanese version and jump straight to the dub; it's worth it.
Related Products: You know what other ADV dub was totally hilarious? Colorful. People make fun of me for liking that show, but it's seriously hysterical.
Tastes Like: Lemonheads. Sour attitudes are no fun, but if you can get past it, all that's left is plenty of sugar!
Mars Daybreak DVD 1 - Limited Edition + Tin Case, CD, Magnet
Bandai 125 min. 1/? $49.98 09/13/2005
Mars Daybreak DVD 1
Bandai 125 min. 1/? $29.98 09/13/2005
Talk about a fun time! I had no clue what this show would be about when I first started watching it, so I was really surprised by what a good time I had. The characters are amazingly fun, the plot conflict is interesting, and the lousy battles are thankfully short. Far in the future, man has inhabited Mars, finding plenty of water underneath the planet's surface. Despite the water trade between the planets, the economy stinks and the planet is pretty much Earth's bitch. It doesn't help the government that there's a team of Robin Hood-esque pirates constantly pillaging military storehouses to resell the goods back to the people at a low cost. Plopped into the middle of everything is a plucky guy named Gram, who somehow ended up with a robot of his own and decided to join the pirates. It's a good time to interject that while the characters are a blast, the story pacing is absolutely terrible. No matter how absolutely unbelievable it is to have a random kid learn how to pilot something in a few minutes, it's even more unlikely that some guy would drop into an ocean and miraculously land in an unoccupied robot. Not just any old robot mind you, but one of the best out there. Like, this guy is driving a 7-Series while everyone else is still putting around in a Saturn. One can only hope that this freak inheritance will be explained later, but for now, viewers are kept in the dark. Some of the scenes are really quite a mess, but the series is still insanely fun. The characters are energetic and engaging, and I'm dying to see more of them. Oh, and if you decide to pick it up, check out the dub. Everyone uses round robotic systems called BALLS, and there's something priceless about hearing the characters scream “Woah, is that your BALLS?”
Related Products: If you liked Gundam Seed, you'll probably really dig this. The characters are just as much of a mixed bag of fun, and the only thing that's really missing is better fight scenes.
Tastes Like: Sprite Remix. It's really good if you chug it, but if you kind of swish it around your mouth, it leaves a really odd aftertaste.
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue DVD 2 – Reunion
Geneon 100 min. 2/? $29.98 05/24/2005
Amazingly, the second volume of Daphne manages to be less terrible than the first. Sadly, it's still pretty bad, and no amount of scantily clad women or aero-thongs will change it. Props to the production staff though, who thought that maybe that was the secret ingredient and ended up adding another chick to the Nereids crew with similarly skewed views on the proper dress etiquette for urban combat. Actually, that's pretty much the extent of what happened in the second volume. More women, less story, more skin, less purpose. It's really disappointing that the series never continued with Maya's story. Instead of being treated to a story about a girl battling through hard times to get to her dream job, viewers instead get pointless drivel festooned with buttocks. She continues to be a somewhat fascinating character though; in one of the episodes, she gets roped into being a hover car driver for a company prototype race. Her determination and hard work really shine through, and makes the episode much more interesting than just buns and exploding buildings. Even so, it's not enough to rescue the series from the terrible hell it's already in. It would be a hundred times better if it even just took the time to examine some of the characters closer, but that would really cut into their ass-cam time. With so many shows on the market about gun-wielding gals and commissioned fighters, there's no sense in wasting money on substandard tripe.
Related Products: You know what's better than Daphne? Burst Angel.
Tastes Like: Overcooked couscous. It's really tasteless and mushy, and the only thing you can do is add more seasoning, but that just doesn't save the taste.
Girls Bravo DVD 2
Geneon 100 min. 2/? $24.98 09/09/2005
I once played a porn game where catgirls and bunnygirls were transported from a far-off planet and dumped into some guy's lap, and no matter how nice or mean you were to them, you'd still get to lay them anyway. Regardless, the game was terrible, but it gave me a pretty clear picture of just how stereotypical the harem genre can be. I wasn't the least bit surprised when I could predict every single scene in Girls Bravo based solely on past harem shows and hentai sims. Much to no one's surprise, another girl's been brought to Earth from Seiren, saddled with the mission of bringing Miharu back home. The classical Shy Girl, she goes through plenty of ordeals, until somewhere near the end of the disc, she ends up on Earth again, this time bringing another officer from her agency, an irritating jailbait loli who wouldn't stop talking even if a yam was shoved in her mouth. Overall, Girls Bravo is just not a good show. Sure, the characters are a unique and fiery bunch, but they're exactly the same as the girls from Harem Show X or Happy Fun House Y. People who go gaga over shows like this probably won't be disturbed in the least by the repetition, but for those who like their shows to have some originality, this is as far away as you can get.
Related Products: Try kicking it (slightly more) old school with the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs, back when the clichés were still fresh.
Tastes Like: Generic brand cola. It's plenty bubbly and caffeinated, but who are they trying to fool?
Thanks again for reading! Join me next time for more... uh, anime.
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