Shelf Life
ANN Maid Team

by Bamboo Dong, Sep 11th 2006
There comes a time in every anime fan's fan when they must ask themselves the most grueling of questions: Artbox? Or Thinpak?

If you're a sucker for artboxes like me, then you probably always buy the first volume with the artbox. Months later, you have a happy, beautiful artbox sitting on your shelf, jam-packed with DVDs. Ahh, life is good. Materialism is alive and well. But lo! The thinpak! Competitively priced, and seductively slim. You look at the thinpak, then look at your artbox. What's more important—that you spent a boatload of time and money filling your stately artbox with its gorgeous artwork…? Or the svelte, sleek look of the thinpak? This especially holds true if you never finished collecting the series. Do you spend the money to fill the box, or ditch the box and go for the thinpak? But then what do you do with the artbox? Life as an anime fan is tough.

I'm in the middle of moving for grad school so this column's a little short this week. (Watching all those full series probably didn't help my time management either...) The next one will be longer (and full of single-volume reviews), I promise! Welcome to Shelf Life.






Cromartie High School - Complete Collection Thinpak
ADV Films 325 min. 1/1 $44.98 08/01/2996

The comedic anime genre would do well to take some notes from Cromartie High School. In professional reviewing lingo, that show is what we call “mad funny.” Its self-referential jokes and perfect comic timing make the series a totally laugh-out-loud experience from start to finish. Comprised of 26 10-minute episodes, each standalone episode showcases one of the characters, one of his quirks, or whatever random topic jumped into the creator's mind, ranging from sending jokes into a radio station or alien abductions. It's a shame this show was never put on Adult Swim, as it would fit into the lineup perfectly. Luckily, the entire thinpak is pretty cheap, so if you're looking for some serious laughs, this is it.












Comic Party Revolution DVD 1 - Let's Get this Party Started!
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 09/19/2006

Fans of the original Comic Party series will find that Comic Party: Revolution is completely different. Maybe that's why it's a revolution. Unlike the first series, scenes involving drawing and selling doujinshi are minimal. Most of the time is instead spent on the characters and the adventures they have with each other. Now a college student, Kazuki is still dedicated to doujinshi, but he's no longer the focus of the series; in fact, all of the characters share the same spotlight. How much you like that, though, will largely depend on how much you like the characters. Most of the episodes are side stories, like playing a game of baseball with each other, or planning trips to the beach. If you grew really attached to the characters in the first series, this may really appeal to you. To me, though, what drew me to Comic Party was the fan aspect and its portrayal of the doujinshi scene. While I love the characters, I just really don't care that much about if they catch a grounder or not. Luckily, the series is still funny to watch, but don't expect anything like the original.



Mermaid Forest - Box Set
Geneon 325 min. 1/1 $69.98 08/08/2006

There are two types of mermaids: pretty, gorgeous shell-breasted mermaids, and scary, sharp-toothed Harry Potter mermaids. The ones in Mermaid Forest belong to the latter family, although their human counterparts are easy on the eyes. Based on the manga by the famed Rumiko Takahashi, Mermaid Forest is a fascinating take on mermaid legends. Stories have it that those who eat mermaid flesh will become immortal—if they survive; those who don't, turn into gruesome monsters. It's an interesting premise and while the intricacies of the mermaid mythos are unraveling, rather riveting. After awhile though, it gets to be a bit too drawn out and a bit dull. If you've never read the original manga or seen the series, the first half of this show is good for an initial viewing.













Hanaukyo Maid Team: La Verite - DVD Box Set
Geneon 300 min. 1/1 $59.98 07/18/2006

What a shock. I'm putting a maid show in the perishable bin. Who would've imagined that? Now, mind you, it's not because I dislike maid shows. It's just that every maid show I've seen has not had a compelling story. It could just be an odd coincidence, or a stroke of bad luck for the genre. Picture this: it's the height of the Nazi occupation in Poland and a wealthy Jewish poet is being targeted; his maids have been let go, but a dedicated, elderly handful refuse to leave their master's side, and together, they must brave the terrors of life together…! Too drab? Too lame? Probably; especially when you could be watching a little boy (15? 13? 10? Negi?) having his face rubbed by breasts of all shapes and sizes. Welcome to Hanaukyo Mansion, where armies of maids wait at the beck and call of a puny milquetoast named TARO. Together, they shop, they bathe, they play softball, and… well, that's about it. Things don't pick up until the third volume when a simple date with the head maid goes awry, leading to a painful secret, but it's not entirely worth sitting through two discs just to get to that. The final conflict isn't even that mind-blowing—it's just better than the everything leading up to it. Truthfully, these kinds of shows are made for a certain kind of consumer—the kind of viewers who like maids, who like cute girls, and who use these kinds of shows as their escape mechanism. None of that appeals to me, but if it's your style of anime, then by all means, pick this up.














Tetsujin 28 Live Action DVD
Geneon 114 min. 1/1 $19.98

Slow, meticulous movies can sometimes be a great joy to watch… provided there's a reason for the pacing. Not just someone….talking…… really…..slowly….and then running…..for a long….Time….and maybe turning around….very…..slowly…. Because that becomes unbearable after an hour. Based on the classic old robot series, Tetsujin 28 tells the tale of a twelve-year old boy who inherits a gargantuan robot from his deceased father. With a remote controlling device, he must use the behemoth to attack Black Ox, an artificial intelligence-equipped robot unleashed by a sinister terrorist. The premise of the story is interesting enough, but the execution fails in the pacing. Pregnant pauses can be a wonderful storytelling device, but when abused over and over and over again, they're stripped of meaning. Don't look towards the fight scenes to spice things up though. Those are just extended sequences of the two robots standing around, punching each other in the chest every minute with no visible damage. They may actually be the worst fight scenes I've ever seen. I realize Tetsujin 28 is a classic, but this movie is not the way to experience it. If you're interested in old robot shows, check out the original series or the new remake. None of these 5-minute wind-up sissy slaps.



That's all for this time. Thanks for reading and I'll see you in two weeks!



Congratulations to Tim Norman for winning the Chance Pop Session thinpak. Below are his fabulous lyrics for his alternate anime version of Paris Hilton's insanely addictive and awful single “Stars Are Blind.” Congratulations!


- [These] Scars are Mine -

There's no time to lament my
Becoming an otaku
That's why I take it all in stride
Otaku de gozaru

There's lots of anime that's vying for my time
I don't just want girls, guns and cybercrime
I'm a masochist for shows that bend my mind
Nosebleeds and hotsprings are also fine

Christmas again? Hoho, hoho

Grey matter bullets dare to graze me
Lukewarm clichés make my teeth grind
Burned again by an all-night spree
These scars are mine

All the girls are hot and haughty
Twice the beauty and thrice the shrew
Sharp wits and a stunning body
All for naught when she hates you

Why is the reverse also true

A beach fest? Let's go

A dark past will ever haunt
Tides of angst without end
Endless fight scenes and ceaseless taunts
Laughable scoundrels and turncoat friends
And mechanized villains summon death from above
But heroes come through when push comes to shove

Who will win? See the next show

Grey matter bullets dare to graze me
Lukewarm clichés make my teeth grind
Burned again by an all-night spree
These scars are mine

All the girls are hot and haughty
Twice the beauty and thrice the shrew
Sharp wits and a stunning body
All for naught when she hates you

Why is the reverse also true

Perhaps it's revealing
That this cirque du analytical
Is quite appealing

A springtime apocalypse brings a sakura snow

Grey matter bullets dare to graze me
Lukewarm clichés make my teeth grind
Burned again by an all-night spree
These scars are mine

All the girls are hot and haughty
Twice the beauty and thrice the shrew
Sharp wits and a stunning body
All for naught when she hates you
All for naught when she scorns you
Why is the reverse also true
How is the reverse also true

Grey matter bullets dare to graze me
Lukewarm clichés make my teeth grind
Grey matter bullets dare to graze me
Lukewarm clichés make my teeth grind



And a second winner, whose lyrics I had to share as well. Congratulations, R.D. Mejia!

I don't mind spending some time

Just hanging here with you

Cause I'm like you, I'm into anime

Though most folks don't get it

All they think is it's all fetishy or juvenile

We're seen as freaks or geeks of some kind

But I don't care what others think of life

You've seen what anime really means

Not just cartoons, no, anime

Ohh

Even though they think we're crazy

Even though most folks are blind

I'll watch some anime baby

With you anytime

It can be nice or naughty

shounen or shoujo or yaoi too

Anime's got a heart, soul, and mind

Let's all see the latest baby

Maybe some Miyazaki

Anime, anime, anime

Yes, we might groan at cliché

Recycled plots galore

See all the same old characters all over again

Butch, bitch, brash, bashful, and brainy

Isn't there anyone more with whom we can find true love?

Anticipate the festival or trip to the beach or fight scene maybe

Sometimes, though, it'll be perfect like you

Like you

Let's see what's new

But let's see some old school too

Something pre-CG

Something space opera or giant robot maybe

Something slice of life

Sometimes it doesn't stand the test of time

We've changed or times have somehow

But sometimes it's still perfect like you

Perfect like you

We might lose that feeling

We might get too analytical

Start to feeling

Too cynical, oh no, no, no

See the innocence in moe

Recognize our favorite seiyuu

Laugh at a boob bounce maybe

Wince at some echhi too

Maybe sci-fi or romance or historical

Maybe just something quiet and sweet

Maybe fighting genre

Maybe something beyond category

Because sometimes it's perfect like you

We all love anime

Sometimes it's perfect like you

Like you

Sometimes it's perfect like you

Check the Shelf Life column maybe

Avoid what's perishable

Run and get what's shelfworthy

Try to get Bamboo's stuff

Check out the latest forums

Choose the perfect avatar

Share our love for anime

Because sometimes it's perfect like you

Share your favorites baby

I'll show you mine

Break out our boxsets maybe

Collector items too

Just as long as we still have fun

Still find wonder and laughter and tears

Remember that joy of the first time baby

What we all love about anime

Let's watch some anime

Even though they think we're crazy

Even though most folks are blind

I'll watch some anime baby

With you anytime

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