It's great to be back after that short break! You'll notice that Shelf Life looks a little different this time. Hopefully you'll like the new changes as much as I do! Oh, and don't forget to check out the bottom of this column for a new segment called Shelf Obsessed, where readers get to rant or rave about a new release, show off their shelves, and more! As always, thanks for reading, and welcome to Shelf Life.
Fresh after bringing viewers the bizarre schoolhouse laughs of Pani Poni Dash!
strikes again with another comedy, this one far quirkier than the last. Introducing Nerima Daikon Brothers
, a fresh show about three aspiring singers who just want to make it big.
Two words: Anime. Musical.
No, seriously. It's an anime series… done in the style of a musical. There's singing, there's dancing, there's “beautiful girls dressed in nothing but pearls,” and even the option to sing along with the characters. Move over Disney; High School Musical doesn't have anything on this.
The series follows the dreams and aspirations of three daikon farmers who yearn to perform their goofy song ‘n’ dance routines in giant amphitheaters. Before they can do that, though, they need money and lots of it. Backed by plenty of choreographed routines and terrible crooning, the Nerima Daikon Brothers
find themselves whoring themselves out to crazy housewives and sleazy producers. Don't fool yourself with the bright pink DVD spine and the cute panda
running around, NDB is totally not for kids. There's a plethora of scenes rife with inappropriate groping, sketchy dialogue, and convenient cutaways to plates of dripping kielbasa. I don't care how mature you think you are—sexual innuendo is still funny. Even if you don't think so, there are plenty of other jokes to enjoy, ranging from your standard slapstick, to some good ol' fashioned irony. You really just need to see it to understand it. It's hilarious, the characters are fun, and face it—the novelty of seeing chorus girls in the middle of an anime series is way too appealing to not buy. Nerima Daikon Brothers
= Good For You. [Top]
Things that are not good for you: live action movies about naked women who suffocate men with their nether regions. It may sound
like a good time, but trust me, it is not. I'm referring to, of course, the notorious Kekko Kamen
. Not too long ago, Tokyo Shock
tragically released the Kekko Kamen
live action boxset, allowing you to watch her in all her nude brilliance four times in a row, and I am not happy about it.
Based on the Go Nagai
manga and anime of the same name, this four-hit travesty combo introduces Japan's next superhero—a woman who saves girls from sexual torture and humiliation by beating people up. Did I mention she only wears a pairs of boots and a face-covering mask? Not wanting to subject myself to all of the movies, I closed my eyes and chose to only watch Kekko Kamen Returns
I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of these live-action movies are. If they are meant to titillate, then sadly the only thing that will stiffen is your jaw when it freezes in a permanent, “What?” face. It's not that the girls aren't svelte. They are. But the storytelling is so appallingly bad that even those who delight in making fun of bad movies will be bored halfway through. I found myself fast-forwarding through the entire last half of the movie… and I'm someone who marathoned Glitter and New York Minute back to back. The rankness of Kekko Kamen
is serious business. For a story about a girls' swim team that's forced to practice 20 hours a day by a man in a frog suit (the penalty for not complying: sucking on vacuum attachments!), it drags on far too long. Is it good for a Netflix
rental just to see how awful it is? Sure. But anyone who even thinks about buying that boxset should really consider lighting their wallets on fire instead. [Top]
Next to touch to my sobbing DVD player was Ellcia
, an ADV
release that did not alleviate my pain. It didn't make it any worse, but it did extend my misery for another two hours. At the very core of it, Ellcia
is exactly what you would picture a stereotypical LARP campaign to be like. There was a motley assortment of people with long names wearing goofy costumes, running around waving swords and speaking without contractions. I wondered why ADV
didn't bother putting any money advertising for this thing—now I know.
If you're desperate for something to watch and Ellcia
is the only DVD at Blockbusters besides Kekko Kamen
, you probably wouldn't have too terrible of a time, but it's so fretfully unimpressive that it's really not worth spending any time on. In a fictional kingdom somewhere, sometime, a prophecy is brought to light which tells of a legendary warrior who will take over the world with the aid of a really sweet boat. To curtail that, a couple of butch women head out to track down this alleged hero, pillaging, plundering, and killing along the way. Meanwhile, another camp of good guys (also involving a butch woman) just want to get home, but they get pulled into the events as well. Could this be foreshadowing? Maybe. Or just the start of a very standard fantasy show, where you already know how it's going to go down, when it's going to happen, and with what weapon. Sure, the creators follow all the rules for making a decent OVA
(start in medias res, flash back right before the song, have the Hero/ine wake up, cut to theme song, cut to Good Guys after the song, etc, etc), but is that really a good thing? Yawn. [Top]
I needed a palette cleanser. Something to cheer me up… something to make me smile… something to warm up my cold, jaded heart… Kodocha
, here I come.
One thing that's always annoyed me about Kodocha
is how afraid of commitment it is. That is, commitment to emotion, commitment to melancholy. Every time something sad or sweet happens, you know that Sana's going to jump in and start screaming her head off. Volume 10 takes it even further. After viewers learn that everything the Kurata's own have been repossessed, the show jumps to a filler episode where Sana chases down dinosaurs and moth-people. Thanks, guys.
I used to enjoy how manic the show was, but for once, I'd like for there to be a touching scene uninterrupted by something high-pitched. Still, the show is as enjoyable as ever. Kodocha
is a blast to watch, and it will
put you in a good mood. With the holidays fast approaching, Sana is having fun planning her Christmas party, but with her schedule, she hardly has the time to deal with having two boys crushing over her. Things only get worse when her family goes bankrupt, but as always, her chipper resilience is enough to lift the heaviest cloud. Truly, if Sana's ever-positive outlook on life doesn't put a small step in your heart, then life is truly bleak indeed. If you haven't experienced the frantic experience that is Kodocha
yet, try asking for it for the holidays. It's a long series, but even after 10 volumes, the series is still as fresh and cute as it was when it started. [Top]
Of course, if you're looking for another stocking stuffer, try considering your loved one the 2-disc special edition set for Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.
Loaded with extras, this beautiful set also includes an illustrated book with interviews, line art, production stills, and more. There's even a packet of ten gorgeous illustrated cards. If you know anyone who loved the series or the movie, this is a great gift. (For more holiday gift ideas, check out the upcoming December 16 Shelf Life column for some boxsets and nifty anime doodads that are sure to please.) [Top]
If you're looking for other great kids' shows, there's always Full Moon
, of which volume three was recently released. Mitsuki is still running around frantically, trying to balance her dual life, but at least she'll always have Dr. Wakaouji on her side. Only, his presence seems to jar Takuto's memories, which is going to spell problems in the future. As enjoyable as this volume is, though, one can't help but wonder when all this fluff is going to end—and when all the substance will actually kick in. It's great that Mitsuki is becoming a big star and all that… but that's what the first two volumes were for. Do I really need to see her doing yet another TV performance, or conducting yet another interview?
That's the downside of shows where kids make it big, be it something sweet like Full Moon
, or something more raw and unfiltered like Baki the Grappler
. You know the Struggling Period can't last forever, but it's a chore to make the transition between the learning phase and the “oh shoot, time to bring in the drama!” phase. Still, Full Moon
makes it clear that its primary focus is to let viewers have fun, and it pulls it off with panache. It's still fun to watch Mitsuki and her Shinigami buddies, and it's nice knowing that somewhere behind the floodgates, tidal wastes of angst and drama are building up. [Top]
Other notable Viz
releases included the ninth volume of Flame of Recca
, a tournament show that will impress only those who really love tournament shows. Now that the characters are deep in the semifinals of their ring brawl, all that remains is episode after episode of one-on-one fighting. Sadly, unless you've really invested yourself in the characters, it's a little hard to care. Much like the days of Yū Yū Hakusho
, Flame of Recca
is the kind of series where you have to be a devoted fan from episode one, or it just won't captivate your interest. At some point, the only thing the creators can do to make things exciting is bring out new techniques or introduce new superpowers—both of which are used in this volume. Of course, they never bother to explain how
the main character gets a new technique—but that's just more of your standard tournament fare. With shows like Naruto
on TV though, if you really wanted to watch people beat each other up, why not just flip to Cartoon Network
? Sorry Viz
, but this property's a bust. [Top]
Slightly less bust: Moon Phase volume two.
Before I go on, let me interject with a small comment—for anyone who's ever, ever
tried to tell me that Moon Phase isn't loaded with lolicom fanservice
, I have two words for you: You're wrong. I know this because I spent five minutes during the show watching Hazuki try on different outfits
while the Neko Mimi mode song played. If you can prove to me that this isn't fanservice
, I will gladly eat my hat.
Strangely, I don't really mind the fanservice
. Yes, it's pretty obvious that those scenes are meant to send legions of fanboys into sugary comas, but for the most part, they're few and far in between. Much of this volume actually deals with Hazuki and her slow integration into her new household. She's still being chased by the likes of Elfriede, and the secrets of the enigmatic Count Kinkel are only now slowly being revealed, but much of the series' focus is still on Hazuki and her interactions with the people around her. As interesting as it is to learn about the Count and her past life, I derive more entertainment just seeing the friendship between her and Kouhei grow. Moon Phase is hardly intellectual fodder, but for a cute show about vampire girls and spirts, it gets the job done. [Top]
Anyway, you've heard what I've had to say about some of this month's recent releases—why don't you tell me some of your thoughts? Welcome to the zeroth installment of Shelf Obsessed, a new section where you
get to tell folks what they should be stocking their shelves with.
I'm craving to know three things about you.
1) What new release is lighting your fire? Love it or hate it, tell the world your thoughts.
2) How big is your
DVD collection? Send me a JPG of your collection so we can all stare in jealousy.
3) What's the nerdiest thing you've ever done? We all have stories. Sharing is caring.
Send your responses to all three queries to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com and I'll start sticking them in my column. If you want, you can even send in a short profile about who you are, or even a headshot. Keep your disc review to legit releases, and try to keep it to around 250 words.
I can't wait to hear your thoughts and see your shelves!!!
Thanks for reading, and I'll catch up with you again in two weeks!