Shelf Life
Revolutionary Girl

by Bamboo Dong, Oct 15th 2007

Every weekend, I fight a fierce battle between my hunger and my laziness. My hunger tells me to fix breakfast, or to at least pour myself a bowl of cereal. My laziness tells me that getting off my butt and walking to the kitchen would be a feat in and of itself, not to mention the strenuous task of opening the refrigerator. It's this battle that makes it hard for me to truly be productive before noon on weekends, but it's also a struggle that makes me happy I'm living by myself. If I'm going to be a wasteful lump of human flesh, I'd like to do so in peace, without guilt or obligations.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

When I'm in my laziest of lazy moods, there's nothing I enjoy more than kicking back with an obnoxiously large bag of chips, jalapeno cheese sauce, and watching trashy TV. I like the option of rolling my eyes at snobby rich teenagers while I vegetate, so I can somehow imagine that what I'm doing is more productive than whatever it is they're doing. These are the same days when I could watch stuff like Peach Girl for hours on end and be endlessly entertained.

Watching Peach Girl is like the anime equivalent of ordering a super size combo #1 with a Diet Coke. You know the show's bad for you, and it probably makes you angry every two minutes, but it's so hard to stop. I can't explain my addiction for this show without bursting into guilty tears. For a series that is primarily a character study, almost none of the characters are likeable. Even the main character is unbearable at times, and the decisions that she makes are frustrating to watch.

At the same time, I see parts of myself in this show. For every time I've ever yelled at Momo, it's something that I wish I could've yelled at myself when I was in the same situation, but was too blinded to see what was going on. The characters make terrible decisions, but they're things that I've done before, and I'd wager that this is a sentiment that many female viewers would feel. In a way, Peach Girl irritates me because I know that as unreasonable and as over-the-top as it seems sometimes, it's so totally real.

The fourth and fifth volumes of Peach Girl run through the meatiest parts of Momo's relationship with Kairi. She falls madly in love with him, but is heartbroken to discover that he's in love with someone else. Desperate to keep him, she continues dating him, content to be his #2 until he learns to love her. Ouch. Of course, like all teen dramadies, a good amount of Momo's tears come from misunderstandings and idiotic decisions, which I've never been fond of. That the characters can't spend 20 seconds explaining a misunderstanding is frustrating. But, like I said, there is a powerful addiction that keeps me coming back to this show.

If there's one thing that's a little disappointing, it's that none of the characters (except Sae, surprisingly) have really changed. There hasn't been any character growth or any life-changing decisions. No one's really learned anything from their experiences, and no one's really matured, so what's the point? I guess everyone needs a little trashy TV every now and then. That's my excuse.[TOP]

Nothing makes me feel quite as guilty as when I laugh at really inappropriate situations or commercials. I can't help but laugh when I watch really, really over-the-top healthcare commercials (my current favorite one is of a little girl playing dress-up alongside her mom. She asks for a bit of lipstick, only to have the voiceover intone ominously about influenza). I have the same pangs of guilt when I crack up over lame scenes in serious anime, because I always suspect that they weren't meant to be ironic in the same way that a lot of American superhero movies are.

Audiences are introduced to Glass Fleet while the characters are in the middle of a second revolution. The first revolution toppled the Allied Nobility, but in its stead was instated an even more corrupt empire run by a man named Vetti Sforza. Hoping to unseat him, a second revolution was brought on by the People's Army, led by a noble named Michel Volban, who also happens to be the hero of the story. He sounds like/may actually be a girl, but he's steadfast in his ideals and his commitment to unifying the empire under a better government.

Things get spotty when he and his crew are captured, but they're bailed out by a glass ship, captained by a rugged man named Cleo. He has no interest in Michel's cause, and desires to battle Vetti only so he can take over the empire someday, but who would be surprised if they ended up respecting each other and getting along?

As gung-ho and inspirational as this story of revolution and ideals is supposed to be, I couldn't help but laugh every time something slightly clichéd happened. For example, Vetti is one of those anime lame-os who carries around roses wherever he goes, and delivers tired speeches about love and thorns. Even better is his duel against Cleo, where, after a particularly fierce charge, both men's clothing rip to shreds and fly off their chiseled bodies.

Ha.

Still, Glass Fleet is a fun show, if a bit of a mess. It delivers a good balance of action and politics, and it manages to examine every character's ideals without harping on them. It has a fairly large cast, and a lot is going on, but so far, it's been pretty good about keeping viewers in the loop. Recaps are subtly worked into the dialogue, which is good for those of us with short attention spans. The only problem is that it doesn't seem to be centering on anything. There are several different groups of characters, all with their own agendas, and none of them really mesh. Heck, the first volume even introduces a new villain, but considering the nature of the series, and the People vs. Government theme that it's supposed to be encompassing, does there really need to be side villains? Isn't it enough to have the Bad Guys versus the Good Guys plus The Rogues?

The series definitely has potential, as the characters are fairly interesting, and it's certainly built a very intricate atmosphere for itself, but right now, it seems to be a bit lost. There's a million different ways the series could go from this point—I just hope the creators already know which path they've chosen.[TOP]

Deviating completely from wars and revolutions, a long time ago, I reviewed the first volume of Princess Princess. I was a little baffled by it, and mentioned that it was unrealistic and silly. I finally gave the series a second chance, and decided to pop in the second volume.

I still don't really find the series funny, but I can see how it could be construed as cute, or even charming. While I'm still rather ambivalent about some of the main characters, the side characters that appear in the different episodes are really colorful, and kind of amazing. One episode, in particular, was one in which two of the princesses go to visit Sakamoto's family. The quirk is that all of his family members are exceedingly beautiful, but also of questionable age and gender. It's goofy, and doesn't really amount to much, but it's a chance of pace from the first disc, which mostly just introduced the princess system.

I'm not really sure where this series is going, though. Now that the premise is settled, now what? One of the episodes brought in a character that tried to abolish the system, but he was converted over so readily that where else does this series have to go? It keeps hinting that it'll bring on the character drama pretty heavily, but so far, it's just been putzing around with trivial scenarios.

Princess Princess is a show that I can now understand why people would enjoy. It took me a bit of attitude readjustment, and watching it from a different angle, but I can see why people would find it cute and entertaining. I'm still not sold on it, but if it dives deeper into the characters' emotions and brings out a bit more drama like it's hinting, then I could see myself enjoying it more.

For all the girls out there who like their boys to be extremely pretty, I recommend giving this a quick rental. The characters are good-natured and fun to watch, and sometimes, that's all it takes.[TOP]

With all the new series that have been coming out recently, it's easy to kind of forget about some of the ones that are already out. I recently caught up with the second and third volumes of Kurau: Phantom Memory, a series that deserves a lot more attention than it's been getting. It has a lot of strong science fiction elements, and the main characters are pretty darned likeable, too. It's the show that I tell everyone to watch when they say to me, “I miss Ghost in the Shell.” They're not really similar in storyline, but something about the atmosphere has always associated the two in my head

The thing about Kurau is that it's not a very complex series at all. In fact, all you need to know about the show, you learned in the first episode—everything after that is just a constant cat-and-mouse chase, with a few informative tidbits about the Rynax thrown in every couple of scenes. It gives the series time to focus on other things, as well, like the intimate bond between Kurau and Christmas, and her sympathy towards her father and other Rynax. Kurau is such a great character, that she alone could drive the story. She's kind, she's thoughtful, and everything she does, she does with all of her heart.

She really does make all the difference in the world. After much thought, I decided that I would watch this character in any kind of show, regardless of the subject matter or the genre. If she wanted to host a cooking show, I'd watch it every day. If she wanted to be Jenny Jones, that'd be okay, too. She is just such an amazing characters. So often, when you watch shows about some chick beating up robots, she ends up being some oversexed hussy who only cares about money or destruction. What you have here is a kind of androgynous-looking woman whose love for humanity and her family are so strong that everything else she does is a product of her emotions.

If you haven't seen this show, you definitely owe it to yourself to pick it up. It's a real gem, and whether you like science fiction, or just really tough chicks, this is a show that's worth checking out.[TOP]

That's it for this time. See you next time!

I decided to be a little biased this week and feature the shelf of my BFF, Kira, whose dad owns the awesome video (and anime!) rental and retail store in Fort Collins, CO, "The Village Vidiot." Not only is she awesome, but her shelves are awesome, too, and if you ever go by that store and see her working, you should nag the hell out of her.

I really want that Ohno figure.

Have any awesome collections you want to show off? Send your jpgs to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com!


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