Shelf Life
Boxing Loves

by Bamboo Dong, Nov 26th 2007

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and my wallet's a few hundred dollars lighter than it was at the beginning of the week. The only thing I can do is revel in the experience of helping out the lagging economy by weighing down my already sagging shelves with more TV DVD boxsets and useless electronics.

The column's pretty short this week, because of the holiday, but I'll make it up next time. Welcome to Shelf Life.

If you've been down the anime aisles of your local DVD retail establishment lately, you may have noticed a few tins grazing the shelves. Recently, ADV has been re-releasing a few of their Gainax titles in swanky new packaging, just in time for the holidays. One of these is the platinum collection of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and by my count, it should be the fifth time that the series has been released in the US. This time, however, nothing new has really been added—it's just in a shinier box (though some would argue that the original Platinum Edition artbox was the shiniest of them all). Packaged within the new tin case is thinpaks of all the Eva discs, sporting the same artwork that was on the Platinum releases, and the discs within are one and the same, too.

Over the years, fans have tended to polarize in their opinions of this series. There are probably just as many who detest it, as those who hail it as being one of the best robot shows ever made. Frankly, I belong to the latter camp. But, as someone who already owns a few different copies of Eva, I don't really see what this latest release has to offer. It's almost exactly the same as the Platinum thinpak (MSRP $89.98), only it rings up at $129.98, which still isn't a bad deal, since you can get it at a lot of places for around $90. But, if you wanted to be cheap, you could get the original Platinum DVDs individually for as low as $8 at TRSI, and build a cheap collection that way.

Despite how you end up buying Eva, I still think that it's something that every anime fan should watch at some point in their lives. Especially now with the new Eva movies coming out, there's no better time than now to immerse yourself in the originals. The Platinum discs are a lot better than the DVDs that were first released in the US, with better sound and crisper visuals, and if you're planning on owning the series, there's no reason not to get the very best. Whether you like the series for its action scenes and its crazy battles, or you like the slow mindscrew that is the latter half of the series, now's a good time to get the series for cheap. Plus, it's a great gift for the holidays, so honestly, there's no reason for any Eva fan anywhere to not own a good copy of this show.[TOP]

If you're looking for something a little more old school, ADV's also released the entire Nadia - Secret of Blue Water TV series. Also a Gainax classic, it's a little less known than its younger, more robotic brother, but as far as storytelling and adventuring goes, it's a hell of a ride.

Taking place in 1889 at the World's Fair, events are set in motion when a young inventor runs into a girl named Nadia, and her pet lion. For some reason, a bunch of villains are bent on capturing her for the jewel she wears around her neck, so the trio are forced to escape, while figuring out just what's so special about her pendant. It's a rather straightforward journey, but the pacing is fantastic, and there's hardly a boring spot in the entire show.

What's so lovely about the series is that the entire narrative is seen from a child's perspective. It doesn't dumb down the series in the slightest, but it does provide a somewhat innocent view of the world that's really nice to see nowadays. It does make for some lame dialogue at times, but the series excels in focusing on the characters and the way that they interact with each situation that's thrust upon them. It doesn't find any extraneous excuses to focus on mecha battles or extended chase scenes, either—everything is very much character-oriented, and it flows very well.

Given the age of the show, the video looks pretty good, too. The sound is clear and the video is sharp, and it's a great opportunity to check out this show. Great for people of all ages, Nadia has been a classic for many years, and it's easy to see why the title character has appeared on the Top 5 lists of Favorite Female Characters in so many Japanese polls. She's strong, she's willful, and she's one of the main reasons why this show is so much fun. At the very least, the series is worth renting for some older entertainment fun.[TOP]

Now that the cold season is here, it's also a great time to snuggle up with some hot chocolate, a Hickory Farms Beef Stick, and watch as one of the most melodramatic love stories of the year comes crashing to a satisfying conclusion.

Peach Girl has been a whirlwind of muddled emotions from the start. It's shown the magic of new love, the tragedy of break-ups and betrayals, and it's featured enough beat-downs and pregnancy scares to rival any given season of The OC. In the sixth and last volume, it finally rewards all the viewers who have stuck it out through all the hard times by clearing up all the miscommunications, unraveling all the love triangles, and even showing that most of the characters have changed for the better.

Nothing has been quite as satisfying as seeing that all the characters have learned from their mistakes. Most drastic of all were probably Sae and Ryo, the former whom I'd thought would be a bile-vomiting devil until the day she died. It's these kinds of changes that make character-driven shows worth watching, and if there's anyone out there who doesn't have some kind of emotional response to the last episode, be it anger, happiness, or sadness, then you're far too jaded for your own good.

Of course, like any show drenched with drama, there are some scenes that will frustrate you, and plenty that will make you wring your hands and ask, “Does this actually happen in real life?,” but like any good show about high school, there's some truth behind all the tears. Peach Girl has been one of my guiltiest pleasures over the past several months, but I'm glad it ended when it did. If you find yourself drawn to all the teen dramadies that have appeared on Fox and the WB over the years, you'll probably get a kick out of this. Heavily tailored towards females between the ages of 14 and 25, it's a great choice for girlie marathon sessions and an excuse to sit around and chat about relationships.[TOP]

If your girlie tendencies stray a little closer to the cutesy side, and less towards the I'll-rip-your-hair-out-if-you-touch-my-man side, then the new Fruits Basket thinpak will be right up your alley. One of the most popular shoujo series to be released in the US, both in anime and manga form, the series is now available in an all-new sleek format for only $69.98 MSRP. If you've ever wanted to own this show, but never got around to picking up the individual discs, then the retail gods are smiling upon you and waiting for your credit card.

Fruits Basket has some of the best storytelling and character development seen in recent years, and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who's seen the show and doesn't like it. Not only does it have one of the sweetest and most likable protagonists to ever be created, but its side characters are complex and amazing, too. Every person, especially the members of the Sohma household, has an intricate history and it lets viewers really understand how each one acts, and how each person interacts with Tohru. And, by the end of the series, you'll feel so close to each one that every last plot twist will have you hoping anxiously for things to end well.

A lot of times, readers will ask me for recommendations for shows that they can watch with their kids. Amongst my answers, I've always added in Fruits Basket. Its themes of friendship and caring are genuine and worth embracing, and there's plenty of humor and stories of determination that are suitable for all ages, and both genders. And, if you're a girl who's been trying to ease your significant other into the world of shoujo, this show's a great place to start. The characters are compelling, it doesn't present itself as overly girlie, and overall, it's just a solid piece of entertainment. It's been a few years since the series first came out, but it's just as great as it's ever been, and now, you can get it for a ridiculously reasonable price.[TOP]

That ends this week's column; see you next time, friends.

This week's Shelf Obsessed is courtesy of Jenn, aka Blueharlequin. She says the pictures are a bit old, so her current collection is actually pretty huge. Not like it's not already huge.

And the collection is even bigger now? Gosh.

Got any pictures of your collection you'd like to show off? Send your jpgs to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com!


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