Shelf Life
Mushiboom

by Bamboo Dong, Feb 11th 2008

The past week, between excited viewings of the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday, my friends and I got onto the topic of the best sports songs ever written. Not songs that were necessarily written just for sports, mind you, but songs that get you mega-pumped up, or have the ability to bring a lone tear to your eye. I know places like ESPN have compiled their own lists before, but I've disagreed with some of their selections. I can't stand The Champs' “Tequila,” and if I ever hear “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang ever again, I may actually take a swan-dive from the nosebleeds.

So, these are the songs that get me pumped. First and foremost, "We Are the Champions" by Queen. Does that ever not bring a tear to someone's eyes when their team has just won a championship game? Secondly, "Rock and Roll (Part II)," originally by Gary Glitter. It's arguably one of the best goal songs used in the NHL, period. Another personal favorite is one that most people probably don't remember anymore, with the exception of old Hartford Whalers fans—"Brass Bonanza”. If every NHL team had their own theme song, more people would watch hockey.

The last two songs I could never do without are "Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot, and let's face it—the theme from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., which has been used by NBC in the past for events like the Olympics. If that doesn't inspire confidence in your team, nothing will.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

I hope it's not too late for me to jump on the Death Note bandwagon. I'd read a few volumes of the manga before, but I wasn't able to tear into the first volume of the anime until this week. I can easily see why everyone is going nuts over it, because it is one darned good show. For those late to the game, the series starts off when a bored shinigami named Ryuk drops his Death Note in the human world. In it, he's scribbled some rules about how to use it—namely, the various ways it can be used to kill. The book is picked up by a high school student named Light, who sees it as an opportunity to rid the world of wrongdoers, and become a sort of god. Naturally, international crime fighting units don't think it's that great that hundreds of criminals have dropped dead, so they've sicked a crack detective known only as “L” on his tail to try to bring him to justice.

It'd be a little hard to break down why Death Note is so fascinating, but there are definitely some aspects that stick out. For instance, the entire moral question of whether or not it's okay to prematurely kill murderers who are on death row. Or, if it's okay to kill bad guys in general, especially if makes the crime rate go down. It's a theme that occurs frequently throughout the volume, and I'd imagine it'll be a crucial part of the entire series. It's also just plain fun seeing the mindgames being played by Light and L as they try to outwit each other.

I've heard several people say that the manga is far superior to the anime series, but I was just as entertained by the series. It moves at a very fast clip, and while it may not be as detailed as the manga, I think it gets the point of the story across very well. It's definitely more interesting to see some of these schemes acted out in real time, and I look forward to continuing on with the next few discs.[TOP]

After indulging in that rather morose series, I decided to go for something a little more lighthearted. I ended up watching the 8th One Piece movie, One Piece: Episodes of Alabasta, a full-length film that follows the beloved pirate crew as they help reunite a kingdom against a civil war perpetrated by an evil man.

I think it's stipulated somewhere in the Shonen Jump contract that every story has to involve hope and friendship. Not just one, but both. No matter how much of an underdog you are, as long as you have determination, guts, and people who believe in you, you'll always, always win. Sorry, was that a spoiler alert? Even if you're killed a few dozen times, and have the moisture drained out of your body, and get pierced through the chest, you'll still be able to get by, because you have what it takes.

Needless to say, the One Piece movie does just that. It embraces love and friendship like a clingy girlfriend, and it's syrupy good fun for fans of the series. For non-fans, it's a little harder to get into, because the movie expects you to go in with prior knowledge of the series. You're not going to get any explanation of who the characters are, or how they're able to pull off their bizarre signature attacks. It can definitely function as a standalone film, but unless you're familiar with the characters, it may just come off as a madcap free-for-all that ends with love and peace.

Even with familiarity of the characters, though, the movie is a bit of a mess. It's a recap of the Alabaster arc, which probably works better if you've seen it. The story is simple enough—stop the rebel army and the royal army from wiping each other out, and get rid of the bad guy—but the pacing is anything but smooth. The battles are cobbled together, and because characters are perpetually healthy and still able to fight, they pop into random fights at will. It's also hard to ever feel bad for any of the characters, even when they're oozing blood, because every serious scene is lifted with cartoony comic relief. How am I supposed to care about the characters when they seem invincible?

In the end, the One Piece movie is really made for fans of the series. It's another chance to see Luffy and his crew whoop some butt, and learn about unity. At the same time, if you were never able to get into the series, then this will hold limited appeal to you. Remember guys, friendship solves everything.[TOP]

Friendship is the key to success everywhere, it seems, even on moon colonies. After watching volumes two and three of everyone's favorite overpriced 25-minute/disc OVA, Freedom, I gained a newfound appreciation for online DVD rental companies. When it comes to a $40 DVD, the ability to rent anime definitely has its perks, so bless you Netflix, and bless you RentAnime.

The scrappy youths in Freedom are blown away when they discover that the supposedly desolate Earth now has brilliant blue skies. They're even more surprised when they discover photographs of a green Earth, one of which has the message on the back, “The Earth is well.” Determined to find out for themselves, they do all sorts of rebellious things, and end up in an escape rocket back to Earth. Their destination? Florida. Personally, I don't know that I'd ever willingly risk my life just to live in a place like Florida, but I guess if my other option is a dingy moon colony, things may be different. Desperate times, desperate measures.

The one good thing is that this series has greatly improved since the first episode. While before it was a kind of boring and pointless, now the added element of suspense of what they might find on Earth really propels it forward. And, of course, there're still plenty of Nissin shout-outs. In the third episode, one of the characters holds up a giant box of Cup Noodles and says, “No one's going hungry!”

Thank goodness. As long as future food consists mostly of instant noodles, what's not to look forward to?

The only really frustrating thing about the one-episode-per-disc format is that you have to wait ages for the next installment. Just when things get exciting, the episode ends. By the time the next volume rolls around, you have to get back into it again. If they were releasing this stuff once a week, maybe that'd be fine, but with the current release schedule, it's hard to keep the momentum going.

Still, if you've got empty room on your rental queue, this isn't a bad show to get. Now that Takeru and his buddy are headed towards Earth, things are looking up. Revisiting a deserted Earth is at the core of so many science fiction stories that I'm definitely looking forward to how this particular scenario will play out.[TOP]

Fleshing out this week's reviews were the fourth and fifth volumes of Mushi-Shi. I never cease to be amazed by creative the writers are. If I was in charge of creating this series, I would've run out of mushi after two episodes, so the fact that this series continues to deliver is very pleasing.

Some of the highlights in these two discs include freaky fungus babies, and an ocean grotto full of floating embryo globules that reminded me of the Ortbiz softdrink that was briefly sold for a few months in 1996. Only, these globules allow you to give birth to your dead mother.

The more I watch Mushi-Shi, the more I realize it's a bit of a polarizing show. Those who like it really love it for its ethereal visual beauty and its slow, calm pace. They're able to admire it for what it is—a beautiful look at the very essence of life, set in the backdrop of quiet Japanese villages back when times were much simpler. Those who don't like it tend to think it's intensely boring. While I don't agree with that assessment, I could see how some would think that, but if you have the patience to journey with Ginko, then you'll definitely be rewarded. I'm still enraptured with the sight of the mushi every time. The way the animators were able to create that surreal glowing effect really is something, and it's breathtaking every time.

With only volume left to go, I'm a little curious if the series will have a real ending, or just fizzle off. So far, it's been a fun adventure.[TOP]

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's Shelf Life is from Francis, whose bodacious figure collection totally makes me jealous. Oh, and if you think the shelves are burgeoning with stuff, keep in mind that most of the manga and DVDs are double-stacked.


My envy is going to burst out of my face! I want all those toys!

If you have pictures to show off, please send them to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com!


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