Shelf Life
Mobile Suit Gundam F91

by Paul Jensen, Gabriella Ekens,

I finally got started on my "watch popular anime that I skipped the first time around" New Year's resolution this week. Since the second season of KONOSUBA is airing now, it seemed like as good a time as any to marathon the first season. While it didn't completely blow me away, I had enough fun watching it that I'll probably try to catch up on the new episodes when I get a chance. If nothing else, this is easily the most entertaining resolution I've ever tried to keep. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Mobile Suit Gundam F91

On Shelves This Week

5 Centimeters Per Second BD
Discotek - 63 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.95
Currently cheapest at: $18.29 Amazon

Synopsis: Takaki and Akari develop a bond in elementary school, but are separated after graduation. Will they still have feelings for one another when they finally reunite?

Extra: This movie has seen a few different releases over the years, including an imported version in 2016. We have a review of an older DVD release here. You can stream the movie on Crunchyroll.




Actually, I Am - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $24.99 Amazon|$25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: High school student Asahi Kuromine is terrible at keeping secrets, but that's exactly what he'll have to do after he learns that one of his classmates is a vampire.

Extra: I did the episode reivews for this series, and while it's not the best monster girl show in recent memory, it has its moments. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll. And yes, apparently the DVD and Blu-Ray versions have the same MSRP.



Amagi Brilliant Park - Complete Collection BD, DVD, Limited Edition
Sentai - 350 min - Hyb - MSRP $69.98|$59.98|$179.98
Currently cheapest at: $40.29 Amazon|$38.99 Right Stuf|$103.49 Amazon

Synopsis: After being forced into going on a date to a failing amusement park, Seiya Kanie is asked to become the park's manager in order to save its magical inhabitants.

Extra: We have a review of this series here. It's streaming on Crunchyroll, and you can get a brief look at the English dub here.




Hunter x Hunter - Set 2 BD, DVD
Viz - 299 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.98|$24.98
Currently cheapest at: $22.49 Amazon|$17.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Gon and his friends enter the final stages of the Hunter Exam, where clever plans and temporary alliances are as important as raw power.

Extra: A few of this week's releases don't have their own encyclopedia pages as of this writing, so their title links will go to the main show pages. You'll find a review of the first set here, and the first of several streaming reviews here. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Viz.com.



Izumo: Flash of a Brave Sword - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After a major earthquake, Takeru Yagi discovers that his old high school has been transformed into a ruin full of monsters.

Extra: This series was available streaming a while ago, but it didn't get particularly high marks in this Shelf Life review. It doesn't appear to be up online at the moment.




Key the Metal Idol - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 515 min - Hyb - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After her creator dies, a robotic girl named Key learns that she can become human if she can win the adoration of 30,000 people.

Extra: We don't have any reviews for this OVA series, but our user ratings average out at around 7 out of 10. You can watch it on Viewster.





Kyousougiga - Complete Series BD+DVD
Discotek - 264 min - Sub - MSRP $59.95
Currently cheapest at: $36.59 Amazon

Synopsis: In the "mirror capital" world of Kyoto, the arrival of a young girl searching for her mother upsets the peace in a city where humans and spirits coexist.

Extra: You can check out a full series review for this show here, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll.




Magic Knight Rayearth - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 1176 min - Hyb - MSRP $79.95
Currently cheapest at: $51.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Three ordinary high school students are transported to a parallel world, where they are given magical powers and tasked with defeating the forces of evil.

Extra: This is the DVD version of the Blu-Ray set that came out around a month ago. Still no streaming sources for this show, and that old VHS review is still our most recent.




Red Data Girl - Complete Collection [S.A.V.E.] DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $24.98
Currently cheapest at: $17.29 Amazon

Synopsis: After being raised in a secluded shrine, a teenage girl named Izumiko begins to interact with the outside world while learning to control her mysterious powers.

Extra: You'll find reviews of this series here and here. It's currently available on Funimation.




Sailor Moon Crystal - Set 2 BD+DVD, DVD, Limited Edition
Viz - 276 min - Hyb - MSRP $69.99|$39.99|$79.99
Currently cheapest at: $52.99 Amazon|$27.99 Amazon|$62.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Usagi faces off against new threats, including powerful enemies who want to take the Legendary Silver Crystal.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, along with a review of the first set. You can stream the series on Crunchyroll and Hulu.




Scrapped Princess - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 600 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.79 Amazon

Synopsis: After a prophecy declares her to be a threat to the entire world, Pacifica Cassul begins a life on the run with help from two adoptive siblings.

Extra: This show is old enough to have been released on single discs, and you'll find the first of several reviews here. You can stream the series on Funimation.





The Betrayal Knows My Name - Complete Collection DVD
Funimation - 600 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98
Currently cheapest at: $37.39 Amazon

Synopsis: A young man with the power to feel other people's emotions is caught between two sides in a supernatural conflict.

Extra: We don't have any reviews of this series, but our user ratings average out to a reasonably positive 7.2 out of 10. Funimation has a page for the series, but no episodes are streaming as of this writing.




Shelf Life Reviews

Gabriella's on review duty this week with a look at the Mobile Suit Gundam F91 movie.

It's time to cover another minor entry in the Gundam mega-franchise – this time, it's Mobile Suit Gundam F91. A late entry in the Universal Century time line, this film is yet another one of those obscure one-offs that seem to populate the Gundam multiverse, remembered primarily by the ultra-fans who write plot summaries on the wiki. This one doesn't even have a complete plot summary, so that probably shows how important it is.

The movie takes place 30 years after the events of Char's Counterattack. There have been decades of peace, but things start getting rowdy when a private militia known as the Crossbone Vanguard gets the bright idea to start its own galactic empire. They begin seizing Earth Federation colonies, which raises the ire of one of their residents, the teenage Seabook Arno. Things get personal, however, when his girlfriend Cecily is revealed as the Crossbone Vanguard's lost heiress. This turn of events leads Seabook into the pilot seat of the latest Gundam, the F91. Can he protect the colonies and rescue Cecily from the machinations of her evil family? Or will he be forced to strike down the person he loves?

Apparently, this film was originally planned to be a 50-episode series, cut down to 13, and then further compressed into this two-hour film. That's all extremely apparent, since the whole thing is plotted in fits and starts that feel like they would have been the central conflicts for individual episodes. This ends up wrecking the characterization pretty hard. The worst victim is Cecily, whose level of commitment to her family's cause seems to vary by the scene. I get that she's supposed to be a conflicted and indecisive person, but lacking any indication as to why she's changing her mind all the time, it just feels like I'm being jerked around. In the end, she amounts to a particularly weak character, even by the rocky standards set for Gundam's women. The plot ultimately consists of her boyfriend trying to reach her in order to give her the resolve to stick up for herself. The rest of the characters aren't much better, but they at least land on “underdeveloped” rather than “confusing.” In its current format, the film's story doesn't work at all – and on top of that, I'm not sure that it ever possessed anything distinct enough in order to make it compelling.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91 feels like a reheated mash of ideas that I've seen in pretty much every other Gundam. I realize that the Gundam franchise has a pretty strict kit of story elements that it uses in pretty much every series, but this one is particularly bad on that front. Tell me if you've heard this one before: a wannabe space empire invades some innocent colonies, a naïve young woman is propped up as their figurehead, and our teen protagonist bungles his way into fighting them off in in the titular mobile suit. Sound familiar? This repetition even extends to small details, like Seabook's relationship with his mother, in yet another incarnation of Yoshiyuki Tomino's workaholic mommy issues. While I personally derive enjoyment from seeing a creator's personal fixations come through in their art, this doesn't always result in a compelling story. Beyond that, the film's derivation isn't even limited to its own franchise – the villain and resident Char-alike, Carozzo Ronah, is a transparent Darth Vader clone.

If anything redeems this film, it's that it looks pretty nice. This is probably the best-produced version of the original Gundam aesthetic featuring Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's character designs. I'm a big fan of the style and enjoyed seeing it brought to life in film-quality animation. If you just want to wallow in original Gundam visuals, this film is a decent candidate for that – just keep in mind that the action is drowned out by long sequences of people talking. It's paced like a compressed 12-episode series, so there's a scene of them messing around with the robots every twelve minutes or so. Other than that, the major action is concentrated in the last 20 minutes.

This Blu-ray release is pretty sparse but on par from what I expected from other discs. The big asset is the dub, which is solidly listenable. My big gripe with this release is that there's no closed captioning alongside the English dub. Otherwise, extras include the usual slate of trailers, as well as a quick recap timeline of the Universal Century and an English commentary track.

While it ostensibly takes place within the Universal Century timeline, the story doesn't really have anything to do with its main events, besides maybe some background lore. As a consequence, it's far from required viewing. While the film doesn't have anything to recommend on a narrative level, I'll spare it from a Perishable rating by virtue of its visuals and for the sake of Gundam completionists. Still, crippled by its tumultuous production and a poor attempt at condensation, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 is mostly a bust.
-Gabriella[TOP]

That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Damian:

"My Name is Damian Metzger and I'm 33 years old. I've been watching anime pretty much since I finished high school. But didn't really start collecting until 2010. My of my stuff is imported from the US but I also have quite a few here from Australia. Recently I'm not getting as much anime as I used to due to the exchange rate and shipping costs. And I'm planning on going to Japan for the first time in May for my birthday. End of last year I started collecting Light novels and manga. Only reason I managed to get so many so quickly was because I got a $350 prepaid visa card for Christmas. Anyway hope you enjoy the pics."

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Those international shipping rates can get pretty nasty, so bonus points for putting up with them. Enjoy the trip to Japan, and thanks for sharing!

No matter what part of the world you're from, this is the place to show off your collection to your fellow anime fans. Send me your photos at [email protected]!


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