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Shelving the Resolutions for Next Year

Now that the year 2003 is upon us, it's time to bust out those New Year resolutions, lose them within weeks, and carry on the same life that you've been living year after year after continual year. Hopefully, though, some nice family member decided it would be easier to give you money for the holidays rather than go shop for you. In that case, a little shopping is in order for you. There are plenty of things you could spend your money on. You could invest it, you could donate it to charity, you could buy textbooks, office supplies—nah. I can't even think of the word money without some mysterious force dragging me to the store or online to buy anime when I know full well it could be better spent elsewhere. Well, since you're going to spend money on anime anyway, why not take some tips on what releases you should be adding to your anime shelves?

Shelf Worthy

Dai-Guard Vol. #3
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 01/07/2003

Even until the third volume, Dai-Guard remains largely unpredictable, which drives the series forward. In these episodes, the crew of the Dai-Guard is pitted against a new military machine, and as they face the trials of fighting, the characters draw even closer together than they were before. The interplay between characters makes Dai-Guard a series worth watching, as not only is there the action characteristic in mecha shows, but also the deep characterization that often lacks in shows of this genre. All around, Dai-Guard is good, and it's never too late to start watching it.

Fancy Lala Vol. #4
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 4/6 $24.98 01/07/2003

As Fancy Lala surpasses the halfway point in the series, it's still as cute and refreshing as it was when it kicked off. LaLa is still dealing with the dual lifestyle she is living, but some of the mysteries of the dreams that she has is finally being revealed. Unlike many other magical girl shows, LaLa doesn't follow a nearly as predictable episode trend, making each episode fun to watch—even the re-used transformation animation sequences are varied by the background and clothing, which makes the stock footage very bearable indeed. The animation itself is rather chunky, but not to the point that it interferes with the series content, which is what carries the show. Overall, Fancy Lala is a great and wonderfully cute show for magical girl lovers, and since it stars a pop idol as one of its characters, the music in the series is equally enjoyable as the content. If you want cute, but not the kind that makes you sick, Fancy Lala is the way to go.

Video Rental Shelf (Yes, yes, I know that boxsets can't be found in rental stores, but that's beside the point)

Melty Lancer Vol. #1: Alpha
Bandai Entertainment 75 min. 1/? $29.98 01/07/2003

Fan service. Fan service, fan service, fan service (wow, the more you type that, the weirder it looks). Melty Lancer is your classic space opera series—without any of the redeeming qualities found in any good space opera series. Granted, it's got the plot and the fighting—too bad the camera is too obsessed with the cute girls than any of the above characteristics. It's even touted on the back of the box that “The face of justice just got cuter!” Without me even telling you, you could probably discern that it's a series infatuated with shots of cute girls, and an inkling of deep plot waiting to surface. At least it's… somewhat funny. Somewhat. But not always on purpose, which probably is what makes it funny. But, on the other hand, if you like series like this, then hell, it's the show for you. It has a remnant of plot, cute enough music, pretty slick animation, and a group of girls ready to deliver. If this is your thing, by all means go get it.

Devil Lady Vol. #1: The Awakening
ADV Films 125 min. 1/6 $29.98 01/07/2003

Yeah, I know I said two weeks ago that this series was bad, but I have to admit that the beginning of the series is still somewhat intriguing. The premise is rather simple, as it features a fashion model that turns into a demonic creature at night and fights even more demonic creatures that are trying to take over the world. Think Devilman, but longer, with a chick, and with more explanations (sort of) as to what's going on and why it's happening. If you haven't seen Devilman, no matter, as it's not a big loss. The first few episodes are still interesting to watch, as Go Nagai's grotesque artwork remains fascinating even in this series, and the first few fights are still exciting. After awhile, though, it goes downhill as viewers realize that what they thought was exciting repeats itself over and over and over again for another five volumes. Until then, though, enjoy. But be forewarned, it's rated 17+ and definitely not something for the kids.

Robotech New Generation Collection
ADV Films 600 min. 1/1 $44.98 01/07/2003

As a series that carries so much nostalgia with so many viewers, it's always worth seeing again just for old time's sake. With Robotech, though, I've always followed my own shtick that if you've already seen it and it holds a special place in your heart, then it's always nice watching it again. If you haven't seen it, or liked Robotech but want to see the original, then you could either borrow Robotech from a friend to see what all the fuss is about (for the former group, obviously), or check out the three series that Robotech was made from (Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada). Either way, the character relationships are interesting, and it's one of those things that everyone always seems to talk about, regardless of whether you watch the original three series, or this one.

Dragon Ball Z Androids DVD Boxed Set
Dragon Ball Z Perfect Cell DVD Boxed Set
Funimation $54.95 01/07/2003

Both the Androids set and the Perfect Cell set are being released on the same date, and for convenience, I've lumped them together. Let's face it, even though there are people who heavily dislike Dragon Ball Z and think it's the epitome of dragged out storylines and boring fights galore, there are others that think it's the best thing to ever grace the anime world. Me, personally, I rest somewhere left of the middle. Regardless, if only to be fair to the group of people that range from the middle, to the latter, I must say that if you like Dragon Ball Z, then these boxsets are a good thing. All the episodes from the different sagas chunked together, and the most worthy reason of checking it out? Bilingual DVD. I bet there's a bunch of you DBZ fans out there who have never heard the original Japanese voices for the series. And with that in mind, these DVDs are for you.

Card Captor Sakura Vol. #13
Pioneer Animation 100 min. 13/18 $29.98 01/07/2003

This late in the series, Card Captor Sakura is getting really interesting. It's always been a cute show with enough variety to keep it from getting boring or the episodes from being painfully identical, but now, the series is getting meatier and much better. The mysteries and secrets hinted at all throughout the series are finally being revealed more in depth, and now that Sakura isn't allowed to use her Clow Cards to fight, each character's inner strengths and reliance upon one another is brought out. This added characterization is good for the storyline, and makes this volume worth watching.

Sailor Moon Vol. #13: Time Travelers
Sailor Moon Vol. #14: Love Conquers All
ADV Films 110 min. 13/14/14 $14.98 01/07/2003

With the last two volumes of Sailor Moon, the story is finally beginning to stray from the identical episodic storyline in the previous volumes, and finally getting to the plot that was hinted at from the very beginning. If you only watch two Sailor Moon DVDs your entire life, well, I guess I'd recommend two others, but these come close, too. Stuff actually happens and the plot's not as entirely predictable. So if you like Sailor Moon, watch these; if you somewhat like Sailor Moon, watch these; if you don't like it at all, well then there's plenty of other things released this week you can watch.

Perishable Item

Tsukikage Ran Vol. #3
Bandai Entertainment 75 min. 3/4 $29.98 01/07/2003

Tsukikage Ran is about a female samurai and her female sidekick Meow that go around drinking and fighting bad guys. It tries to be funny at times, but no matter how you look at it, it's not. There's virtually no continuing plot line, and the characters are absurdly annoying. It has almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and if you're dead set on watching a samurai series, then there's plenty of infinitely better ones out there to watch.

Kirby: Dark and Stormy Night
Funimation 60 min. 2/? $19.95 01/07/2003

This is way too cute for its own good. Unless you are or have a child, then I don't recommend it for you. It's definitely one for the kids. Or absolutely hardcore, raving mad Kirby fanatics. The animation is shoddy, and the plot is… well, it's a plot akin to a videogame, which isn't saying much. Kids might get a kick out of it, but for everyone else, you'd be better off playing the games.

And thus we reach the conclusion of this week's Shelf Life. I hope everyone had a great holiday, and aren't too bummed about going back to work, or school, or both. If you find any free time in your schedule though, anime is always good to lift the stresses of life. Until next week, I'll be seeing you later, and thinking really hard about doing something productive with my free time.

-Bamboo "SakechanBD" Dong

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