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Shelf Analysis

by Bamboo Dong,
By now, some of you are wondering, who is this person that keeps writing this column? S/he hardly ever signs his/her name on the bottom, and we can't tell who it is that keeps blabbing to us his/her opinions every w/eek. Well, I was born in a village just outside of Marseilles, where I was picked up by the Russian circus and forced to tour with them around the countries of Eastern Europe until I was fourteen, when I stowed away on a German meat-packing ship to the eastern isle of New York. And thus my life in America begins. Okay, maybe not, but who I am hardly matters. In all honesty, I lived in Colorado all my life until the Admissions Office of Brown University made a fatal error and threw me into their herd. I'm a female who enjoys anime, candlelight dinners, and long walks on our beautiful Colorado beaches (in Southwestern lingo, we call it “foolishly climbing up random roadside mountains and ending up trekking for hours along a muddy riverbank with cactus thorns nestled comfortably in your hands.”) I trekked my way onto ANN circa 1999, deciding to go by the name of SakechanBD (a name which seemed somehow “cool” to me in those hazy days of junior high), where I write reviews and answer my favorite questions on the board, such as my favorite series, my favorite theme song, and what someone should see if they've already seen Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. And now with that painfully long aside out of the way, on to this week's Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Banner of the Stars Vol. #1
Bandai Entertainment 125 min. 1/? $29.98 01/21/2003

Remember how cool and refreshing Crest of the Stars was? Yeah, it's like that. Following right on the heels of its predecessor, Banner of the Stars continues the epic space saga a few years after the last episode left off. Like Crest, it has everything a good space tale could hope for—action, strong characters, meaningful dialogue—it's definitely worth your money. If you haven't seen Crest of the Stars, never fear, as the extras include a decently long recap of the series, so you won't be lost. And, just to make sure you get it, the first two episodes are pretty much just a recap as well. With five episodes on this disc though, you'll still get plenty of bang for your money. It's just one of those series that remind you why you started watching anime in the first place. We all need one of those every now and then.

Fruits Basket Vol. #2: What Becomes of Snow?
Funimation Productions 123 min. 2/4 $39.95 01/21/2003

I love Fruits Basket. I really, really do. The story rests mainly on the relationships that form between the characters, and shoves sweet, moralistic tidbits here and there. It's definitely one of those cute and warming shows that will brighten up anyone's day. In this volume, viewers get introduced to Momiji and Hatori, two more members of the Sohma family. With the ever increasing number of characters, it's surprising how the relationships between each and every one can remain so important and strongly personal. Fruits Basket really falls into a class of its own. I've never seen a series whose entire plot revolves around characterization before, and this series is definitely one of the best.

Vandread Second Stage Vol. #3
Pioneer Animation 75 min. 3/4 $29.98 01/21/2003

Vandread Second Stage continues to be just as entertaining as the first season of Vandread was. This time around, though, the story tries to be more character-driven, and they do a nice job of it. The conflict between the two gender races gets more interesting, and as always, there's plenty of humor that can be milked from the confrontations that arise between them. I've always liked series where two different groups of people have to join together for a common cause, as the side stories of each episode prove just as entertaining as the overall plot. If you enjoyed the first Vandread, then the second season is one that you can't pass up. If you haven't seen the first one, then I strongly recommend that you see that one first. While it may not be the best series in the world, with parts of the humor that make viewers roll their eyes in exasperation, it's still worth seeing.

Star Blazers: Bolar Wars Vol. #1
Voyager 120 min. 1/? $29.95 01/21/2003

The third season of Star Blazers (Yamato) is finally on DVD. This is a good thing. A 1979 classic of Yamato proportions, Star Blazers is one of those series that everyone has at least heard of. If you like space epics, then it's time to go back in time to that age when Japan was pumping out some of its best. Sure, it's been out on dubbed VHS for quite some time now, but hey, DVD! That's perhaps a lousy reason to either buy it, or re-buy it, but it works for me. In any case, if you haven't seen Star Blazers, check out the first two seasons. You might end up loving it, and when that happens, hurrah! It's time for the third season.

Video Rental Shelf

Burn Up Excess Vol. #4
ADV Films 75 min. 4/4 $29.98 01/21/2003

In the last volume of the series, there's actually a plot! That aspect is so new and exciting to me that it must be worth watching! As it turns out, it is. For the first time, the story line is actually somewhat solid, and the characters serve a purpose other than fan service shots. Surprised? Me too. In any case, the characters have to face their toughest enemy, and along the way, they learn some secrets about themselves and each other that make the final three-episode long story something quite interesting. So hey, for those of you that were too afraid to pick up Burn Up Excess for its excessively nonexistent story line and massive fan service, try out this last volume. It's worth more than all the volumes before it combined.

Megaman Vol. #01: A Hero Is Born
ADV Films 286 min. 1/? $29.98 01/21/2003

I'm not quite sure what to make of this series. On the one hand, it's video game based, with crappy animation at times, and gee whiz, the plot's pretty drawn out and boring. On the other hand, it's Megaman, and if you like Megaman, then you know what I mean. I have one thing to say, though. Twelve episodes, two discs, thirty bucks. That's so mind-blowing I don't know what to say. So if you think you might get a kick out of watching Megaman when he's not in 32 bit, try this series out for size. It definitely doesn't come at a high risk.

Ronin Warriors Vol. #10
Bandai Entertainment 75 min. 10/10 $24.98 01/21/2003

Last volume of Ronin Warriors. I must say, it's the best DVD of the series. The ending features some heroic deeds, and some emotion here and there, and hey, the last DVD makes the entire series worth it. If you liked Ronin Warriors when it was on TV, and want a taste of those days back, here's your chance. And if you're new to the scene, at least give it a rental. It won't benefit you much, but it won't set you back too far either.

Z TV Box Set 4: Garlic Jr. Box
Funimation Productions $29.95 01/21/2003

Try as I might, I don't like Dragon Ball Z. I don't hate it though, and I respect the fact that Funimation is releasing the series on bilingual DVD. The Garlic Jr. saga is one of those less-seen ones, so if you're a DBZ completionist, then I guess this one's on your list, too. And for all you rabid anti-dub-ites, here's your chance to force-feed your DBZ fanatic friends some subbed anime.

Dangaizer 3 Vol. #2
The Right Stuf International, Inc 60 min. 2/2 $24.95 01/21/2003

Pure shonen in the strictest sense of the word. At the end of the OVA, all it really ends up being is lots of mecha, and lots of fan service—but I guess a lot of people like that. Surprisingly though, this last installment of the two volume OVA isn't that bad. Everything's all blasé to a point, but then a character named Eileen appears. With the exception of a few characteristics, she looks exactly like the main character Hina. This leads to a bunch of soul searching and memory recovering, and etcetera. So pretty much it's fan service with robots with a reason for girls that don't like robots to watch it too. So if you fan boys out there are lucky enough to procure a date, then maybe she'll watch this one with you.

Perishable Item

Hellsing Vol. #4 Pioneer Animation 100 min. 4/4 $29.98 01/21/2003
Hellsing Vol. #4 (W/Figure) Pioneer Animation 100 min. 4/4 $44.98 01/21/2003

Honestly, this show is crap after episode eight. The first few episodes were interesting, with the whole vampire that hunts other vampires genre, and the chick that gets turned into a vampire deal. Action, drama, intrigue… And then episode eight or so hits, and the entire series turns out to be the sorriest piece of animation and story line ever. For some reason, the animation quality goes down, the plot… sucks, and there are so many holes in the story it's not even funny. The random introduction of Incognito just really killed the show. And the way they dealt with the ending also sucks. Take my advice, people, just watch the first two DVDs, and pretend the second half of the series never existed. You'll be so much happier that way.

Yū Yū Hakusho Vol. #09: Deathmatch
Yū Yū Hakusho Vol. #10: The Evil Dr. Ichigaki
Funimation Productions 62 min. 9/10/? $24.95 01/21/2003

You know for a fact that Funimation is going to release a box set after the next set of episodes is done. I'm sure you can wait until then. If you like the series, just wait for that. If you haven't seen the series, wait until your friend gets the box set and then watch that. If you're one of those people that only a buy a few DVDs from each series, once again, steal the set from some one else, and then figure out which DVDs you want to buy. Or read the back of the box.

Medabots Vol. #07
ADV Films 125 min. 7/? $19.98 01/23/2003

Me not being a kid, I can't see the appeal of this show. The plot is too drawn out and annoyingly fake for me, and I just can't seem to sit down to watch this show. Kids seem to like it, so if you have kids, maybe they'll like this great little dubbed disc. Then again, with all the kids' anime on TV right now, I'm sure you can find a better one for them to watch.

And this concludes this week's Shelf Life. Next week, you'll see even more cool stuff to add to your shelves. I remember the good old days when we hardly ever had weekly releases. Yeesh, we're spoiled. Anyway, have fun, don't spend too much money, and try not to have too much excitement at school or work. I know it'll be tough for you, but please, think of the children.

-Bamboo “SakechanBD” Dong

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