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Shelf Life
Some anime series are like popular J-Rock bands

by Bamboo Dong,
I was watching an anime series the other day that was released around five or so years ago. The thought that struck me was this: some anime series exist only to be made fun of. They consist of a combination of any few of the following characteristics: lame dialogue, outrageous story twists, bad animation, horrendous art, bad music, and a variety of other characteristics that would tab it as sub-par. At the same time, these series are incredibly enjoyable to watch, if even just out of morbid curiosity as to what happens in the next episode. A series so bad that it's good? I've always called this Gen X Cops syndrome, and if you've seen the movie (especially the dub), you know what I mean. Anyway, I couldn't wait to watch each subsequent episode of the aforementioned anime series, yet at the same time, I was commenting every few minutes (or obnoxiously laughing) at how bad it was. It's kind of like watching the occasional hentai title just for the unintended humor that results. What does that tell you about the series itself? Who knows, but people keep making them, and other people keep buying them.

Shelf Worthy

All-Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku Collection
ADV Films 150 min. 1/1 $29.98 02/11/2003

Come on now, it's a classic. Nuku Nuku is a super powerful android girl that has the transplanted brains of a cat (you'd think this would cause complications, but it seems to work just fine). Serving as a bodyguard to her master's son, and also a member of the family, she has to protect him from the vile clutches of a mighty corporation that wants to get him back to his former mother. Action, drama, and intrigue follow, all of which could only be fully related if you just sat down and watched it. The characters are exciting to watch, and make the series entertaining. Released back in the day, ADV produced a shiny new dub for it, threw it on DVD, and to the glee of many anime fans everywhere, the entire OVA series is now available on one tidy disc. The comedy in this series, as well as the serious scenes are truly entertaining to watch. If you've never seen Nuku Nuku, here is your ultimate chance. Don't pass it up.

Chance Pop Session Vol. #2
ADV Films 100 min. 2/3 $29.98 02/11/2003

Okay, I regret what I said about the first volume. The series has managed to redeem itself, and revert back to the charming and delightful series that the first few episodes introduced us to. The “mysterious blue stone” was solved in an earthly way, much to my relief, and the episodes that follow are actually surprisingly fun to watch. However, the series moves incredibly fast, which kind of destroys any potential the series might have had of lingering on any side issues. Also, the characters aren't developed as evenly as could be wished for, but all together, it's a pretty cute and heartwarming show. The character designs continue to scare the piss out of me, but at least the music in the series makes it all worthwhile. In the end, while this series is far from flawless, it's a lot better than I originally gave it credit for. It's about as down to earth as any series is going to be for awhile, so even if it has its downsides, it's still worth watching, especially for those reality minded people out there.

Patlabor TV Collection 1
Central Park Media 440 min. 1/? $99.99 02/11/2003

Patlabor kicks ass. The plot is relatively easy to understand. A woman takes on a job to pilot the police force's giant robots. All hell breaks loose on an everyday basis. As per any good anime, the story's central focus isn't on the action scenes (or else that would get excruciatingly dull). Rather, the story revolves around the characters that meet one another, and learn to work together to accomplish their missions. Viewers are able to take a real interest in the characters' lives as they go about their daily activities. Not only does this make the series very watchable, it also keeps the scenarios fresh and exciting. Patlabor = good. Passing up the chance to watch this series = not so good.

Video Rental Shelf

DNA2 Vol. #1: Metamorphosis
Central Park Media 75 min. 1/4 $29.99 02/11/2003

I am now going to indiscriminately plug this series for all it's worth, which isn't much. Based on the manga series of the same name by Masazaku Katsura (of Video Girl Ai fame), this series has long since been a secret favorite of mine. The story centers on a variety of characters, all of which are crucial to the story. It starts off with a woman named Karin Aoi who comes from a future heavily overpopulated due to the rampant breeding habits of a man tabbed the Mega-Playboy. Her mission is to go back in time and prevent the Mega-Playboy from becoming exactly that, a mega playboy. When she finds him, she is astounded by the fact that the future father of hundreds of children is a puny little kid who pukes every time he sees scantily clad women. The rest of this 15 episode series follows the characters as they interact with one another, and deal with the problems that present themselves. The originality of such a plot provides for very entertaining viewing, and the series is packed with laughs. Honestly, it's one of the most fun series I've ever seen. On the other side, the animation sucks, the music bites (except for the opening and ending themes), the art is definitely not as beautiful as what Katsura had, and the story gets screwy near the end. What's the appeal then? It's really, really fun. Go watch it.

Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: Botchan Parts 1&2/Student Days
Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Harp of Burma Parts 1&2/Season of the Sun
Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Izu Dancer/The Dancing Girl/A Ghost Story
Animated Classics of Japanese Literature: The Sound of Waves Parts 1&2/Growing Up
Central Park Media 75 min. 1/1 $29.98 02/11/2003

CPM has graciously released this set of the animated classics of Japanese literature. Keeping true to their original form, they are all available only in Japanese with English subtitles (not that there would really be a market for a dubbed release anyway). As the title implies, these one-shots take pieces of Japanese literature that are considered classics and well, animate them. This is very interesting from an educational standpoint, whether you are studying Japanese culture, literature, or history. Naturally, these also have a tendency to get extremely dry at times. In any case, these are recommended for those of you that want to get a firmer grasp on Japanese literature. If that's your cup of tea, than this is definitely for you. As for other people who just want to watch a collection of some well done one-shots, this is for you too. Check it out.

Patlabor TV Vol. #4
Central Park Media 100 min. 4/? $29.98 02/11/2003

I'm not going to dwell too long on this one since I already did my business earlier in this column. Condensed version—girl, robots, bad guys, good guys, more robots, BAM! SPLASH! POW! Character reflection, recap, robots again, PUNCH! More reflection, finale. Sound good? This is for those of you that want to check out the series a bit before you dive into a hundred dollar investment.

Strawberry Eggs Vol. #4
Pioneer Animation 75 min. 4/4 $29.98 02/11/2003

And thus ends the series. Surprisingly, it gets a lot better near the end. Sure, the frivolity is still there, the absurdity is still there, but the characters really hit some major development near the end, making it pretty worth watching. Viewers get to see the trials of romance, as well the paradoxical events of characters separating, and the relationship growth that occurs because of it. All in all, if you disliked I My Me Strawberry Eggs (what is with that title?!?!), try the last few episodes. Maybe it'll make you reconsider your position. If you still don't like it, oh well, at least you won't waste too much money renting it.

Dragonball Z TV Box Set 5: Androids
Funimation Productions $54.95 02/11/2003

WHAT?!?! They're still releasing DBZ? *sigh* Go read all my previous other columns for my opinions on this series. My advice: rent the episodes that are in this set first. This is too long of a series to collect foolhardily unless you know for a fact you want it. You're better off just buying a set here and there.

Perishable Items

Central Park Media 143 min. 1/1 $19.99 02/11/2003

What the hell is this thing?! Some girlie robot prancing around in outer space with teenage girls piloting it?! Is this a space opera? A comedy? What genre does this thing even fall into? More importantly, what is the point of this thing? Folks, you have better things to do than spend your time and money on this one. If you want to watch girls flounce around in space with a silly-looking robot, tape some Barbie hair to one of your Patlabor models and watch Melty Lancer. As a side note, CPM actually put this on the back of their box: “ARIEL, a huge robot in giant leotards!” I'd be too ashamed to ever put that on the back of a box.

Twisted Tales of Tokyo
Anime 18 60 min. 1/1 $29.98 02/11/2003

Allow me to quote from my previous paragraph. “What the hell is this thing?!” The title of this hentai is Twisted Tales of Tokyo; twisted it is, and hentai it definitely is. There is a total of maybe 4 minutes of plot in the entire thing, and it reuses every possible hentai story (read: excuse for sex) already in existence. The dialogue consists largely of moaning and/or screaming and/or panting, and any words that they do say are merely prequels to the noises they will make in the next scene. If you really want to watch hentai, there are hundreds of better titles to choose from. This is not one of them.

Project Arms Vol. #03
Viz Inc. 78 min. 3/? $24.95 02/11/2003

I didn't like Spriggan, I didn't like Fist of the North Star—I don't like Project Arms. The story follows the exploits of a high school kid with a weapon called ARMS (wait, isn't there another anime/manga/game out with the same concept? Or am I going crazy?) Action is followed by action, is followed by action, is followed by action. I really don't see the worth of this show. Made by the dude who did Spriggan, if you liked that, you'll love this. Have fun.

Dream Hazard/Pianist
Anime 18 55 min. 1/1 $29.99 02/11/2003

Can her breasts get any bigger? Well, I guess I have seen bigger in other series. Anyway, the first episode follows a girl who gets sucked into a VR game, and gets taken on some kind of erotic adventure. This means that for the next 25 minutes, all you can hear is screaming and moaning. The second one is equally pointless. I do have to give it credit for not being as bad as Twisted Tales of Tokyo. This one at least had plot in the first two minutes of every episode. Impressive indeed. Like I said earlier, if you like hentai, you can find better ones than these.

Kirby: Kirby's Egg-Cellent Adventure
Funimation Productions 60 min. 3/? $19.95 02/11/2003

Kirby, to me, is one of those series that can only be enjoyed by Kirby fanatics (i.e. Kirby underwear, Kirby wallpaper, Kirby toothbrush) or little kids (Pokemon underwear, clown wallpaper, Power Rangers toothbrush (do kids still watch that show?)). Despite how mindlessly entertaining the games can be, the series really isn't that good at all. I'll impart some words of wisdom to you that I once learned in high school biology: if it's pink, moving, and gurgles—don't touch it.

Zoids Vol. #6
Pioneer Animation 110 min. 6/? $19.98 02/11/2003

Close friends of mine know that for some odd reason, I love Zoids (a fact I never dared make public before). I love the various Ligers and I love the fact that if you watch the episodes separately, they can be wildly exciting, even if the disc is dubbed only. Un/fortunately, this estranged view is not shared by a large portion of the mature anime fan community. Ultimately, this series is one for the kids, so if you don't like kiddie shows, then this might not be the thing for you.

And hitherto my job here is done. I can now look forward to the weekend (a perpetual goal in my life) while nursing my cold-ridden body back to health. In that time, I'll be able to further watch more ani—ugh… I hate being sick… I'm gonna pass out… *thunk*

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