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Shelf Life
One with the harem

by Bamboo Dong,
There is one major thing that I will never fully understand about the fan community. Fan fiction. I'm all down with reading and writing fan fiction, as well as the argument that it's a creative way for people to use their favorite characters in a different story. All of that is fine. What I don't understand is the need for people to be obsessed with yaoi or yuri fanfiction to the point of getting into flame wars as to “which pairing is better.” Honestly folks, if you have a series with two heterosexual couples, what is the dire necessity of insisting that the couples swap mates and become homosexual? I personally think there's nothing wrong with homosexuality, but to take a pre-written story, lift out the characters, and obsess over who would make a better gay pair for another character is ridiculous. I have seen fangirls yell at each other, screaming to yuri fan fiction writers that it's disgusting for a certain female character to hit on another female character, and then insist that the only natural pairing is between male A and male B. Wouldn't the problem be solved if people just stopped inventing romances between people who the original creator didn't intend to be together? Or if you're going to satisfy your twisted fantasies by producing poorly written stories about them, don't get into arguments over which unintended pairing is better. I remember talking to a girl on a DDR forum before who was being criticized for obsessing over yaoi doujinshi. Her reply was a self-righteous and haughty “Well, I'm not like other fangirls. In fact, I have quite a refined and sophisticated taste. If the pairing is one that I don't like or am not familiar with, I won't touch it.” It was at that point when I realized that the internet was a safe medium that thankfully didn't allow people like me to leap through the network cables to strangle people like her. Fangirls, fanboys—some of you people out there get chastised by the fan community more than others. Yes, there is a reason. And yes, it is your fault. And with that out of the way, welcome to this week's Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

ADV Films 110 min. 1/1 $29.98 03/18/2003

I have no idea how I'm supposed to explain this title to you other than give you a list of words: panties, adventures, horny guys, panties humor, panties. This title is really unlike anything I've ever seen. Collected from a Japanese variety show called “Wonderful,” (think TV Funhouse and its Ambiguously Gay Duo series from Saturday Night Live), Colorful! is a compilation of short vignettes that talk about a variety of people in our modern day sex-driven world—and panties. Lots and lots of panties. Showcasing characters from athletes, to teachers, to gargantuan Godzilla sized high school girls, Colorful! is creative, fun to watch, and packed with lewd jokes that somehow manage to stay funny time and time again. Sadly, I'm sure all of us know at least one person in our lives that would behave like one of the characters in Colorful! whether as a shy person who can't approach the opposite sex, or a sex-deprived nerd who would go to heaven just to catch another infamous glimpse up a girl's skirt. Despite the sex-centered premise of the show, Colorful! is a wonderful look into the lives of the people around you and their views on sex. The art is beautiful and the animation is fluid, which makes the series all the more better. Do you like panties? Watch Colorful!

.hack//SIGN Vol. #1: Login
Bandai Entertainment 125 min. 1/6 $29.98 03/18/2003

Wait~ didn't we see this title two weeks ago? Yes, we did. In a stroke of odd marketing genius, Bandai decided to sell the limited edition set first so all the drooling fanboys would clamor over each other to get their hands on the series first. Now that all the geeks are gone, Bandai is releasing just the DVD so people can enjoy it without the money-draining goodies that came with it the first time. Well, what is someone like me to do, who recommended this same title just two weeks ago? Write about this thing again, of course, but in a slightly different view point. Tsukasa is a meek little wimp who runs into a flat piece of rock with carvings in it. It tells him that he can do whatever the hell he wants to do because some golden knobby thing is going to protect him from all sorts of unruly creatures. Because he has this monster, Tsukasa transforms from a sullen loser into a pompous blowhard loser and goes around either trying to avoid people or trying to own their buttocks when they provoke him. All these other characters step in and try to figure out what's up with him, because he's stuck inside of the game, which is probably a bad thing, since even in Japan, people don't live inside video games all the time. At the end of a few mediocre episodes, plot twists are thrown in to really kick the story into high gear, and right as it gets really, absurdly good, the episode ends. Go figure. Curious to see how much of what I told you has anything to do with the series? Go buy the thing and find out.

Banner of the Stars Vol. #2
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 2/3 $29.98 03/18/2003

Two things occurred to me when I watched this for the first time. One: the cover of the DVD is very, very, very pretty. Two: some parts of the episodes are slow as sin. Regardless of the latter realization, Banner of the Stars remains good like its predecessor, Crest of the Stars. The character development is impeccable and remains one of the best qualities of this series. The dialogue is solid and the story line is intense and well defined, showing once again that anything *of the Stars* is able to sport first rate story-telling. The art and animation are clean cut and smooth, providing a visual experience that is just as breathtaking as the character interaction. In this volume, Lafiel and Jinto are given a chance to reach an understanding with one another regarding events that happened in the past. In order to go back to the fleet, they are reliant upon an isolated ship, the Basroil, which apart from sounding like a form of influenza, to do its best to rejoin the main fleet. This series truly is a wonderful experience to behold—I highly recommend it to anyone. Be careful though, even though the story is detailed and intense, the pacing is rather slow at times. Don't fall asleep.

Rental Shelf

Vandread Second Stage Vol. #4
Pioneer Animation 75 min. 4/4 29.98 03/18/2003

The second season of Vandread bangs to a close in volume four of the series. As the viewer revisits the planets of the men and the women, the final battle that follows is absolutely breathtaking. The computer graphics used are detailed and articulate, making it truly something spectacular. With everything from beautiful lighting effects to anal details like star fields and trails of steam, no time was spared in the rendering of the final scenes. In addition to the beauty of the battle, the characters continue to develop up to the end of the series. This volume is truly a great ending to a good series. If you've seen Vandread up until this point, you can't afford to not watch this.

Love Hina Spring Special
Bandai Entertainment 60 min. 1/1 $29.98 03/18/2003

When I watched the Love Hina TV series, I enjoyed it the first time, thinking that the low intelligence slapstick comedy was mildly entertaining and also I was anxious to see where the story would go. Much to my dismay, it didn't go anywhere. After watching the series for the first time, the second viewing wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the first, and the viewing after that worse yet. Then I watched the Love Hina Christmas Special, which proved to me that yes, it is possible to model the anime after the manga and it is possible for Love Hina to have earnest emotion and an engrossing story line. With this last success lingering in my mind, I eagerly awaited for the Spring Special… and it sucked. I didn't think it was possible for a Love Hina special of any kind to be worse than the television series, but apparently it's possible. While all the classic Love Hina elements are still there, the plot brings down the production. The story is rushed, the fanservice is random and grossly exaggerated, and the characters attain a new level of stupidity and annoyance. The motivations that the characters have for their actions are skimmed over to make up for their ludicrousness, and all around, it's just nowhere near the high standard that the Christmas Special set. Love Hina fans will still enjoy the chance to see their beloved characters in another bout of restless frivolity and motivation-deprived violence, but as for the plot? It ruins the show. Unless you're a completionist that wants to collect the whole series, this simply isn't worth buying. If you're bored though, there's nothing wrong with a rental, as there's a few minutes of the thing that are somewhat amusing.

Wild Arms Vol. #2
ADV Films 100 min. 2/6 $29.98 03/18/2003

Women in anime are so annoying and this volume just proves it. Goodness, are all of the women aggravating. Luckily, the series is a ball of fun like the first volume was. The pacing is fast, yet not rushed, and there are humorous scenes sprinkled throughout the entire thing to liven up an already vivacious production. This volume is rather frivolous and spends more time on showing shallow women prancing all over men than the overarching story, but it's still entertaining enough to keep viewers amused for awhile. As it's still early in the series, it's natural to expect rather detached episodes, but even through these seemingly pointless scenes, the characters' relationships with one another continue to be explored, which ensures that the series is progressing steadily in the right direction. This is definitely an interesting anime for the time being—give it a chance, and you might end up getting a huge kick out of it. But hey—you might want to rent this thing first. Do you really want a DVD on your shelf with an ugly cover like that without already loving what's on the disc? I would hope not.

Tenchi Muyo OVA Vol. #1/2/3/4
Pioneer Animation 120/105/90/105 min. 1/2/3/4/4 $24.98 03/18/2003

This really brings back memories, huh? When this was first released on DVD years ago, Pioneer threw it in a boxset, showing the fan community the high standard that they have always followed since then. Now, out of the blue, they're releasing the series on four individual discs. If you've ever wanted to see this series, but have always been intimidated by either the boxset or the thought of having to resort to VHS, this is a great opportunity for you. While the series itself is nothing spectacular on hindsight, it had a defining impact on anime fandom and this release is a wonderful way to revisit it. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, this is one of the first titles that come to the minds of anime fans when you mention the words “harem anime.” Tenchi is a student who breaks the Masaki Shrine seal, freeing the demon inside. Turns out, this demon is in the form of a beautiful woman who has been asleep for 700 years. After a string of events that would be too odd to actually describe, she and a few other women end up living with Tenchi. The art and animation are both decent, though not wildly spectacular, but the random humor in the story is enough to keep it going. Tenchi Muyo is a series that was popular during its time, and remains popular to this day. If you like this series, then this is the prime chance jump into a pool of nostalgia, so hurry up and get to it.

Dragonball: King Piccolo Set 1
Funimation Productions $39.95 03/18/2003

My goodness the Dragonball/Z/GT saga is painfully long. After a hundred episodes, just when you thought they couldn't possibly have more things to talk about, they whip out Piccolo. Though the series is ridiculously long, people will sit down once again to watch this thing. Why? Because it's entertaining, that's why. It is almost a fact that Dragonball is better than Dragonball Z, so if you thought Piccolo in DBZ was cool, then he'll blow you out of your seat and make you nerdgasm over how much better this character is in Dragonball. Picture this: Goku is angsting over what happened at the World Martial Arts Tournament. As he tries to uncover the source behind his turmoil, he starts to unravel an evil and deadly secret, which will eventually lead to yet another—ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN! Again. But this time there's a green dude. Like DBZ? This is better.

Ronin Warriors OVA Vol. #1
Bandai Entertainment 150 min. 1/? $29.98 03/18/2003

Sometimes I wonder where people get these crazy ideas for sequels. Get this—since the ending of Ronin Warriors, the characters have been off doing things like studying in America, winning the lottery, etc. Then, some strange dude shows up in the middle of New York and starts wreaking havoc from Hell to Jersey. You would never guess in a million years what he is. Yup—a bad, bad man that found a new secret and is hell-bent and using his new found powers to raise chaos on Earth. Did you like the old Ronin Warriors? This is right up your alley. If anything else, it's worth an amusing glance at since the action scenes are pretty fun to stare blankly at.

Perishable Item

YuGiOh Vol. #07: Double Trouble Duel
YuGiOh Vol. #08: Face Off
Funimation Productions 60 min. 7/8/? $19.95 03/18/2003

Yugi and Joey must team together to fight the forces of evil!!! What will they do?!?! Double the action! Double the mystery! Double the excitement! Can they do it?! Will they do it?!?!? Can they pull together and muster what it takes to ensure their victory and their honor?! The fight is tough, and only one side will make it. Will it be the enemy or will it be them?! Only TIME can tell! But WAIT—it turns out, they were getting their butts whooped because they weren't really fighting the first time! Triple the action! Triple the mystery! Quadruple the excitement! The duo must now UNLEASH THE FURY of the ULTIMATE WEAPON in—the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which card will they draw next?!?!?!? Will it be the ultimate monster of wrath and destruction card?!?! Or will it be the MAGICAL TEAMWORK CARD?!?!?!?!?!?! Or will it just be THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL?!?!?!?!?!?! Tensions are high and you'll be holding your breath because you'll NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No, really, guess. I dare you.

That's it for this week's Shelf Life! Next week, tune in for an obscenely long release list that will leave your hearts happy and your wallets sore. And remember, tell your friends about this column. You wouldn't want them to miss a release of one of their favorite anime series, would you?

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