Shelf Life
Academic Conspiracy

by Bamboo Dong,
I've always thought it was somewhat funny for private colleges and universities to send out acceptance letters on April Fools Day. The letters come in and if it's packaged inside of a big envelope, students are ecstatic—if a small envelope is waiting in the mailbox, tears fall. Many state universities (especially in-state schools) send out their letters earlier so students have time to decide where they want to go. Private colleges, for the most part, only send you notice early if you wrangled a deal with a sports coach or got rejected super fast. Some part of me wonders if there's a board of people somewhere chuckling over their little joke. Students go to their school and halfway through the year realize that the admissions office either made a life-threatening mistake or the whole thing was just part of a big ploy to drive you insane with work. When I first came to school, the first thing they told us at the opening convocation was “Congratulations on being accepted. Please be advised that no, the Office of Admission does not make mistakes. We are infallible.” We laughed then, but now, with every test I take, I feel like I'm the butt of another Admissions joke. At least I have this column, where I can talk about things I think I know about. Oh wait—is that a giant joke, too? I don't even know anything about anime? All I've been is a source of laughter? Have I been deluding myself this whole time? April Fools, indeed; the day of paranoia waits.

Shelf Worthy

Argento Soma Vol. #2
Bandai Entertainment 125 min. 2/6 $29.98 04/01/2003

Argento Soma remains interesting in the second volume of this much anticipated series. The art is beautiful and the unique character designs give the series a distinct flavor that really adds to the appeal of the show. In this volume, viewers are able to learn more about Ryu, his motivations, and interesting perspectives on his existence. Some ethical issues are also tossed up, which help to make the show seem more “real.” What's nice about the show is that it's hard to tell which direction the series is going, so each episode comes as a surprise. The character development is strong, the art is gorgeous, and the music is beautiful—if you liked the first volume of Argento Soma, you have absolutely no excuse not to run out and see this one.

Devil Lady Vol. #3: The Strengthening
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 04/01/2003

Apparently I was way off last year when I said that this show would be bad. Guess that shows what only seeing a few episodes will do. While the first few episodes smacked me of being a Devil Man with breasts, the series has really strengthened over the course of the last two DVDs. It's turned out to be much better than Devil Man, giving it the crucial element that its predecessor lacked—plot development and an in-depth understanding of the characters. This volume brings viewers closer to Jun as she struggles to understand what she is becoming, an aspect that makes her seem more like a normal person rather than an all-accepting hero. The action aspect of the series is still rather wearisome, as it follows the worn path of monster-fight-victory, but what lifts the show up from staying in its pattern is the emotional aspect of it. With the characters showing their thoughts in relation to the events around them and pondering what it all means, it gives a would-be-boring story personality and meaning. This series has turned out to really surprise me. If you haven't seen it yet, it may surprise you too.

Rental Shelf

Dai-Guard Vol. #5
ADV Films 100 min. 5/6 $29.98 04/01/2003

We all know how much of a character development fiend I am, and Dai-Guard is full of it. The characters are really stressed throughout the entire series, and their relationships continue to grow and intertwine with one another. This volume lets viewers see Kei's past so they can track the change of his personality for themselves. With only one more volume to go, Dai-Guard remains strong, and I'm really curious to see how the last volume is going to hold up. The action is stepping up and the characters are being more open with each other. My only beef with Dai-Guard is the story. While the characters are able to make it colorful, the story is pretty predictable, as it follows the same plot as most robot series. Luckily, it's done in a good fashion, so this resemblance isn't glaringly obvious. All around, it's an enjoyable experience, and if you haven't seen it, pick it up and check it out for yourself.

Gundam R: The Robot Stars Vol. #2
Bandii Entertainment 120 min. 2/6 $29.98 04/01/2003

In the second installment of this series, Ken learns that he's not the only one after the legendary Gundam technology! He's got competition from a colony of celestial warriors named the R-Squad. Pitting his Stryker XXX, he must face their large army of Cindrones, vicious robots with high heels and bright colored wigs. The action sequences are exciting and follow right on the heels of the thrilling first disc. This is unlike any robot show I've ever seen, and I recommend it for any fan of the Gundam franchise. The character development is splendid, and viewers really get a sense of their childhood through the flashbacks in these episodes. This blows all the other Gundam series out of the water, and it's great for some good old AC fun. I'm a little disappointed with the lack of more prominent breasts, since that's what really makes a series good, but I guess you can't always get what you want.

Betterman Vol. #6
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 6/6 $29.98 04/01/2003

This is quite possibly the most confusing show I've seen since Boogiepop Phantom, which is saying quite a bit. Even after all the secrets are revealed in the last volume, I'm left to mutter to myself in the dark, wondering where the thread lost me. It's an incredibly pretty show with a dark atmosphere that really rocks my boat, but as for the story… Maybe I need to watch it a few more times. It leaves me with a taste in myself of sensing plot holes, but when I try to figure everything out in my head, my brain goes crazy and stops thinking. It's just a very complex show and I think something was a bit lost when the producer's thoughts were plopped onto the storyboard. Maybe you'll have better luck with it than I did.

Ronin Warriors OVA Vol. #1
Bandai Entertainment 150 min. 1/? $29.98 04/01/2003

Well, it looks like this poor thing suffered the wrath of the Hand of Delayed Releases. What, you expect me to write this again? Sorry, but this time you'll just get a copy and paste job. 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

G-taste Vol. #02: Heat Wave
SoftCel Pictures 50 min. 2/? $29.98 04/01/2003

This is just one of those discs that I fail to see a point to. You have a teacher who gets all hot and bothered every time she teaches a class. You get some swimmer girl who has the same problem whenever she gets in the pool. With those crucial plot points out of the way, it's time to throw 'em together and see what happens. Deep, indeed. Honestly, you'd think they'd try a little harder on the plot so it doesn't seem like amateur porn.

Well, that's it for this week's Shelf Life. Have fun!

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