Shelf Life
Bamboo's Bizarre Adventure

by Bamboo Dong,
Many people have strived on behalf of fandom to argue that anime is more than just porn and tentacles, that it's more than watching little girls who possess mammary glands of a woman twice their age dance around in short skirts. These are the valiant souls who battle for the argument that it's possible to watch a magical girl show for the entertainment, not the sex value. They argue that most fans are righteous citizens who support the series that they watch with wholesome minds, a love for animation, and guilt-free wallets. These are the heroes who say that anime is not all for perverts. I agree with that, but today, I'm here to be the devil's advocate and argue the opposite. I present to you thus, in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, my brief abstract:

“Masturbatory Anime Fans and Their Impact on the Economy: Why Perverts Keep the Industry Alive.”

As much as fans would like to hope that the shows that their brethren are watching are purely promoting the virtues of friendship, camaraderie, learning, and love, there exists a dark side to every show. For every virginal display of happiness and kindness on the screen, there is a man hiding in his basement leering at the screen, playing with his mountain of plushies, and thinking impure thoughts. Parents would curdle at the sight of his “love grotto,” the walls papered with posters and magazine clippings, featuring popular Race Queens, Sakura Taisen musical playbills, arranged neatly next to hentai doujinshi and fan-made nude resin statuettes. What they don't know is that such people keep the anime industry booming, and through that, keep Japan a major world power in market economics. What do perverts do for the national economy, you might ask. I would answer that perverts provide the spending power to keep the wheels of the market spinning. These are the people that buy hentai, giving the hentai industry the money to buy from art suppliers, pay their employees, and fund the disc pressers and printers that acquire work from them. If perverts didn't exist, there wouldn't be as much demand for flesh-colored paint, and through that fatal change in the economy, Japan would suffer a monstrous socio-economic cave in. Imagine this chain of events, shall we? Pervert-san is walking down the street and in the window of his favorite anime store, comes across a cute show starring a haggle of women that are adorable school girls by day, but super-powered, mecha-piloting strippers by night. His interest is piqued and he wanders into the store, walking out with an armload of discs and comic books. In that one action, the anime store just obtained more finances, raising their capital from which they can buy more anime from distributors, whose purchases fund the anime industry that needs an outlet for its goods. Pervert-san watches the show, slowly falling into the inevitable hole of obsession, mentally marking down Super Stripper Magic Mojo Happy Child Attack Surprise as one of his new favorite shows. He hops aboard the subway (giving money to the Transportation Department and through them, the manufacturers of subway cars and rails, and raw-materials miners) and buys a ticket to go to the annual Comic Market. While there, he goes to a stall and buys an armload of SSMMHCAS (pronounced by “Har'cor' fans” as smhucas (rhymes with the movie Junkers) doujinshi. In that one movement, he was able to support a doujinshi circle, inspiring them to go on and become comic artists, pay for their college tuition, and continue supporting the animation industry as animators and character designers. The story only grows from here. Just remember, kids, every time you cherish an anime title, a pervert made it happen. And with that, on to this week's Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Voices of a Distant Star
ADV Films 30 min. 1/1 $19.98 06/10/2003

I fell in love with Hoshi no Koe the first time I saw it raw last year at an anime convention. Even without fully understanding all of the dialogue that was taking place, the rich artwork gracing the screen captivated me. When the end credits rolled, I realized that even without grasping the dialogue, the full power of the story and the emotions behind it made a strong mark in my mind, using art and music to tell me what my lack of Japanese couldn't. The fact that one man, a talented Makoto Shinkai, did everything makes it more phenomenal and certainly quite admirable. The story is a creative one, about a young couple that gets separated when the girl is recruited into the army to fight an interstellar war. The only way that the two can keep in touch is through e-mails sent via their cell phones, but as the army's exploits takes the girl further and further away, the e-mails take longer to send, grazing weeks, months, and finally years. Even within the short span that this film takes place in, the story is richly developed and the emotions that cross the screen are richly crafted and amplified. In fact, everything is well done, from gorgeous artwork to liquidly fluid animation. I need not even mention the music score, which sports one of the most lyrical and moving themes I have ever come across. Licensed by ADV, this film is now available along with the original director's cut, the version that was voiced by Shinkai and his fiancée. Included with Voices of a Distant Star are three versions of another short by Shinkai entitled “She and Her Cat,” which further showcases the director's talents. Without a doubt, this is definitely a disc to own. At the very least, do yourself a favor and rent this DVD—you really have nothing to lose.

Full Metal Panic Vol. #1 (also w/box)
ADV Films 100 min. 1/7 $29.98/44 06/10/2003

I often find myself wondering, “what is there left to tell? What can the producers in Japan think of that I haven't seen before?” Luckily, that day of lonely redundancy has yet to come. You would think that the giant robot with some teenager that holds some powerful talent or secret genre has been exhausted to death, but here comes Full Metal Panic to save the day. Mixing in mystery, action, and a dash of comedy, this series is a fun ride for anyone. The story stars a girl named Kaname who is being targeted by a terrorist group for being a Whisperer, something which is not yet revealed to the audience. A do-good, anti-terror group named Mithril is out to protect her though, and send Sgt. Sousuke to her school to keep an eye out for her while under the guise of being an enrolled student. Laughs ensue as viewers realize that Sousuke, brilliant of a military man that he is, has virtually no sense of the real, civilian world and creates blunders and awkward situations galore. The pacing is steady and comfortable as the first four episodes take place, although many things are left unexplained, leaving viewers in a blank state for most of the disc. Either way, the show is of high caliber and quite entertaining, so if you and your friends want something to watch, Full Metal Panic is a great choice.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #1
Super Techno Arts 1/6 $29.99 06/10/2003

I applaud Super Techno Arts for releasing JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, not only because they released it, but also because they did a fine job with it. Produced and distributed virtually from Yamauchi's bedroom in California, this release looks terrific! The story follows a young man who has some kind of secret that he's hiding. As it turns out, he's part of a group of people that possess STANDs, super powers that allow them to fight other STANDs—fights that only they can see. He embarks upon a quest to rescue his mother from the nefarious clutches of an evil vampire, and along the way, well, he bumps into some pretty bizarre stuff. With richly depicted family history, trust and friendship, evil spirits, impressive fight scenes, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is definitely something unique that can hardly be described. The only problem is that unless you're very familiar with the entire JoJo story, the details of the episodes are slightly lost. Part of a franchise of video games and comics, JoJo does well on its own, but I definitely recommend looking up an F.A.Q. or two to immerse yourself in the series further. For the most part, though, I'm very impressed with this release. The sharp video transfer makes the animation stand out, and I must say, congratulations to STA for their phenomenal first release!

DNA^2 Vol. #3: Mutation
Central Park Media 75 min. 3/5 $29.99 06/10/2003

Katsura's pen creates some of the most magnificent, emotionally charged artwork ever seen on cheap, disposable manga paper. From his sparkle-covered pretty boys, to his malevolent villain faces, to detailed panties that even David Williams would be jealous of, this magnificent artist graces the world with his creative stories and gorgeous art. Unfortunately, the anime isn't able to capture any of this magic, nor does it even stick closely to the manga. Luckily, it's fascinating to watch in its own right, and CPM has done a good job of releasing this title. In this volume, Junta has to deal with his feelings for Ami while juggling his rapidly changing body and the girls that are chasing after him. Trust me, it's much more amusing than it sounds. With the ever popular Blurry Eyes by the L'Arc~en~Ciel boys kicking off each episode, the music also enhances the series, chiming in at crucial moments with a sweet piano tune that makes you think to yourself, “have I heard this before? Maybe, but it's nice!” If you liked any other of Katsura's stuff, like Video Girl Ai, this might be a great short series for you. When you're done with that, go check out his manga… Breathtaking…

Master Keaton Vol. #1: Excavation
Pioneer Animation 125 min. 1/ $29.98 06/10/2003

Look, kids!!! Yawara's dad's still alive after all!!! Actually, despite the smooth-faced, fashionable judo girl look-alike on the cover of the DVD, Master Keaton is actually a very well-crafted series. It stars a jack-of-all-trades investigator type guy who teaches classes in his down time and does pretty much everything else in his up-time, like track down terrorists, hunt down mafia men, and anything else exciting you could think of. Master Keaton is a collection of episodes that are, so far, vignette-like in their stand-alone stories. What I really enjoy about this show is the incredibly well-paced character development, building the characters' present lives just as much as their pasts. With stories much like those of Sherlock Holmes, this series is definitely interesting me. I'm not sure if a story will develop later, but so far, I'm liking what I see.

Rental Shelf

Hades Project Zeorymer Vol. #1: Separation
Central Park Media 60 min. 1/2 $19.99 06/10/2003

Heading back and grabbing some old skool anime, Central Park is releasing the 4 part OVA Hades Project two episodes at a time on DVD. It's beyond me why they couldn't just fit all four episodes on one disc. They didn't even bother to put any extras on the DVD, but at $20, it's not too much. The audience is introduced to Masato Akitsu as he's being chased around in seedy places by evil-looking men. He learns that he was actually adopted and that he was genetically engineered to pilot a robot, the Zeorymer. With only four episodes to accomplish the whole story, it seems a bit rushed at times, but for the most part, the pacing isn't too skewered. The one thing that rubs me the wrong way is how Masato deals with his new situation. His life is pretty much flipped upside-down, and he's thrown into a robot he has no idea how to pilot, and pitted against enemies he has nothing against. But he's as happy as a pervert at a doujinshi table and snuggles right into his new super-hero lifestyle. This doesn't seem too realistic to me. Personally, I like wussies in anime that freak out about having to save the world, because that's the human thing to do. Lack of realism aside, this show isn't a bad rental for people that want a quick OVA to watch with an interesting story. Despite its age, it doesn't look bad at all.

Hyper Police Vol. #6
Image Entertainment 100 min. 6/6 $19.98 06/10/2003

In the last volume of Hyper Police, the fun adventures of the characters continue in the vignette-esque format of the series. With episodes ranging from a woman being mistaken for her husband's ex-girlfriend (guys, definitely don't try this at home) to personal questions like what one of them would do if given the chance to become human, the audience gets the chance to learn more about the characters throughout the series. Hyper Police is just one of those shows that's fun to watch every now and then for any kind of emotional fix you're looking for. With the odd-looking DVD cover aside, the art's also fun to look at with the bright colors and clean images. As entertaining as this series is, though, it might not appeal to everyone. There's no pre-defined storyline, and unless you've been following the series, the character-oriented sub-plots may escape you. That shouldn't stop you from hanging out with your friends and having yourself some Hyper Police fun though, so this would definitely be a good DVD to rent.

Wild Arms Vol. #4
ADV Films 100 min. 4/5 $29.99 06/10/2003

Apparently, Wild Arms doesn't really have a story arc. It just follows a general path and has random adventures along the way. I'm down with that, especially if they have a place on their map called Port Crackpot. Anyway, the disc kicks off with viewers finding out that Ampire has taken it upon himself to marry Mirabelle based on a picture he saw of her as a little tyke. Her parents seem to think that's a swell idea, so everyone's excited about the couple—except Mirabelle. Later on in the disc, the other characters get their chances at side stories, including one with Loretta and the things she does to get more treasure. All of these episodes really help develop the characters, letting you see sides of their personalities that you don't normally get to see. What's especially nice is the episodes about Sheyenne as he continues to search for his body, meeting new people and discovering more about himself along the way. It's really great to see him showing more of an innocent, worry-free, childlike life, and even if it's goofy at times, it adds yet another facet onto his life. Wild Arms is a great show, full of fun and laughs, but with one volume left to go, I'm mildly concerned about where the story is going, if anywhere at all. I'll be very curious to see if a stronger story develops in the last disc, but until then, Wild Arms is great for a rental and some good laughs.

Little Snow Fairy Sugar Vol. #2
Pioneer Animation 100 min. 2/6 $29.99 06/10/2003

Series this cute should be illegal. Honestly, it's one of those shows that makes me clutch my eyes in a pain, roll around on the floor, and whine to myself, “It's TOO CUTE!!! WHY?!?!??!” In the second volume of the series, we're granted with the opportunity to see more of the fairies whizzing around trying to hunt down Twinkles, which, laid on top of waffles and fairies need Sugar, just adds to the delectable cute factor of the show. Also, viewers meet an elderly fairy who insists that the younger fairies solve their problems on their own, teaching them that perseverance is the key to success. Of course, in the meantime, the old fairy is off hitting on a little girl fairy, the recourse of which is rather amusing to watch. The importance of friendship and tolerance is also expounded when Sugar and Saga get into a huge fight. As with the first volume, this series continues to be one of the smartest kids shows ever made. The writers don't patronize the viewers, and they certainly don't dumb down any aspect of the show. There's enough adventure to appeal to older audiences too, so it's something you can watch with your younger siblings or kids. Of course, this probably won't appeal to everyone, as many probably wouldn't want a show about waffles and fairies on their shelves, but if you want a fix of something adorable, this is the perfect rental for you.

Machine Robo Vol. #1
Central Park Media 125 min. 1/? $19.99 06/10/2003

With male characters sporting legs longer than that of your average magical girl, Machine Robo is just about one of the funniest things I've seen all month. It's not funny in the way that Excel Saga is, or a poorly written hentai show is, or even in the way that a Mary Kate and Ashley movie is at four in the morning, but, well, have you ever seen the dub for a Hong Kong movie named Gen-X Cops? You know how it's so insanely bad that it's the best thing you've ever seen in your life? Machine Robo's like that. With five episodes on this subtitled-only DVD, CPM is really busting out the old stuff this week, reaching back into the 80s once again to bring you this gem. This is one of those series that you can watch with a minimum amount of brain cells, necessary only for breathing, making your heart beat, and occasionally making sure that the food in your stomach is still digesting properly. The story is rather simple. Bad guys invade the planet and wreak mad havoc everywhere, seeking even MORE power and an unlimited supply of energy. Luckily, before the world can be turned into a scarred, post-apocalyptic desert with nothing but motorcycle gangs, the good guys show up. The good guys all look human, but apparently they can turn into robots that they can use to fight a group of the bad guys, humorously enough named the Devil Satan Six. They bust out a bigger robot, and to retaliate, the good guy brings out an even bigger robot, and then the bad guy brings out an even more upgraded bigger, badder, butt-whupping robot, only to have the good guy get an even biggerer, badderer, butt-whuppinger robot, and then to have the bad guys—wait, you get the idea. Being a show nearly twenty years old, the age definitely shows in the animation, but with the mind-numbing and heavily anti-deep plot going on, such animation nuances really shouldn't matter. If you get a kick out of watching bad movies, you'll love Machine Robo. This is definitely one of those rentable DVDs that you can watch just to have a hearty, laughable good time.

Project Arms Vol. #05
Viz Inc. 75 min. 5/? $24.98 06/10/2003

With the two Arms flying around this week, here's a simple rule as to how to keep them straight: Project Arms is the boring one. I know it was by the same people who did Spriggan, but that doesn't make this any less dull. The animation is fine, and the fight scenes are fine, so it's not those aspects of dynamic movement that drag the story down. It's the story itself. The boys made it back from the lab without a scratch (big surprise there) and are now settling back down into Aisora City (which is amusing because it sounds like “eyesore” and looks like one, too). As they angst around for a bit, they realize that people would stop watching their show if it was just non-bishounen teenage boys moping around and sobbing over their endless revelations. Luckily, the writers are there to save the day. The boys are launched into a new series of problems so that they can find more things to angst about. This entire exciting turn of events is dried out by the fact that the pacing is so awkward that sometimes the story will jump ahead two miles, and lag behind at other times. Even after that tirade, though, I still have good things to say about the show. Boring and off-balanced as it may be, like I said earlier, the animation and fight scenes are fine, so if there's one thing that's fun to see, it's boys angsting in a heap, only to leap up seconds later and kick the crap out of something. The whole “I'm so sad… hold me! GAH! It's you again! BAM!” thing really works for me, and if anything else, it's just funny to watch. I'd check this out just for boredom's sake, but it's not something I would buy.

Ranma Forever Vol. #7
Viz Inc. 75 min. 7/8 $24.98 06/10/2003

I was a tad frightened when I saw the cover of this DVD. My fear subsided when I watched the Japanese dialogue, noting that the episode with the cheerleaders was bouncy and cute enough and certainly funny enough. Then I turned on the dub and immediately regretted doing so. Now, mind you, I have nothing against the Ranma dub. In fact, I used to watch Ranma dubbed all the time, but when the actresses were given the chance to be cheerleaders, they got way too excited and went way overboard. I was immediately taken back to the days of Sweet Valley High and UPN, atmosphere replete with squealing and screeching and “tee hee! Omigod!” Let me state that I also have nothing against cheerleaders. It's just that it distracted from what was going on in the show to the point that I was momentarily taken aback and had to skip back and find the plot again. The rest of the episodes were funny though, in the way that Ranma usually is. Kuno finds a weird taiko drum that causes a bit of trouble, leading to more gags and random guffaws. Being such a long series, I wouldn't recommend buying the whole thing, but give it a rental, and if you like what you see, by all means get it. With the randomness that is Ranma, rental stores are your best friend.

Perishable Item

Saiyuki Vol. #2
ADV Films 125 min. 2/6 $29.98 06/10/2003

The more I watch this show, the more I realize that I could be better spending my time doing better things, like watching Hoshi no Koe or washing my hair. Saiyuki was created to have bishounen prance around an exciting Chinese myth, but fails on both points. Not only are the characters dry and personality-less and infinitely awkward looking, but the story is as boring as can be imagined. In this volume, the characters are off to prevent the resurrection of Gyumaoh, but along the way, a fortune teller tells them that a member of their party will die. As much as I would love to believe that it's possible to wander around the country and still have exciting adventures, it's apparently not possible. Maybe if the dialogue was more exciting, or there was actually character development, it would be better. As it is now, all the pretty animation it has isn't enough to make me want to drag myself through the show.

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #5
Viz Inc. 100 min. 5/5 $24.98 06/10/2003

Repeat after me: This show is not funny. Nope. Not at all. You'd think that because it's the last volume, you'd get some semblance of a story, but it's still the same gags over and over again. Oh look, the kid ate some chocolate! Now he's doing funny things!! Haha! In the last volume, the producers try to milk out some romance and more stupid humor, but all it amounts to is a 100 minute dull, vein-twitching production. If the series had no storyline, it would have been okay had they just focused on the humor, but with neither a good plot nor any humor, the series falls flat on its face. Complete with mediocre animation and standard acting, there really is nothing in Trouble Chocolate that is worth all the trouble of viewing.

Anime 18 90 min. 1/1 $29.99 06/10/2003

This is one of the lamest, most pathetic excuses for masturbatory material I've ever laid eyes on. Alicia is a slutty girl with superpowers that gets kidnapped by perverted demons. Naturally, random acts of misogyny and non-consensual sex occur, but luckily, there's a team of washed-up porn stars to save the day. Called the F-Force, the group is comprised of barely clothed women who run around hitting demons with random objects. Apparently, this is supposed to be both exciting and sexy. Sadly, with the lame dialogue, the incredibly pointless excuses for nudity, and the highly unsatisfactory fight scenes, I was turned off to the point of being anti-aroused. I like to think that a lot of hentai has a workable plot, but this one was just bad. Sorry guys, better luck tomorrow.

That's it for today. See you next time!

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