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Shelf Life
Pretzels and NSVs

by Bamboo Dong,
Greetings and welcome to this week's Shelf Life. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with an author named James Joyce, but he's well known for a style of writing called “stream of consciousness.” The given name is rather self-explanatory, showing that the words on the page follow the conscious thought pattern of the character, giving it a sense of realism and psychological depth. After all, I'm sure a lot of people find it hard to think about one subject and only one subject at a time without splitting into several topics and veering from one thought to another. Examples of this can be seen in Joyce's novel Ulysses, or in some of Faulkner's works, like The Sound and the Fury. Both are highly acclaimed novels, with the former being rather hard to read (read: dull). So, I've decided to give an au moderne whack at this “stream of consciousness” thing. If you can follow my train of thought, I'll give you a pretzel the next time I see you:

Haha the next time I would see you anime convention but then you might ask for a pretzel oh is that Ayumi Hamasaki playing on my Winamp? I like that song I wonder what happened to that new CD I bought the other day hard pretzels or soft pretzels no salt on my pretzels but I keep picturing one in my head with salt is it going to rain today? I like this part of the song that picture of the doctor they put up on the lab window is really freaky and they punched out his eyes so you can look through them he looks like Saddam from this direction the trees look dead I don't like the color of the brick trim outside I think there's a brick loose Boxcar Children and the something Mystery about Canoes whatever happened to Sweet valley High Jessica had spaghetti in that one chapter I need to eat some jell-o with maybe pineapples inside cold borscht sounds good Siberian winter sable, sable, what was the name of that book, Lady Audley's Secret with the sable, my Sable got wrecked by an Excursion stupid lousy SUVs I don't like you why did you kill my car Siberian sable shoot SUV NSV NSV NSV!!!!! Bang license plate engine 12.7mm massive NSV attack stupid Excursion I want my car back I think it's going to rain I want a pretzel haha Microsoft Word wants to kill me.

*sigh* I'll never be the next James Joyce. But on to this week's Shelf Life. Enjoy.

Shelf Worthy

Sailor Moon Season 1 Box Set
ADV Films 1065 min. 1/1 $149.98 07/15/2003

I need not tell you how cool this is. I only need two words to explain it: Uncut, Subtitled. Yeah, I know. Cool, huh? I never thought it would happen, but here it is, staring me full in the face. It's so pretty, with its nice slim box... its smooth features... its shiny discs... its—my goodness, I don't think I'm ready for a relationship yet. But still... the box... Anyway, after a few years on American TV, a run on dubbed, edited DVD, the original Sailor Moon is now available the way it was meant to be seen—sans the English voices, sans the Serenas and Dariens, sans the music changes, and avec the concept of death. The first 46 episodes will be available on eight nice and shiny discs, just for you. Fans, let me hear your rejoicing screams. I'm sure I don't need to explain the plot of Sailor Moon, but for all you people who have been cryogenically frozen for the past twenty years, the rundown is as such: Usagi is a ditzy girl who eats too much and is dumb as a brick. On her way to school, she meets a talking cat who informs her of her destiny to be Sailor Moon, protectorate of the democratic free world all that is happy and good. She is supposed to become the leader of a group of magically charged girls called the Sailor Warriors. Along the way, she starts dating an equally magically charged, flora-loving pedophile, where she learns the trials and pains of romance. All is not roses, however, when an Evil Person tries to take over the world. The Evil Person sends one minion per episode for an infinite number of episodes until the Final Showdown occurs years later. Okay, okay, the episodes may get excruciatingly dull (and eventually flat-out painful) if you watch too many of them in a row, but on their own, they're pretty cute. Besides, it's one of those shows that's ridiculously popular, so chances are you might like it, too. Anime purists, this one's for you.

s-CRY-ed Vol. #1: Lost Ground
Bandai Entertainment 1/? $29.98 07/15/2003
s-CRY-ed Vol. #1 W/Box
Bandai Entertainment 1/1 $39.98 07/15/2003

Bandai will never cease to amaze me with how shiny and utterly fan-pleasing their DVD + Box packages are. With the special release of the s-CRY-ed box, fans get not only a poster and trading cards, but get this, also a replica of the necklace that Mimori wears. This will not only provide for a mountain-full of cosplaying fun, but all of your s-CRY-ed loving friend will do anything in their power for you just for the chance to stroke your pendant. Folks, this is a nice package. Marking the beginning of Bandai's newest endeavor, the first volume of s-CRY-ed (the title is never actually explained) contains a set of action-packed and thoroughly engaging episodes to lure viewers right in. The story is set in a region where the people and lands have been marred by a mysterious incident. What is left behind is a geographically mutilated area called the Lost Ground and people born with special powers. Manifesting in entities called Alters, these powers can take on the form of a separate fighting unit, the ability to change the user's body, or in the hero Kazuma's case, the ability to generate a powerful arm capable of delivering a set of ultra high-PSI punches. However, people with Alter-ability are seen as dangerous mutants, so they are forced to either live in the Lost Ground, or else be captured by HOLY, a squadron of Alter-users that work for a government agency called HOLD. Much of this is explained within the first episode, as viewers get tossed into the thick of the action. Greeted with the sight of Kazuma, viewers soon learn that he earns a living hiring out his Alter-abilities to his friend to help fight other Alter-users that are terrorizing the land. Before long, all hell breaks loose and Kazuma comes face to face with Holy—a confrontation that will affect the rest of the series. Altogether, this is a very enjoyable show. The story is unique and well thought out, the characters are solidly developed and extremely colorful in personality, and the plot is so nicely paced that the episodes don't even come near to treading a monster-of-the-week pattern. Topped with liquidly fluid animation and distinctive character designs, s-CRY-ed is without a doubt one of the top series to see this year. Definitely plan on putting this series on your must-see list.

GTO Vol. #09
TOKYOPOP 100 min. 9/10 $29.99 07/15/2003

With one more volume to go in the series, I am firmly convinced that GTO does not, and will never, have an established point. Luckily, the series is entertaining as hell; ergo, everyone should see it. In this volume of goofy, oftentimes perverted, and sometimes heartwarming fun, the class is off on their field trip. In the meantime, GTO-esque shenanigans occur, with Onizuka leading the class in pursuit of alleged treasure and then being too wrapped up in his monetary adventure to realize that two of his students are in a perilous, near-death situation. Without a doubt, though, this is one of the most entertaining series ever made. The jokes may get recycled every now and then, but it's always nice to see the grotesque expressions that will pop up on Onizuka's face, or the duality of his personality that allows him to be a money-craving pervert at times, and a kind-hearted mentor at others. If anything, the real reason to watch this show is to just see the comedic side of how life can sometimes be, knowing that nothing is ever really as straightforward as it seems, and people are never as one-sided as they may appear to be. GTO has certainly been a fun ride and I can't wait to see what happens in the last volume. Until then, volume nine should tide you over nicely. This is a series you don't want to pass up.

.hack//SIGN Vol. #3: Gestalt
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 07/15/2003

As I said last week, Bandai loves releasing their special collector's .hack discs first, followed up by their regular releases. Well, that's suits me just fine. Even without the Liminality CD, the contents on this disc are still worth buying. Since I already discussed this DVD last week though, I'll replace the normal discussion with an abridged version. Tsukasa et al wander around town eating lots of food, playing with dogs and kittens, and boozing vast jugs of alcohol. Actually, they don't do that, but that sounds much more fun than what they really do, which is to walk around in circles telling us what we already know. Anyway, there's a chick in a coma in the real world, or “IRL” as you more “l33t h4x0r” type people like to say. She's the chick that popped up in volume one, but we still don't know anything about her. However, we do learn more about the Key of the Twilight—sort of. At this point, everything is still shrouded in complete mystery, making those of you who are already .hack fans scream for more, and those of you have never cared to begin with wonder when they'll just get on with the plot. So yeah, if you like .hack, then you have no choice but to get this DVD. HAHA! For those of you that don't, I urge you to take another peek. Buy this DVD before I run out of things to say!

Rental Shelf

Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #1: Tales of Byston Well
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 07/15/2003
Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #1 (also w/box)
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 07/15/2003

Yoshiyuki Tomino's well-admired show is finally available in the United States after years of pining away in old skoo fans' hearts. Released in North America by ADV Films, the first volume contains the first give episodes, and sports a lovely cover that at first glance made me think was an Escaflowne doujinshi. Without an inkling of reservation, it can be said that they simply don't make politically-drowned giant robot shows like this anymore. Viewers are plopped right into the middle of the story, as some motorcycle champion named Sho Zama gets sucked through a rainbow colored path and into a province called Byston Well. This place is part of a world that exists somewhere between the boundaries of water and earth at sea level, and can only be accessed by those prior-mentioned rainbow things. Almost immediately, Sho is asked to pilot one of the Dunbines, along with a few other people who have been dragged down into what I can only call Middle Earth. Here's where all the fun starts. External firepower vs. firepower fights aside, there's also quite a bit of political strife to have fun with. The Duke that the pilots are fighting for is showing his seedy side, and with his daughter in romantic tangles with a neighboring enemy lad, questions are tossed up everywhere. Which side is right, which side is wrong, whether or not there is actually a difference, which mercenary interests are involved—everything just spirals into a huge batch of warfare fun. None of this modern-day “let's enter a tournament!” stuff... just straight up foreign policy fun. The downside? Well, as mentioned, viewers are thrown straight into the middle of the story. This may work for some people, but for others, it might just feel awkward not knowing what's going on. A lot happens within the first five episodes—the vast majority of which wasn't even hinted at in the plot summary I gave. It's not to say that the pacing is incredibly rushed—it's just very condensed, which may not appeal to some people. That, and given the series' age, it clearly shows in the animation. Regardless though, this is good for a rental for all you who have wanted to check out Tomino's popular projects from way back when. As for the people who miss the scent of old fashioned politics with their robot anime, this will be exciting for you.

Jubei-Chan Collectors Set
Bandai Entertainment 325 min. 1/1 $49.98 07/15/2003

Cheesy yet entertaining, Jubei-chan is a comedic and light-hearted take on your ordinary ninja-master theme. The creation of Daichi Akitaro, this series stars a young girl named Jiyuu, who inherits a heart-shaped eyepatch to become the legendary swordsman Yagyuu Jubei's successor. Whenever she puts on the patch, she changes into a souped up ninja warrior. Forcing Jubei-chan to deal with bullies and revenge-seekers, the show quickly gets pulled into a collectable-ninja-o'-the-week pattern. Luckily, Daichi's humor is able to shine through, giving the series the extra kick it needs to prevent it from getting overly redundant. If you're a fan of ninja shows, but like to have laughs stuffed in with your battles, then this is the show for you. It isn't particularly mind-blowing in any aspect at all, in fact, it's hard to find a reason to watch the show more than once, but this might just be the thing to tide you over a slow weekend.

Brigadoon Vol. #2
TOKYOPOP 125 min. 2/6 $29.99 07/15/2003

Detective Conan's sister takes a prance through the local jousting tournament in the second volume of Brigadoon—or at least its cover, lest any of you take me seriously. In the next installment of this... odd show, the writers actually make a move to explain all the decidedly strange events of the first DVD. Posing the question, “now who the hell are all these robot thingies and why in the hell are they protecting this girl?,” Melan is whisked away to the heart of the problem—Brigadoon. There the real story of the series begins, as she (or rather, her robo-thing) faces peril after peril to figure out why other meaner robo-things are trying to kill her. While the transition from the settings was awkward and a bit rushed, the series deserves credit for actually launching into the meat of the plot. However, the pacing is still rushed at times, cramming too much information into the throats of the readers with no explanation as to where it came from. Despite this, this show is still one of the more unique ones out there. Blending in action and random comedy, this is certainly a show that can't easily be described. Either way, it's not your average fare. If you're feeling adventurous this week, this is the DVD to pick out at the rental store.

Geneshaft Vol. #2
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 2/6 $29.98 07/15/2003

Holy crap, those are big, oddly-placed breasts. I'm not even sure they are attached to her body. Regardless, this is one rather unique show. It's nice to see such a heavy s.f. themed show being brought out by Bandai. They've had luck in the past with their space releases, and this one isn't an exception. The story starts off in this volume with one of the Rings invading the ship. The cool part comes when The Ring (insert The Ring joke here) starts cloning everyone on board just so it can steal the Shaft (insert Shaft or sexual joke here). Of course, that's only the beginning. The rest of the episodes get more unique, making sure that the story doesn't get too old or too patterned. Of course, it's not amongst the same level of seriousness and character investment as, say, Crest of the Stars, but it's certainly not a bad show. Still, I'd recommend a rental first, just to make sure this is the kind of space show you want.

Dragon Ball GT Vol. #05 Baby: Ramifications
FUNimation Productions 62 min. 5/? $24.95 07/15/2003
Dragon Ball GT Vol. #06: Baby: Preparations
FUNimation Productions 62 min. 6/? $24.95 07/15/2003

FUNimation is able to please fans of Dragon Ball GT this week with their release of the next volumes in the Baby saga. The plot proceeds slowly as the characters make one stupid mistake after another, leading only to the rise of one dictator after another. In these episodes, the heroes collect a slew of dragon balls, but before they can fully enjoy their sittin'-around-time, the evil Baby Vegeta makes his presence known by taking over the world again. Of course, our protagonists are too weak to fight, so they must power up and train over and over again so Goku can digivolve to Super Saiyan 4! Seeing as how this is such a long series, I recommend GT fans to give these DVDs a rental. If you like the episodes that you see, then buy them, or else your bank account is in for a whole lot of pain and anguish. Although I'm a little curious why FUNimation didn't put more episodes on one disc, since the episodes are so short, I still give them props for their unsurprisingly good release of this title. Toriyama fans be happy—these people are on your side.

Eden's Bowy Vol. #2
ADV Films 125 min. 2/? $29.98 07/15/2003

Never, ever, ever judge an anime series by its DVD slipcase because you will be grossly led astray. Take Eden's Bowy for example. It sports what I think is one of the scariest, most unattractive examples of cover art imaginable. I know, I know, it's just two really scary and screwed up cute girls posing with a variety of puppets, but it just sends shivers down my retina. This is one of those things I will never be able to explain to you, and which you'll probably disagree with me on for the rest of my life. Anyway, on to the show. The series started off with a nifty premise, having different castes of people living on a strange world. Legends were explained, rumors were started, and it all ended with a kid who people thought was a God Assassin. Pain, angst, etcetera, and as the second volume kicks off, viewers are plopped into the middle of Happyville. Truly, the second disc is not nearly as good as the first. Whereas the first exploited questions of class distinctions and invoked feelings of loss and tragedy (okay, it hinted at those themes, but there's nothing wrong with a little over-drama), the second is your classic wandering-through-mystic-lands-having-happy-yet-panicked-adventures-RPG-style idyllic fare. The bad guys are always on their backs, sporting really nice technology, but hey, the heroes always manage to get away because after all, it's only the second disc. Anyway, if you're in the mood for some chase-'em down action this week, check this out.

Perishable Item

Dragon Ball: Piccolo Jr. Part 1 Saga Set
FUNimation Productions 300 min. 1 $39.95 07/15/2003

Dragon Ball fans, if you're running low on cash and you're wondering which boxset would be the best one to leave out of your collection, this one's it. Collecting a stretch of some of the driest episodes in the series, what you wind up with is a set of episodes that is just really, really, ridiculously boring. After watching Goku's fight with Piccolo, what viewers are greeted with now is just a long stretch of him licking his wounds and slowly healing. Then, he makes a plan to visit the creator of the Dragonballs (you'd think that if he could do that, they wouldn't have to even deal with the lousy balls). Problem is, he's lost his magic power stick, which he needs to be able to see the god. So, for the remainder of the episodes, the characters go on a scavenger hunt for the stick. Albeit this is probably easier than looking around for balls, but it's apparently pretty hard for these people. Anyway, if you like Dragon Ball, you might want to rent this, but I really can't see any reason to have this in your collection unless you're a rabid completionist who will rampage the world with heavy artillery if you don't have the whole set.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading!

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