by Bamboo Dong,
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FLCL Vol. #3 w/Box
Synch-Point 60 min. 3/3 $34.95 07/22/2003
FLCL Vol. #3
Synch-Point 60 min. 3/3 $29.98 07/22/2003
This series has always left me writhing on the floor in awe, with my mouth wide open, and my limbs twitching in utter amazement. Honestly, anime rarely gets cooler than this. Gainax's groundbreaking and vastly enjoyable FLCL is finally finished, and as is the case with all quality series, it's both sad that the show has ended, and joyous that an anticipated conclusion can be now be seen. Along with the last disc, Synch Point is also offering the chance to purchase one of the 10,000 artboxes that were printed. Of course, if you're not lucky enough to snag the box, the DVD itself is quite a nice catch. Featuring a twenty-page booklet with translation notes (something that is definitely helpful for a joke-saturated show like FLCL), as well as some other extras, the packaging of the disc makes the already sweet DVD that much sweeter.
The disc itself includes the last two episodes of the series, tying the show to a satisfying, if somewhat confusing, conclusion. Naota is still struggling with the attention his father is showering upon Haruka, but he certainly doesn't want to bicker with his dad over it. While the sexual tensions mount ever steadily, things are beginning to get interesting in the Atomsk et al realm. As it turns out, Haruka has her own motivations for all the actions she's committed, and with these surprising revelations out of the way, the climax (or FLCLimax, as the chapter is cutely named) hits an intriguing high. If you're any kind of FLCL fan, you can't help but leap out of your seat. There's space pirates, massive guitar fighting, wicked steam-iron exploration fun— everything that FLCL was before is snapped up a notch, leaving viewers with a satisfied kick in the face. Before viewers even realize it, Haruka is gone, and Naota must now deal with the cavity that has been left in her absence. This series stands out not only because of the decidedly odd story, but also because of the way it is visually presented. Alternating between conventional animation, manga-styled panels, screenshots, and other mediums that break up the traditional flow, FLCL is truly a piece to behold. If it's generic you want, FLCL isn't your style, but if you want to shake things up a bit and plunge into just how good Gainax can be, this is something that absolutely must be on your shelf.
X Vol. #6
Pioneer Animation 75 min. 6/8 $29.98 07/22/2003
Color me fangirl, but I absolutely love this series. This volume seriously had me bouncing up and down, squealing and waving my arms around in the air like a caffeinated fangirl at her first East Coast convention Scott McNeil panel, replete with an Inu Yasha plush and the newest Viz graphic novel. CLAMP's storytelling grace and driving sense of passion continue to ooze out seductively from every crevice of the X TV series. Even up to the sixth volume, the animation remains impeccable and ever-fluid, giving life and vitality to the dark, morose artwork that adorns the scenes. The visuals are just simply stunning, and they do well to complement the compelling story of the series. In the sixth DVD, Fuma is now deeply embedded within the Dragons of the Earth group, and the fighting within Tokyo erupts even harder. Already at a disadvantage after taking quite a bit of damage from Fuma, Subaru must now battle with Seishiro, fighting against not only the opponent's powers, but also the pains of their past. Folks, this right here is angst time. If you think X is already angsty, well, hold on to your bloomers, because the angst just doesn't stop. In the meantime, other members of the two groups get in a tussle as well, as Yuzuriha is pitched into a deadly battle with the merciless Satsuki. (What'd I tell ya? More angst, guys, never-ending angst.) Without a doubt, X is one of the top anime series out there, combining action, swift storytelling and talented production houses. Fans of CLAMP can't afford to pass up the chance to see this series. If you haven't seen this series yet, I recommend you start now.
King of Bandit Jing Vol. #1 (also w/box)
ADV Films 100 min. 1/4 $39.98 07/22/2003
King of Bandit Jing Vol. #1
ADV Films 100 min. 1/4 $29.98/39 07/22/2003
I want an albatross gun. For fans of anime who want their shows to be just plain fun, King of Bandit Jing is the title to pick this week. Only thirteen episodes long, it's rather interesting that ADV chose to release it with an optional box. The story features a guy with something that strikes almost as a Robin Hood complex named Jing, the king of bandits. He's accompanied by his girl-loving, smooth-talking albatross named Kir. Definitely one of the coolest sidekicks in recent history, Kir always serves as Jing's choice weapon by shooting out green balls of energy at enemies. (Do you see why I need an albatross gun? Hadoken!!!!! SQUAWK!!) The duo wanders around buddy-flick style, stealing treasures everywhere they go, providing for plenty of enta'tainment with their comedic dialogue, Kir's womanizing, and the occasional slapstick that punctuates their adventures. While the scenes are fun and fast-paced enough, the show does have its flaws. For instance, even though the characters are certainly colorful enough, there is almost no real character development. Nothing is shown of their pasts, their inner natures, or even the things that make them tick. In fact, after the four episodes are finished and filed away, viewers know about as much of the main characters as they did when the series first kicked off. Despite this, though, it's still a fun series to watch. It hasn't yet settled in on a story arc of any kind yet, but there certainly is no reason for it to do so this early in the game. If you're looking for a fun way to kill some time this week, Jing's your man.
Full Metal Panic Vol. #2
ADV Films 100 min. 2/7 $29.98 07/22/2003
Whether you think Full Metal Panic is the most generic thing in the world or the most wildly creative thing you've ever seen, the fact doesn't change that it's a great way to slaughter off time. Fact of the matter is, it rests somewhere in the middle between the two categories. While some parts of the story feel like they've already been done before (like the way Sousuke plays the clueless, no-concept-of-modern-society crack military figure), other parts of the story are original enough to truly enjoy. In this volume, viewers finally get to learn more about the Whispered, and why they are so wildly sought after. Initiating the episodes with the knowledge that Kaname is being researched upon, the series soon escalates into an action-fest, filled with gorgeous animation and amazing uses of lighting that give the nocturnal scenes a lively kick. While many of the episodes are action oriented, the setting eventually drifts back to the classroom in the fourth episode, where viewers are stuck watching more Sousuke antics... again. Yes, yes, he's clueless. We get it already. Ha ha. Good one there, sir. Way to be an ass, sir. Full Metal Panic certainly isn't the dullest mecha show out right now, but the level of enjoyment viewers might experience truly varies. On the one hand, the action scenes are well done and plain shiny. On the other hand, the way it so dramatically flips back and forth between a seriously toned mecha series and a light-hearted let's-make-fun-of-the-clueless-dude show is a bit odd. It balances out the episodes, sure, but it might jar viewers a bit since there's not much continuity between the two emotional extremes. Also, although the growing relationship between Sousuke and Kaname is interesting, the way that some of the scenes revolve solely around Sousuke making a jackass of himself gets a bit tiresome and throws off the driving force of the main story. Regardless, it's still a fun watch, so I definitely recommend a rental to anyone who wants to check out this series.
Saiyuki Vol. #3
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 07/22/2003
I wasn't aware that American Eagle was a publicly traded company in Ancient China. Now I know better. Saiyuki is just one of those shows that possesses a quality scale that wavers dramatically between quality and sheer crap. Whereas sometimes you'll get a few episodes that have solid characterization, a driving plot, and a good sense of adventure, it'll be followed up by a mound of brown-colored filler episodes that serve no purpose other than to parade around ugly bishounen (is that a contradiction in terms?) who wear stylish clothes in the middle of ancient China. Luckily, the episodes on this disc stray more towards the former, and are rather a treat after the previous, filler-laden disc. Tricks and distrust abound in this volume as the group is hounded by everything from enemies seeking revenge and their possessions, to just the nasty weather. While these episodes don't heavily follow the established “story,” the mood of them is serious enough that viewers won't be lost wondering why they're suddenly watching episodes that have nothing to do with the plot. What is to be commended, though, is that the characters are starting to be more defined, possessing traits that separate them from your generic stock bishounen archetypes. Granted, those qualities are still there (i.e. the angsty one, the sugary and happy one, the womanizer, etc) ala Weiß, but the characters are beginning to develop more three-dimensional personalities. As inconsistent as the quality of the episodes are, story and logic-wise, I recommend a rental, unless you're sure that you already adore this series. Saiyuki's fun at times, but it's not something I'd watch more than once.
YuGiOh Vol. #11: Best of Friends, Best of Duelists
FUNimation Productions 60 min. 11/? $19.95 07/22/2003
I admit it. YuGiOh's not as bad as I like to think it is. This is the same realization I faced when I realized that watching Pokemon bounce across my screen not only entertained me, but captivated me. Besides, the show is ridiculously popular right now. Ergo, it has to have *some* appeal, right? Well, this disc certainly does. Jumping into the middle of yet more card-fighting (obviously), the first few episodes beat around the bush with your classic “gah! I need that card! Where's my card!” bit, but the last episode is what rocked my world. Yugi finds himself dueling with his friend Joey, but before he knows it, Joey whips out a powerful card—the same card that Yugi gave him as a symbol of their friendship. This particular episode struck me because in kids shows, themes like broken trust and backstabbing are seldom explored. The whole concept of working so hard to accomplish a goal, only to have it ripped up by your friend—well, it's not something you see everyday in a kids' show. In fact, YuGiOh's certainly one of the darker kiddie shows out there, and it's aspects like that that capture my interest and awe. I can't say that I enjoy this series enough to collect it, since I consider a large portion of the episodes to be rather formulaic and trite, but this particular volume really stuck out for me. Give it a rental. It's not half bad.
Alright guys, I'm sure you all know my generic Shelf Life conclusion by now, right? Say it with me, guys: That's it for this week's Shelf Life! Thanks for reading!