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Shelf Life
Bambuu Saga

by Bamboo Dong,
Earlier this week, I received an angry e-mail from a friend, ranting about a website that had a collection of YuGiOh reviews. I clicked on the link, curious to see what he found so frothing about the site, and within a few seconds of skimming, it immediately hit me. The site was filled with hardcore YuGiOh fans screaming and raving about how they hated that people thought it was a kids' show. Spitting vitriol at all the fans who claimed such, they insisted that because the show was violent and moody, saying that it was aimed towards kids was a disgrace to the series. Not satisfied with this assessment, they began to slowly tear apart the American companies that were responsible for the TV and home releases, slamming on them for “murdering,” “bastardizing,” “butchering,” and “degrading” the series. They seethed about the American release, saying that they knew it would be crap before it was even aired because it was being done by a company called 4Kids, rather than a company called 4YoungAdults. At this point, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Folks, folks, I respect your anger and resentment, but can we not all just sit down and talk about things? First off, I'm sorry to tell you this, but YuGiOh is, and will always be, a kids' show, that's how it was marketed in Japan. Just because it has themes like death and abandonment doesn't mean that it's not a kids' show. Yes, teenagers and even adults can enjoy it too, but they're simply not the target audience. Just accept the fact that you like a kids' show. It's okay. A lot of people do. And hey, 5 second edits won't ruin your life. Just be glad you can see it.

And thus, Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

City Hunter TV Season 1 Collection 1
ADV Films 625 min. 1/? $89.98 07/29/2003
City Hunter TV Season 1 Collection 2
ADV Films 650 min. 2/? $89.98 07/29/2003

When the word anime is mentioned, what are the first things to come to mind? Magical girls? Robots? Furry mascots? OMG B00biez? What about cops, huh? Yeah, I didn't think so. In the world of anime, cop shows that don't involve robots/the supernatural/etc are few and far between, which is why shows like City Hunter are so refreshingly fun to watch. Spanning a manga series, a TV series, a few movies (both animated and live-action), and a few specials here and there, City Hunter is rampantly popular, and with it being one of the coolest cop shows out there, it's not surprising that it's as admired as it is. Well, lucky for fans, ADV is releasing each season in a handy five-disc box at an extremely affordable price. The series stars Saeba Ryo, a man with enough suavity to match Magnum PI in audacity and James Bond in lady-luring skills. Hiring himself out to do whatever work the police just aren't a match for, Ryo uses his skills to help nab bad guys, find missing people—plus get a little tail on the side from all the beautiful ladies that surround him. The episodes vary in quality, but all manage to entertain fairly well. Including drama, gunplay action, and shots of lewd or slapstick comedy, this is a series that is able to transcend the ages. Made in the 80s, it shows through the art and occasionally the animation, but as far as the content goes, it's something that will be able to please any generation. If it's good (and sometimes cheesy) laughs you want, mixed in with some fun bullet-pumping action, City Hunter's your guy for hire.

Twelve Kingdoms Vol. #1: Shoku
Media Blasters 125 min. 1/? $29.95 07/29/2003

No matter how much the plot summary sounds like it, this series has nothing in common with Fushigi Yuugi, I promise. Based on the novels by Ono Fuyumi, Twelve Kingdoms (or Juuni Kokki) is a 68 episode series that is split into a series of arcs. The first is called “Shadow of the Moon, the Sea of Shadow,” with the first five episodes being released this week by Media Blasters. The story stars a red-head girl named Youko who just doesn't feel like she belongs amongst her peers. Rounding out the main cast are Asano and Sugimoto, the former being the guy friend she's got a crush on, and the latter being this angsty girl who's convinced that her life is destined to pan out like a fantasy story. (Psycho... ) Certain events occur such that they get sucked into ancient China where they end up getting split up. Now they have to find a way to go back, even though Sugimoto's being a selfish idiot who's convinced that the folks in charge made a mistake and meant for her to be the heroine of the story, so she's trying to keep them all there. In the meantime, the denizens of the land are getting hysterical because they think the trio are bad omens Themes of trust and betrayal are around every corner. The first five episodes largely serve the purpose of setting up the story and prodding at the relationships between the characters, so they're a bit slow. In any case, with 63 more episodes to go, this is certainly acceptable—and expected. In the meantime, you can ogle the beautiful visuals in the show, with both slick animation and gorgeous backgrounds. The pace may not have picked up yet, but hey, if anything, at least give this thing a rental to see if you like it.

RahXephon Vol. #4
ADV Films 100 min. 4/7 $29.98 07/29/2003

RahXephon is one of the best mecha series EVAR. That's all that needs to be said about the subject. In the fourth volume of the series, Ayato is hit with ever harsher waves of mental attacks. This follows up strongly with the previous volume's discussion on the differences between dreams and reality. Whereas the third volume dissected this differentiation, and questioned the concept of reality, this disc puts those ideals into practice. Ayato must now come to grips with this “reality,” even while everything around him is crumbling to pieces. In the meantime, things are getting ever more chaotic between the humans and the Mu, especially with the appearances of new characters, ideals, and conflicting interests. For as good of a series as RahXephon is, there's almost no clear and good way to describe the story. The pacing of the series is slow enough that the subtleties that make the show so good just can't be depicted. It's not the plot that's so damned good—it's the way that it's presented, with the beautiful visuals, the subtleties, the way certain lines are dropped... It's just done so incredibly well, and none of the points are blatantly slapped across the viewers' faces. If you haven't watched RahXephon yet, do yourself a big favor and give it a shot. It may be a bit slow, but there's a good chance that you'll dig it. In any case, it sure won't harm you.

Rental Shelf

Heat Guy J Vol. #1 (also w/box)
Pioneer Animation 100 min. 1/? $39.98/39 07/29/2003
Heat Guy J Vol. #1: Super Android
Pioneer Animation 100 min. 1/? $29.98/39 07/29/2003

The world's gone to hell, all is wrong with humanity—what do you do? Build an android that looks like Black Jack, give him a lousy name, and send him out to save the world. Also available in what is possibly the stupidest, most ridiculous looking box I have ever seen in my life, Heat Guy J is the newest action series to be released by Pioneer. Of course, the hideous box design can't be blamed on Pioneer—the character design for Android J is just flat out cartoonish and ugly—a far cry from the other characters in the series. Of course, if you do buy the limited edition, you get a disc full of nice extras, like radio drama excerpts, music videos, behind-the-scenes clips and more.

Heat Guy J takes place in the far future where the world is filled with city-states. Our adventures begin in a floating place called Judoh, which is run by a seedy family. Alas, the don has died, leaving the family business in the hands of his psychotic, girly-named son Claire. To balance out the forces of evil, we are introduced to the three good guys whose job it is to prevent bad stuff from happening: Kyoko, the organized administrative chick, Daisuke, the unfortunately-named detective dude who gets to smooth over everyone's mistakes and solve all the cases, and Android J, a cartoony-looking buffoon who lumbers around letting the animators play with CG action scenes. The first four episodes are largely stand-alone, although traces of a larger arc are already becoming apparent. The animation is pretty fluid, letting the energetic action scenes shine through. Overall, the series is filled with interesting characters and a funky setting. For the time being, though, there's not much to keep viewers glued to the screen, as the plot has yet to really kick into full gear, and the pacing has yet to hit a fast enough pace to make viewers care. Still, it has potential, so if it's action you're looking for this week, I recommend this title to satiate any urges.

Lupin the 3rd: The Secret of Mamo
Pioneer Animation 100 min. 1/1 $29.98 07/29/2003

Does Lupin look like he's big pimpin' or what? I'm just afraid Fujiko's legs are going to snap in half with how frail they are. Well, at least in this new movie being released by Pioneer, Lupin finally dies right off the bat—or at least that's what someone is trying to make the world think. In the Secret of Mamo, the news of Lupin's death is greeted with confusion and skepticism by Zenigata, who suspects that something is definitely up. Of course, there's no time to think about that, as Lupin et al jet off to Egypt to try to snag a priceless stone. Unfortunately, someone already has her hands on it, and that someone ends up being Fujiko. Wanting the stone so she can dwell in eternal youth and beauty, a schism is created in the group. Inadvertently, this manages to lead Lupin straight to Mamo, some evil scientist dude who wants to do evil things to the world. Sounds fun, huh? Well, it is, and if you're a fan of Lupin, you'll enjoy it. However, it's not as good as some of the other movies out there, like Fuma's Conspiracy or the Cagliostro. With the age tacked on to it, the choppy animation and wonky character designs distract from the scenes a bit. People have always known that Lupin is old, but with this particular series, the age really shows. This might be a fun rental for all you Lupin enthusiasts, but if you're looking for some Monkey Punch to throw onto your shelves, I'd recommend looking around at some of the other titles available.

Weathering Continent
Media Blasters 125 min. 1/1 $29.95 07/29/2003

Weathering Continent is an old flick about thirsty people who beat each other up over water, and then spend ten minutes per scene over-dramatizing the fact that they're really ridiculously thirsty. Did that capture your interest? What if I told you there were *magic* people that were really ridiculously thirsty? In the Post-Apocalyptic Past (this time minus the bikers), the land is filled with disease, drought, hunger, and all those bad things that happen in Post-Apocalyptic times, so people are running amok scavenging for treasure and water. The three main characters include your typical fantasy fare, with the starting group of every Square RPG ever made. Every so often, they'll get really melodramatic and starry-eyed and spit out lines like, “*sigh* Remember water? I remember when I used to drink water... ” Depending on your mood, that can either be really profound, or just send you into torrents of laughter. Of course, to be fair, this is still a rather unique production. As mundane as the story sounds, it's never really been done before. Besides, with the age, it certainly can be excused from resembling any of its look-alikes. This used to be quite a well-respected title back in the days of VHS fansubs. It's still an interesting watch, and if you want a different take on your average fantasy hero adventure quest, Weathering Continent will be a fun one for you.

You're Under Arrest: The Motion Picture
ADV Films 90 min. 1/1 $29.98 07/29/2003

For people who are expecting more of the goofy adventures that adorn some of the You're Under Arrest shows like the OVAs, you're in for a real surprise. Throwing out the comical for a much more serious and dark approach, the YUA feature film is a treasure for fans of the franchise. Natsumi and Miyuki find themselves in the middle of a terrorist plot. With the girls trying to mobilize the police force to combat the sinister plans of the terrorist masterminds, the plot takes a turn for the decidedly suspenseful and dramatic. The story is rock solid, backed up with fluid animation, but still, it's a vast difference from many of the more light-hearted YUA releases (though the TV series takes a few dips into the serious). If you want to see more adventures of the girls, then this will definitely be an excellent change for you. However, if you're hankering for more traffic cop comedy, I'd suggest some of the other titles in this chain.

Rune Soldier Vol. #3
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.98 07/29/2003

Rune Soldier is still one of the most fun shows out there, indulging in klutzy adventures and good ol' fashioned wandering group fun. Halfway through the series, the story is still bouncing around a bit, but there's nothing wrong with taking the scenic route, especially with a show as full of energy of this. When it starts snowing in the middle of summer, the characters get a little weirded out, as would anyone. The sorcerer responsible contacts Ila, who decides to drag the gang to go check out the situation. Of course, just walking there would be too easy, so plenty of obstacles are thrown in the way. Not to mention, they're being opposed by Melissa's rival, who'd love nothing better than to stand in their way as much as she can. Sure, it's not much of an epic-proportioned plot, but it's sure fun as hell to watch, especially when you get to hear characters slinging jokes while beating off demon dudes. Replete with cheery artwork and impressive palette shading, the art makes the deal even sweeter by bringing out the best in the characters. True, the animation is a bit wanting during the freak-weather scenes, but with the other 90 some minutes, that can certainly be excused. Rune Soldier is a fun series, and though you might not be interested in watching these mundane adventures more than once or twice, it'd sure make for a great rental.

Kai Doh Maru

Manga Entertainment 60 min. 1/1 $24.95 07/29/2003

Kai Doh Maru—yet another wonderfully drawn Production I.G. project... The art is beautiful, the experimental color schemes are unique, the 3D landscapes are well-rendered, the animation is absolutely gorgeous—and the story sucks. It absolutely, positively sucks. Well, to be fair, the story itself has promise. It's just the incredibly poor way that it's presented that sucks. Quite simply, the plot is so jumbled and messy, it just doesn't make any sense. Kintoki, called Kai Doh Maru by the villagers, is a girl that has been brought up as a boy to protect her family's land from being taken by the evil uncle. Unfortunately, he takes it anyway, but not before Kintoki is whisked away by knights working for the capitol and raised by them. Years later, all goes to ruin when a mass epidemic sweeps through the country, letting a gaggle of magic folk rampage the country wreaking chaos and stealing people's stuff. The leader of this group turns out to be Kintoki's cousin, who gets all sad because she wanted to marry Kintoki, but can't because he's not a dude. So the cousin starts launching attacks to get Kintoki back, and—that's it, I'm lost. I spent three hours watching this thing, and I had to strain myself to patch together even that wimpy plot summary. Even after pulling myself through every extra available on the disc, I can barely just grasp the plot—and weakly at that. It just doesn't make sense. It has no direction, is incredibly confusing, and just makes all the effort spent animating the thing go to waste. Visually, Kai Doh Maru is gorgeous. It's a shame more time wasn't spent getting the plot to be followable beyond four minutes. If you want to see some top notch animation and an all-out eye-pleasing masterpiece, this will be great for you. Just don't even bother trying to follow the story.

Space Pirate Mito Vol. #4
Media Blasters 75 min. 4/4 $24.95 07/29/2003

It's the last volume of Mito already? Wow, shows how memorable this show is... Well, when I'm actively watching it and remembering that it even exists, I certainly do make note of the fact that it's rather entertaining. In this last volume, everything heats up in the Final Ultimate Battle. There's some family tusslin' and bickering, and Aoi's stuck in the middle of it. Unfortunately, all the dramatic flairs that the scenes strive so hard to bring out are crushed by the cartoony character designs. It's very hard to take seriously a woman who's three feet tall and looks like a little kid. Not to mention all the roundish figures that just adorn the artwork. In any case, it's a cute series if you want to watch it. If you don't, well, your life certainly won't miss anything drastic.

Fist of the North Star Vol. #3
Manga Entertainment 120 min. 3/? $29.95 07/29/2003
Fist of the North Star Vol. #4
Manga Entertainment 120 min. 4/? $29.95 07/29/2003

If you like watching people explode and entire gangs getting expunged in brilliant displays of ultra-violence that leave your screen drenched in red, you'll have far too much fun with Fist of the North Star. Bringing this show from the trenches of the mid 1980s, Manga Entertainment is allowing it to join its already released movie and live-action counterparts on DVD. With the release of the third and fourth volume, fans can watch as Kenshiro continues to amble across the Post-Apocalyptic Gang-filled Desert. As he gets closer to his destination, the Bad Guy Boss calls out his minions to stop Ken, leaving viewers with a gory, blood-bathed bad-guy-o'-the-day fight fest—taking on as many as a hundred-some people at a time. Also, to spice things up a bit, an enigmatic man named Rei is introduced, who's able to slash people to bits with a few jabs of his hand. For those of you that just love to roll around in violence, this show is pure FUN! Possessing some of the greatest attack moves known to mankind (The North Star Fist of Remaining Regrets, anyone?), Fist of the North Star is a great way to get your testosterone pumping and your blood flowing. For as old as the show is, it doesn't look half bad, either. The animation is adequate, and though the characters look decidedly 80s with a nice Rambo flair, it's still fun to watch if you're into this kind of thing. Want violence? You can't go wrong with this.

Moonlight Lady
Kitty Media 60 min. 1/1 $29.95 07/29/2003

Mmm... pr0n... pretty pr0n... True, Suzuna's breasts are oddly misshapen, and the animation wavers from fluid to the animators just not caring, but at least the art is pretty. Generic, like much of hentai, but pretty. Sadly, the plot is a bit generic, too, but at least there is somewhat of a plot. Somewhat. Suzuna wants to become a priestess, so she moves in with her fiancé. For a variety of reasons, the house that they live in is under some kind of spell that makes it rampant with sex-ness. There're these things that are after the fiancé's soul, but instead of getting the couple the normal way, i.e. beating them with a stick and taking their stuff, every scene is another great opportunity to have sex. Eh, this works for me. Like I said, the plot's not incredibly strong, but the art is beautiful. If you want a hentai this week that lets you just stare at moving pictures and not have to worry about story or animation, (ha, what a novel idea) Moonlight Lady is a great choice. It may not be the best hentai title out there, but the art certainly is worth looking at.

Dragon Ball Z: Majin Buu Box Set
FUNimation Productions 450 min. 1 $99.95 07/29/2003

I would very much not like to be whipped by a fat pink onion, if you please. However, if you'd like to, you can start by checking out the next boxset of Dragon Ball Z, featuring the cool Majin Buu saga. Why is it cool, you might ask? Well, you get to see some of the sweetest Gohan attacks ever. When that dude unleashes the fury, things start hopping, and if you like DBZ for its fights and chi-ball frenzy, you'll get a massive kick out of this saga. The seal encapsulating Buu has been broken, and this wigs out the Supreme Kai who'd rather retreat that deal with any lashbacks. However, Gohan's got more balls than that and Unleashes the Maximum Fury. Things only get more complicated when they realize Buu's nowhere to be found. What's a guy to do? Keep on fightin,' and that's just what Gohan does. Including 22 episodes, this is a fun saga for all you DBZ fans out there who are anxious to see Gohan get in on the action. If you haven't seen these episodes before, I'd recommend renting some of the individual discs first. After all, $100 is still a lot of money.

Perishable Item

Genma Wars Vol. #3
Media Blasters 75 min. 3/4 $24.95 07/29/2003

I feel so embarrassed for even watching this show. I can't decide if the show is as crappy as it is, or it's just a ruse to give people a good chuckle. Yet another post-apocalyptic shindig, Genma Wars stars two twins named Jin and Loof, differentiated by their hairstyles. They have a crappy set of unloving parents who'd love to see them dead, so they end up trying to kill their folks, as well as the legions of minions the 'rents sick after them. Course, the trick is, the kids have psychic powers so they can make people explode. In this equally stupid volume, Jin gets hypnotized and sent off to kill Loof. Of course, the series isn't over yet, so you know that they'll eventually patch things up and continue their quest to get rid of their evil demon parents. Throw in some craptastic animation, a cacophony of bad music, and random slutty women, and you're all set with another volume of Genma Wars to sit through. It's not that the story is particularly bad. It's just that it's so incredibly poorly done. The acting, the animation, the art—and yet I keep watching it. It gives me a good chance to laugh. If you're in the mood to ridicule something this week, I'd suggest picking this up for a rental, but other than that, you'd be best off trying something else.

Anyway, thanks for reading and I'll see you next time on *cue 50s game show music*... Shelf Life!

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