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Shelf Life
On the Catwalk

by Bamboo Dong,
This week's list of releases is rather short, so if you'll indulge me for a bit, I'd love to share with you some cosplay tips to help you enjoy the rest of this year's conventions. With summer galloping around its last turns and heading into the last stretch, the days of school and busy office work are looming ever closer. Of course, as busy as you may be, anime doesn't stop for you, and neither does fandom. With conventions continuing into the fall and winter, when are you going to find the time to make all those snazzy costumes? Well, today I'm plunging into the depths of girly-dom to present to you a quick guide to Costumes in Two Weeks or Less: Fashion Dos and Don'ts.

Wanna go for that cute schoolgirl look without the hassle of making a uniform? Ladies, it's time to check out the next wave in fashion with the Super GALS outfit. With the series being released in under six weeks to back you up, you'll have fun sporting the kogals trend with ingredients as simple as a baggy sweater, an adorable plaid skirt (of the greener variety, if you please), loose socks and loafers. Put on some makeup, and you're ready for a day of hip shoujo fun. So, girls, DO keep striving for that irresistible Akihabara material teen look, all while keeping your time untampered and your wallet unscathed.

Do any of you guys feel left out when you're faced with that stigma of whether or not crossplaying is okay? Hey, don't worry about it. DO have fun, and dress up as whoever you want, regardless of the gender. Fat guys in sailor suits? I admire their bravery and their enthusiasm for their hobby, so darling, if that's your thing, I say go for it! Of course, if you're still looking to get the ladies while you're expressing your softer side, I've got the perfect costume choice for you. EGL. An abbreviation invented by Mana of Malice Mizer fame to stand for Elegant Goth Lolita, it's all about dragging out that angst, dragging out your inner beauty, and splashing it into an assortment of fangirl-grabbing, and manly, dresses. From Victorian styled eveningwear to clothes made with enough vinyl to upholster four pimp pads, this is the way to go.

Of course, with the last tip on here, it's about time for a DON'T, and girls, this is a big no-no. Some of you ladies out there think that having no money or time is an excuse for you to parade out in your panties, bras, and garters, reinforce it with sequins, and call yourself Sailor Goth Rocker. Sorry, gals, that's just sleazy. A few years ago, it was daring, but honeys, the “but this is my costume!” excuse just doesn't cut it anymore. DON'T be a tramp—you'll get enough attention just being yourself, so don't try too hard to impress.

And with that guide out of the way, enjoy the rest of this year's conventions, and also this week's new releases. Gals and guys—welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Unfortunately, all the titles are pretty mediocre this week. Get ready to hit up your rental stores!

Rental Shelf

Argentosoma Vol. #4
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 4/6 $29.98 08/05/2003

I've given up trying to make sense of this show. I kept touting this show because at first, I thought it was really unique with the whole Frankenstein angle. Add onto that mechs, fascinating character designs and an interesting tale of revenge and anger, and I was sucked in. The problem was, the series was confusing, with a potpourri of pacing, unexplained plot twists, unanswerable questions, and an influx of characters and information that kept randomly pouring in. Alas, viewers have about as much information now as they did when they started the series—none. In the fourth volume, the workers at Funeral are busy scrambling around trying to recuperate after a pretty bad battle. In the meantime, they're trying to resuscitate Frank from his coma, while more attacks continue to pummel Ryu. As he delves into his past and his fears for the future, the writers try to push this dragging story forward by introducing a *gasp* Funeral SECRET! But that's cloudy as hell, too, so while things get a tiny bit more interesting, viewers are still more lost than a pop can in a landfill. Want gorgeous (if odd) artwork and fluid animation and a really screwed up story line? Hey!! Lucky you!!! If you're ready to turn off your brain and enjoy all the appearances of a good show, I'd give this volume a whack.

Devil Lady Vol. #6: The Victorious
ADV Films 100 min. 6/6 $29.99 08/05/2003

Rule #1 of anime: when the story gets boring, start a war—and that's what's being dished out in the last volume of Devil Lady. Featuring a blood bath with random nudity as only Go Nagai can do, the final installment of this horror series manages to pick up the slow pace of the show by bathing the visuals with bright red and saturating the audio with unenthusiastic screams. The events that transpire give shocking validity to prophecies made in ancient times of valleys and gulches being flooded in torrents of blood. It's a shame that no one bothered to check the scientific validity of people gushing endless spurts of blood that don't get soaked up by a dirt ground, since having tacky streams of red everywhere really hamper the visual experience. Regardless, the show manages to stop being so dull by saying to hell with the repetitive characterization and just pitching an all-out battle between Good and Evil. Of course, with Go Nagai's track record of illogical Ultimate Battles, don't be expecting a masterpiece that adheres to the laws of physics, but if blood and action and anatomically flawed ladies are what you're craving, have fun with Devil Lady. Thank goodness it's over.

Kikaider Vol. #1
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 1/? $29.98 08/05/2003

If you've been watching Adult Swim lately, you'll know that Kikaider is one of the highlights of the night. From its goofy 70s art to its emotional android blurb, you'd think it'd be kind of cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised at the well-paced storytelling and the careful way the characters are handled. The main character Jiro is an android that has a “conscience circuit,” something that allows him to think and respond to situations like a human. In an unfortunate accident, Jiro's creator was killed and the android himself plopped off somewhere. He eventually makes his way to Dr. Komyoji's (the creator) home and befriends the daughter. He must now protect the good doctor's children as he's forced to fight against Dr. Gill and his troop of evil androids. What's so nice about Kikaider is the way that the story is told. The pacing is natural and smooth, with the content refreshing enough and moving forward enough to keep the story from becoming dull. Even the way that Pinnochio was weaved into the first episode was well crafted. Of course, with almost all good things, the bad must also follow, and with Kikaider, it's the visuals. The animation is sloppy and rather cheap, with slow pans and stills that scream of low budget, which is a shame. Also, the old character designs are a bit hard to get used to, what with the huge buttons and goofy look, but hey, you can't have everything. It's certainly not a show I'd rush to put in my collection just yet, but it'd certainly be an interesting rental for this week. Or just keep watching Adult Swim.

Noir Vol. #5: Terminal Velocity
ADV Films 75 min. 5/7 $29.99 08/05/2003

Wow, the cover looks like porn. They're both all shiny, and Mireille looks either passed out from drugs, or from a wild bout of something. Unfortunately, as kinky and fun as the cover might look, the innards of the disc are a dull as a documentary about bacteria—the non-mating, non-killing kind. The writers are seeking more ways to fill the rest of the episodes, so the series further delves into more characterization, slowly and painfully. The audience gets to learn more about Mireille's past, Kirika's background, and even a faint glimmer of the Soldats' objectives and motivations. Unfortunately, the information revealed doesn't do much to push the series forward so Rule #1 of Anime must now take effect. The four women must now prepare for the Ultimate Battle, unraveling in the meantime even more about the situations around them in a series of flashbacks, discoveries, and the same two music tracks on repeat. The one thing I must commend the series for, though, is its ever-pleasant use of art to set that moody, angsty atmosphere that makes the show so appealing for me. It's just a shame that the story wasn't condensed into 13 episodes.

Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #16
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #17
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #18
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #19
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #20
AnimEigo 100 min. $24.95 08/05/2003

All the way up to episode 80... As much as I enjoy Urusei Yatsura, and as much as I admire AnimEigo for working so hard on this release—I'm about all UY'd out. My beautiful dream ended a long, long time ago. Just like Ranma ½ and Maison Ikkoku—a time comes when it takes a really special episode to pique your interest again. In the next slew of episodes, Lum and Ataru embark on more Lum and Ataru-esque adventures, like going to the beach, helping out comrades in need, dealing with their love life, and more. A plot summary can't be given. There's just nothing to give. If you haven't seen this series yet, I recommend that you either start from the beginning, or hit up one of the highly entertaining and impressive movies. The latter especially give a much better portrayal of the characters' relationships with one another and the situations that they're hurled through. If you're a fan of the old school, these discs might keep you occupied this week, but are you sure you'll watch them time and time again? Just be glad that they're being sold individually so you can pick and choose amongst your favorite episodes.

Perishable Item

Aw, sorry, no crap to sling at you this week. That's a good thing though, isn't it?

Anyway, thanks for reading Shelf Life! See you next week—especially if you manage to haul your way over to Otakon!

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