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Shelf Life
Out with the Old

by Bamboo Dong,
Another year crossed off the list of time... Another year's events marked down in history for posterity to read in their textbooks years from now. And my, what a year it was. From the tiny personal details that everyone faced, to stark global events, 2003 was certainly a year that, like all years, will go down in people's memories as a year worth remembering. No matter who you are, there are events that transpired that you will likely never forget, even if some of them will forever be marked with bitterness or frustration, anger or tragedy, or perhaps excitement and elation.

Maybe it was a new love in your life, the birth of a new family member, or the death of a loved one. Maybe you got a new job, or maybe you got laid off, or maybe you're the infamous workplace prankster who emptied out every cabinet and desk drawer in your boss' office and filled them with water and goldfish for his birthday. Perhaps it was that harsh, cruel, almost surreal feeling of disbelief you felt while you watched game seven of the American League playoff finals as that one last homerun sailed cleanly over the fence and ruined it for the SOX. Or the feeling of joy... or bitter defeat, as you watched game seven of the Stanley Cup finals as the Devils trapped their way to a victory against the team that surged their way through the Western Conference. Maybe it was that one party you went to where you woke up the next morning puking in a toilet, realizing that you may or may not have slept with someone you may or may not have met before. Or all the political and international events that took place that would only be unfairly and inadvertently trivialized by any and all attempts to summarize them and all the implications that accompanied them. Perhaps you got the highest grade in the class on one of your midterms—or maybe you were the kid that got massively shanked with an F... curved. Or your prize heifer got a blue ribbon at the county fair. Or—

Shoot, the bottom line is, 2003 probably had some great moments for all of us, and parts of them probably just really sucked. Here's hoping for a better 2004. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Boys Over Flowers Vol. #03
Viz, LLC. 100 min. 3/? $24.98 01/06/2004

The teen angst continues in the third volume of Boys Over Flowers as the story goes through quite a few twists. Popping things off to a fast start, the growing love/hate relationship between Tsukushi and Tsukasa intensifies, with a chase through the school ending up with him planting a firm kiss on her lips. Considering Tsukushi has the hots for Rui and not so much for Tsukasa, it's no surprise that she spends the next few episodes snubbing him. Of course, she's not exactly pissed either, and even takes care of him when he gets sick. Ooh, do I smell the beginnings of a cruuuuuuuuush? Not to mention the massive love triangle mutating ever larger between her, Rui, and Shizuka—needless to say, this show is far from boring. With a real down to earth approach to high school love and teenage heartbreak, this is one shoujo series that is sure to please a lot of fans, and snag a few hearts, too. Surely, it's one for your shelf.

Full Metal Panic Vol. #6
ADV Films 75 min. 6/7 $29.98 01/06/2004

Mm... chicks in a tub, high powered mecha combat, love triangles, and a cute bath time story carefully disguised as character exposition. If this doesn't send hordes of fangirls and fanboys into explosive nerdgasms of delight, I can't imagine what else will. As the series nears the titillating end, the story plods on as slow as ever, contrasting the leisurely pace with its militaristic panache. Honestly, I don't know how such a relaxed series can be so incredibly exciting, but that's the beauty of Full Metal Panic. As the characters near the final mission, some downtime is taken to delve into the Sousuke's past, as well as the growing tussle between two of the ladies vying for his attention. This added character development is a welcome diversion before the series launches into the final mission. Bringing exciting combat to the forefront while making the time for some comedic asides, this is definitely a show that will entertain both fans of military action and lighthearted comedy. If you were like me and were hesitant on checking out this series, wait no more. If an awesome show decked with fun characters and a solid storyline doesn't do it for you, maybe the bath scene will. Go buy it.

Rental Shelf

Pretear Vol. #2
ADV Films 75 min. 2/4 $29.98 01/06/2004

If you try to read the back of the box description for Prétear, it will inevitably push you away with its cheese, and quite mistakenly, too. It's got everything a good show needs—good clean comedy, a fun (though a bit overly dramatic Sailor Moon-esque) plot, rich characterization, breathtaking art, and best of all, a female lead that doesn't get on anyone's nerves. With how good this series actually is, you'd be surprised if I told you the entire thing was about some girl with rich parents that got scouted out by some guy to save the world from lame little demon spawn. To answer that threat, she runs around with her own little harem of bishie and fights off demon minions by merging with Leafe Knights (think Suzaku Seishi from Fushigi Yuugi) to give herself Prétear abilities. In this latest installment, things get tossed around when she suffers through a bit of a heartbreak and loses her abilities to transform into a superhero. But wait!! LOVE SAVES THE DAY and all is well... but is it really?! See, I bet 75% of you are already laughing your lungs out. But despite how atrociously cheesy the story sounds, the way that it's executed is so unique and wonderful that it's hard to stop watching. With lovable characters and a rich atmosphere of friendship and determination and a gallery of sinister baddies to choose from, it gives the tired genre a new kick in the pants. Unless you're a diehard porn or mecha fanatic, there's probably something in this series that will intrigue you. Still skeptic? Give this thing a rental. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll decide this series is too fluffy for you, and you'll lose a few bucks.

Angelic Layer Vol. #3
ADV Films 100 min. 3/6 $29.99 01/06/2004

CLAMP's foray into the world of shounen tourney-style fighting is turning a few heads, and it's easy to see why. Armed with the slick art that defines this group of talented women so well, Angelic Layer is a generic fighting show with a unique flair to it. From the surreal atmosphere of the Layer, to the effort that went into drafting the background stories of all the characters, CLAMP's proving that even they can put some novelty dents into this old genre. Nearing the halfway mark of the series, Misaki and her angel are gearing up for the Regional tournament. While this volume focuses mainly on angel battles, some typical lessons about friendship and ambition are imparted to the audience, making it as kid friendly as ever. Although the premise of the series may be a bit trite to more cynical viewers, watching the bond between Misaki and her doll unfold gives it an added boost that prevents it from becoming too repetitive. Fans of these kinds of shows will likely get a huge kick out of Angelic Layer, with its warm ‘n’ fuzzy Pokémon feeling (except with wannabe Clow cards beating each other up). The other side of it is that if these shows bore you to tears, then any amount of CLAMPing won't do much for you. If anything, this is definitely worth a rental and if you decide later that you can't live without this series, you can always buy it later.

Saiyuki Vol. #07 (also w/box)
ADV Films 100 min. 7/13 $29.98/39 01/06/2004

With the second season taking over the helm, the series takes a sudden turn into a much more interesting realm. Ringing in the new era with a fangirl-pleasing aura, the opening theme is drenched to the bone with ancient Chinese pretty boys modeling the latest New York fashions and their bare skins. What's especially notable is that the show veers from its original plot and manages to improve by quite a few shades. All of the random traveling and goofing around are still there, but a new threat is unveiled that teases at an even bigger story arc looming in the horizon. With the introduction of a set of powerful gods with their own secretive agendas, the story fleshes out even more when more light is shed on our group of bishonen and who they actually are. After such a drastic turn in the story, it's hard not to take a new interest in the series. If you've been avoiding this series so far, maybe a quick rental will spice things up for you again.

Slayers Great
ADV Films 60 min. 1/1 $19.98 01/06/2004

Fans of Lina and her buddies will be pleased that Slayers Great is now available on DVD. Starring Lina and her buxom companion Naga (though missing some of the other fan-favorite characters), the movie is a short burst of fun that will satisfy fans of the original TV series. As the duo wander into a town known for its golems, they save a girl from being trampled to death by one. Before they know it, they're introduced to the girl's father and brother and asked to model for new golem prototypes that are being created. Naturally, things are never as they seem, and when the a sinister plot is uncovered that puts the city in jeopardy, the two girls are ready to save the day. Carrying much of the same humor and light-hearted fun as the series, Slayers fans should definitely put this on their list of things to see. While it's not one of the best movies, it's still a fun romp into the world of Lina et al. If you haven't seen the TV series yet though, I highly recommend starting there. As enjoyable as this little shindig might be, unless you're already a fan of the series, it probably won't be as half as enjoyable to you.

Anyway, that's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to come back next week!

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