Shelf Life
Unlimited boredom

by Bamboo Dong,
Sometimes I think that life is a continual struggle between being down on luck, and mustering up enough courage and dedication to pull everything back on track again. It's an endless loop that never stops spiraling unless you have the even-keeled sense to watch its every move. If you get a streak of good luck and joy, arrogance sets in, leaving you vulnerable to vicious attacks from every angle. If you stay in your slump, you'll be frightened at every new challenge that comes your way.

This happens to everyone, everywhere. Whether you're an athlete, a college student preparing for exams, a musician, or just some guy chipping away at the American dream, there will always be a slump of some sort that will bind you with fright and test your will. Let's take something that everyone can relate to. How about the local sports team; any sport, any team. At some point in that club's career, they will have had a stretch of losses that seem almost unrecoverable. They panic, get angry, fret over tiny things, and before you know it, they've dug themselves into a hole big enough to fit Rhode Island. Pretty soon, every new adversary they meet will be approached the same way: “Aw man, I don't wanna do this... I don't wanna lose anymore... we've been losing a lot lately... we're gonna get stomped.” Tempers flare, confidences drop, and for whatever reason, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I look out across this network of 0s and 1s to my readers, I can sense the inevitable quake of a large entity that cannot be avoided by many unlucky few. That's right. Midterms. Round one. If you're anything like me, you've been burned on exams before, and unless you've already made it past that slump into the land of confidence and self-assurance, you're viewing the oncoming battles with a bit of trepidation. It's times like this when I've always pulled on the wisdom of that timeless 80s film “Better Off Dead” and a line spoken by Monique, “All you need is a taste of victory and you'll find that it suits you.” So to all mah peeps out there down in the slumps, buck up, happy campers. All it takes to ride out the nastiest wave is a spark of confidence.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Super GALS Vol. #5 - It's Okay to have a Change of Heart
ADV Films 100 min. 5/6 $29.98 03/02/2004

After much fisticuff action between Ran and Mami, things are finally settling down around Shibuya. Inspirational speeches and kogal lingo win the day as the two girls decide that maybe the streets really are big enough for the both of them. Like the earlier volumes, the pattern of the episodes are still much of the same—cat fights, petty insults, a motivational sermon, and a life-changing revelation. Still, like the previous discs, the series is just as fun as ever, with the personality-packed characters and the energy that leaps from the girls to the viewer. High school romances, filial brawls... you simply can't pass up this volume if you've been following this series so far. If it's hyperactivity with a touch of sappiness you're looking for, this is the show for you.

Rental Shelf

Final Fantasy: Unlimited - Phase 4
ADV Films 100 min. 4/? $29.98 03/02/2004

Mediocrity and inconsistency trap this series under their wing. Wavering between scenes that feel like the show is finally picking up, only to throw them back in the throes of rote repetition, FF:U suffers from being jerked around one too many times. In this equally unbalanced volume, we get to learn more about Fungus as the fight continues between him and Kaze. As the setting eventually pops over to a new world, our characters get stuck in a puzzle of sorts. If anyone's ever seen Cube, this is kind of like that, except with evil lurking in the middle, a question-spatting wannabe Gap troll, and too much happiness for the dire situation that the characters are supposed to be in. When your life is in peril, would it kill you to can the happiness for a minute? Apparently. It's unfortunate that such a series has to suffer from Bad Story Syndrome. Armed with some of Gonzo's finest animation and some scenes that are truly fascinating to watch, FF: U is dragged in the mud over and over again by a dull, repetitive storyline to render the entire production pedestrian. Leveling up is a necessity in video games, but not in a show. Final Fantasy anything shouldn't be allowed to be this dull. Still, those one or two cool scenes every disc does make this a somewhat worthwhile show to watch, so a rental may be in order. Just bring a pillow.

Nuku Nuku TV Vol. #1 - Keep the Peace on Earth
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $29.98 03/02/2004

Unless you've seen the Nuku Nuku OVA series, this probably won't make a whole lot of sense to you. Launching right into the shenanigans, the series automatically assumes that you know the basics. There's a high-tech robot girl named Nuku Nuku, who although possissing a cat's brain, has enough intelligence to be capable of human speech and reason. Her mission is to fight the evil that is the Mishima Organization. Until then, she has to fit into life as much as possible, which is where her “owner” Ryunosuke comes into play. He takes her to school and keeps her oh-so-wacky hijinks under control, all while there're vicious broads running around killing things and household appliances going on a bloody rampage. Never you fear though, our cat-robot is there to save the day. I'm sure anything is better than going to that atrociously typecast school of hers. The first time I ever saw a series that introduced characters with a caption saying their name, age, and hobbies, I thought it was ludicrously brilliant. Holy cat-girl on a stick, not for every single possible person in the entire godforsaken school though. No. We don't do such things on Earth. That makes things BORING and OLD. Luckily, there're enough antics in the rest of the episodes to let fans of Nuku Nuku kick back and rollick in their peals of lonesome laughter. Truth be told, this is one of those series that should be marathoned with a group of friends who have all seen the OVA series. Give it a rental and see for yourself.

Orphen II Vol. #3 - The Revenge
ADV Films 100 min. $29.98 03/02/2004

The first Orphen felt like an RPG video game. Orphen II? Well, it is a sequel after all. Suffering the same disease that Final Fantasy: Unlimited does, it wavers between nifty concepts, exciting scenes, joyous times... and crap. As our adventurers meander through the countryside, encountering those two banes of mankind twins over and bloody over again, they venture onward on their quest to seek out Evil. This time around though, things are joggled up a bit as Orphen II dives into the one plot device that will never fail—the differentiation between reality and fantasy. Continuing the spat against Flame Soul, our characters are thrown into a psychological challenge that tests their resolve and mind-power. One of the most interesting scenes so far in the entire series, this will entertain quite a few viewers. Aside from that though, the series is just blasé. The standalone episodes are funny and oftentimes enjoyable, but they don't carry any of the spirit that any good series should. As the pieces begin to fall together for the overarching story though, things may just start to pick up. Bored? Stave off some time with this.

Short release list, but that's all we've got! Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week.

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