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Shelf Life
The Triumphant Return

by Bamboo Dong,
What is it, April now? Long time no see, folks. No, I haven't been carted off the face of the earth, nor have I been swallowed into the yawning abyss of the planet. I have been a little swamped with schoolwork though, so I've been delinquent about doing Shelf Life. To that, I apologize greatly. If you're planning on throwing food in my general direction, please do so though, since dinner wasn't very good tonight. Anyway, to make up for the lack of Shelf Lives, this week's installment is going to be a special highlights edition. Picking out some of the best (and of course, the worst) that the past month has had to offer, I hope you'll indulge me as I remind you to pry open your wallets and go for the hottest trend of the year: Food? Who needs food? Let's all go on the anime diet!

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Tokyo Godfathers
Columbia Tristar 91 min. 1/1 $26.96 04/13/2004

Over the past decade, famed director Satoshi Kon has cemented himself as one of the best directors in the business. It's therefore no surprise that Tokyo Godfathers is anything short of amazing. Weaving emotion and action into the imposing backdrop that is Tokyo, it's a touching film that can be enjoyed by anime fans of all types. In the peace of Christmas, three unlikely characters make our acquaintance: an old drunk, a drag queen, and a teen runaway. They stumble upon an abandoned baby, and it is then that their lives change forever. Instead of turning the baby over to the authorities, they embark on a journey to track down the parents, with only a locker key for a clue. As they travel, viewers get a glimpse into their life and the histories that they've had to live. With the same surrealistic charm as a Sabine Weiss work, it plunges the audience into a sea of intrigue and heart-touching solidarity. If you haven't seen this movie yet, make sure to put this on your list.

Texhnolyze Vol. #1 – Inhumane and Beautiful w/ Artbox
Geneon 100 min. $39.98 04/06/2004
Texhnolyze Vol. #1 – Inhumane and Beautiful
Geneon 100 min. $29.98 04/06/2004

Prepare to be tossed into a world of vicious beauty and raw drama. Prepare to be on your toes, lost between the realm of confusion, intrigue, and complete awe. Combining the ethereal art direction that has always characterized Yoshitoshi Abe and the suspension of commonality between this story and anything he's ever made, Texhnolyze is a universe of its own. Taking place in a dank underground city, viewers are introduced to a young man lost in the violent struggles of the city. After getting his limbs chopped off and his body pumped full of lead, all seems to have been lost until a stranger pops into town. How the motley cast of characters influence each other's lives remains a mystery even after the first disc, as viewers gasp for air and understanding in this heady drama. Even without any known storyline as of yet, the series is so gripping that it's almost impossible to tear your eyes away. Wildly experimental, the nature of the series seems almost like a macrocosm of the events happening in the underground city—a desolate place that can only be reached after descending stairs for weeks. This ain't yo mama's anime.

Comic Party Vol. #1 – A New World (also Limited Edition w/box)
TRSI 115 min. $39.95 03/30/2004
Comic Party Vol. #1
TRSI 115 min. $29.95 03/30/2004

Not since the glorious days of Otaku no Video has there been such a show that's resounded so thoroughly amongst the hearts of fandom. With in-jokes and self-deprecating jabs galore, this show takes the introverted world of anime and manga nerds and uses it as the canopy for the expose that is Comic Party. Released by TRSI, the story follows a normal guy named Kazuki who is like any other person in the world. For him, life is peaceful—until he gets sucked into the deathtrap that is doujinshi. Dragged by a friend to a local comic convention, he gets thrown into the world of doujinshi, from drawing it, to printing it, to publishing it, to selling it at conventions. Filled with a plethora of priceless side characters (including an anime-quoting, melodramatic soap boxer), there's always something in this show that makes you smile and think to yourself, “yeah... I know someone like that... ” A show that every self-proclaimed anime/manga nerd needs to watch, Comic Party is a freakishly fun, yet educational, adventure that no one should miss.

Rurouni Kenshin - Legend of Kyoto Premium DVD Box Set
Media Blasters 675 min. $149.95 03/30/2004

Ask any Rurouni Kenshin fan in the entire world and I guarantee you they will tell you that the Kyoto Arc is one of the best parts of the series, if not the best. You could flush all their Kenshin TV series DVDs down the toilet, but as long as they still had the Kyoto Arc, they would hardly notice. If you like Kenshin at all, and don't already have these DVDs on your shelf, then I recommend getting them right now. Drop what you're doing, and run to the store. Kicking off right after Kenshin's departure for Kyoto, it follows our wandering hero as he encounters a colorful new cast of characters, including the feisty Misao, the insert-random-enemy-turned-inspirational-elocutionist, the Juppongatana, and the ever enigmatic Shishio. With revenge burning in his soul, the latter serves as Kenshin's Final Boss for the arc. Before that battle can be fought however, Kenshin needs to find a way to get his old hitokiri edge back, all while staying true to his pacifist ideals. Packed with slick fight scenes and one of the best soundtracks in the entire series, this arc is not something that should be missed. If you were turned off by the slapstick humour of the earlier arc, give this series another try. Drama, action, suspense... if this doesn't make you a Kenshin fan, nothing will.

Rental Shelf

Tenchi Muyo! GXP Vol. #1 w/ Artbox – Out of this World
FUNimation 180 min. 1/? $34.98 03/09/2004
Tenchi Muyo! GXP Vol. #1 – Out of this World
FUNimation 180 min. 1/? $24.98 03/09/2004

Is the Tenchi franchise finally dead? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Reaching into the depths of the Tenchi OVA universe and pulling out enough new characters to do an impressive spin-off, Tenchi Muyo GXP resurrects all the humour that made the original series a fan-favorite. In fact, if you were a fan of Tenchi back in the day, then there's no doubt that you will love this new series. At the same time, that's also the problem. With the inception of this high-energy spin-off, the Tenchi franchise has been reborn again—but what about all those fans who think that Tenchi is old and passé? Is it too late to induct them into the fanbase? GXP focuses on a no-luck Tenchi look-alike named Seina Yamada (who even lives in the same town as Tenchi) who manages to screw up anything he touches. On his way to a friend's house, his world is flipped upside when he gets sucked into a maelstrom and meets Amane, a big breasted blonde who invites him to sign up for the Galaxy Police. Thinking the entire thing is an absolute riot, Seina's mother and sister find the form later and jokingly fill it out. Oops. Before he knows it, he's been inducted into the Galaxy Police academy, given a crash course on politics and the Masaki family, and is being chased by bimbos with big boobs. Summarized in a sentence, it's like the Tenchi Muyo all the fans knew and loved, except with a whole new story and a whole new cast. If you liked the original Tenchi, then you already know what to do. For everyone else... well, there's a first time for everything. Give it a whirl and see what you think.

Wedding Peach Vol. #1 - Love Wave w/ Artbox
ADV Films 150 min. 1/9 $39.98 03/09/2004
Wedding Peach Vol. #1 - Love Wave
ADV Films 150 min. 1/9 $29.98 03/09/2004

If I told you that there was a magical show out there where junior high school girls transform into brides to protect the virtues of love, you'd probably laugh and walk away. It'd be a shame though, because it really does deserve a good chance. Embodying every Julia Roberts movie made in recent history, Wedding Peach has the talent of being both the epitome of any given mahou shoujo series—and also something entirely unique. The premise is trite and simple. Three junior high girls try to live out their lives as normally as possible: crushing on boys, hanging out after school... the whole deal. Unbeknownst to them, there's an evil villain out there by the name of Raindevila who is hell-bent on stripping the world of love. Along with her lackey Pluie (HAR HAR), they turn the world into a Jerry Springer set, all while trying to combat the wily and seductive ways of our junior-high-turned-superpowered-brides. If you're a fan of magical girl shows, this will delight you without fail. Cute, oddly original (if a bit odd), and corny as anything, it takes the traditional mahou shoujo genre for a romp through David's Bridal that will be pretty hard to forget anytime soon.

Puni Puni Poemy Vol. #1
ADV Films 60 min. $29.98 04/06/2004

Ouch, my brain. It bleeds for fandom. Like any joke that's gone on for far too long, Puni Puni Poemy gets old after the first few “WTF”s. A psychotic bastard child of Excel Saga, it takes the zaniness and anime in-jokes that made the other series so popular and just keeps running with it until all forms of transportation have broken down. Our heroine is a magical girl whose parents were killed by evil space invaders. Aided by a gaggle of women and legendary Excel Saga characters of yore, Poemi Watanabe fights Bad Guys with whatever odd weapon is at hand. Whether it's bombarding aliens with water balloons, or frolicking around with an assortment of lesbians, she's a spunky gal that any fan of Excel would enjoy. Like its predecessor, this series has its share of laugh out loud moments, but also like its predecessor, it's a show meant to be watched in a group. For a fun bout of hysterics and good times with friends or a local anime club, this show will have everyone rolling. If you're just watching it by yourself though, it gets really old after a while. Still, it certainly is something you should experience at some point in your life, but if you want to enjoy it to the max, bring people.

World of Narue – DVD Collector's Series Box
Central Park Media 300 min. 1/1 $79.99 04/13/2004

I can't fathom why in the world Central Park Media would release an Anime Test Drive DVD of the first episode... and then sell the entire series as a box set. Why would anyone buy a box set of an anime series they've never seen before based on one episode? Ugh. To be fair, World of Narue is certainly a cute enough series that warrants a quick view, but it's probably not worth the $80 that CPM is asking for it right off the bat. Introducing a Girl From Outer Space named Narue, the show doesn't waste any time beating around the bush. First episode: an alien attacks, Narue saves the day, she meets a boy, and they fall in love. For the remaining episodes, our new couple go to the following patented anime locations: arcade, beach, festival, wedding, and an anime-related brouhaha (not necessarily in that order). Overall, it's a cute show, but everything in it's been done before. Every last drop of the series is a rehash of something everyone's already seen, and if that's your thing, go ahead and drop the $80. Otherwise, your best bet would be to hope that CPM is planning on releasing the discs individually.

Galaxy Angel Vol. #1 - What's Cooking? Limited Edition + Artbox
Bandai 105 min. 1/? $59.98 03/16/2004
Galaxy Angel Vol. #1 - What's Cooking? + Artbox
Bandai 105 min. 1/? $39.98 03/16/2004
Galaxy Angel Vol. #1 - What's Cooking?
Bandai 105 min. 1/? $29.98 03/16/2004

Quirky and brainless, this show runs off of pure momentum and energy. It is for that reason that I challenge anyone to sit through this show and not crack at least one smile. With a wide cast of cute (stereotypic, and sometimes jail-bait) girls, episodes full of trivial excuses for a plot, and a completely aimless story, this show makes you realize that you don't have to have quality to entertain an audience. Created by the folks at Broccoli, Galaxy Angel takes you on a fun journey with the Angel Brigade as they zip through the galaxy looking for lost cats, fighting construction machines, and romping around in mascot uniforms. Loaded with goofy jokes and traditional anime humour (a là facefaults and SD faces), this is the kind of show that let's you enjoy the lighter side of anime without having to be bombarded by the bouncing breasts and sex jokes that so heavily litter anime nowadays. If you're on the lookout for something intelligent that ponders the human existence, this is definitely not for you. If you're looking for good, clean, sci-fi twinged fun though, look no further.

Perishable Items

Arcade Gamer Fubuki
Central Park Media 140 min. 1/1 $29.99 03/09/2004

Unlike Comic Party, this show sucks. If I were still in my “OMG DDR!!!” days, I might have enjoyed this show a bit more, but in all honesty, there's only one demographic this show could ever appeal to—hardcore arcade gamers. By hardcore, I mean serious har'kor,' like holding the high score for every machine in the arcade and camping out next to the new Para Para Paradise machine until you could A++ Velfarre 2000. To everyone else, they'll just be shaking their head sadly at the outdated games, the unimpressive animation, and the ludicrously unfunny hypercharged story. Fubuki is a girl with the dream of becoming the Best Arcade Gamer in the World! Not only has she spent ungodly amounts of time at the arcade practicing, but she also has a secret weapon on her side—a pair of souped-up power panties that unleashes the ultimate gamer within. She'd better watch out though, because there's someone trying to stop her from achieving her dream! An evil Video Game demon thing is sending its lackey (also bedecked in riced-up panties) out to make sure that he's the only thing controlling the world of video games. *sigh* With the breakneck speed that this show pushes itself at, serious gamers and those easily amused will find lots to laugh about. For the rest of us though, Arcade Gamer Fubuki gets really old really fast (and that's not even counting the passé games featured in it). Panty shots and video games? It just doesn't do the trick.

Galerians: Rion
Image Entertainment 73 min. 1/1 $24.99 04/06/2004

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Man, I really wish I could play a video game right now. Except I'm too lazy to pick up a controller, too lazy to watch a friend pick up a controller, and hell, I'm too lazy to think.” Galerians: Rion is perfect for you. Based off the game with the same name, Galerians is a choppy-looking 3D CG show that a generic storyline and negative punch. Somewhere in the far future, a giant computer with a saviour complex has taken over the world and is sending a bunch of alien-things called Galerians out to kill everything. Luckily, the planet is saved when some scrawny little kid comes along with his Super Awesome Psychic Powers and pwnzes everything in his path. More bad guys are sent out. More Super Awesome Psychic Damage is dealt. Repeat. Yawn. To make it worse, the CG characters move like an old version of the Sims, so it's just double the insult. If you want something to stave off some time, go play Pong or something. It'd be more suited to anyone's tastes.

Mouse Vol. #1 – Stealing Temptation
Media Blasters 90 min. 1/? $19.95 04/13/2004

Throughout the entire DVD, only one thing was on my mind...

From Media Blasters, I present to you Mouse, a sassy robber show about boobs, panties, and stealing stuff. What better way to raise your kids than to plop them down in front of the TV with this on, eh? For generations, a family of thieves has operated under the code name “Mouse.” Capable of stealing skyscrapers, statues, and anything else improbably, the family business is now being run by Sorata, a flirtatious art instructor with a house full of big-breasted beauties who would do anything for an affectionate glance from their master. Le sigh. To pile on the breasts even more, all three of these ladies are teachers at the school too, so there's no shortage of fanservice shots no matter where the viewer seeks refuge. For an entire disc, our sly thief gallivants around the world, meowing sex toys in tow. It would almost be funny if it weren't for the fact that the plots are blasé and the breasts overshadow everything in the show. If you're looking for a fanservicey show, I'm sure you can find something a bit classier than this tripe.

That's it for this installment of Shelf Life! See you next week (for sure!)!

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