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Shelf Life
Cat Ears and Disbelief

by Bamboo Dong,
When you step into a convention, what's one of the first things you see? Well, besides your token fanboy holding up, “Free hugs!!” signs, you're bound to see a sea of cosplayers. Why wouldn't you? Cosplaying is a time-honored convention tradition that lets fans dress up as their favorite characters, and for a short time, be someone else. Over the years, cosplay costumes have gotten more and more intricate, but at any given convention, you'll still see plenty of shoddy half-costumes. You know, a t-shirt, a pleated skirt, and cat ears? Nice try. It's nice that they're letting their desire to cosplay shine through, but that's no excuse to not try for a better costume. Do you want to dress up, but afraid that the world will shriek in agony at your lack of sewing skills? Don't freak out just yet. Even if you're the world's most vilely awful tailor, these three tips might be the things you need to get out there on those con floors, strutting your stuff.

  1. Who says you have to sew? A vast number of costumes out there can be assembled with careful mall combing and Goodyear rummaging. Thrift stores are an awesome place to look for those hard-to-find (and just downright bizarre) clothing items that adorn anime and game characters.

  2. If sewing's not your forte, why not try the engineering side of it? Grab some wire, plaster, cardboard, or resin, and just accessorize! Whether it's Rayearth armour you plan on building, or expandable wings for an angsty (blood-spattered) pretty boy, a good prop will make all the difference in the world.

  3. Fabric glue. Hell yes it's ghetto, but once you find a nice glue you're comfortable using, go with it. Stick that cloth on your body, slap it together with some glue, and run the edges through the sewing machine to make sure that it won't go bust on you.

If you feel the burning desire to cosplay, don't let a little thing like, “I can't sew!!!” hold you back. Wah, wah, wah, there's plenty of pop stars that can't sing, but they're out making the big bucks. What's stopping you from making a great, dazzling costume? Now that's what I'm talking about. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Comic Party Vol. #2 - We Need Money!
Right Stuf International, Inc 107 min. 2/4 $29.95 05/25/2004

Throw down those generic harem titles and get rid of those repetitive “Help, I'm stuck in a game/mysterious world/different body!” shows, because it's time you stepped into the fast-paced world of... doujinshi? Complete with a manga-styled DVD cover and a cute spoof of a Tokyopop manga release, Right Stuf have outdone themselves yet again with this magnificent release. Picking up right where we left off, Kazuki has finished his first doujin and is absolutely loving this new hobby he's been yanked into. He's all set to do another one, but there's this tiny little thing called “money” that he seems to be lacking... Well, if he can be wrestled into drawing fan comics, then he can be wrestled into taking on a part-time job no problem, thanks to Taishi. Roped into working at a cosplay café in Akihabara, Kazuki now gets to spend a great deal of time ogling all the boobylicious talking to all the nice gals dressed up as Wedding Peach and Steel Angel Kurumi characters. Oh, one tiny snag. If you spend all your time working and drawing comics, you tend to start failing school. Kids, don't try this at home. Doing your schoolwork and seeing the sun every now and then is actually pretty good for you. That doesn't mean you can't take time out of your schedule to check out Comic Party though. With just as many spoofy gags as the first volume and an ever-entertaining storyline, this is something no one should pass up. Now go out in the sun and buy a copy of this.

L/R Vol. #4 - Assassinations
Geneon 75 min. 4/4 $29.98 05/25/2004

With this intriguing series coming to a satisfying close, the past and present merge together as the Princess arc finally resolves itself. In the episodes leading up to the grand finale, the assassination plans are carefully being plotted out. The sheer intricacy of everything is simply amazing to watch, and it kind of makes you wish it was live action, just to see all the characters in action. Rowe continues to be fascinating to study, from his steadfast devotion to protecting Noelle, to a nice tender scene near the end when the audience gets to catch a quick glimpse of his softer interior. Nicely balancing the activities of the L/R group with the ordeals that Noelle is facing, the pacing is perfect. Stylish and splendidly well-animated, it's as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for your mind. If you've been following L/R so far, you understand it when I say that you need to run out and buy this show, if you haven't already.

Figure 17 Vol. #5 - Forever Close
Media Blasters 90 min. 5/6 $29.95 05/25/2004

It's no secret that I'm a nut for character development. Ergo, it's no surprise that I enjoyed this installment of Figure 17 so much. With the tragedy that Tsubasa had to deal with in the previous volume, her world is absolutely shattered. She's already had to deal with so much loss in her life that this added blow to her emotions has left her broken and drained. Tucking her sadness deep inside of her, she's clammed up and won't even talk to Hikaru about it, leaving the other girl alienated and equally miserable. Eventually, it all climaxes in a tear-filled confrontation that is so heartfelt and so saturated with raw, human emotion that it's almost breathtaking. In the meantime, more secrets are being divulged as Oldeena and DD continue their chase after the Maguar. The fight scenes have been kicked up a notch, and with things nearing the end, the pace has been given a good kick in the seat as well. If you're interested in watching this, you should probably start from the beginning, but better now than never.

s-CRY-ed Vol. #6 - Final Fight
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 6/6 $29.98 05/25/2004

I love series finales, and this one is no exception. From the start, s-CRY-ed has been an exciting series with a plethora of thrilling fight scenes and a mysterious backstory that's glued it all together. Ryuhou is on his last leg of life, but in an act of ultimate sacrifice, Scheris finally unleashes her Alter to save him. With renewed spirit, Ryuhou and Kazuma trek onward to fight Mujo and the mainland Alters who are trying to ensnare the Lost Ground inhabitants forever. Even with all the excitement of these last few episodes, the series still leaves time for something that has remained unresolved since the first episode—the fight between the two. Unveiling the ultimate form of their Alters at last, the fight rounds off the series perfectly by showcasing the personality changes in both men and how they've come to accept their lives. Growing from feelings of hatred towards one another to one of newfound respect, this display of changed character relationships are a solid ending to an energetic show (even though no one has been able to figure out why they named the series s-CRY-ed, other than the fact that it sounds cool in Japanese).

Rental Shelf

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #1 + Artbox + CD - A New World
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 1/3 $49.98 05/25/2004
.hack//Legend of the Twilight Vol. #1 - A New World
Bandai Entertainment 100 min. 1/3 $29.98 05/25/2004

.hack//Chibi-Style with more Grunties, more action, and more characters to play around with? If that's not enough to rope you in, then no amount of convincing will. Taking place a few years after the TV series and all the games, .hack//Legend of the Twilight brings us all back for another swirl into The World with a whole new twist on the characters we've come to cherish. Rena and her twin brother Shugo were forced apart when their parents separated. To hang out with each other again, they've decided to join The World. Their timing's perfect, because the creator of the game has decided to hold a contest. The prize? The chance to play as Kite and Black Rose. The two win and trot off to start playing happily amongst piles of freakishly unnatural, sibling, near-twincest clinginess. Before long, even weirder stuff starts happening. High-level monsters are appearing in beginner levels, some creepy glowing girl is popping out of nowhere to give Shugo a Magical Bracelet(!!), and as it turns out, the company who made the game has no clue who started the contest, or why players are even able to use Kite and Black Rose's avatars again. All of these mysteries give the series some of the spice that the original series had, but manages to add some of its own tastes, like having more characters (it is supposed to be a popular game, after all), a lot more action, and just more fun. Even so, it's something that really only fans of the first series could like. If you had no interest in .hack//SIGN, then this show probably won't do much for you either.

Vanilla Series: Spotlight
Critical Mass Video 60 min. 1/1 $24.95 05/25/2004

Saori's tits are so fake. I mean, look at them! A stringy body with a pair of melonous breasts? Gross. Aside from her bobble-breasts, there're plenty of things in Spotlight that just make it unintentionally hysterical. Saori is an aspiring singer who wants to make it in the idol business. Aided by her mother, who owns a production management firm, and her step-brother, who acts as the band manager, she and two other gals set out to make it in the entertainment industry with their group, Twinkle. Before they can score a gig singing for a show, they need to first learn the ways of the industry (i.e. have lots of unprotected sex). This means getting it on with an old man and out-sexing a rival idol group. Soon, clothes and bodily fluids are flying, and the mom's shagging the stepson, the stepson's shagging the two other girls, and Saori's shagging everyone and everything else. The whole thing's supposed to be really sinister and tumultuous, but you can't help but laugh at everything. The old geezer has the body of an oiled Greek god, he sounds like a Furby, and he doesn't look like he could rape his way out of a paper sack. Coupled with a man-slut stepson who probably couldn't get any ass unless he took out his wallet, the whole thing just makes you want to piss your pants laughing. If you're looking to settle some hormones this week, or you just want an excuse to laugh, give this one a wank.

Demon Lord Dante Vol. #1 + Artbox - Dante Resurrects
Geneon 100 min. 1/4 $34.98 05/25/2004
Demon Lord Dante Vol. #1 - Dante Resurrects
Geneon 100 min. 1/4 $29.98 05/25/2004

My life is shaken to its roots; sleep has left me; the deadliest terror sits by me at all hours of the day and night; I feel that my days are numbered, and that I must die... - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HYDE, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Wait, I'm sorry. I thought I was talking about something scary, not some hackneyed show starring Final Fantasy summons created by Gō Nagai. Get ready for one of the lamest demon shows yet to be created. Ryo is your everyday teenager, but he's been having mysterious nightmares about demons, and this somehow juxtaposes the horrible murders of young women that have been plaguing the city. Somewhere, somehow, for some reason, someone (quite possibly evil and sinister?) wants to resurrect Dante—a horrible demon even more powerful and disastrous than Satan. Everywhere, Satanists are running amok, stealing menorahs from Catholic churches (no, it's not supposed to make sense), congregating inside fish tanks for secret talks, and even God makes an appearance and has a chat with Ryo's dad. Oh, and apparently Dante was Judas, insinuating of course, that Judas was actually a demon more evil than Lucifer. The story itself is fairly interesting, but with so much BS being slung in from every corner of the screen, it's almost too cheesy to be taken seriously. Unless you lie awake at nights and dream of watching more Nagai shows and bathing in more demon series, there're other things out there that would suit your tastes better.

Galaxy Angel Vol. #2 - Angels A La Carte
Bandai 105 min. 2/? $29.98 05/25/2004

Our rambunctious group of gals still has their eyes set on the Lost Technology, but they're no closer to it than they were in the first volume. Hell, they still don't have a clue what they're even looking for. No matter; there's plenty of time in the meanwhile to carry out more trivial missions for their boss and more chances for the audience to just kick back, turn off their brains, and enjoy a nice spark of humour and fanservice. While the girls are getting pushed around doing mindless things like playing baseball in their bikinis or hightailing it from a cartel of ghosts, it's high time to giggle at their antics in this year's biggest guilty pleasure. There's not much to make your brain start ticking yet, but with such a colorful cast of accident-prone girls, this is a great way to forget about your real life problems and just vegetate with a DVD.

Detatoko Princess Vol. #1
Media Blasters 90 min. 1/? $19.95 05/25/2004

True or false: you enjoy fantasy shows with ditzy, terrifyingly stupid girls who travel around the countryside eating pudding and making other people suffer from their insipid actions? If the answer for that question was false, skip this bit. If the answer was true, then allow me to extend my condolences. The scary thing is that once you get past the inanity of this show, it's really not that bad. In a place called Sorcerland, there lived a young princess who was obsessed with pudding. She was born with the brain of Jessica Simpson and the ability to drain the magic powers of anyone she wished. With that ability, she caused misery for everyone every time she caused floating islands to come crashing to the ground. To punish her, her mother wanted to send her out on an adventure so she could learn to fend for herself. Unfortunately, her mother made a small error and accidentally sent her daughter flying off to the boondocks of the world. Now accompanied with the helpers that the queen sent barreling after her, the princess must find her way back home. As if fending off bad guys wasn't bad enough, how is she going to find pudding in the wilderness?! *sigh* Detatoko Princess takes every fantasy stereotype and embraces it, making no pretense of the fact that they're trying to milk every cliché for all that it's worth. In this respect, the show manages to dish out some funny parts, even if the rest of it is mind-numbingly painful to watch. The gags get a little old after awhile, but until then, it's simplistically pleasurable enough to let you waste away 90 minutes of your life.

Perishable Item

Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #6 - Phase 6
ADV Films 75 min. 6/7 $24.98 05/25/2004

As the series nears the end, we know now for certain this one fact—the series is doomed. Granted, the series was doomed from episode two, but with only one volume to go and not a single redeeming moment in this disc, there is absolutely no hope for it. Last time, the whole ocean cube puzzle thing was really cool. Now it's just getting old as Watching Characters Level Syndrome kicks in once again. After wandering around in their little cube for awhile, the chocobo pulls some slick stunts and manages to get Yu out of the cube and in front of Tyrant, where he catches the first glimpse of his parents. Eventually, more dull stuff happens and we're confronted with an army of Cactaur. While Cactaur are mildly cool in any given game, they're not cool enough to fill up an entire episode. Unfortunately, that's all that the viewers are straddled with, as the disc cuts out shortly after that. Like with many of the previous volumes, FF:U just doesn't get the job done and leaves you feeling empty and hollow inside. It will definitely be interesting to see whether the series will be able to resuscitate itself in the last volume or if it will flop to a flat-lined demise. If you're craving some Final Fantasy action this week, go on back to the games.

Gravion Vol. #1 + Artbox - Divine Steel
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $39.98 05/25/2004
Gravion Vol. #1 - Divine Steel
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 05/25/2004

Reaching back into the olden days of mecha shows that involved a variety of mechanical objects combining to form a larger robot, Gonzo throws in a zesty, modern twist by adding... fanservice. Lots and lots of fanservice. Why wouldn't they, especially with Obari Masami as not only the director, but also the original creator. Having brought us such delectable solo-intercourse fodder such as Cowgazer Gowcaizer and Battle Arena Toshinden, he steps into this project and lets his private parts act as his divination rod of inspiration. Sometime in the future, Earth is in danger of being attacked by soulless aliens. To keep the populace safe, a multibillionaire named Sandman gathers his flock of world leaders together and unveils his new creation—Gravion. From then on out, the story progresses as anyone would expect. The extra kick is, the Gravion is piloted by a harem of women—who happen to be maids in his castle. Complete with a secondary prepubescent herd of lolicom maids, the place is teeming with fetish objects. From the sweet Luna pictured on the cover, to the ginormous, Divergence Eve-esque, mind-blowing breasts of one of the other girls, there's something in this for every horndog. Dirtying up the transforming mecha genre with girls in skintight, spandex bodysuits (and the few girls who opt to fight in their maid outfits), the whole thing is just dirty, dirty, dirty. Watch this if you dare.

That's that; see you next time!

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