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Shelf Life
Column Play

by Bamboo Dong,
While I don't consider myself a seasoned traveler by any stretch of the imagination, I'm no stranger to airports and the glory of jetting through the skies. Even so, I'm still impressed every time I see a new gadget that's been installed in an airport. Sadly, the best places to sight new gadgets are in the loo, but boy, are they cool. There are three things that I think every airport bathroom needs to install:
  1. Automatic toilet seat covers. Seen in places like the Chicago O'Hare Airport, these devices have plastic toilet seat covers that are changed by waving your hand in front of a sensor. This ensures that you'll never have to sit on someone else's mess, which is a beautiful thing.
  2. Automatic paper towel dispensers. Though I'm a big fan of hand blow-dryers, this is also a pretty awesome thing. Last spotted in Denver International Airport, this doodad unrolls a pre-programmed length of paper towel when its sensor is activated. For everyone who has ever been paranoid of touching dispenser handles, your problems are settled forever.
  3. Automatic toilet flushers. Any airport that doesn't have an automatically flushing toilet is not worthy of any respect. This is the primary thing required in every airport around the country, and those that don't have them ought to be ashamed.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Texhnolyze Vol. #2 - Spectacle
Geneon 100 min. 2/? $29.98 06/29/2004

Texhnolyze is an outright orgasm on a disc. Raw emotions, disturbing beauty, and the subtle feeling that everything could erupt into a sea of conflict at any time—this is what makes the series so sexy. In the first volume, viewers were introduced to a harsh place teeming with violence and despair. Setting up the story perfectly, it segues naturally into the events shown in these episodes. Uneasiness is still in the air as the fighting is about to erupt again. A lot of the main players are being pushed into doing small things while gang fights are bursting out left and right, and with all of this newfound agitated behavior, you can't help but wonder if everyone is just a tool in some greater scheme that the city has yet to divulge. In the meantime, Ichise is still struggling to live on his own. With his new limbs, he eventually stumbles into Shinji, who takes an interest in his texhnolyze limbs and the potential he shows for fighting. Factions are forming, and it's only a matter of time before the city is divided into two. The story is just as vague as it was when it started out, but as time goes on, small pieces are slowly falling into place. Truly, it's something that needs to be experienced firsthand. Any show that can force you to think gets an A in my book.

Comic Party Vol. #3 - The Big Time
Right Stuf International, Inc 109 min. 3/4 $29.99 06/29/2004

Whoever thought the world of fan comics could be so cold and brutal? After slaving away on his doujinshi for so long, Kazuki is fairly certain that his masterpiece will be a hit. Printing up a hundred copies of his precious baby, he heads to the biggest event of the year—Comic Party. A massive convention of Comiket proportions, all the best doujinshi artists have gathered here to sell their work. Nothing ever works out like it's supposed to though, and Kazuki suffers the biggest disappointment of his life. Barely selling a fifth of his copies, he's absolutely distraught. Not even a requisite trip to the beach can cheer him up and he spends most of the disc moping and trying to figure out where he went wrong. Although this volume has just as much parody-filled humour as the first two, it spends a lot of time quietly dissecting Kazuki's relationship with Mizuki, and his shock at failure. It's nice to see parody shows that are able to tone back the laughs every once in awhile, and Comic Party is no exception. Embrace the quirks of fandom and put this on your shelf.

Kino's Journey Vol. #4 - Not Without Reservations
ADV Films 75 min. 4/4 $29.99 06/29/2004

And with that, it's over. No more Kino, no more adventures. Housing the last three episodes of this unique series, the fourth volume starts us off grandly with a recap. Luckily, it spares viewers the pain and actually presents new footage. Unlike most finales though, Kino's Journey doesn't try to pull together a grand story arc at the end and shove everything into an introspective umbrella. All it does is continue on its merry way , visiting new places and changing the lives of the inhabitants. One of the best parts about anime has always been the ability it has to transport you to somewhere else. With a show like this that lets you jet off to another land every episode, what's not to like? Fascinating people, appealing locations, and a subtle hint of lesson-learning every step of the way, this show is one of a kind. You'll be sad there's no more volumes after this.

Rental Shelf

R.O.D. the TV Vol. #1 -The Paper Sisters + Artbox
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $44.98 06/29/2004
R.O.D. the TV Vol. #1 - The Paper Sisters
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $29.98 06/29/2004

If a thought bubble was placed on the cover above the frog's head, it would say one of two things: “Oh crap, I forgot to turn off the oven” or “Whoa... this... this show's pretty cool.” Considering the success of the Read or Die OVA, it's no surprise that a TV series was made. Serving as a sort of middle ground between the ROD novels and the manga, the TV series takes the fun parts of the OVA and spins it into an entertaining show with three times the number of “paper masters.” An author named Nenene suddenly finds herself the target for a jealous killer. Luckily for her, three sister detectives are there to save the day—Maggie, Michelle, and Anita. Each possessing the ability to manipulate paper to their advantage, they use their skills to serve as the author's bodyguards. Interestingly enough for those who have seen the OVA, Nenene was friends with Yomiko who has mysteriously gone missing. But alas, now she has to deal with the three girls, an odd bundle of bookworms whose personalities are enough to turn back most normal people. From the hyper blonde to the spacey brunette, the trio's personalities are matched only by their incredible powers. Beautifully rendered animation and wicked fight scenes galore, this is an enjoyable show that makes origami look like a colossal joke. Even so, you might want to give it a sneak peek first. With three Paper Masters, a different atmosphere, and a more episodic premise, it doesn't have quite the mystique and novelty as the OVA, but it's still worth checking out.

Magical Play
ADV Films 150 min. 1/1 $29.98 06/29/2004

Don't let the cute cover fool you. This show is outright bizarre and it's damned proud of it. Released on two discs, this five episode OVA is comprised of several stand-alone stories that chronicle the random adventures of our main characters. Using a chaotic mix of animation styles (like 3D animation or the moving “cut-outs” that shows like Kare Kano used), it follows a weird little girl named Padudu as she goes on a quest to become a magical girl. In order to qualify for the position, she has to collect a handful of Hanamaru stamps. The only way to do this is to enter contests and participate in officially sanctioned magical battles. Along the way, she meets other equally weird characters, like a girl whose breasts are barely covered by the two cats she has entwined around her (not like Padudu's fish hoodie is any more stylish). It's really one of those things that you have to see for yourself. It's completely random and incoherent, but at the same time, it's morbidly fascinating to watch. Despite the fluffy appearance of the art, this show carries a 15+ rating. Apparently magical girl shows have changed a lot since my time. Still, it's something that you should probably rent first. It's a fun show, that's for sure, but the odd flavor of it may not sit well with you.

Gravitation Vol. #1 - Fateful First Encounter + Artbox
Right Stuf International, Inc 75 min. 1/4 $39.95 06/29/2004
Gravitation Vol. #1 - Fateful First Encounter
Right Stuf International, Inc 75 min. 1/4 $29.95 06/29/2004

Pretty boys, rock music, and boy-on-boy snogging? The girls'll come a runnin'! Startlingly popular amongst its heavily-female fanbase, Gravitation is almost a household name in shounen-ai fandom. Finding a sturdy ground between angst and bishie-ville, the show uses the story as merely a tool to complement the tumultuous romance that serves as the main focus. After graduating, Shuichi's dreams finally came true when he and his friend signed a major record deal for their band, Bad Luck. Scrambling to finish the lyrics for their first debut, Shuichi receives a nasty shock when a stranger in the park finds a copy of the words and calmly tells him that they're awful. As it turns out, the stranger is none other than the famous novelist, Erie Yuki. Undaunted, Shuichi works even harder to prove to the man that he has talent, but is it because he's truly indignant, or has he fallen in love? The two end up locking lips anyway, so I guess that answers the question. The sly advances of Yuki and Shuichi's naïve joy at receiving them are entertaining to watch, but at the same time, the series manages to keep the story rolling, with the ordeals of Bad Luck, their rivals, and the hardships that they go through to make it in the music industry. Although it comes off as any other “I want to be an idol!!!” show (this time with pretty boys), it's still an interesting series that's worth checking out.

Gunparade March Vol. #3 - Operation Three
Media Blasters 100 min. 3/3 $29.99 06/29/2004

In the course of three volumes, Gunparade March has managed to completely lose track of what it wanted to accomplish. It can't bring itself to make up its mind whether it wants to be a character-driven romance or an action-driven action series. At long last, it's given up masquerading as everything under the sun and has forced its characters to start going on dates, for lack of better things to do. Starting off with a flashback of how everyone came to be on the crew, the episodes tries to pump up viewer enthusiasm for what it's about to do—drop their characters into the middle of Lovey-Dovey Land and have them spill their hearts out. Zooming in on Mai and Hayami's budding relationship, the series eventually sizzles out to a slow finale without having really accomplished anything. Not exactly the most fascinating of volumes, this would make a decent rental for the romantic angle, but that's about it.

Dirty Thoughts
Kitty Media 60 min. 1/1 $29.95 06/29/2004

If anyone on the cover looks like they're being forced into sex, it's the dude. The contrast with the beautiful Professor Sayaka and the gnarly dean is too much. Sayaka just transferred to a new school and is already one of the most popular teachers on campus. She was busted from her last school for falling in love with a student, but apparently has not learned her lesson because the same thing happens at this school. Honestly woman, stop shagging your students. Unsurprisingly, the dean is a little miffed at the way the teacher is slutting around the school and decides that she needs to be punished—SEXUALLY!!! Bwahahaha! Oh, the creativity kills me. Contrived story aside, Dirty Thoughts is essentially a 60 minute adventure into generic hentai, but for those fans that revel only in beautiful girls and sleazy scenes, this will suit you just fine. I can't imagine ever finding a reason to watch this more than once though, so you may as well just borrow it from a perverted friend. Just be sure to bring a vial of ethanol and a paper towel.

Perishable Item

Vanilla Series: Private Sessions
Critical Mass Video 60 min. 1/1 $24.95 06/29/2004

Japan is apparently a country full of males who either fantasize about having sex with their teachers, or become teachers so they can have sex with their students. At least that's the feeling one would get from the overdose of school sex hentai. In this wholly depressing and disturbing video, a mean-spirited horn dog wrangles a job at a local all-female school thanks to his spineless girlfriend. Working his way from the reject girls up to the popular hotties, he sets out to conquer all the students at the school. From dull doggie style to a gross fecal scene, the sex is mildly perturbing given the fact that he forces his girlfriend to videotape all the “private sessions.” If you dig watching forced sex and humiliation, this is a pretty low-key one that might float your boat, but other than that, this video is a rehash of every Sex At School Is Fun hentai scene ever made to date. Boooooring (not to mention sick).

And that's a wrap. Thanks for reading!

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