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Shelf Life
One Hit Child Wonders

by Bamboo Dong,
My first exposure to French popular music was in junior high, when I began taking French under the care of a woman named Mme. Wells. In some ways, I consider it both a blessing and a curse. She was responsible for cultivating my love for Edith Piaf, a cabaret singer whose nasal voice and rich melodies lifted the spirits of her countrymen during World War II. Eventually receiving international renown with songs like “La Vie en Rose” and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” she's one of the most delightful things to come out of the streets of Paris.

And then there's my arch-nemesis in the world of French music—Jordy. In 1992, some idiot decided that it would be a really awesome idea to give some four-year old a record deal. Thus Jordy was born. An idealistic little brat with songs about forlorn romances and the hardships of being a baby, he was responsible for things like the dance hit “Alison,” the criminal “La Danse du Pouce dans la Bouche” (“Thumb Sucking Dance”), and the loathsome “Dur Dur D'Etre Bebe!” (“It's Tough to Be a Baby!”) (click for a 50 second sound clip!). I still remember my days in that classroom, trying vainly to conjugate verbs with a stereo in the background blaring:

Oh la la bebe, c'est dur dur d'etre bebe!
Dur dur d'etre' bebe!
Je m'appelle Jordy, J'ai quatre ans et je suis petit!

The misery eventually ended when a classmate stole the tape and ran it over with his father's car, but somewhere in the annals of history, Jordy still lives, jeering at us with his baby face and crooning under his breath, “Alison, c'est ma copine à moi!”

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Rahxephon: The Movie + Artbox
ADV Films 120 min. 1/1 $44.98 07/20/2004
Rahxephon: The Movie
ADV Films 120 min. 1/1 $29.98 07/20/2004

Fans of RahXephon don't need anyone to tell them that this movie is a must-see and a must-buy. It's just one of those facts of life that everyone knows. And, since the movie doesn't make a damn bit of sense unless you've seen the show, it might make newcomers watch the series, too. BONES has taken quite an interesting approach to the movie. After condensing the series into a feature length film, they threw on a few twists and turns, telling the story from a different perspective and tweaking some of the characters. It's like RahXephon all over again, with a new ending. Ayato is introduced as the main character who, with the help of Haruka, escapes from Tokyo Jupiter. In the series, this is where much of his character is revealed. This time though, much of his development is cut out, like his wavering indecision about the different organizations and people in his life, and how he deals with the shady line between dreams and reality. If you've seen the series already, it's easy to replace the gaps with actual events, but if you're new to this, you might be confused with the way the story keeps jumping from ledge to ledge. There are a few differences though, and they lie mainly in how the characters are portrayed. Without being able to see the events that shape each person's life, it's easier to change their personas, like Quon's shift from an energetic gal to someone more passive and demure. Nevertheless, the end result is still a good movie and it's definitely something that everyone should check out. Just be sure you watch the series first.

Rental Shelf

Panyo Pango Di Gi Charat Vol. #2 - Nyu!
ADV Films 85 min. 2/4 $29.98 07/20/2004

While I adore Di Gi Charat to death, I have to admit that it's not for everyone. Even I get a toothache from watching more than one episode at once, and I've one hell of a sweet tooth. Like the first volume, the second installment of this insanely adorable series is a random mix of themed episodes. As the girls continue on their quest to make the world a Happier Place™, they run into a myriad of new characters. Of course, each new person means new adventures and new outfits. Whether it's learning how to be thieves a la Saint Tail or rolling the high seas dressed like pirates, they impart plenty of moral messages along the way. You'd be hard pressed to find anything deeper than “Be nice to people!” but Di Gi Charat is still a fun watch. Cute girls, silly hijinks, and adorable scenarios? If you're craving some sugar this week, this is for you. Just be careful—it'll melt your brain if you try to watch it all at once.

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #3 - Rivals!
ADV Films 125 min. 3/6 $29.99 07/20/2004

Everyone remembers that feeling at the beginning of each new school year... “Will my friends be in my class again?” “Do I have to make new friends?” It can be a scary time for all students, and Azumanga Daioh isn't excused from it. As the girls enter their second year of high school, they're ecstatic that they'll all be in the same class again. They'll even have the same teacher! Right from the get go, things are back to normal, but this time, another girl is added to the mix—Kagura, a feisty sports enthusiast who is bent on making Sakaki her eternal rival in everything from sports to naming flowers. If anything, this volume of Azumanga Daioh is worth watching for two things: 1) The joy of seeing Sakaki finally pet a cat. Being the tragic figure she is, my heart broke for her every time she couldn't get the cat fix she deserved, so that scene brought a steady smile to my face. 2) In the episode titled Marco, viewers get treated to the most adorable cat ever animated in the history of mankind. It's a weak reason, yes, but with Azumanga Daioh, it's all about taking out the little things that you like about the show. It's not something that's going to appeal to everyone all the time, but if you watch long enough, you're liable to find something that will make you smile. Give it a rental and see for yourself.

Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #7 - Mysteries of Byston Well + Artbox
ADV Films 100 min. 7/12 $24.98 07/20/2004
Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #7 - Mysteries of Byston Well
ADV Films 100 min. 7/12 $19.98 07/20/2004

In a day and age where milquetoast losers and harems rule the anime market, it's hard to find a good, manly, exciting action show laced with politics and gung-ho military operations. They still exist, to be sure, but not like the old mecha shows of yore. As each volume of Aura Battler Dunbine goes on, it only gets better and better. With seven, the military stakes are raised another notch. King Foizon is slowly realizing that none of his battle tactics are working, and in order to win the war, he needs to decide what can be sacrificed in order to take his operations to a new level. At the same time, other heavy sacrifices are being made as the show zooms in on the war waging between all the battleships. Victory is the only thing at hand, even if it means annihilating entire fleets and cities. With everything in the heat of battle, the story is definitely exciting enough to warrant watching it. The only downside is the pacing. Everything feels forced, from the character development to the dialogue, and unless you're familiar with old mech shows, it might feel a bit awkward. Just to be on the safe side, give this a rental first. You might find that the action is enough to override all the negative points.

Orphen II Vol. #6 - Redemption
ADV Films 75 min. 6/6 $29.98 07/20/2004

Another season of Orphen done. Somehow, I feel so empty inside. Not that it was a series that I'll miss terribly... but that it never managed to live up to the first one. Throughout the episodes, the story was weaker, the characters less compelling, and overall there was much less emotion. Even so, it scrambles to make up some of that in the last volume. As Majic struggles to regain his normal self again and all the final battles are waged, the series spends much of its time focusing on character growth. The changes that have been maturing inside each of the players have finally erupted, and it's nice to be able to see how the events of the series have finally affected them. Unlike the first series, though, Orphen II feels much more incomplete. There was never really a strong story to begin with, so even with the closing episodes, it felt like any other fight-of-the-week. Still, if you've been following the show up until now, it's worth giving a couple hours of your time to. It may not have been a terrific series, but the ending is still packed with emotion, and that's always worth seeing.

Blue Gender Movie: Warrior
FUNimation Productions 95 min. 1/1 $24.98 07/20/2004

This movie is only useful for one reason and one reason only: to test if you'll like the series or not. I like to call it Blue Gender Lite. Taking the entire 26 episode movie and cramming it into a handy little 95 minute carrying case, it takes out the best parts of the TV series and refits them into a movie. What you're left with is a quick recap of the story and all the important battles, and a few rushed sob stories of “Oh, what's happened to me?! Where am I? What am I doing? Oh, a bug! Let's go kill it!” Somewhere in the not to distant future, humans have been replaced by things called Blue. They rampage the earth, wreaking havoc everywhere they can. Luckily for humanity, some guy who's been cryogenically frozen for 22 years accidentally wakes up and discovers that he's the key to mankind's fate. He battles the bugs (as quickly as possible, to fit under the time limit), and meets other rogue fighters along the way to help with his cause. To call it a movie would be an unfair label. It's a Cliff Note on Blue Gender, and if you're wondering if you should bother watching Blue Gender or not, this gives you the ultimate sampler.

Perishable Item

Gravion Vol. #2 - Knights of Gravity
ADV Films 100 min. 2/3 $29.98 07/20/2004

Maids? Mechs? A giant conglomeration of random genres thrown together and mixed with a pair of voluptuous breasts? Did I hear someone say Masami Ōbari?! The second volume of Gravion is better than the first, but that really doesn't say anything. As the team of maids and pilots continue holding back the Zeravire, the series takes some time out to fiddle around with side stories. From a mildly entertaining scene where the male leads sneak out of the castle dressed as maids, to your requisite Beach Babes scene, the show spends most of its time gathering cheap laughs and excuses for fanservice. Luckily, it's saved from being complete crap by having a fight scene at the end of each episode. If there's one thing that Obari does well, it's deftly directing gorgeous fight scenes. Whether its greased up women or sleek robots, that man knows how to make fights look pretty. Of course, leave it up to him to break the pace by continually interrupting the fights with a screen-ful of ass, thanks to Mizuki. So between an incredibly dry set of episodes, lame dialogue, and too many breasts, this really can't get any worse. If you like maid shows, fine. If you like mechs, fine. But don't bother trying to get your jollies by watching this tripe.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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