Shelf Life
Gonna Make a Sentimental Journey

by Bamboo Dong,
For the most part, I don't mind traveling. It's exciting seeing new places, and since I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat (a skill carefully cultivated over years of sleeping through class), I don't mind sitting in an airplane for hours at a time. However, there's one thing that irks me about this whole flying thing—small airports. If it weren't for their proximity to certain locations, I would be inclined to think that they're completely useless. They're small, inefficient, hard to book flights to, and hell, they just don't cater to enough people. Normally, I'm used to flying out of Denver International Airport, a huge airport that requires you to arrive a comfortable 90 minutes before your flight, yet pushes you through security checkpoints at breakneck speeds. However, several times a year, I'm stuck here in this same terminal (largely because there's only one terminal) at T.F. Green Domestic Podunk Small Handful of States Airport, in Providence, RI. What makes airports like these fretfully aggravating is that it's impossible to judge how far in advance you need to arrive prior to your flight. Normally, people are so used to arriving 90 minutes early that they're subsequently dumped into places like this and are stranded in the terminal for 85 minutes, without Wireless Internet, or even a newsstand. It's small things like this that make one feel like they're nothing but insignificant particles in the universe, staring blankly out at a world rushing by, one lone Avis Representative at a time. But enough about that. Join me next time as I either give a rousing seminar as to why ALPS Laptop Touchpads are the most useless pieces of hardware ever forged by mankind, or explain why rhyming “Easy Breezy” and “Japanesey” in a song is a Hell-worthy trespass, even for Utada Hikaru.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Neo Tokyo
ADV Films 50 min. 1/1 $24.98 09/14/2004

Here's to all the anime fans out there who remember the ol' days. Neo Tokyo is one of those things worth owning not because it's drop dead amazing, but because it reminds so much of a bygone era when anime fans would rush to video stores to buy $40 anime tapes and huddle together to watch 8th generation fansubs of Kimagure Orange Road. Comprised of three vignettes, Neo Tokyo heralds from the same age as when anime fans first discovered the excitement of things like Akira and Bubblegum Crisis. But unlike Akira, only the second mini-movie of Neo Tokyo was ever really exposed to fans. That was Running Man, which was shown edited on MTV as part of their Liquid TV. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, it tells a story of a racer who puts everything on the line for his final race, transcending into the supernatural world for his last fling on the tracks. The other two vignettes on the disc are Labyrinth, directed by Rintaro, and The Order to Stop Construction, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. It's hard to accurately describe the story of each segment without sucking all the magic out of them, but they follow the same path of surrealism as Running Man. Treading all the areas between entertaining to profound to creepy, the stories featured in Neo Tokyo are beautiful in a way that can only be compared to being clubbed in the head forcefully with metaphors until you're half dead. Originally released by Streamline, this reach into anime history has been resurrected by ADV Films, and it's a good thing. If only for nostalgia's sake, all long-time anime fans should think about buying this for their permanent collection.

Rental Shelf

Sentimental Journey
Media Blasters 300 min. 1/1 $29.95 09/14/2004

They don't make shoujo like this anymore. I miss it. Based on the Sentimental Graffiti game, Sentimental Journey is a touching set of short vignettes about twelve young women and their journeys through lost romance and unrequited love. With each episode featuring a different character and her tale, the disc includes the entire series for a very cheap price, making this a perfect weekend marathon for all the shoujo lovers out there. Each story is a standalone stroll through a different facet of womanhood, dabbling in pools like vanished opportunities and the heartbreak that comes with gambling in the game of romance. What sets it apart from other love-story compilations of its nature is that it strays away from fanservice and raunchy situations, sticking resolutely to emotions and quiet dialogue to keep audience interest. Even better is its lack of the Annoying Factor. Completely avoiding the “Oh! There was a misunderstanding, but I'm such a dumb tramp that I'm going to blame everything on you and cry forever!” cliché, it makes this DVD a true slice of life romance worth checking out on a lonely evening. If shoujo's not your thing, you'd be well advised to avoid this like the plague, but if you're in the mood to glance through a window into the lives of several earnest women and their trials of love, this is where it's all at.

Initial D Vol. #7 - End of Summer
Tokyopop 75 min. 7/? $19.99 09/14/2004

I had a glorious dream last night that I picked up the next volume of Initial D and it was not three, but four episodes long!! But then I woke up and realized that after seven volumes, each disc is still too damned short. Jumping right into the race between Takumi and the girls of Usui Mountain, viewers are treated to another exciting poorly-animated rice fest. Logic dictates that such eye-sores should automatically drag down the quality of a show, but nothing can stop these scenes from doing what they're supposed to do—entertain. Maybe it's the Eurodance raging in the background, or the rush that comes with hearing squealing tires, but these race scenes are just as cool now as they were in the first volume. After that's all done and through, the series takes a small break from the racing scene and focuses in on Takumi and Natsuki's blooming relationship. It's fun to see their young love slowly develop, but even with all the shy smiles being exchanged between the two, there's still the shady topic of Natsuki's sugar daddy rumbling overhead. As the two draw closer to each other, it becomes interesting to see how she'll affect his growing interest in racing and the life he's built around it. Their relationship still takes a bit of a backseat to the main focus of Initial D, which is street racing, but it definitely helps in fleshing out the characters. If you've any interest at all in watching things go “zoom zoom!,” give this a quick rental this week.

Galaxy Angel Vol. #4 - Save Room For More
Bandai Entertainment 90 min. 4/? $29.98 09/14/2004

Funny the first time. Amusing the second time. Quaint the third. Dead by the fourth. Rounding out the end of the first season, these last few episodes of Galaxy Angel are just like the first few—filled with slapstick comedy, quirky scenarios, and character-driven humor. Translation? Nothing's been accomplished in four volumes. It's still fairly entertaining, especially if you feel like you can relate to some of the characters, or at least enjoy following their hijinks, but by now, everything's getting a little old. This time around, we get to see a bit of a troublemaker side to Mint as she lures her friends into a few traps where more presumably funny things happen. I say presumably funny because you really have to be in the right mindset to watch a show like Galaxy Angel. If you're craving mindlessly cute comedy, then this will provide the perfect fix for you. Otherwise, it's just the same stuff you've been watching up until now, with characters being attacked by giant die and running around doing silly errands like delivering pizza. It's definitely something one could rent to kill off some spare time, but probably not much else.

Perishable Item

Gravion Vol. #3 - Upgrade
ADV Films 100 min. 3/3 $29.98 09/14/2004

Hi! My name is Obi-chan, Masami Obari's underpants-dwelling friend! I'm the real brains behind all of his projects. I enjoy big breasted women, maids, violence, and insulting the intelligence of anime viewers across the globe with those things I just listed. For example, when I was directing Gravion volume 3, I thought to myself, hey, no one's actually watching this piece of crap for the story anyway. So rather than figure out an imaginative way to end the season, I'll just take every giant mecha show ever made, find out what they all have in common, and use that to round off the disc! We'll reveal that the characters are really jaded from fighting so much. After a harsh enemy attack where one of their friends/classmates/loved ones/employees gets hurt/kidnapped/killed by a surprise invasion, they'll be jolted into a state of shock and realize just how much the war affects people. But right in the nick of time, as a new threat of death looms over their friends/classmates/loved ones/employees, they'll suddenly realize that they're FIGHTING FOR THEIR LOVED ONES!!! It's brilliant! It's only been done in every single show! But this time, it'll be super awesome because I'll have MAIDS with HUGE BOOBS! Perfect. If you love to ogle at breasts on a screen in lieu of thinking once in awhile, this'll be a great DVD for you... but to those outside of my small target audience of basement-ridden teenagers with soft towels, eh, don't waste your time on my tripe. It ain't worth it.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week for more Shelf Life!

Editor's Note: Due to lack of screeners, Bamboo was not able to review all of the titles released this week. You can see a complete list of releases in our release database.

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