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Shelf Life
The Long Crusade

by Bamboo Dong,
Super sensitive laptop touchpads are an insult to science. Instead of proudly bearing the flag of technology and forging onward into the blazing sun, the people who design and market these things (like ALPS) take all of our scientific advancements and spit on them. They don't just take one step back, but hurtle back a few miles for spite. What use is a super sensitive touchpad? Sure, you can inconveniently browse the internet at laboriously slow speeds while you struggle to make your cursor go where you want it to go, but that must be the only perk. There is nothing more annoying than typing along in a word processor, only to accidentally brush the touchpad and have the cursor jump to another part of the document and start typing there instead. Likewise, there is nothing more frustrating than accidentally clicking links when you're writing something online because your touchpad doesn't know the difference between a breath of air and a finger. Some touchpad companies know what they're doing. They write software to go along with their products that let you change the sensitivity of your touchpad. But some... (like ALPS) well, they prefer to push their shoddy products off on unsuspecting laptop consumers who want nothing more than a shiny processor in a chunk of plastic. Their only saving grace is allowing you to turn off the touchpad. To companies like them, I elegantly raise the finger. And not the one I'd use on a touchpad either; they don't deserve that.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Chrono Crusade Vol. #1 - A Plague of Demons + Artbox
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $39.98 09/21/2004
Chrono Crusade Vol. #1 -A Plague of Demons
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $29.98 09/21/2004

The Roaring Twenties ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity in American history. The streets were alive with happiness, as jazz and blues floated through every parlor and speakeasy in the country. But who knew that it was also host to mounds of demons and Satanists, too? And who would've guessed that New York City in the 1920s would be conveniently deserted so exorcists could easily vanquish demonic creatures while destroying a few buildings in the process? Still, any show that takes place in the Big Apple in the 20s, by default, has to be good. Chrono Crusade lives up to those expectations, and more. Throwing viewers right into the middle of the action, the series doesn't waste any time by showing who the main characters are, and what they do for a living. Rosette is a member of the Magdalene Order, a task force of specially trained sisters and fathers whose job it is to perform exorcisms and hunt down poltergeists—with firearms. Hell yes. Her sidekick is a cute demon named Chrono, contracted to help Rosette by a pendant worn around her neck. Together, they hunt down the various demons that are plaguing the East Coast. One thing that's nice about the series is that it's impossible to get bored watching it. The episodes move at a breakneck speed, throwing out character development and major story elements like party favors. Within the space of four episodes, we learn the story behind Chrono's past, who Rosette's brother is, why it matters, and so much more. Things that would have taken 10 episodes in any other series are gracefully crammed into four of Chrono Crusade, and it doesn't suffer one bit from it. Any fan of action-packed anime and charismatic characters absolutely needs to pick up this show. Of course, you might be left wondering one thing... if there are so many unhappy people seeking demonic help in 1928... how ever will they respond to 1929?

Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #1 - Turmoil of the Flesh + Artbox
Geneon 100 min. 1 $34.98 09/21/2004
Requiem from the Darkness Vol. #1 - Turmoil of the Flesh
Geneon 100 min. 1 $24.98 09/21/2004

The best horror stories are those that leave you with your mouth agape and your eyes wide open, as a chilling feeling travels from your fingertips to your heart. Animated horror stories have the added benefit of visuals, so even if you have an otherwise mediocre horror story, the dark atmosphere and creepy scenes can freeze you to the bone. Taking place in the Edo period, an author is wandering across the countryside, hoping to someday write his “100 Stories,” a collection of horror stories about the supernatural and the underworld. Along the way, he runs into a trio of fascinating characters. One can guarantee individuals a pass to the next realm, one can manipulate reality with her puppeteering (for reference, puppets are much scarier than clowns), and the other can change his appearance. They use their powers to hunt down rogue ghouls and lost souls, which leads them into contact with quite a creepy cast of side characters. Never have I seen so many twisted-looking children with freakish grins on their blank faces, one of the most disturbing images ever created. It's truly hard to describe this series and do it justice. The magic in these episodes reside not in the stories themselves, but in the way they're represented. With a unique artistic style and a very washed-out, morbid palette, this would be a great show to marathon over Halloween.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Edition Vol. #2
ADV Films 125 min. 2/7 $29.98 09/21/2004

Until I have all of Evangelion in its remastered glory, my anime collection will never be complete. By now, if you haven't seen this series, you need to drop whatever it is you're doing and get your hands on it. You might end up hating it, but you might also join the legions of fans that idolize Evangelion as one of the best anime series ever made. Perhaps I'm biased because I'm a card-carrying member of that very legion, but this is a series good enough to warrant buying again, just for the gussied up video and sound. With the next five episodes, viewers are introduced to the feisty Asuka, a loud-spoken girl that brings her fighting spirit to NERV as the Second Child. She and Shinji definitely butt heads a few times, but before long, they realize that if they plan on living to see the next day, they need to learn to work together. Now that Rei's Eva up and running as well, the series has the opportunity to veer off into Monster-o'-the-Week land, but Hideaki Anno manages to sidestep this trap. Shaking things up with a plot twist every now and then, or yet another startling revelation of some kind, this is a show that will keep you on your toes from the DVD menu to the end credits. Feed into the perpetual Eva frenzy and buy this disc.

Rental Shelf

Stellvia Vol. #1 - Foundation I + LE Artbox
Geneon 100 min. 1/8 $39.98 09/21/2004
Stellvia Vol. #1 - Foundation I
Geneon 100 min. 1/8 $24.98 09/21/2004

A periodic function, in layman terms, is a function that continuously repeats itself after a given amount of time. When plotted on a graph, it goes up and down and up and down, over and over again. That's how I felt about the first four episodes of Stellvia. From the bad AMV-like opening sequence (Random scenes from the first two episodes spliced haphazardly to music? Brilliant!), to the deliciously relaxed pace of the series, to the increasingly annoying characters, the whole disc wavered between up and down for me. Shima Katase is a kind-hearted computer genius who has just enrolled in the Stellvia space academy. Hoping to attain her dream of flying through space, she does her best to study hard in school along with her newfound buddies. Unfortunately, she keeps getting into trouble, whether through the fault of idiotic friends, or through her own clumsiness. The first two episodes were positively charming, introducing the characters and leading viewers around the new campus. Behind all of this surface fluff though, is also the backbone to the main story arc of the series. Years ago, a star went Kaboom! and devastated Earth with its electromagnetic shock wave. Soon, a second wave comprised of matter will bombard the solar system, promising to wipe it out unless the different Foundations (including the Stellvia) prevent it. All of this provides a solid background to what promises to be an entertaining series, but can the characters stay bearable for so long? Largely hit or miss, the students onboard the Stellvia can either be seen as cute and naïve, or ridiculously annoying and moronic. I've always hated seeing characters get in trouble, so seeing the students do stupid things one after another was exasperating for me. Still, the story itself is interesting and it'll be fun to see how it pans out in the next few volumes.

Zoids Chaotic Century Vol. #4 - Conspiracy
Viz, LLC. 132 min. 1/? $14.98 09/21/2004

I suspect that if I were a child, I would find this show ludicrously entertaining. It has enough suspense and action to fool kids into thinking it's a “big kids!” show, and it's fast-paced enough to keep the attention of even the most scatter-brained youngster for at least 20 minutes. At the same time, I can't help but think that in trying to create a more plot-oriented series, Chaotic Century alienates some of its youngest viewers. There're far too many characters that look exactly the same for kids to keep straight, and a lot of the fight scenes are traded for dialogue. This is great news for the parents who have to watch this with their kids, but will the kids want to keep watching? In the fourth volume, a group of people who look exactly like a different group of people storm into a generic mansion to capture Prince Rudolph, a whiny little kid with a lame hat. As is revealed, there are plans to assassinate him because he's the heir to the Guylos imperial throne, a bit of political intrigue that will zoom cleanly over kids' heads. From the viewpoint of an older viewer, I'm not ashamed to say that my interest was piqued by the situations unfolding on the DVD. It's much more exciting than the tournament-style episodes that an earlier Zoids series had. At the same time though, I'm just not sure kids who grew fond of the other series could warm up to this one, as it requires much more patience to watch. My advice? Rent something else for the little kid in your life, but keep this around for his older brother. It's almost worth the rental just to hear the characters scream, “AAAUUUGHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE REPUBLICANS!!!!”

Perishable Item

Ichi The Killer: Episode Zero
Central Park Media 47 min. 1/1 $24.99 09/21/2004

I used to say that the later episodes of Crying Freeman were the most worthless pieces of animation ever made. That was before I saw Ichi the Killer: Episode Zero, an animated prequel to the live action movie... Ichi the Killer. It tells the story of some guy who had a troubled childhood and was trained to be a killer—amidst plenty of sex and violence from start to finish. It's no wonder he was so traumatized in his childhood. He spent all of his time at school getting bullied and hissed at, and all he had to come home to was seeing his mom and her addiction to bondage sex. Eventually, at a much older age, he's helped out of the emotional cocoon he built for himself by some folks who train him to be a free-wheelin', blood-lovin' killah. Normally, it'd be interesting to see a man's journey through life as he tries to heal the scars of his past and his mind, but when they made Episode Zero, they seemingly forgot that that was their purpose. Instead, it's nothing but an excuse to fit as much sex and violence in a 47 minute excursion as possible. Sex, sex, violence, violence, blood, sex, violence... There was so much potential to use the psychological aspects of Episode Zero and use it to explore the human mind, but no. They were too busy satisfying their testosterone levels. With all the great stuff being released this week, why would you want to waste your time on this?

Anime 18 60 min. 1/1 $29.98 09/21/2004

At first glance, I thought the woman on the cover had three breasts. Once the initial wave of disgust passed, I realized that no, it was just an awkwardly drawn body that made it look so disturbing. Halfway through the disc, I realized something else: Why, oh WHY, must there always be POOP involved! Can't these people have sex without losing control of their bodily functions and then being extremely aroused by it? If you're a fan of hardcore hentai, this will be the perfect thing to satiate all your incestuous fantasies. It has juuuuuuust enough bareboner

Aaaaaaaaaand, cut. That's it for this week; thanks for reading!

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