Shelf Life
I Heart You Too

by Bamboo Dong,
You know the saying, “everyone's a critic?” I'm inclined to agree. I've always enjoyed both giving and receiving feedback about things, whether it's a lab report for school, an improvisational sculpture I just made with a bottle of glue and a pile of sticks, or my column. The problem is, it takes too much time to sit down and write a coherent critique of something. Really. I'd be more apt to voice my opinion about something if everything had a form, like those web surveys about certain retail outlets. Well, if you've been dying to offer your opinion about my column, I've made it even easier to do so. That's right. I made a form. No more wasting time trying to whip up a pithy post in the Talkback forum. Now all you have to do is follow this link and you'll have at your disposal, a handy form (multiple choice, nonetheless!!) to voice your questions, comments, and concerns. Just copy and paste into the forum, and voila! Instant critique.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Shelf Worthy

Last Exile Vol. #6 - Queen Delphine
Geneon 75 min. 6/7 $29.98 10/12/2004

After the revelations that have slowly been popping out in the last few episodes, this disc really starts hauling them out in preparation for the final volume. Even with all of the prep work though, these three episodes still managed to slow down the pacing enough that the scaffolding necessary for the grand finale could be carefully built. Up until now, the inner workings of the Guild have been pushed aside. But not for long!!! *cue eerie music* More tidbits about what it really is and how it operates are finally revealed in this delectable disc. In the meantime, Delphine has decided that she wants Dio, so after him she goes. Once she has Dio and Claus under her guard, viewers get the chance to see even more of the Guild. Seeing how it all works from the inside clears up a lot of questions, and makes for a great segue to the last volume. With just a few episodes to go, it's exciting to see all the other characters prepare for the final battle, and well as the rescue operation to bail out Dio and his buddy. The series is coming down the final stretch now, and I'm anxious to see how it ends up.

Peacemaker Vol. #1 - Innocence Lost + Artbox + Manga
ADV Films 100 min. 1/7 $39.98 10/12/2004
Peacemaker Vol. #1 - Innocence Lost
ADV Films 100 min. 1/7 $29.98 10/12/2004

As a general rule of thumb, I don't get too worked up over shows that star annoying little brats that don't know when to shut up or just go hang. For some reason though, I really dig Peacemaker Kurogane. It mixes comedy, action, politics, and unpredictability into a big bowl of fun, then throws samurai and effeminate men on top. That, my friends, is a winning combination. Tetsu is a spunky 15 year old who has the runty body (and obnoxious rowdy personality) of a kid half his age. Along with his brother Tatsu, he manages to score a position working for the Shinsengumi as a page. Knowing that the Shinsengumi are in hostile odds against Choshu rebels, Tetsu wants to do whatever he can to exact revenge on the latter group—the same group that he believes murdered his parents. After a brutal incident in town though, he discovers with shock that his beloved Shinsengumi are just as ruthless and merciless as the same folks that iced his parents. With rebellions stirring in town, he must now choose between living the cold life of the samurai, or being a wuss his whole life. Oh, and the show has a few ninja, too. Ninja and samurai? In one show? With spies?!?!!! And raucous humour that doesn't require any brain power to laugh at? Brilliant! This is truly a great show to wind down with without having to think harder than pressing “play.”

Rental Shelf

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5 - Seniors!
ADV Films 100 min. 4/6 $29.98 10/12/2004

It's time for the AzuDai girls to have the time of their high schools lives—going on the class trip. I always thought that American high schools should have class trips (other than local field trips), but I guess that would really cut into the sittin' around time that goes on in public schools. Well, if we never got the chance to go on a trip with our classmates, at least we can watch someone else do it. As the girls head to Okinawa, viewers get a crash course in the local dialect, packing the show full of puns, the subtitles full of Romanized Japanese, and the insert full of liner notes. More this time than ever before, I was overjoyed that ADV spent so much time and care with the liner notes. They carefully explained all the jokes and decided which Japanese words should stay in the subtitles, making it one of the best translating jobs I've seen in a while. Of course, being the sucker for cute things that I am, and being a pro-Sakaki viewer, I automatically liked this volume for the Maya episodes. While in Okinawa, the girls stopped by Iriomote Island, home to the endangered Iriomote cat (the same species that Ichigo Mew is joined with!). Unlike her tragic run-ins with the vicious cats of past, Sakaki befriends the cutest cat in all of Azumanga history, and to my content, was able to hold it close. Unsurprisingly, as with the previous volumes, this disc is filled with the everyday adventures of the girls and their teachers. As the series progresses, viewers are likely to warm up to at least one or two of the characters, making it much more charming to watch. Still, your enjoyment of the series will largely hinge on if character-driven comedies are your thing or not. Either way, it's an enjoyable amble into high school-dom, so give it a quick rental.

Gundam SEED Vol. #2 - Unexpected Meethings
Bandai Entertainment 125 min. 2/10 $29.98 10/12/2004
Gundam SEED Vol. #3 - No Retreat
Bandai Entertainment 125 min. 3/10 $29.98 10/12/2004

There are a lot of hardcore anti-Gundam SEED zealots out there who proclaim that the show is “awful” and “a moral outrage” because it closely mimics many of the earlier Gundam series. ... And this is a problem because... ? Having been a couple of decades since the original Gundam series was first released, it's nice to have a new, visually-appealing show that takes all of the pizzazz of the UC Gundam shows and re-delivers it to a new generation of anime fans. With the next two volumes of Gundam SEED, the story downshifts a bit and decides to spend more time making sure the characters get fully developed. Kira is having a hard time accepting that, as the pilot for Strike, he's not only responsible for guarding human lives, but taking them as well. As more is revealed about the ZAFT side of things, the series starts picking up on the politics that made the original Gundam so entertaining to watch. If mechs just aren't your thang, you'll probably hate this show. What is it really other than a kid sitting in a robot shooting stuff, amidst tales of friendship and political intrigue? If you're willing to give it a chance though, you might be plesantly surprised. Give it a quick rental; now's as good of a time as any to step into Gundam fandom.

Lunar Legend Tsukihime Vol. #1 - Life Threads + Artbox
Geneon 100 min. 1 $39.98 10/12/2004
Lunar Legend Vol. #1 - Life Threads
Geneon 100 min. 1 $29.98 10/12/2004

Tsukihime bears a striking resemblance to the tobacco industry. It unknowingly plants a seed of addiction in you the minute you try it out, and before long, it has you in its unhealthy clutches. The first four episodes that open the series aren't particularly good, but they're so strangely fascinating that you can't help but want to watch more. It opens with a mind-numbingly dull first episode that makes a feeble attempt to introduce the characters to you. The protagonist is a high school student named Tohno Shiki. Not much is revealed about him, except that he has had poor health since he was in a car accident eight years ago, and has the gift to see the “death lines” of all objects. By breaking those lines, he can "shatter" the object. On his way back from school one day, he encounters a mysterious blonde woman named Arcueide that he shatters with his knife, only he's convinced that it was only a dream. She later returns and introduces herself as a “True Ancestor” vampire, a race of “pure” (read: good and noble) vampires who can create “Dead Apostle” vampires (read: BAD GUYS) by biting them. Her life mission is to wipe out all the Dead Apostles, pretty much only to satiate anime fandom's insatiable thirst for vampire stories. Using his Death Lines, Shiki's new job is to help Arcueide get rid of Bad Vampires. After four episodes, the story and characters are still shrouded in mystery and vagueness, but I think that's what they were going for. The creators of the series were so obsessed with the idea of making this an intriguing and mysterious show (whhoooOOOOoooOOOh!!!!), that that's all they put their effort into. The scenes are saturated with ominous (but beautiful!) violin solos and timpani beats, flipping back and forth between flashbacks and dreams to fascinate viewers with the mystique of it all, and to allow them to forget that the story carries virtually no substance yet. The episodes are slow, and viewers are still largely left in the dark about what's going on, but it's an oddly gripping show nevertheless. Based off a hentai dating sim though, I kept expecting people to strip off their clothes and start shagging. Maybe it's because the females so clearly look like they belong in a hentai. Who knows. All you vampire lovers, check it out. Until more episodes come out, this title is in perishable rental limbo.

GTO Box Set 2
TOKYOPOP 500 min. 2/2 $99.99 10/12/2004

GTO was a fantastic series when it first started out. It was fresh, funny, and inspirational. As it dragged along though, it got slower and slower, and the jokes started getting more and more forced. Then again, maybe that's when I started watching the live action series, something that almost guarantees that you'll never be able to enjoy the anime series as much ever again. The difference between that (and also the first half of the anime series) and the last half is that while the first half is novel and explores the distrust that Japanese youth hold for their elders and the work of one man to bridge that gap of misunderstanding, the last half almost plays out like a bad public service message. It's not nearly as entertaining, and the scenarios seem forced. Still, if you've been collecting the series, it wouldn't be a bad idea to round out your collection. It still has Onizuka, and he manages to carry the weight of the episodes on his shoulders fairly well, just through his facial expressions alone. Just don't expect a jaw-dropping ending. You really won't find one here.

Perishable Item

To the disappointment of all, I'm sure, nothing horribly sucked this week. But mark my words, something definitely sucks next week!

Until then, that's that. Thanks for reading!

Dear Bamboo,
I just finished reading your column, and I must say, I [enjoyed/loved/loathed/liked/disliked/felt neutral about/was offended by] it very much. I was especially [taken/intrigued/interested/pissed off/miffed/irked/neutral] by your review of [INSERT TITLE HERE]. I [agreed/disagreed] with your comments about [INSERT NOUN GROUP HERE]. [Also/However], I would like to express my [discontent/agreement/annoyance/gall/outrage] with your opinion on [INSERT NOUN GROUP HERE]. One thing's for sure though. I totally love Shelf Life though, forever and ever and ever.
Yours truly, [INSERT NAME HERE]

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