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Shelf Life
Version 2.0!!!

by Bamboo Dong,
As of last column, Shelf Life is 75 columns and almost 2 years old. It's been fun for me, and I hope it's been fun for you, but the last thing I want is for it to start showing gray hairs. It's time for a revamp. Thanks to some inspiration and ideas from our beloved Answerman, this is what resulted.

The old system of having three categories will stay the same, but there's going to be something extra from now on. At the end of each review, you'll see a “dictionary entry.” The definition will just be a one sentence summary of the volume. The big part of the new addition though, is the Synonym/Antonym part. The Synonyms will be a quick nod at a few shows or movies that are similar in nature to the one being reviewed. Pretty much, if you like the show being reviewed, you might also enjoy one of the titles mentioned. Conversely, if you like one of the titles on the list, maybe you'll enjoy the show being reviewed, too. The Antonyms will be what they seem—one or two shows that are nothing like what's being reviewed. This doesn't say that if you like something on the list, you won't enjoy the DVD in question. It's just a way of gauging where shows lie on a spectrum and what balances it out on the other end of the beam.

I'll try to be as fair and complete with the synonyms as possible, but to be honest, it will never approach perfection. I'll probably miss a bunch of shows, and there'll probably be titles on there that people will disagree with. For that, I apologize in advance. But hey, it's a learning experience so even if things start out shaky, I hope things will get stronger as time goes on. As for why I'm doing this, I just think it'd not only be another way for readers to gauge how much they may or may not like a title, but also a way to be introduced to some titles that they may not have thought to get before.

Alright, not too many titles released the week of the 2nd, but with the trend they were following, I think that's a good thing. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Rental Shelf

Cybuster Vol. #1 - Tokyo 2040
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $24.98 11/02/2004

Mediocrity is tragic. Spending your time watching Cybuster is equally tragic. It's not that it's a bad show... it's just so poorly paced and so unoriginal that in this day and age when every new robot show has to jump over the bars set by Gundam, Macross, and Evangelion, Cybuster gets a concussion by not even getting off the ground. Actually, it's so uninspired that even the title robot Cybuster is taken from an original creation used in the video game Super Robot Wars. However, it's role in this series is still shaky after the first volume. The story centers around a group of kids that are recruited as part of the DC, an organization that rides around in robots and pick up trash. The crew includes a Relena Peacecraft clone, the Competitive Female Friend, and the Whiny Underdog Hero Who Throws Temper Tantrums and Won't Go Away. Recently, the city has been under attack by a mysterious robot whose origins are unknown. Assuming that a crew of sanitation kids can do a better job than the military, the DC gets sent out to deal with it with the help of a robot called the Balcion, built by the late father of Relena-Bitch. To no one's surprise, Cybuster is actually from another world, and some of the DC higher-ups might have ulterior motives to harness its power!!!! *sigh* Most boring shows are saved by cool fight scenes, but even that escapes Cybuster. In what may be the most un-exciting action scenes ever animated, Cybuster and Balcion walk alongside each other, occasionally firing wind blasts and bullets in each other's general direction. It was to my dismay that I learned that just watching the episode previews was equivalent to wasting 100 minutes of my life on a show that had zero impact on me, positive or negative. Boring, boring, boring. Surely you can find something better to watch this week.

Cybuster (sī'-bŭs-tər) n - A robot that busts up sighs of boredom by occasionally sprouting wings to transform into Endless Waltz Escaflowne Mode.
Synonyms: Forget the boring knockoffs—check out some of the pre-Cybuster robot goodies, like Macross, Gundam 0079, Gundam Wing, Evangelion, and Escaflowne. Or, put some spit-shine into your repertoire and check out modern greats like Gasaraki, Rahxephon, and the Big O.
Antonyms - Ai Yori Aoshi— a show with just as many cookie-cutter characters and a predictable story, but better paced and no robots.

Perishable Item

Burn Up Scramble Vol. #1 - Angels Attack Assailants + Artbox + Magnet
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $34.98 11/02/2004
Burn Up Scramble Vol. #1 - Angels Attack Assailants
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $24.98 11/02/2004

Another Burn Up series is on the loose and this time it's Geneon's turn to cover the bouncing breasts. I have to say, I do miss ADV's Jiggle Counter, but I suppose it's for the best. With the amount of tumbling titties in this volume, the counter would never leave the screen. The show focuses on Rio, Maya, and Lilica, three Warriors who make up a secret department of the police. Rio, a fiery martial artist whose melons grow every frame, has the super ability to rip off her skin-revealing police uniform in a split second to reveal a skin-tight full body suit that was mysteriously hidden a frame ago. Along with her partners, they're in charge of cleaning up the city's messes, like dealing with motorcycle gangs whose members wear clown noses and ball gags. From defusing terrorist bombs and chasing down ATM thieves, the girls do anything the regular police are incapable of. While the characters and their attitudes are fun to watch, the sheer amount of repeated lines and animation makes it hard to swallow more than two episodes at once. It feels like five minutes of every episode is taken from stock footage and a pre-recorded voice, and coupled with the painfully redundant quirks of Rio, the viewing experience is slightly painful. The action may be on par with all the other Burn Up shows, but the characters... well, they're just as annoying. If you liked the other ones though, you'll fall right in pace with these.

Burn Up Scramble (bûrn ŭp skrăm'-bəl) - An action series about bouncing breasts that fight crime alongside their human partners.
Synonyms: A good companion for Burn Up W and Burn Up Excess. Need more rocking chicks with a flair for guns and fighting? Try Agent Aika, Labyrinth of Flames, or Dirty Pair Flash. For brains instead of boobs, try You're Under Arrest.
Antonyms: You can't get more opposite than Ground Defense Force Mao-chan, a show where bubbly little girls keep the streets clean by bopping little alien Foo-Foos on the head with batons. No breasts included.

Ikki Tousen Vol. #2 - Historic Battles
Geneon 75 min. 2/? $29.98 11/02/2004

Forget displays of power like bending spoons and lifting jumbo jets. Those are all boring. What really determines how much power you have is how quickly you can blast through a girls' sweater and expose her brassiere. After all, why else would clothing exist in Japan if not to be ripped off while fighting? Just like panties exist so they can be flashed during a high kick, only to reveal a suspicious bulge on the underside of a girl's crotch. With the next three episodes, the text messages are flying, and it's nigh time for the tournament that will determine which school will reign supreme. Hakufu is pissed to learn that Taishigi is in the hospital after being jumped by Fighters from another school. Determined to get revenge, she single-handedly beats them to the ground. No orgasms this time though, since she doesn't even remember anything that happened after she transforms into her Scary Super Warrior mode. While the fighter-has-latent-powers-that-she-unleashes-when-unconscious shtick has been done before, it works well in this series and gives it a hearty boost. Without that bit of character growth tying the present day tournament with the events that transpired thousands of years ago, all that would be left is school kids ripping each other's clothes off. In fact, the sole purpose of the show is to festoon girls with short skirts and clothes that vaporize, and give characters the excuse to be fingered or orally pleasured. It's with morbid curiosity that I keep waiting for more episodes to come out, just to see how many more ways clothes can be torn off. At least the fight scenes are fun to watch, if that's a consolation at all.

Ikki Tousen (ē'-kē tō'-sən) n - A fighting show about a group of chosen high school students who are battling in a tournament to gain power and to expose the breasts of nubile young women.
Synonyms: For more fighting, fanservice, and a better story, wait for Tenjou Tenge, also licensed by Geneon. Want more panties? Check out Najica Blitz Tactics.
Antonyms: Utena. Still chosen students fighting for power, but one's got class, and the other's just got ass.

Super Milk-Chan Vol. #3 - Cryin' Over Spilled Milk
ADV Films 135 min. 3/6 $29.98 10/26/2004

Only two types of people could ever find this show laugh-out-loud hysterical: those steeped to the brim in Japanese pop culture who can actually understand the in-jokes being thrown around in the Japanese version... and those who are in love with ADV's crew of voice actors (and Stephen Foster) enough to be able to laugh themselves silly at the live action bits that adorn the 100% made up, 100% screw-around, 100% Whole version. For anyone who's seen the show, they can understand when I say that I can't summarize what happens... largely because nothing ever does happen. The president loses his cat, and Milk-chan goes to find it, amongst cries of the f-word and snot jokes. Unless you're watching the 100% Whole version, where you see voice actors making sound effects. Haha. Who knows, you might be one of the rare few that love this show. Just to find out for yourself, check out the straight-up dub (non 100% Whole) that's airing on the Cartoon Network. Better that than to waste your money.

Super Milk-chan (sü'-pər mĭlk-chän) n - A potty-mouthed girl that either spouts jokes that no non-native Japanese speaker understands, or cracks increasingly unfunny American pop culture references depending on the version you watch.
Synonyms: Forget Super Milk-chan. If you're going for whacky fun and energy, check out some of the infamous parody shows like Excel Saga and its nefarious spin-off Puni Puni Poemy.
Antonyms: Super Milk-chan * (-1) = Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, a smarmy and highly pretentious movie that goes out of its way to be smart and look smashing while doing it. Oh hell, anything that requires a dash of intellect to watch is an appropriate antonym to Super Milk-chan.

Told you it was short! Sorry for the delays, but hopefully we'll be back on track (with more reviews, too!) soon now that our screener mix-up has been fixed. Thanks for reading!

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