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Shelf Life
Shine We Are

by Bamboo Dong,
As the recent trend goes, East Asian pop stars are slowly becoming Pan-Asian pop stars. Instead of recording songs in just their native language, the cool thing to do nowadays is to learn another East Asian language and do an overseas version of your music, just to be more marketable to a foreign country. A great example of this is BoA, a talented Korean singer that is one of Japan's most popular import artists. With the release of her latest CD, Shine We Are, she's recorded dual versions of many of her songs, first in Korean, then in Japanese. She's even learning Chinese right now so she can corner that market as well. At the same time, a lot of Asian musicians are trying to learn English, so they can appeal to the Western market too. This isn't uncommon for other foreign-language artists, who all re-record certain songs in English just so their CDs can be more easily marketed to US and British consumers. It kind of makes me wish international artists could have their music recognized in the US without first having to do something in English, but those are few and far between. I just hope that this doesn't blur the lines of creativity between each country. It'd be awful if all music started sounding the same.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum Edition Vol. #3
ADV Films 100 min. 3/7 $29.98 11/16/2004

Re-watching Evangelion after so many years, I've learned that it's one of those things that will never get old... especially if the video quality is as nice as the Platinum Edition. With two volumes already down the hatch, the series is getting more and more complex. Providing plenty of juice in between the battles against the Angels, the series starts delving into the personalities and souls lurking inside the Evas and the Magi. It also scratches at the beginnings of the Instrumentality project, coating itself with pretentious babbling about the Dead Sea Scrolls. It's around this time in the series when you really start to realize that Anno is trying to go for something huge, and every scene is a fascinating glimpse into his mind. Wiping away a few more Angels, the pilots have to deal with acid-dripping eyeballs and other unpleasantries. And, just in case you've forgotten what's been going on, the last episode on the disc starts off as a recap episode, but redeems itself just in time by steering back on track. If there's one series worth re-purchasing, let the platinum edition of Evangelion be it. This definitely deserves an honored place on your shelf.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (nē'ŏn jĕn'ĭ-sĭs ā'vŏn-gĕl-ē-ən) n - A robot show starring a whiny kid, a bitchy girl, and a taciturn albino as they battle monsters and dodge the religious symbolism being pelted at their heads by a director who thinks he's smarter than 99% of the world.
Syn: In terms of robots and deep thinking, check out RahXephon and Gasaraki. Also, look into Brain Powerd which, contrary to popular belief, was actually planned before Evangelion was released, yet is commonly accused of being the contradicting “response” to the series.

Chrono Crusade Vol. #2 - Holy War
ADV Films 100 min. 2/? $29.98 11/16/2004

Two volumes in, and I'm already hopelessly addicted to this show. As the series unfolds, Rosette and her companions find themselves ever closer to Aion and his clutches. With his cohorts dangling Joshua in front of her as bait, Rosette has to use all of her willpower to not fall into all of their traps. At the same time, while she's being tempted with news on Joshua's whereabouts, the audience gets to see more of what's going with him. There's still not much revealed about what happened to him, and what plans Aion has for the Apostles, but it's definitely fascinating enough to keep anyone riveted to the screen. Aion may be moving to the forefront of the series, but there's still plenty of fighting to keep the series moving at a brisk clip. Now that Azmaria has started fighting alongside Rosette and Chrono, it's nice seeing the blossoming relationship between the three continue to grow and expand. What may have started out as an exciting show about exorcizing nuns is now a engrossing story about the ongoing struggle between heaven and hell. Be sure to keep up with this series.

Chrono Crusade (krō'nō krü'sād) n - A fighting show that pits the holy and the hellish against each other using nuns, demons, zombies, and little girls that glow in the dark.
Syn: Exorcisms are always fun, so banish some demons with Hellsing, Phantom Quest Corps, and Vampire Princess Miyu.

Berserk Complete Collection Brick
Media Blasters 625 min. 1-6/6 $89.95 11/16/2004

When it comes to dark action series, Berserk is about as good as it gets. The first episode is incredibly confusing and really not that interesting, but once you realize that everything else after it is a flashback, all the pieces start falling into place. The story follows a band of mercenaries led by a man named Griffith. He and his men are fighting courageously to end a war between two nations that has been raging for a century. Unveiling a story filled with violence, bloodshed, and emotion, the tale is told through the eyes of a warrior named Gatts. Granted, much of the story just follows the group as they go from battle to battle, but instead of throwing all of the weight of the series onto the fighting, it merely uses it as a backdrop for a more important story involving the characters. Laced with anguish and pain, this really isn't a series you should watch if you're looking for happiness. Still, the story behind the characters is so strong that it's something that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. Be sure to add this one to your Christmas list.

Berserk (bər-zûrk') adj The act of going wicked violent on someone's ass with your mercenary army.
Syn: If you're looking to tone down the violence and the emotional impact, try something like Record of Lodoss War, or try getting a little gruff with Bastard!!.

Dragon Ball GT Movie: A Hero's Legacy
FUNimation 49 min. 1/1 $24.98 11/16/2004

A cowardly boy who travels across the country, befriends bears, and accidentally beats monsters through the courage in his heart? Cute... as long as you first have the patience to sit through the first half of the movie. It's been a century since Son Goku saved Earth from the vile clutches of the Shadow Dragons with his shiny balls. All of the heroes of that time have long since passed away except for Pan, who is now a feisty grandmother that can still beat the crap out of neighbourhood boys. She dedicates her time to training her grandson, also conveniently named Son Goku. Unlike his grandfather though, this Goku is the world's lamest wimp and just begs for a slap on the face. It's not until Pan falls sick that Wimpcake decides to buck up and travel deep into the mountains to go chase after his grandfather's balls. Along the way, he meets up with scary man-eating monsters. Luckily for Goku, he has the accidental ability to shoot electricity from his body and turn Super Saiyan, resulting in a cute, light-hearted, go-get-'em movie about a boy's struggles to believe in the Power He Has Inside™. It may be a little too fluffy for hardcore Dragon Ball/Z/GT fans, and a little too removed from the original characters (not that you could tell through the character designs), but it's certainly a charming story once the halfway mark is reached. It's a lot more character-focused than other Dragon Ball stories, and doesn't have 1/100 of the fights as the others, but it's pretty fun for a 49 minute shindig. I'm not sure how much replay value it has, but it's good for at least one rental.

A Hero's Legacy (ŭ hîr'ōz lĕ'gə-sē) n - The valiant story of a young boy who went from a sobbing mess of a human to a glowing superhuman due to a genetically inherited mutation, possibly from doping or an overexposure to radioactive materials.
Syn: Obviously, check out the other titles in the Dragon Ball arsenal, like all the movies and episodes in Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT.

Wedding Peach Vol. #7 - Scarlet Tears
ADV Films 150 min. 7/9 $29.98 11/16/2004

This show is perfect for the anime fan on the go. Fast forward through the opening and ending sequences, all the repeat transformation sequences, and all the special attacks, and each episode is only 10 minutes long! Talk about a time saver! Of course, for those of us that like to sit through the full anime episodes, this can be irritating as hell and violently dull. With only two more discs to go, the fourth Love Angel is added to the mix. A snooty gal who despises even the notion of teamwork, Salvia shuns the thought of working with the other girls until they have a peaceful Moment and bond amongst drizzling rays of rainbow happiness. Now that all four girls are finally together, they can finally combine their cheap trinkets and summon the Saint Something Four, a glowing thing that sends out showers of love and cheer. Conveniently for the series, having another girl just means that even more time can be spent transforming and attacking, thus drastically reducing the amount of original material that has to go into each new episode. If anything, Wedding Peach deserves credence for winning the Most Annoying Character of the Week award with the devil girl who tries so hard to be cute that she deserves a hearty slap in the face. This volume is worth watching once just for the sheer cheese value of magical girls whose only goals in life are to get married, but it's probably not something you'd want to watch ever again.

Wedding Peach (wĕd'ĭng pēch) n - A show about girls who fight crimes with the power of Love and Happiness by spending approximately 60% of their short lives doing the same transformations over and over again.
Syn: A bevy of magical girls? I counter with Tokyo Mew Mew, Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura, and Magic Knight Rayearth.

Cyber Team in Akihabara Vol. #1 - Cyber Genesis
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 11/16/2004

From the sugary cover, I was expecting Cyber Team in Akihabara to be either really fun, really cute, or maybe even both. It was neither. What it ended up being was a horribly annoying semi-magical girl show that repeated the same two gimmicks over and over again and didn't know when to make the characters shut up. If the character designs seem familiar, it's because the original work was done by Tsukasa Kotobuki, the same guy responsible for the Saber Marionette series. The angular faces worked for quirky shows like that, but completely and utterly unappealing for a cutesy show like Cyber Team. The story stars a girl named Hibari who keeps dreaming of her “prince.” She's really excited about finally being in junior high, but for some insipid reason, she and her best friend Snot Face have different colored uniforms from the rest of the students. Presumably, this is done so that they can easily be identified as Protagonists. They're both the proud owners of Pata-Pis, cyber pets that can be taught and riced up to do lots of tasks like speak and do tricks. With these two girls, their Pata-Pis can transform into Divas. This comes in handy when it comes to battling a vicious woman with ginormous breasts the size of winter melons, who uses repeated footage to bring homunculi and robots to life to try and snatch the Pata-Pis from the girls for her boss, the Evil Prince. Mediocrity, stock footage, ugly characters, and bouncing breasts ensue. Over and over again. If you have the patience for such shows and don't mind being talked down to, this might be good for a rental. Just don't watch all of the episodes at once.

Cyber Team in Akihabara (sī'bər tēm ĭn ä'kē-hä'bä-rä) n - A team of prepubescent girls with cyber pets that have the power to force eye-catches to appear onscreen every two minutes in a blinding array of faux neon colors.
Syn: Dolls that fight stuff? Check out Angelic Layer. If you'd rather be a big kid, you can always go back to stuff like Digimon and Pokémon.

Alas, that's all the supply of discs allows for, so I'll see you next week! As always, thanks for reading!

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