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Shelf Life
Back With A Vengeance

by Bamboo Dong,
Due to some outside circumstances, I was unable to pump out columns like I told myself I would do over Christmas Break. Nevertheless, I make my triumphant return, with the perennial promise to catch up and get back on track again. Will it happen? Who knows, but I'll be sure to try. However, one thing has caught my attention as of late... the confusion that people seem to have over my gender. I realize “Bamboo” isn't as gender-specific as a name like Jennifer or Charles, so I'll lay your questions to rest: I am a female. And yes, Bamboo Dong is my real name. Now you can stop sending me timid e-mails asking.

Brief update: So while I'm on the East Coast now, my luggage (along with a stack of DVDs) is somewhere in the Midwest. Awesome. Long story short, Shelf Life is cut short this week, and I'll be doing some mixing and matching in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Mezzo Vol. #2 - Shell Two
ADV Films 100 min. 2/3 $29.98 12/14/2004

This show fills me with pure joy. At first I couldn't quite square with its episodic nature, but the more I watched it, the more I realized I didn't care. The characters are a blast to watch (minus the token soft-spoken wussy girl), and it's always exciting to see how they'll solve their next problem. Combining the Guns for Hire genre with a streak of the supernatural and eerie, Mezzo entertains by gracing each new episode with a fresh and unique story. I love the way that tidbits about the characters' lives and pasts are laced into the episodes, giving it slightly more depth than just shoot-em-up action would. With these new episodes, a segment of Harada's past and his passion for androids is unfolded. Then, while the DSA is busy hunting down serial killers and fighting their way out of lethal Virtual Reality dreams, viewers get the pleasure of seeing Asami gain a drop of courage. As much as I dislike that type of character, it cheers me up to see them develop from meek to bold. It's these subtle character changes that make Mezzo interesting to watch. It may not be deep or insightful, but with so many likable characters and new stories, what's not to like about it?

Mezzo (mĕt'sō) n - A fun, clean sequel to the Mezzo Forte hentai that transcends reality with its supernatural scenarios and gun-toting adventures.
Syn: Check out some of the other Guns for Hire shows like Cowboy Bebop or the more frivolous Galaxy Angel. As far as recommendations go for lead-pumping chicks, try your luck with Noir and Najica Blitz Tactics.

Get Backers Vol. #3 - Into the Limitless Fortress
ADV Films 125 min. 3/10 $29.98 12/14/2004

I was in danger of lapsing into a bit of anime burnout, but this volume of Get Backers obliterated any traces of it out of my system. From the minute I put in the disc, to the last episode preview, I was hooked. Up until now, Get Backers has been a mildly entertaining show that's kept me interested purely because of the cute exchanges between the main characters. Now that the first major story arc is underfoot, and the turmoiled pasts of the characters are being exposed faster than ever before, it has me addicted. The Get Backers have another assignment, but this time it's huge. So huge that they have to be teamed up with Himiko, Shido, Kazuki, and Akabane. Their mission is to infiltrate the Limitless Fortress to recover a deadly weapon referred to as the IL. At the core of the deadly city is Makubex, a computer genius who used to be one of the Four Kings of VOLT, but now rules over the entire city. As the crack team of recoverers and transporters fight their way to the goal, they're confronted by lethal enemies and haunted by the past. Chock full of gripping action scenes, this set of episodes is definitely hard to put down. With plot twists at every corner and talk of a traitor in the ranks, this is one volume that won't fail to please anyone who's been following the series up until now. It's just too bad it ends with a cliff-hanger.

Get Backers (gĕt bă'kərz) n - A thrilling series about the world's deadliest killers in the world's deadliest city fighting for possession of the world's deadliest item, all while having enough time to crack jokes and reminisce about the past.
Syn: Stolen books need recovering too, so don't let R.O.D. the TV slip your mind.

Wolf's Rain Vol. #4 – Recollections
Bandai 100 min. 4/7 $29.98 12/14/2004

And there we have it. The infamous recap episodes. Not one, not even two... but four. Right when something was about to happen. Sadly, I still enjoyed them. Each of the recaps was told through a different character's eyes, and managed to condense much of the major plot points into four episodes... though a twenty-six episode series shouldn't even need a recap. As much as I love the series (and think that it's one that everyone should own), I can't bring myself to put this as anything above a Rental item. By all means, if you've been collecting this show then buy it for the sake of completion like I did. As far as individual volumes go though, this was a disappointing set of episodes to watch. If you haven't watched these episodes already, don't expect too much out of them.

Wolf's Rain (wulfz rān) n - A torrential downpour that causes amnesia, thus requiring those exposed to undergo extensive treatments in which their whole lives must be recapped to them in quadruplicate by a professional.
Syn: There are many aspects of this show that are seen in other series, but nothing else quite combines these as well as Wolf's Rain. When it comes to a moving series about searching for a dream, Full Metal Alchemist gets a hearty recommendation.

Giant Robo Vol. #1 + special model box
Media Blasters 90 min. 1/3 $74.95 12/14/2004

Every now and then, it's nice to kick it old school. Giant Robo was just the thing to hit the spot. Finally given the DVD treatment, it reminds viewers that you don't have to be shiny and CG to be cool. The disc opens up with a prologue that sums up the entire backstory. The world was revolutionized by the invention of the Shizuma Drive, a rechargeable energy device that replaced fossil fuels and atomic power. However, it can also be used for great evil. One group has made it their mission to dominate the world and make civilians bow to their every whim. Calling themselves Big Fire, they need to assemble three special Drives so that they can send the world into despair. Unluckily for them, Earth has the Experts of Justice, a team of heroes that include a 12-year old named Daisuku... and his huge robot. The action kicks off in the first volume by bringing out all the players, and giving a bit of insight into the diabolical plans of Big Fire and the man who's overseeing them. Sure, it's old, and the artwork isn't anything like the standards of today, but boy is this show fun. The action scenes may be campy, and the characters even more so, but the plot twists had me glued on my rear. If you're angsting for a bit of heroic fun, give this one a rental for old time's sake.

Giant Robo (jī'ənt rō'bō) n - A giant robot capable of taking out a cadre of villains by reminding them that brute force can overcome any plot twist not involving women.
Syn: Don't forget the other heroes-with-robots shows like The Big O and Shin Getter Robo.

Shrine of the Morning Mist - Asagiri No Miko Vol. #1
Media Blasters 125 min. 1/? $29.95 12/14/2004

When I reluctantly put Asagiri no Miko into the DVD player, I had no hopes for it. Much to my dismay, it grew on me. Backed by one of the most ear-offending Megumi Hayashibara ending themes known to man, the show has a hard time deciding if it wants to be a monster-of-the-week show, or a show about a group of gals as they discover their Personal Powers Within™. Like all shows of this nature though, it finally settles on just being about friendship. Yuzu is thrilled because her childhood crush is coming to stay with them while he goes to high school (though he's apparently also her cousin. Ew.). However, his left eye allows him to see into the Spirit World. Because the plot dictates it, the forces of good and bad have fallen out of balance and someone is once again trying to summon some evil god. To combat this, Yuzu and her sister assemble a team of girls to be in the Priestess Club, a group dedicated to warding off monsters. For some reason, their classmates (and government, for that matter) are relatively unmoved by the fact that there are giant monsters rampaging through the school. Conveniently, this gives the Priestess Club plenty of chances to bond, learn new tricks, and dispel evil. What really made me start enjoying myself were the girls in the club. The characters are pretty clichéd, but they make an exciting crowd, and it's easy to want to see what kind of dialog they'll be spouting next. Considering each episode is only slightly over ten minutes long, it would be nice if they didn't feel the need to repeat animation so much. Still, the characters are worth the price of a rental.

Shrine of the Morning Mist (shrīn əf thə môr'nǐng mǐst) i - A shrine where young ladies are trained to battle ferocious monsters with bells and shards of paper, so that they may learn the value of Friendship and Teamwork™!
Syn:Check out some of the other magical girl shows out there like Wedding Peach and Sailor Moon. Or, be a little more edgy and sink yourself into the world of Aquarian Age.

Sister Princess Vol. #2 - Sibling Revelry
ADV Films 100 min. 2/7 $29.98 12/14/2004

The first volume got sent straight to the Perishable bin because of the contrived (non-) storyline and the utter ridiculousness of the main concept. The downfall of the second disc can only be blamed on the characters. It's not that the storyline has improved... it's just that something else has trumped the awfulness of it. It's not often that the milquetoast hero of shounen romance series has to be pitied. After all, he's the one with all the girls, the huge house, and sometimes even his own I've/Artist opening theme! However, Wataru deserves nothing but pity. The entirety of these episodes is about the hell that his twelve sisters put him through. Whether they're forcing him to write them all emails, forcing him to help them with a play, or forcing him to walk them through mock weddings, the episodes showcase just how annoying and clingy the girls can be. A small amount of credit can be given to the effort put into showing how he's slowly warming up to his sisters, but this is quickly shattered by the aggravation of watching their attention-whoring antics. People hoping that the series would get better should just turn away now. Unless you're in it for the eye-candy, you'd be better off spending 100 minutes in a way that doesn't include watching a battalion of archetypal sisters fawn over their brother.

Sister Princess (sǐs'tər prǐn'sĕst) n - A harem styled show where clingy sisters vie for their brother's attention through a series of whining and sycophantic babbling.
Syn: Sisters trying to mack on their brother? Give Please Twins a go.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

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