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Shelf Life
Sound of Bounce on Free Throw

by Bamboo Dong,
Last week, when I mentioned that not many people ever said “hi” to me at conventions, I was greeted with a face-smack of logic: “I'd say hi to you, but I don't know what you look like!” D'oh. That makes too much sense. So before I head off onto my plane of merriment, I thought that maybe it would be helpful if people actually knew what I looked like, in case they run into me. However, I'm not terribly wont to posting a huge picture of me with some kind of “HAY LOL THIS IS ME GUYYZ” scribbled all over it, so instead, I posted a smattering of images of people who might actually be me. The only hint I can give you is this: one of these happy-go-lucky people is the real Bamboo!... so if you happen to chance upon me in the sunny rays of Anaheim (or as it may be, the dank darkness of the dealer room) and the mood strikes you right, come and talk to me. Quick disclaimer: I may or may not be wearing a wig at the convention, so maybe this pictorial clue won't help you either way. Though you really should just stop by the ANN panel, Saturday from 8:45-9:45PM.

We've got a great week of releases this time around (with some old releases that I could've sworn I'd reviewed, but apparently didn't), so enjoy and welcome to Shelf Life.

Elfen Lied DVD 1 + Artbox - Vector One
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $39.98 05/17/2005
Elfen Lied DVD 1 - Vector One
ADV Films 100 min. 1/? $39.98 05/17/2005

I am beside myself with giddiness with how much I love this show, and how much I terribly enjoy the senseless violence in the first few minutes of episode one. Little girls who can slice through an ensemble of men with a few invisible chops of their hand are really neat. Add on to that another little girl who can also kill things with invisible hands and it's just pure entertainment. Rampant bloodshed aside, Elfen Lied is shaping up to be a really intriguing series. There's a million and one questions about who the girls are, why they were created, and how they were made, and I can't wait for the answers. After wiping out an entire facility of men, a genetically-altered human named Lucy somehow washes ashore and is discovered by two kind strangers. Left with amnesia and no way of communicating outside of “nyu..!”s, she's taken under their care and saddled with the impossibly cute name, Nyu. As innocent as she seems though, she can turn into her vicious self at the drop of a hat, a convenience she uses often whenever she comes in contact with those trying to retrieve her. It's still unknown what exactly is going on and it's anyone's guess as to what will happen next. If that doesn't keep you watching, I don't know what will. Mixing insane amounts of violence with a heavy dose of ultracuteness, Elfen Lied samples both ends of the spectrum. What comes out is a fascinating show that's near impossible to put down. Cute girls with a deadly streak? Hell yes.

Related Products: It may not be as violent, but if you're looking for a story about girls who have been modified to be killers, be sure to add Gunslinger Girls to your list for a classy must-see.
Tastes like: Pop rocks. Those little buggers hurt like hell on your tongue (and heaven forbid you start chewing on them), but they're delightfully sweet and addictive.

Scrapped Princess DVD 2 + Figure - Melancholy Wagon Tracks
Bandai 100 min. 2/6 $49.98 06/28/2005
Scrapped Princess DVD 2 – Melancholy Wagon Tracks
Bandai 100 min. 2/6 $29.98 06/28/2005

While I was mildly disappointed with the first volume of Scrapped Princess, the second one was pretty awesome. Pulling out the big guns, these four episodes brought the heart of the storyline further into the light and revealed a bit more about the different enemies targeting the heroes. With the fated day creeping ever closer, a new group of bad guys is out to cause damage, the Peacemakers. Possessing a variety of special powers, their overall purpose and goals are just as shrouded in mystery as the Grendel revelation itself. Now that the Peacemakers are on the hunt for Pacifica and her siblings though, Magical Creepy Floating Girl Zefiris unveils more about herself as well, lending her powers to Shannon in his times of need. Although I found the first volume to be a bit trite, the second disc really piqued my interest. More and more questions are being raised, and the overall atmosphere has darkened quite a bit, too. The show still hasn't gotten to a point where it has me begging for more, but consider me interested. The action scenes are a lot dicier, the plot's a lot thicker, and the characters have really developed since last time. Give this a shot.

Related Products: I can't shake Ayashi no Ceres out of my mind whenever I watch this, what with the whole twins destined for death bit, but in terms of fantasy shows, try the perennial favorite, Record of Lodoss Wars.
Tastes Like: Fruit on the Bottom yogurt. I like pre-mixed yogurt, but Fruit on the Bottom intrigues me in a way I can't describe. The yogurt is a bit standard, but swirl in all the mixin's and you've got a tasty snack that's great for any afternoon.

Piano DVD 1- The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart
TRSI 72 min. 1/? $29.95 06/28/2005

Picture sitting outside on a cool day (sunny, but not humid). You're drinking lemonade and staring idly at the clouds drifting by. In the background, you can hear quiet strains of Chopin floating from your CD player. Lazy... and relaxing... just like Piano. It may very well be one of the dullest series ever, but it's amazingly beautiful and so wonderfully crafted that if you have the patience to watch it, you will be heavily rewarded with a quaint story about a girl who yearns to rediscover the magic of the piano through love. Early in life, Miu lived through her music, eagerly sharing her heart and emotions with anyone who would listen. Now her notes are nothing more than dead chunks of sound, but with an upperclassman catching her eye, her stoic chords seem to be melting. Laid back and simplistic, Piano is a show that will touch your heart if you give it the chance. It doesn't have any wacky hijinks or fast-paced action scenes. Hell, the characters spend an entire episode tracking down a lost cat. Instead, it paints an idyllic portrait of a girl and the people in her life as they go through life's daily adventures. Lovers of music will appreciate the loving attention that went into the show. The pieces that Miu plays match her keystrokes on the piano perfectly, and the piano scores she owns match ones I own to the logo, shade, and layout. If you have the patience for slow, slice-of-life shows, Piano will be perfect for you. Sometimes, it's nice to take things on the easy side and watch life roll by.

Related Products: Some of the best shows are the ones where nothing really happens, letting you enjoy life passing by—like Somedays Dreamers and Yokohama Kaidashi Kiko.
Tastes Like:Jasmine tea, right at the top of the pot. The flavor is lazily subtle up near the top, but it fills the senses with soothing relaxation and fills you with a warm hapiness.

Jubei-Chan 2 DVD 1 + Artbox – Resurrection
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $39.98 06/28/2005
Jubei-Chan 2: The Counterattack of Siberia Yagyu DVD 1 – Resurrection
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $29.98 06/28/2005

The Lovely Eye Patch is back in style, but this time there's someone else vying for it—Yagyu Jubei's real daughter. 300 years ago, Jubei fought a man to the death while his (mysteriously) blonde hair, blue-eyed daughter Freesia watched in tears. In an unbelievable twist of events, she was frozen in an ice-block and recently thawed, bent on retrieving the eye patch that rightfully belongs to her. Only now, there're others besides her hunting down Jiyu for her alternate identity, all bearing a 300-year old grudge. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Daichi, who said that he wasn't happy with the fight scenes in the first Jubei-chan, and was excited that he got the chance to redo them better in the sequel. True to his words, the fight sequences are crisp, fluid, and look amazing. Like much of Daichi's other work, Jubei-Chan 2 has that same happiness and charm that brings a smile to any forlorn face. With spunky characters, tender moments, and a lot of energy, this series is no exception. Knowledge of the first series isn't a necessity (there's enough self-references back to the first season to keep things clear), but there are a lot of characters who show up that are a bit of an eyebrow raiser unless you've seen the original show. The humor is a bit awkward at times, since it relies more on slapstick than its predecessor, but overall it still makes for a great time.

Related Products: It would be stupid of me to not mention the original Jubei-chan, but for other Daichi series with the same sword-slashing action, try Tsukikage Ran (though it pales in comparison to some of his other stuff).
Tastes like: Nerd Ropes. Delightful chunks of pure sugar with just a slender rope to tie them together, it's all fun and games with just enough coherency to keep it as one.

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu DVD 1 + Artbox - Full Metal Pandemonium
ADV Films 75 min. 1/? $39.98 05/10/2005
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu DVD 1 - Full Metal Pandemonium
ADV Films 75 min. 1/? $29.98 05/10/2005

What is the point of Fumoffu? Does it even have a storyline? Is there an aim or purpose to the episodes? I don't know. Frankly, I don't really care. I had a good time watching it, and that's all that really matters. But... that's just me. What cuts it for me in terms of comedy probably won't cut it for at least half of the anime fans out there, and Fumoffu is one of those titles that teeters on the edge. Simply put, it's pointless fun and wacky hijinks galore, and if slapstick comedy and the same running “Haha! Watch the military man overreact!” gag has you rolling every time (like it does for me), then you'll probably enjoy this. However, as much as I enjoyed this disc, I can't in my right mind place it higher than Rental Shelf. Unless you enjoyed the first series, you probably won't take as much pleasure in watching old characters do inane things. All 75 minutes of the show are nothing but Sousuke and Kaname goofing around—Sousuke blowing things up and shooting stuff, and Kaname whacking him with her fan. Truthfully, it doesn't have much replay value and the jokes get a little old after awhile, but even with all that aside, I still had a grand time watching it. I debated with myself for hours (okay, 20 minutes) about where to place this title, but it ended up here because I don't really see myself wanting to rewatch it again anytime this year. I do recommend that everyone watch this at least once in their lives though. The energy that is packed behind each scene is explosive and bursting with fun, and some of the scenes are absolutely priceless. Heck, if you liked it enough to buy it, good for you, but just try get your hands on it once.

Related Products: Wacky military comedies are always good for a jolly laugh, just like Excel Saga, though it's a lot goofier.
Tastes Like: Hawaiian Punch. It's one of the greatest sugary concotions on this lovely Earth, but drink too much of it and you'll get a horrible headache and an icky feeling of saccharine overdose.

Hoop Days DVD 1- Zone 1
Bandai 125 min. 1/6 $29.98 06/28/2005

Hey guyz, 1, 2, 3, Sound of Bounce on Free Dunk!
Yo! Girl, 1, 2, 3, Sound of Bounce on Free Love!

Did those opening lines from the intro make you hot? Would you hit it? I would... for one reason. Hoop Days is the coolest, hippest, lamest show I've seen all year, no joke. From the wannabe rap in the intro to the silly rap in the outro (pictured below. No, those aren't the subtitles, thank God.), this show is saturated with faux-class, pretty boys, and more drama than a 14-year old's LiveJournal. One day, basketball all-star Aikawa shows up at Mizuho High School, rearing to play for his newfound team. Problem is, the team is on the verge of being shut down because it doesn't have enough players, and it's an embarrassment in comparison to the dynasty girls' team. Leave it up to the newcomer to whip the team into shape and get them back into the game by making plentiful use of slow motion pans, WHOOOOOSHing sound effects, and overboard music. The story is like any other sports anime—an inspiring tale about hardwork and sticking to your guns, but Hoop Days manages to take things to the next step by making it one of the most overblown dramafests in recent history. Whoever thought that catching the rebound could be an earth-shattering event worthy of every camera trick in the industry? Who knew that blocking a pass was a heart-stopping scenario comparable to overtime in the Stanley Cup Finals? Originally called Dear Boys, the title was changed to Hoop Days because (true story) the original title sounded way too gay. Surprisingly, for all the exaggerated drama and GASP SHOCKER moments, Hoop Days is a very well-done show, technically. The animation is amazing, and the amount of work that went into the details is stunning. Still, it is one big laughfest of lameness and theatrics, and that alone makes it incredibly worthy to watch. ALRIGHT GUYZ?!?!

Related Products: Underdog sports anime are everywhere, but for a cute series about another team sport, try Princess Nine for some baseball lovin'.
Tastes like: Cheese puffs. So horribly tacky and totally fake, but MAN they're so great for popping and once you get a can, you can't help but share them with everyone else around you.

Aiiightz, the next time you'll hear from me, I will be kicking it up in Anaheim (West SIIIIIIIIDE), so thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!

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