Shelf Life
Pass the Sauce

by Bamboo Dong,
I love seeing random bits of bizarre humor in everyday things, like bumper stickers, billboards, ketchup bottles, and what not. That's why I've always liked those hot sauce packets they have at Taco Bell, because they all have random messages on them. Why? I don't know. I can't imagine the guy who told his boss that there should be messages on their sauces. I only wish that all the fast food chains would start doing it too, so using condiments would be much more entertaining. Anyway, I was at Taco Bell today eating a Chalupa and missing the days of yore when all they had on their menu was tacos and burritos, and you just had to tell them if you wanted red sauce or green sauce. I picked up a sauce packet, and I was so taken by the randomness of it that it kept me laughing at odd intervals throughout the day. I only wish that all the condiments in America would start sporting messages.

Update: Turns out, my wishes have been answered. Soon after I typed the intro, I walked into one of the school's food-dispensing centers and noticed that all the ketchup packets now had clever little quips on them as well. This, America, is a trend that I could live with.

In random news, did you know that I'm only two columns away from my magical 100? Get ready for a few months of contests. In the meantime, enjoy these new banners for this week only! I'm a little late on the whole Fuccons theme, but hey, these banners are still totally clutch.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Doki Doki School Hours - 1st Hour + Artbox
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $34.98 11/08/2005
Doki Doki School Hours - 1st Hour
Geneon 100 min. 1/? $24.98 11/08/2005

If you've felt a void in your heart since Azumanga Daioh ended, you'll be glad for the release of Doki Doki School Hours. Sure, it doesn't have the same character appeal as AzuDai, but the kids that grace these episodes are plenty quirky enough to be entertaining. At the very least, they're extremely cute and just silly enough to make one forget that the series doesn't actually have a storyline. The story earns its bread by following a colorful class of students as they wade their way through the school year. At the head is their pint-sized teacher, who not only looks like an elementary school kid, but is also the nicest, friendliest, and most generous teacher in the entire Japanese schooling system. The rest of the crew is made up of manga nerds, homosexuals, loli-lovers, idiots, and sports fanatics. What makes it so appealing is that even though the characters are very static and cling on to their archetypes, they have so much fun together that you almost feel like you've been invited along to partake in the fun. It's hard to sit down and watch this for an extended period of time, but for those lazy Sunday afternoons when you just need something to watch for half an hour, this is a good choice. It's just damned fun, plain and simple.

Related Products: Definitely a softer, cuter, less bizarre chaser for Azumanga Daioh.

Princess Tutu DVD 2 - Traum
ADV Films 100 min. 2/? $29.98 11/29/2005

Finally, I'm beginning to see a bit of what all the hype was about. I must confess, I found the first volume to be very dull and very formulaic. With this second disc though, things are definitely shaping up. Instead of the monster-of-the-week, shard-collecting runaround that the first volume presented, these episodes shake things up quite a bit. A rival for Tutu is revealed, and even though she has enough to deal with, she now has to square off against Princess Kraehe and Fakir. While the story has improved though, the downside of series still remains the characters. Duck aside, the rest of the characters are, to me, intolerable. Her friends are mean and demeaning, Fakir is a homoerotic asshole, and even the prince himself is the world's biggest girl. It's surprising that even with such a lackluster cast of characters, the series still manages to be interesting, largely because it manages to break the typical Magical Girl mold so handily. This is definitely a unique series; if you're man enough to deal with a show about ballerinas and heart shards, check this out.

Related Products: As far as magical girl shows go, I always really liked Fancy Lala. Nobody really bought it when it came out, but the fact that all the episodes were fairly variegated appealed to me. Though, she didn't have to collect things; that may be the secret.

The Fuccons DVD 0 – Meet the Fuccons
ADV Films 30 min. 0/? $5.98 12/20/2005

Mannequins have always creeped me out. They're far too realistic, far too plastic, and their wide-mouthed grins always seem ready to ambush you behind every clothing display. It's that creep factor that totally makes The Fuccons the love/hate show it is. If you're bothered by the fact that the entire show is about mannequins, or you just don't find voices laid over dolls funny, then you'll probably enjoy it about as much as diving down a stairwell. On the other hand, if you can manage to twist that spookiness into something a bit less freaky, you might be able to enjoy the novelty of seeing dolls spinning on their heads, stuck in the same over exaggerated positions, and plopping face down into water. Is there a point to The Fuccons beyond that? No, not really, but that's what makes it so entertaining. It's like watching TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live, or watching some random Adult Swim show—there's no point to it, but the absurdity is good for some hearty laughs. Of course, this isn't for everyone, not by a long stretch. The humor is very quirky and is essentially just a very overblown 1950s sitcom (with mannequins), from the big grins, the sweater vests, to the merry peals of laughter that just drip with Contented Suburbanite. Whether you find it funny or creepy though, you should at least check it out once in your life just to see how genuinely bizarre it is. Plus, Team America was totally creepier.

Related Items: You remember that episode of Seinfeld where they see the mannequins that look like them? I always think of that when I see The Fuccons, even though the two different shows are like night and day. Watching The Fuccons is more like watching someone play with Barbies and with Leave It to Beaver in the background.

Cowboy Bebop - Remix DVD 2
Bandai 125 min. 2/? $29.98 10/25/2005

Once again, I'm faced with the dilemma of where to place a re-release. On the one hand, the show itself is terrific, exciting, and moving at times, but on the other hand, it's just a re-release. And not even a flashy re-release either, like Evangelion, but just a 5.1 toss-out. The show will undoubtedly continue to excite people for years to come, and this disc comes with favorites like “Waltz for Venus,” “Jamming with Edward,” and “Ganymede Elegy,” but it the release good enough to justify buying it, when you can buy the original release for cheaper? If you've been waiting to buy the series, you may as well just get this (though like I said, you can find the original release for less green), but if you already have the series, then there really isn't that much to gain from buying it again. Granted, the slipcases are damned sexy, but you should really reassess your love for Bebop before you decide to go out and buy this again.

Hakugei: Legend of Moby Dick DVD 1 - Call Me Lucky
ADV Films 125 min. 1/? $29.98 11/29/2005

There once was a man from Nantucket Nebula, who wore shorter shorts than Jeff Corwin. He looked for whales, but ultimately failed, and ended up stuck in a boring adaptation of a novel already used by high school students across the country as sleep medication. Though, to be fair, it has almost nothing to do with its namesake, other than having some crotchety old guy named Captain Ahab who obsesses over some shadowy entity he calls Moby Dick. Turns out, the show is more of your standard sci-fi adventure-in-space show that involves a captain and his motley crew of guys as they encounter minor issues every few days. Normally, visuals wouldn't really matter, but for this series, it really does provide a big sore spot. Even though the series is less than ten years old, it looks like it dates from the 80s, with blocky characters, lines everywhere, and more clutter than a buffet table. With the angular faces peering out from all corners of the screen, it's hard to focus on the crews' adventures; it doesn't help that the episodes are intensely boring. Melville's novel takes a certain level of patience and understanding to fully enjoy, but if you can't deal with his prose, there's good chance you might not have much luck with this series, especially when there's better science fiction shows out there you could be enjoying.

Related Items: As far as book to anime adaptations go, Gankutsuou is much better. In fact, it's an amazing show that everyone should watch.

Legend of the Blue Wolves
Media Blasters 45 min. 1/1 $29.95 11/15/2005

It would be too easy to make a joke about gays in the military, but I'll spare everyone what could only be an uncomfortable silence. There're already plenty of uncomfortable silences in Blue Wolves, but not because it was particularly bad. In fact, it was pretty good; the story was decently solid, the characters were adequately insightful, and it even leaked out a few moral message or two, but something just didn't sit well. It wasn't until the end that I realized the underlying flaw of the DVD—the lack of a clear target audience. The story stars two space soldiers who are very much in love with each other. Unfortunately, one of them is tagged by the big, burly fat Continental to be his next man-bitch, and has to deal with a few rapes until he's rescued by his comrade. The problem is, the style and storyline is something that seems tailor-made for men—meaty, potato-headed men with square six-packs that look like tubes of Italian sausages, and gruesome tales of robot battles and getting shot in the face. At the same time, it's clear that the creators realized that their primary audience was going to be women, so they tried to soften it by adding in Bach and a few choice serenades. In the end though, the two just don't mesh. It alienates female viewers with its Fist of the North Star heave-ho style, weirds out men with its girly classical music and sepia flashbacks, and disgusts both with its anti-erotic fat man rape. In the end, it can really only be enjoyed by tough women or pansy men, a niche within an already niche yaoi audience. There are plenty of yaoi stories out there that have a solid story backed with plenty of emotions, but while this one tries hard to hit that standard, it falls short.

Related Items: Not an anime, but for an example of good, classy yaoi, check out Digital Manga's release of Antique Bakery.

None. Isn't it great? Don't expect that to last.

Thanks for reading; see you next time!

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