Shelf Life
Turning 100

by Bamboo Dong, Jan 10th 2006
2006 already? Goodness, time goes by way too fast. I think I first started noticing the quick passage of time when I realized that for the first time in years, I don't know anybody still going to school at my old high school. It's a weird feeling, thinking back to how much time has passed, remembering when you sat in the same chair so many years ago, unable to comprehend what life would be like in a few years.

But, on to happier things—like consumerism! Did you get any gift cards for Christmas? Want to buy anime, but you're at a loss for what to get? Afraid to buy the first volume plus the artbox for something that could totally suck? That's why thinpaks and boxsets are awesome. If you're going to try something new (or finally add something to your collection that you've been wanting for awhile!), you may as well get the whole thing in one fell swoop. Of course, it doesn't help that there are a ridiculous amount of boxsets out there, even within the last couple of months. Need some help in deciding where to lay down those gift cards? Welcome to the Special Boxset Edition of Shelf Life!

Ahh, 100th column! What a great way to start the new year! Oh, and don't forget to check the bottom of the page for a chance to win my stuff!





Neon Genesis Evangelion - Platinum Complete Collection
ADV Films 650 min. 7 discs $89.98 11/22/2005

From the intense Angel battles, to Hideaki Anno's screwed up visions, to Rei and Asuka's loli rears, Neon Genesis Evangelion is the stuff of legends. There isn't a single anime fan who hasn't at least heard of the series before. If you've managed to avoid buying the series the first hundred times it was released, now's your chance to snag it in a steaming hot thinpak. The world is under attack from mysterious monsters from space, and the only people who can fight back are a few 14-year olds in giant robots. One of the best mecha series ever produced, it's been re-released with newly remastered audio and animation, and if ever there was a time to buy this series (or re-purchase it!), it's now. Seriously, you owe it to yourself as an anime fan to watch this landmark series.


Kaleido Star - Complete Collection
ADV Films 650 min. 6 discs $49.98 11/01/2005

Kaleido Star is simultaneously one of the most overlooked and best series released in recent years. Most series can be classified with a few genres and clichés, but this show defies all expectations. On the surface, it's just a simple show about a girl who wants to fulfill her dream of being a part of the Kaleido Stage, a visual acrobatic circus akin to Cirque du Soleil. Underneath that premise, though, is a touching story about a girl whose determination and ideals propel her through a whirlwind of friendships, personal barriers, and some wicked cool stunts. It's hard to describe the series with any word but “magical,” and it truly is. From the jaw-dropping visuals to the powerful story, this is a must see.


Shinkai Collection
ADV Films 120 min. 2 discs $39.98

When Voices of a Distant Star came out, everyone was blown away by its heart-tugging storyline, its beautiful visuals, and the fact that it was the handiwork of one brilliant man: Makoto Shinkai. One of anime's most promising new directors, he wowed audiences again with A Place Promised In Our Early Days, a short film about three teenagers driven apart by their goals, but brought together again by a childhood promise that could end up saving a life. It's amazing what one man's dreams can accomplish; for the rest of us, we owe it to ourselves to treat us with these two phenomenal films.


Kino's Journey - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 325 min. 4 discs $39.98 10/25/2005

Tales of faraway lands and different people have amused people for centuries, and like all good stories, they deserve to be repeated time and time again. Such is Kino's Journey, whose lead character takes viewers on board a scooter for an unforgettable ride. From the bizarre practices of strange worlds, to the unpredictable journey of introspection, Kino's Journey is unlike any show out there. Exciting storytelling, strong characters, and a compelling search for the meaning of life, there hasn't been a modern sojourn of such deep thought since the works of Pirsig.


Super GALS – Ironclad Collection
ADV Films 650 min. $49.98 12/13/2005

When it comes to girly fun like shopping, talking about boys, and embracing an independent spirit, nothing shows that off more than Super GALS. Ran Kutobuki and her friends are kogals, living their life for the here and now. They might not set the best examples for young girls (pining after accessories instead of studying?), but they're true to their hearts and their friends, and they'd rather die than see their friends get hurt or do something stupid. Although the “Moral lesson of the week!” pattern gets a little dull after a while, it's still a fun and sweet show about peppy girls who have a lot to teach about friendship and self-esteem.


Azumanga Daioh - Class Album
ADV Films 650 min. 5 discs $69.98 09/20/2005

Wildly popular amongst fans, Azumanga Daioh chronicles the high school years of a group of girls as they deal with everything from vacations, to mean cats, to the bittersweet event of graduation. Don't be expecting straightforward classroom antics though—the series is filled with quirky humor and character gags. Based on a series of four-panel comic strips, the show's humor is a bit of an acquired taste. At times, it's a bit slow and repetitive, but over the course of all the episodes, viewers really get a good sense of just how much friendship and the high school experience means to these girls. It's that feel-good sensation that makes the entire show worth it. If you're yearning for your high school days again, this might be the show for you.


Astro Boy [1980] - Series Collection
Manga Entertainment 1560 min. 8 discs $39.98 11/22/2005

The fact that this boxset even exists is amazing. 51 episodes of the legendary 1980 show? Totally cool. All the episodes are presented in English and Japanese, and the scenes that were deleted from the episodes are included as well. To be completely honest, this show is kind of boring, what with the whole robot boy zipping around saving lives and Brightening Hearts for 51 repetitive episodes, but its sheer nostalgia counts for quite a bit. Astro Boy is a timeless classic, and even though there are modern shows that can kick its ass around the world 10 times, it's still worth owning for the sake of owning it.


Samurai X - Director's Cut Collection
ADV Films 220 min. 3 discs $44.98 12/06/2005

The first set of Rurouni Kenshin OVAs have long been cited by fans as one of the best series ever made, and it's easy to see why. A prequel to the series, it's told with amazing artwork, fluid animation, and laced with pain and angst. The second OVA... well, it's not as well liked, but no one can deny that the art is equally amazing. A bastardized version of the third manga arc, it's largely a recap of an earlier episode and not very essential to the overall series. Regardless of which you prefer, though, this is something that every Rurouni Kenshin fan should own. You simply can't call your collection complete without these two beautiful works of art.


Chrono Crusade - Complete Collection
ADV Films 600 min. 7 discs $89.98 11/01/2005

Exorcisms would be much cooler if they always involved peppy nuns and their demon accomplices. It certainly worked for Chrono Crusade, whose story of a young girl and her never-ending search for her missing brother provided the fuel for a monster-busting story that had me glued to my chair. Throwing curve balls whenever the series was in danger of getting stale, Chrono Crusade stays exciting until the very end, which manages to drive in a few stakes into viewers' hearts. If you're tired of dull monster-hunting shows, this one will blow you away.


Lunar Legend Tsukihime - Box Set
Geneon 325 min. 3 discs $89.98 10/04/2005

For a series that stops making sense whenever it feels like it, Lunar Legend Tsukihime is a whole lot of fun. Young Shiki has a strange power—he's able to see the threads of life in everything, such that one jab of his knife at the right point and the object (be it human or tree) will shatter. Things get weird when he kills a girl who comes back, proclaiming herself to be a vampire. It's only expected that things get even more strange after that, with creepy hidden rooms, long-lost brothers, and enough secrets to give you chills night.


Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi - Box Set
ADV Films 325 min. 4 discs $49.98 09/06/2005

After Sasshi's life falls apart, the only thing he wants to do is curl up and make everything go away. Only, things get even more hectic when he and his friend end up in a strange world filled with ninjas, pirates, trannies, and everything in between. Now they have to somehow fight their way back home. It's best if you don't think about it too hard. Parody series have become so overabundant that the mere sight of one can lead to groans and moans, but Abenobashi is actually funny. There's a few moments when you can only stare quizzically at the screen, but Gainax creates such a colorful and magical world that you can't help but forget all logic and laugh along with the characters.


Noir - Complete Collection
ADV Films 650 min. 7 discs $89.98 06/14/2005

Like the two girls the story is centered around, the different halves of Noir are as different as night and day. The first half is like Kirika—on the outside, it's seemingly commonplace and would blend in with all the other assassination shows, but it's laced with clues and symbols (albeit dull and overdone) that gives it complexity. The second half is more like Mireille—exciting, well-calculated and sexy in its fast-paced chase through secrets and conspiracies. Like all shows, it has its ups and downs, due largely to the unbalanced pacing, but overall, it's a good show for anyone bored of the girls and guns genre


Peacemaker - Complete Collection
ADV Films 600 min. 7 discs $89.98 11/15/2005

Anime series based on historical events have always had the advantage of having events to draw from whenever they ran out of ideas. Luckily, Peacemaker didn't really have to dip into the well to often. Starring a plucky (and annoying) little brat whose goal is to join the Shinsengumi, the story explores the inner conflicts that rage inside him. He wants to exact revenge on the people who killed his parents, but is it worth becoming a ruthless killer himself? Touching at times and exciting at others, Peacemaker is a thrilling story that lets you forget after awhile that you're rooting for some 3 foot tall kid.








D.N.Angel - DVD Complete Collection
ADV Films 650 min. 7 discs $89.98 12/06/2005

D.N.Angel was built for fangirls. Whether you like adult Dark and his swarthy sexiness, or you have a predilection for little boys, you'll find something to be squealy over. It certainly makes up for any repetition in the story. Daisuke is a sweet little boy who can transform into the talented thief, Dark. While he's busy eluding the cops and hiding his dual-identity, he's busy trying to tack down the heart of one of his classmates. Refreshingly, the story changes up halfway through and becomes much more serious; the ending is nothing like the first few episodes would have indicated, and overall, it's a fun series, though nothing to write home about.


King of Bandit Jing - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 325 min. 4 discs $39.98 10/18/2005

Watch out! A bandit's on the loose, and he (and his pervo albatross/gun/sidekick buddy) can steal anything he wants. Watch as he goes through one kooky adventures after another for 13 episodes without ever centering around a storyline! Okay, each individual episode is plenty of fun, but without a central story arc tying things together, it gets a bit burdensome to watch after awhile. I mean, what's the point? If you're just out to be entertained, then by all means check this show out, but if you're looking for the meaning of life, Jing doesn't have it.


Mezzo - Complete Collection
ADV Films 325 min. 3 discs $39.98 11/15/2005

It's hard not to crack a huge smile when you're watching Mezzo. All the characters are fun and vivacious, and even the quiet mumbling girl has her moments. Every episode follows the gang as they take on another case, ranging from busting ghosts to tracking down ruthless serial killers. It's all silly and trivial fun, but each adventure is so unique and different that it's easy to plunge through several episodes in one go. Not a lot of brainpower required for this baby, but it's a guaranteed good time.


Dirty Pair: Movie DVD Box
ADV Films 190 min. 3 discs $24.98 11/08/2005

The thing with Dirty Pair is that you already know what's going to happen in every movie or episode. They're going to have some kind of assignment, and they're going to try real hard, but along the way they're going to blow lots of stuff up, break something, and still end up the heroines. With Project Eden, Affair of Nolandia, and Flight 005 Conspiracy, it's much of the same. No surprises, but it's still a hell of a fun ride for anyone whose youth was spent watching Dirty Pair.


Dirty Pair OAV - Thinpak DVD Box
ADV Films 250 min. 3 discs $24.98 12/27/2005

Hey, guess who blows up stuff? That's right, Yuri and KEI. Guess who still avoids getting fired anyway? Yuri and KEI. Classic fun, classic girls with guns and terrible hair, and a classic case of “Hey, this is really predictable, but you know what? It's still really fun!” The 3WA girls are up to their usual hijinks in the Original Dirty Pair OAVs, taking on missions that result in more property damage than it's probably worth. I've secretly always liked Dirty Pair Flash better, but it's hard to beat the original.


Rune Soldier - Box Set Collection
ADV Films 600 min. 6 discs $39.98 09/13/2005

I once had a roommate who would hold D&D games in our room, so that at nights, I'd have nightmares of smelly orcs chasing me, with my only defense a few bumbling idiots with foam swords. I suppose that's quite similar to what Rune Soldier is, only the heroes are a motley crew of typical RPG personas who are funnier than any of the nerds who ever stepped inside my door. All girls save for a dorky mage named Louis, they stumble around the countryside tapping their mana and beating things up. Not exactly the strongest of storylines, but the episodes deliver plenty of laughs to make up for it.


Aquarian Age - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 325 min. 3 discs $39.98 10/04/2005

If Aquarian Age were twice as long as it is now, it would be a lot better. The characters would be more fully developed, the story would make more sense, and it would be less rushed. Then again... if it were longer...it's possible that viewers would just have to deal with twice as much junk. The series focuses on a blooming pop idol who has to set aside his dreams to go fight in a centuries old war. Unfortunately, it's hampered by its short length and falls short of what it could be, ending up instead as more of a watered down X/1999.


Angelic Layer - Box Set
ADV Films 650 min. $49.98 09/27/2005

Penned by one of the most versatile manga groups in history, Angelic Layer is CLAMP's take on the shonen tournament genre. Only, instead of little boys with goofy hair, the heroine is a girl who gets sucked into the world of Angelic Layer, a game where dolls are pitted against each other. But... just because it's CLAMP doesn't mean it's any immune to repetition and predictability. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to be surprised by anything that happens in the series. Still, if tournament-style shows are your thing, this is a mildly entertainment show with energetic characters.


Eden's Bowy - Complete Collection
ADV Films 650 min 6 discs $39.98 11/08/2005

It's disappointing when you have a solid story, some interesting ideas about society and culture, and beautiful scenery to present it on, but things fall flat because a series is so focused on being anime-fan and kid friendly that it doesn't explore all its options. Yorn is a farmer's son whose life is flipped upside down when his father is murdered. Now, accompanied by some weird dude and an annoying girl, he has to figure out the secrets lurking in his austere, hierarchical society, all while trying not to die. Sadly, instead of pulling out all the stops and becoming a thrilling action story laced with mystery and deceit, it comes off as little more than a kids' tale, armed with stereotypical gags and characters. What a waste.


Orphen II - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 575 min. $39.98 8/30/2005

When I was younger, I had a crush on Orphen. I loved his smooth talking, his awesome magic skills, and his sexy smile. Sadly, all the suave grins in the world can't make up for 23 episodes of a long, long buddy flick. The first season was kind of fun, with dark mysteries that needed to be unraveled and evil bosses to be fought. The second season is largely the group fiddling around the countryside, battling things whenever they get in the way of a good meal. It's not to say it's not somewhat entertaining, but it just doesn't get the job done.


Nuku Nuku DASH! - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 300 min. 3 discs $44.98 10/11/2005

Back in the day, Catgirl Nuku Nuku was passed around amongst fanboys like the Hope Diamond. Luckily, since then, we've had more to choose from, pushing stuff like Nuku and Nuku Nuku Dash further down the list. Largely a remake of the original OVA, only less goofy and with a slightly more chiseled main character, Dash is mostly innocuous, but trite in comparison to other, better series that have been made since 1998. You can do better.


Nuku Nuku - DVD Collection
ADV Films 350 min. 4 discs $44.98 12/20/2005

Oh boy! Hijinks! What gloriously repetitive fun! Despite the original Nuku Nuku having garnered a massive fan following when it first drifted its way into American basements, it's hard to watch the show now and not feel a bit let down. Back in the day, it was fun, it was wacky, it was a laugh a minute, but now... now it's just some goofy show with a horny boy and a super android who Creates Havoc But Has A Heart of Gold. Unless you were a big Nuku fan growing up, this may not be worth the dough.


Slayers - Movie Box
ADV Films 285 min. 5 discs $49.98 09/20/2005

I'm definitely in the minority here, but I've never really thought Slayers was funny. Everything was also so goofy and so campy that I ended up rolling my eyes more than rolling on the floor. But... for those who do love such things, you'll love the Slayers movie box, which includes the Motion Picture, Return, Great, Gorgeous, and Premium. All follow Lina and her crew as they fight monsters and battle twisting shards of time all while having enough breathing room to crack jokes and trip over rocks. Whoo.








Final Fantasy Unlimited - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 625 min. 6 discs $49.98 08/23/2005

Watching someone play NHL2K6 is fun. Watching someone fight a boss battle is kind of fun. Watching someone walk around a field for 4 hours just to level up is really, really boring. That's the problem with Final Fantasy: Unlimited. They could have come up with something really exciting and really dark and blown the socks off everyone, but what they got was a dull story about two kids looking for their parents. Filled with plot holes and leaps of logic, this series is poorly paced and uninspired. Go play one of the games or something.


Those Who Hunt Elves - Thinpak Collection
ADV Films 600 min. 6 discs $49.98 10/25/2005

There's nothing more painful than shows that think they're HAHA Hilarious, but are neither hilarious, nor deliver Hahas. Somewhat like Those Who Hunt Elves, which desperately thinks it's a madcap fantasy adventure about stripping elves in order to check their bodies for symbols. Sadly, the story is so insipid that even if it were funny (which it's not), it would still be unbearable to watch. The characters are irritating, the jokes are lame, and when an entire show revolves around stripping people, you're in trouble.


Happy Lesson - DVD Collection
ADV Films 425 min. 3 discs $39.98 11/22/2005

This show makes me sad. Not in an emotional, heart-wrenching, wrist-slitting kind of way, but in depressing wonder that there are people out there who actually lap this tripe up. This bizarre story centers around an orphan whose teachers (five of them) have taken it upon themselves to move into his home and be his mothers. While it's a sweet sentiment, and something that lends itself to a few wispy, orchestrated happy moments, it's so hard not to hate every last person who steps into his household. The teachers are beyond irritating, and one can't help but wish for their deaths in a tragic (but short!) car accident. The intention of this show is to be sweet and funny, but it's far too hard to feel anything but rage and frustration at the idiocy of the nosy women who can't help but barging into someone else's life.




To help celebrate my 100th column (and to give you a much-needed break after reading that long column!), I'll be giving away chunks of my anime collection. All you have to do is take a picture, or maybe two... maybe even five! Here's the deal: this column is all about shelf life, and I'm all about food, so each column, I'll give out a word. Your job is to head out to a grocery store and take a picture of something food-related that best represents that word. For example, the theme could be “Dirty” and you could give me anything from two tangerines and a banana to a milk spill in Aisle 6. All you have to do is be creative, and maybe make me chuckle. No Photoshop, unless you're screwing with the contrast.

Send all your entries (as many as you want) to shelflife [at] animenewsnetwork [dot] com in the form of a JPEG, as well the name you want to go by, and your mailing address. The contest is open to anyone around the world, but if your postal service loses the package, it's not my problem. I'll continue to accept entries until 30 minutes after I post the next column, so before you send the email, just make sure that a new column isn't up. So don't dally, folks! My schedule is as erratic as a dying moth.

The body of your email should also contain one or more letters to indicate which prizes you're interested in, but keep in mind, you can only win one of them.

The Prizes – Round 1
A: Kaleido Star Thinpak Boxset
B: Kino's Journey Thinpak Boxset
Consolation prizes:
C: Princess Tutu v.1
D: Princess Tutu v.2

This Week's Word: Graceful

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!

discuss this in the forum (51 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

Shelf Life archives

Around The Web