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Shelf Life
Dual Screen Magic

by Bamboo Dong,
Having worked tech support over the years, and having had to call various support centers for my own purposes, I can easily say that I hate being on either side. It's frustrating when they try to use the same tricks that I do (“Let me hand you to my manager!” Manager my ass.) or give me some non-answer that's already in my repertoire. That's why it's so nice to get good tech support, and that's why I like Nintendo. Over the break, I started playing with a shiny new Nintendo DS, but the internal hardwire fried, and I got stuck on the setup screen eternally, with the current date and time never saving. The first time it happened, I popped out the battery case and stuck two small screwdrivers into the button-looking holes next to it, and it fixed itself. Totally a fluke, because a couple of weeks later, it happened again, never to repair itself. I had read online that if that happened, you were a goner, but turns out, Nintendo Customer Service really rocks.

Since DSes are under company warranty for a year, if it breaks, you can either send it in and get it serviced, or you can just give them five bucks, they'll send you a previously fixed one via 2nd Day UPS and just have you ship back your old one. That is awesome. I was so expecting for them to flip me an e-finger and tell me to buy a new one that I was dumbfounded when the guys on the line told me about their replacement plan. And the best part was that the two guys who helped me (Brad and Mark) sounded so friendly and chatty that all I could picture was hot guys on the other end of the line.

So now that last time was mostly ADV thinpaks, here's some other thinpaks from other companies that I think you'd be interested in. Oh, and a regular column too. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Gankutsuou DVD 2 - The Count of Monte Cristo
Geneon 100 min. 2/6 $29.98 01/10/2006

The second volume of Gankutsuou knocked the wind out of me. I struggled to maintain regular breathing as I pawed at the screen, amazed, captivated, entranced, and shat up with wonder at just how incredible this show has become. In the first disc, it was the visuals that stunned me with their uniqueness, but in this disc, it was the story that had me by the proverbial balls. The seeds of revenge are finally sprouting and no one, not even the audience (especially since the story doesn't really follow the book) knows what's going to happen. Between the lies, the deceit, and the evil glares the Count keeps shooting, the story is racing at the perfect breakneck speed. And, since most viewers will have already gotten over the surprise of seeing clothing pan over patterns and newspaper articles, all that remains is to sit back and be caught in the events. This is shaping up to be a series that no anime fan can do without.

Kodocha DVD 3 - Crush of Truth
FUNimation 105 min. 3/? $29.98 11/15/2005

This series truly gets better and better by the volume. Not a single episode goes by that I don't end up pining to see the next one. It's so heartfelt and intense, but at the same time, it keeps itself from being too melodramatic by throwing in little jokes and tangents at all the right moments. After the fated kiss that Hayama planted on Sana, her mind is lost in turmoil. Between that and her conflicts with Rei, it takes enough energy to keep going through her busy schedule without having to worry about other issues, like being ostracized by her classmates. If you've ever considered yourself a shojo fan for its touching character relationships, these first few volumes are an indispensable necessity for your collection. I can't think of another show that drags me through so many emotions in so little time, between laughing out loud and being genuinely concerned for the characters. It's only volume three, too! I can't even imagine the rollercoaster I'll be taken through with the next few discs.

Ghost Stories DVD 2 - Sophomore Scares
ADV Films 100 min. 2/? $29.98 12/20/2005

The second volume of this controversially-treated series is just as hilarious and unconventional as the first, and I love it. As the characters find themselves face to face with more ghosts, ADV's cast of dub actors continue to roll out the jokes. And, now that they're not trying as hard to be rollingly funny for the debut episodes, the humor has fallen into a much more natural lope. It's easy to see why this release angers a few people, but truthfully, at least for me, ADV's super-Fosterization has made an otherwise dull and childish series much more entertaining. Sure, some of the jokes are over the top, but many of the comments had me laughing out loud. I'd be incensed if this was done on a series like Yugo the Negotiator or Area 88, but for a series that doesn't have any more artistic merit than the Flintstones, I'm fairly certain that this series has garnered far more sales than it would have if it had been released faithfully. Just like I have no desire to keep old episodes of Scooby Doo on my shelf, I'd much rather be entertained by Mr. Ayres screaming, “Whatthehellisgoingon?ThesearethefastestlipflapsI'veeverseen!”

Burst Angel DVD 2 - A New Tokyo
FUNimation 100 min. 2/? $29.98 07/12/2005

It's amazing how much better a show gets when it goes from one-shot episodes to two-parters. Suddenly, something choppy and random becomes so much more entangling because viewers have more interest in the characters' plights. With the first volume, things were a bit underwhelming for our Angels as they romped through Japan, shooting at robots and chasing down flyaway hats. The second disc? Five times as much fun. Meg goes undercover at a prestigious girls' school on a mission to uncover the truth behind a hallucinogenic drug and a creepy monster. Then things get more gruesome when the girls race against time to save their cook from a deadly virus and an overgrown crow. What makes these episodes particularly interesting isn't just their additional length—it's that each one spends more and more time on Jo's past and how it effects her world outlook. Helping to develop the tight bond between her and Meg, it adds another dimension of emotion to a previously dry shoot-em-up-gals show. It'll be fun to see how the series progresses from here!

Sensitive Pornograph DVD
Kitty Media 30 min. 1/1 $24.95 09/27/2005

Sensitive Pornograph is very “pleasant.” It's not filled with beefy guys pounding each other or raping each other, nor is it filled with sexaholics who bone anything with a penis. It's simply two very gentle stories about straight men who fall in love with other men, only to discover that man hole is just as good as any other hole. In that regards, it's not exactly the most heartfelt of stories—it relies more on the tactile love and passion that these men feel for their newfound partners rather than anything emotional. At the same time though, the palette is so soft and the music so demure that the two episodes come off as much more tender than they really are. It's the man-man take on pseudo-lesbian porn, filled under tinted lights and lighted by candles and if this doesn't get the yaoi fangirls wild, well... it will.

Girls Bravo DVD 4
Geneon 100 min. 4/? $24.98 01/06/2006

There are two types of women that anime heroes go after: subservient dishtowel women who live only to please their men through sexual gratification and ego-stroking, and violent, distempered women who physically abuse men because they are incapable of admitting their own wrongdoings. Usually, they're drawn towards the former because they're sick of the latter. And usually, I fiercely detest this type of formula. But, as much as I hated the first few volumes of Girls Bravo, I grudgingly found the fourth volume to be rather cute. By now, they've already established that all of their characters are insufferable and can just focus on their adventures. As usual, nothing earth-shattering happens this disc, but viewers get to see a bit more about the development of character relationships. Fukuyama becomes more and more human every episode, and it's almost refreshing to see how friendly the characters can be at times. Definitely not a masterpiece, but it's settled into a better rhythm.

Wolf's Rain - Complete Collection Limited Edition DVD Set
Bandai 750 min. 7 discs $149.98 11/22/2005

It's said that there's a paradise on Earth that only wolves can find, and it's through a grueling journey of a small band of wolves to this magical destination that viewers reach anime paradise. Simply a jaw-dropping series, the characterization is strong and the story is compelling. Incredibly unique both in concept and in execution, there is just little wrong with this series, except for the infamous recap volume. Quite simply, this is a one of a kind show. It has action, it has drama, it has a vast array of emotions—what more could you want?

Last Exile - Complete Box Set
Geneon 650 min. 7 discs $161.29 10/04/2005

Grace and beauty are two characteristics you don't normally see in many action dramas, but they can really something add some sizzle. Last Exile tells the brave story of two youngsters who are charged with delivering a girl, but are caught in a war before they get there. Focusing much of its strength on character development and relationships, it's a slow-paced series that makes the best of its time, slowly chewing on the details and letting life take forge its own path. This is an amazing show that everyone should see.

Haibane Renmei - Box Set
Geneon 325 min. 4 discs $119.98 10/04/2005

Few series are as universally beloved and admired as Haibane Renmei, from its fascinating cast of characters to its slow, dreamy pace. If you could look into someone's dream, this is what it would probably look like. It's a subdued world populated by humans and haibane, charcoal-winged angels who are birthed from cocoons. No one knows what exactly they are, or why they are confined within a walled city. Unlike other series, Haibane Renmei never comes out and spills what it's about. Instead, it prefers to portray events and let viewers weave their own conclusions, which is part of what makes it so engaging. Truly a masterpiece.

SaiKano - Complete Collection
Viz 312 min. 2 discs $79.98 11/15/2005

SaiKano is not only the best show on the planet, it's also my favorite series of all time (hence the bias). I almost never cry at the end of movies or shows, but this series tipped me over the edge again and again until I was glad there were no sharp objects in the room. Despite being set in a war, and having the lead character double as the Ultimate Weapon, SaiKano is less of a war story than it is just a love story about two teenagers who struggle to remain human during times of inhuman tragedy. With nothing of their old lives to cling onto but their budding love, their emotions are so innocent that it's easy to get caught up in the series, even while an absurd war is raging. If you're not afraid to cry like a little sissy, and you're looking for a tearjerker powerful enough to make boulders weep, this is the show for you.

Paranoia Agent - Box Set
Geneon 325 min. 4 discs $99.98 07/05/2005

Paranoia Agent is fantastic. The end. It's like taking chunks from all of Satoshi Kon's movies and whipping them into a series that does nothing but give you the heebie-jeebies. An assaulter is on the loose in Tokyo, but according to victims, it's just a kid in roller blades who lugs around a dented bat. One by one, as people's lives start to unravel, he comes to deliver them from their problems. Creepy and suspenseful, the way that the episodes tie themselves together help give the show that solidarity that makes it so good. Want to be scared? Paranoia Agent is a good place to start.

L/R: Licensed by Royalty - Box Set
Geneon 321 min. $79.98 07/05/2005

Super agents always make for good entertainment, no matter what. Such is the case with L/R, which gets a double dose of Awesome because it has one of the best English dubs I've ever heard. The series stars a team of agents who do special jobs for the Royal Family's under the government's radar, like protecting things, capping stuff, and one would assume, taking their kids to dentist appointments. The series starts off awkwardly, but rights itself into a highly entertaining and highly addictive show that never stops moving.

R.O.D The TV - Box Set
Geneon 650 min. 7 discs $199.98 07/05/2005

One paper master is cool enough, but get three together? That's a lot of injured folk and dead trees. Things are a brewin' for three girls who end up as bodyguards for a high-profile author. Soon, they're on the tail of an international conspiracy, so it's a good thing they can hand out some wicked papercuts with their paper master skills. For anyone who's ever enjoyed the ROD OVA, this is definitely worth getting. The action scenes are just as neat, and because of the length, there's more time to dive into character backgrounds and motivations. Read or Die is far from your typical action series, from the conflicts all the way to the action scenes, so check it out.

Kimba the White Lion - Ultra DVD Box Set
Right Stuf 1345 min. $129.99 11/29/2005

If cuteness could be personified onto celluloid, Kimba the White Lion would be scampering around the studio and bowling people over. A classic series, this inspirational tale of a young lion and his jungle friends is heart-warming like only a story about talking critters can be. With his tales of friendship and surviving in the wild, Kimba is one of the most lovable characters ever created. This is for lovers of classic series and animals alike.

Irresponsible Captain Tylor - Limted Edition Ultra DVD Box Set
Right Stuf 948 min. 4 discs $99.99 07/05/2005

Captain Tylor is one of those shows that, once you get into it, there's no turning back until it's all over and done with. That's what's so nice about having the whole series at your disposable all at once. Tylor has somehow found himself helming a spaceship, but he's the most irresponsible, carefree captain in the whole fleet. It's a miracle he doesn't everyone killed right out of the port, but with plenty of dedication and friendship from his crewmates, he learns that nothing can stop him. Sure to become a fast favorite, this is a great show to add to your collection.

Rumiko Takahashi Anthology - Box Set
Geneon 375 min. 4 discs $99.98 07/26/2005

One look at Takahashi's short stories and it would be immediately obvious why she's one of the richest women in Japan. Exciting, fresh, and captivating every time, she never tells the same tale twice, which is what makes her one-shots so much fun. Luckily for all y'all lazy people, you can check out her yarns without having to crack open a single book, thanks to the animated Anthology. It's a great set of stories that will keep anyone entertained for hours. And the best part? It's not a million episodes of the same thing over and over again.

Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Series Limited Edition Ultra Collector's Box
Right Stuf 455 min. 3 discs $69.99 11/08/2005

The Captain Tylor OVA series pales in comparison to the TV series, but it's still a great time—especially after watching the series, which leaves you craving for more. As another war rages in space, the Soyokaze crew finds themselves right in the middle with too much to deal with, including powerful secret weapons and Azalyn's long-lost shell of a friend. For fans of the first Captain Tylor, this is an adequate follow-up.

Requiem from the Darkness - Complete Box Set Digipack
Geneon 325 min. 4 discs $119.98 10/04/2005

When it comes to scary things, much has to be said about atmosphere. You can saw through all the fingers in the world, but if there's Dream Street song playing in the back and cats frolicking, it won't be too creepy. Luckily, Requiem from the Darkness hits it on the head with its sometimes grotesque character designs and never static palette. An author has made it his mission to travel around the countryside collecting scary stories, but comes face to face with each one. From demons to killer sugar gliders, his adventures are steeped in the supernatural and the freakish, and make this show a unique treat.

Chobits - Box Set
Geneon 675 min. 7 discs $99.98 11/08/2005

Everyone loves to love Chobits, and with how adorable all of the characters, who can fault them? Not to mention it's also the easiest of all the Hot Topic cosplay to do. Just because it's so beloved doesn't mean it's a masterpiece though; the series takes a few dips and turns, spending much of its middle wallowing in mediocrity, but with this series, it's the end that truly amazes. Life is dull for Hideki until he finds a rejected persocom lying in the alley. After restoring her and helping to uncover her origins, he begins to fall for her, which brings up one of the most interesting themes in the series—the shaky love between man and technology. Simultaneously cute and thought-provoking, this is a series that gets interesting once you peel back its fluffy exterior.

Samurai Deeper Kyo - Economy Box
Media Blasters 650 min. $89.95 10/11/2005

It's been a while since this show first came out, but it's still highly entertaining. In a legendary battle, two samurai set out to fight each other to the death, but years later, one of them is now a medicine man, and the other... well, his soul is trapped inside the medicine man. It's not until fighting breaks out again that the man's inner soul and inner demon come out. As entertaining as the show is, it's not entirely a fresh concept. Okay, demonic soul residing in a body. Fine, but it's the pacing of the show that makes it so much fun. Even when the fights get too repetitive, they're exciting enough to make viewers keep watching, and that's all the matters.

Robotech - Protoculture Collection DVD MegaSet
ADV Films 2575 21 discs $129.98 11/08/2005

If you liked Robotech, then you'll be more than willing to snatch up this huge deal. All of the episodes for just $130? Get out! It contains all three series, jam-packed on 21 discs, and all I know is that people who see it on your shelf will either think you're the coolest kid on the block, or the biggest nerd. Either way, you'll have this nostalgic knock-back to your childhood. Sure, Robotech isn't anywhere close to the original three series that it was made from, but if you didn't care when you were a kid, you probably won't care now.

Please Twins! - Box Set - Limited Edition w/CD
Bandai 325 min. 4 discs $49.98 11/08/2005

Ah, Please Twins!, the show that I love to love but would never admit. Alright, secret's out—I really dig this show. It's so absurdly overdramatic and repetitive that it's like watching an episode of The OC over and over again, and it's wonderful. Mike had a nice quiet life until two girls showed up on his doorstep, both claiming to be his long lost sister. But, only one of them can be his twin—which means the other would be free to be his girlfriend. Although the series is extremely repetitive and talks about the same things in every single bloody episode, and the characters' brother complexes are a bit disturbing, the art is beautiful, the music is soft on the ears, and the characters are all just so perky that they're impossible to hate. This is a guilty pleasure show unlike anything else.

Please Teacher! - Box Set - Limited Edition w/CD
Bandai 325 min. 4 discs $49.98 10/11/2005

As cute as this series can be at times, I've always found it to be a bit distasteful. The whole thing about marrying one's teacher just rubs me the wrong way, although brother complexes aren't much better. Still, Please Teacher! is a visual treat, with everything bold, sunny, and beautiful. The uncharacteristic love between a forever-young boy and his alien teacher provides the basis for plenty of eyebrow-raising moments, but it's so earnest in its emotions that it's hard not to cave in just a little and enjoy yourself.

Ikki Tousen - DVD Box Set
Geneon 325 min. 4 discs $99.98 07/19/2005

The guilty pleasures keep rolling in, only this time, it's truly something to feel guilty about. Ikki Tousen is a stick 'em up and fight show created for the sole purpose of vaporizing clothes, showing camel toes, and making men excited over the aforementioned two. Things get gnarly when seven schools send out their best fighters to duke it out in a fight for supremacy. Purportedly, they do it to settle ancient scores, but everyone knows they're just in it for the ass-grabbing and the physical hanky panky. As terrible as the show is, though, deep down, I still watch it because after awhile, it becomes just as fun to see how the girls' shirts will blast off next. I love absurdity.

I got some pretty graceful entries the past couple of weeks, but I've got to say, I was a little disappointed in the turnout. Too hard? I'll make it easier this time around. Graceful is a bit vague, isn't it? This time, your word is Nasty. Send your food-related JPGs to shelflife @ animenewsnetwork . com with your name., your address. Unless you tell me which prizes you really don't want/already have, I'll just randomly hand them out from top to bottom. NO PHOTOSHOP! If you win, I'll expect to see proof that you're over 18.

What kind of nasty stuff could you win for your efforts?
A - Sensitive Pornograph
B - Another Lady Innocent
C - Debts of Desire
D - Legend of the Blue Wolves
E - Xpress Train

Now, on to last time's winners! Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures! I had a blast looking through them:

The Kaleido Star thinpak goes to Kuzhichan for her wonderful waffles:

Winner of the Kino's Journey thinpak is Alma Jennings with her bananas:

Winner of Princess Tutu v.1 is Ben Gessel for his gracefully slutty biker chick:

Winner of Princess Tutu v.2 goes to Raven for her smashingly drunken photo of booze mixers:

Aaaaaand, I know I said that Photoshop wasn't allowed, but I laughed so hard at Jane Cowhick's entry that I just had to give her some kind of consolation consolation prize. Congratulations, you get a felt Menchi cosplay cap from ADV.
edit: Temporarily removed for now.

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