Shelf Life
My Anime Cache

by Bamboo Dong,
It's not always easy being an anime fan. Sure, anime has become much more popular over the years, and it's getting more respect now than ever before, but try as it might, it can't completely shake off connotations of kiddy shows and pornography. Still, there's better ways to deal with anime-haters than getting angry, arguing until you're blue in the face, or being an ass. Forget trying to counter with stuff like “Well actually, there are many neat series that involve other things” or even the Spirited-Away-Won-An-Oscar angle.

It's all in the attitude, guys. Play it off. Don't let them rile you up. If you can make fun of yourself or take all the jokes in stride, they'll be less tempted to take potshots at you. Hell, they'll even want to be your friend. Take the following real-life exchange.

“Yeah, I watch anime, it's pretty cool.”
“Man, you're a wuss. I can't believe you watch Pokémon and stuff.”
“Hey, hey, don't diss the Pokémon. That show is friggin' awesome.”
“Are you serious??”
“Dude, they're like the X-Men of the animal world. You just don't know.”

The other person will be so confused s/he won't even think to keep jabbing at you. Another example:

“You sick pervert; I bet you spend all your time watching those nasty porno cartoons!”
“Yeah, all the time. I have like, WALLS of it back home.”
“I bet you even watch that nasty poop-eating porn.”
“EVERYDAY. There's this one where this chick craps in a bowl and mixes it with her Cheerios. It's so hot.”
“… are you serious?”

Believe me, you'll make friends so much faster when you're not so wrapped up in being angry. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro - Special Edition
Manga 90 min. 1/1 $24.98 07/25/2006

Of all the Lupin III movies, Castle of Cagliostro is one of the most revered. Now, it's been digitally remastered and re-released—though surprisingly, all of the language tracks (excluding the English dub) are still presented in mono. Boo. Our lady-loving hero is on the hunt for the secret treasure of Cagliostro, a small nation at the center of an international counterfeit scheme. There, he meets the beautiful heiress who is being forced to marry a greasy count. Can Lupin save the girl and get what he wants? Well, of course; he's Lupin. But, like with any movie starring our lanky thief, half the fun is in seeing how he'll get himself out of each mess, and what time-tested gadget he'll whip out. It's like watching James Bond, without the handsome men and the diamond-crusted Eastern European women. I don't know that the special features (animated storyboards, interview with animation director) are worth buying this movie a second time, but if you're lacking some old-fashioned Lupin III fun on your shelf, make this one of the tales you buy.

Related titles: Lupin's adventures don't stop here; you can check out the Lupin III TV series from Geneon, or the other movies from Funimation.

Chance Pop Session - Complete Collection Thinpak
ADV Films 325 min. 1-3/3 $44.98 08/08/2006

This show is unlike any other, and it holds as true now as it did a few years ago when I first saw it. From beginning to end, it fills you with the kind of soaring happiness that anyone who's ever performed on stage knows and cherishes. Chance Pop Session follows the journey of three girls into stardom as they chase their dream to become pop stars. Along the way, they discover more than they ever would have imagined, about each other and about the same mysterious blue gemstone that they all carry. The series gets a little didactic at times, and the occasional image songs set to completely random backdrops are a little cumbersome, but the overall story is so rousing that it's impossible not to be moved. When I first saw it, I was turned off by the mediocrity of the first volume, but after re-watching the whole show, I've been completely won over. Chance Pop Session is one of the most touching series you've never heard of; if you're a musician, you owe it to yourself to see this.

Related titles: If music is your passion, then Viz's release of Full Moon wo Sagashite is a must-see. It'll make you laugh and cry like a sissy, but you'll thank yourself for it.

Kodocha DVD 7 - Adult Sized Secrets
Funimation 105 min. 7/? $29.98 08/22/2006
Kodocha DVD 8 - Sana's Duty
Funimation 105 min. 8/? $29.98 08/22/2006
Kodocha Babbit Box 2 + DVD 7 & 8 + Plushie
Funimation 210 min. $44.98 08/08/2006

It's hard to believe, but six volumes later, Kodocha is still just as charming and funny as it started. Perhaps even more so now that it's long since abandoned its straight-up wackiness for a gentler, more emotional wackiness. Despite its high energy and absurdity, Kodocha's antics are laced with serious stories that are apt to make you shed the occasional tear. Released concurrently, volumes seven and eight continue the lives of Sana and her friends. This time, Sana needs to keep watch for slithering tabloid reporters and sketchy ex-husbands, but luckily her friends are always there to help. More than anything, Kodocha is a story about friendship and what it means to be there for your pals, and it manifests itself in touching ways. As the characters get closer and open up more, they pave the way for many a tear-jerking scenario. If you haven't checked out this series yet, you owe it to yourself to throw it on your Netflix queue. It's quirky, cute, and guaranteed to make you smile.

Kamichu! DVD 2 - Power of Love
Geneon 100 min. 2/? $29.98 08/15/2006

It's very fitting that Yurie just happens to be a wind god—in fact, it fits the show perfectly, with its lackadaisical pacing and its gentle plot turns. Still trying to figure out her powers and her newfound role in life as the resident god, Yurie has plenty of things to keep her busy. The last thing she needs is to fall ill, or worse, give love advice to a girl who's in love with her crush. Kamichu! is filled with plenty of small adventures, ranging from the aforementioned, to mobs of cats, to awakening abandoned beach houses. And why not? It's those light-hearted jaunts that make this show so fun to watch. The first volume was a bit awkward, jumping straight onto the “I'm a god!” hook, and then lunging headlong into various god-related side jobs, but now that the series has laid its foundations, it's much easier to kick back and enjoy the episodes. As cute as it is, though, it definitely won't appeal to everyone. It's very slow and random, and if you're not the type of person who can stare at the clouds and watch them move across the sky… well, a leisurely show about a little girl probably won't stoke your interest. This show is for the dreamers.

Related titles: If you enjoyed Someday's Dreamers, undoubtedly you'll find yourself at home with this title.

Elemental Gelade DVD 2 - Foundations
Geneon 100 min. 2/6 $29.98 08/15/2006

As far as mindless adventure series go, Elemental Gelade is pretty darned entertaining. It requires almost no brain power to process, the colors are bright and happy, and the characters are, for the most part, pretty lovable. That said, it's not much of a masterpiece, but it's good for those lazy afternoons when you're willing to do just about anything to fire a few synapses in your brain. Cou and his friends continue their journey to Edel Garden, but they're continuously hampered by bad guys. Whether it's people looking to kidnap Ren, or just folks with some serious bloodlust, there's always something in the way of their adventure. Granted, it's not always exciting (because after awhile, watching weird weapons shoot energy waves at Cou gets dull), but it's such an innocuous show it's hard to truly dislike. The main crew has quite a ways to go before they get to their destination—let's hope the series doesn't plan on following them every step of the way.

Dragon Ball Z Movie 13 - Wrath of the Dragon (Uncut)
Funimation 55 min. 1/1 $24.98 08/22/2006

Also known as one big tangent on how Trunks got his sword. Man, if Goku and company were able to find the seven dragonballs in 1 minute, 46 seconds, why couldn't they have done that for all the Dragon Ball series? Efficiency, people, efficiency. After obtaining the dragonballs, our gallery of hair pigment-changing protagonists uses the dragon's powers to unseal an ancient hero. Alas, this heralds in the arrival of Hildegarn, a monster able to lay waste to a country in minutes. Like with any DBZ movie, this just means more punching, kicking, flying, and kame-hame-ha-ing until the thing is dead. Truthfully, I've always vastly preferred the Dragon Ball movies to any given series from the franchise, though this one isn't nearly as entertaining as some of the other ones that have been released. It plays out like an extended episode with no real purpose, but at least it's short and succinct. If you're not much of a Dragon Ball fan though, you'd really be hard-pressed to find a reason to pick up this movie, but hey, if flaxen-haired meatheads are your game, then eat up.

My Secret Cache
Geneon 83 min. 1/1 $29.98 08/08/2006

Money is everything, especially for Sakiko whose hobbies include counting money and obtaining money. Everything she does in life revolves around legal tender, and it's the only thing that motivates her. While it may seem like a trite pursuit, it provides the basis for one of the more entertaining films I've seen recently. Embracing a dry sense of humor, the movie is made by Naomi Nishida's performance as a droll young woman who takes life one patient step at a time. The entire storyline revolves around a suitcase full of money; in order to retrieve it, Sakiko will do anything it takes, including going back to college, working at a seedy lingerie pub, and filling an apartment full of expensive surveying gear. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of her character is that she's not actually motivated to succeed to better herself—she just does what she has to do in order to keep filling her perpetually emptying bank account. It's a riveting look at a consumerist culture personified in a woman and her pragmatic actions to nurture it will have you laughing at loud. If you possess any sort of affinity for the dry and ironic, you'll absolutely love this movie.

Chances are, you haven't seen Chance Pop Session, so I'm giving you the chance to check it out for free. Think your rhymes are hot? Think you're the great Filk Master? Then this contest has your name. all over it. Write your own anime-related lyrics to the chorus of Paris Hilton's incredibly irritating (yet catchy) single, Stars Are Blind (starts around 1:01) and email them to shelflife [at] animenewsnetwork [dot] com. The funnier the better! All entries must be received by 11:59PM EST on September 7.

Thanks for reading!

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