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Shelf Life
Hairy Situations

by Bamboo Dong,

Shelf Worthy
Le Chevalier D'Eon
Naruto Uncut Boxset 2
Paradise Kiss v.2
Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo v.1
None this week
Back when I was in high school, the X-Files ruled my world. Every Sunday night at 8PM MT, friends were not allowed to call. 8PM was X-Files o'clock, and that one hour time slot was sacred to me. After the last episode was aired, I felt so forlorn and empty that I desperately tried to cling to something else. Alias was fun, but it didn't quite get the job done.

Fortunately, 24 was there to save me. It was the only thing that filled the void in my heart, with its crazy action and ridiculous suspense. If there was one person who could fill the Mulder/Scully double-punch combo in my life, it was Keifer. Flash forward to now, and the only thing I can think about while writing this column is the next episode of 24. What's going to happen??? The suspense is killing me, and anyone who's been following this season (and happens to enjoy it so far, as I am) knows exactly the predicament I'm facing.

Augh. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Luckily, my infatuation with 24 put me in the perfect mood to watch ADV's newest release, Le Chevalier D'Eon. If the CTU worked for King Louis XV, their adventures would probably pan out something like this. There's action, there's scandal, there's plenty of torture—if you dig movies and shows about crack government special organizations as much as I do, you will be glued to this series.

The story begins when Lia de Beaumont's body washes up on the banks of the Seine, closed inside a coffin marked with the word “Psalms.” A beautiful and beloved woman, her death fuels her brother, D'eon, to embark on a personal quest to uncover the reason for her murder. His findings lead him into conflict with government conspiracies, mysterious religious figures, and Poets who can turn people into zombies gargoyles by controlling their bodies and souls with mercury. Helping him are three other guys who have their own ties to France—and to his sister, who's providing him extra help by using his body as a vessel for her wandering spirit (it helps that she's a wicked good fencer).

While there are elements of the story that make it seem a little silly (zombies? People who attack by writing psalms in...what, the spirit juice that comes from their inner chi?), it works very well in the actual series. The overall atmosphere of the series is crafted so well that these elements don't seem even remotely out of place. With the crisp and aristocratic character designs, and the beautiful (though sometimes a bit jarring) CG-rendered backgrounds, which provide some blindingly gorgeous interiors of the palaces, the story perfectly complements its surroundings. I've written before that some series are classier than others—Le Chevalier D'Eon is one of the classiest, yet most intense, shows released this quarter so far.

What's genuinely fun about this series is its roots in history. Although I'm sure there weren't gargoyle women running amuck in the streets of Paris, D'Eon is based off Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée Éon de Beaumont (tell me you wouldn't want that name on your passport), a French spy who eventually lived out the latter half of his life as a woman. In fact, that could very well be the influence behind D'Eon turning into Lia. Either way, if you're a history buff or a nut for French architecture, it's a joy watching this series and pointing out all the historical homages and surprisingly accurate backdrops. After watching the first volume, I can't wait to see the rest of this show.[TOP]

On the other end of the “classy” spectrum is a show that's just outright weird. I had heard rumors that Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo was bizarre and decently funny, but I had never bothered watching it before. That is, until the first volume of the uncut series came floating to my door.

Much to my dismay, Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo's release has the same main problem that Illumitoon's release of Beet the Vandal Buster does—dubtitles. Honestly, there is no point in releasing the Japanese language version of something if you're not going to translate it. This isn't just some trivial detail, either. There're quite a few things wrong with the ones on this disc.
  1. Some of the lines aren't even close to being properly translated. I don't claim to be anywhere near fluent in Japanese, but I know for a fact that some of the dub dialogue is completely different from the Japanese. (I know this because when there are subtitles when there is 2 minutes of silence… something is a bit off.) This could be understandable if they even bothered putting the proper translation on there, but wait! Where are the subtitles? Oh, that's right! They're just closed-captions of the dub!!
  2. Some of the subtitles were very poorly encoded and timed, especially near the end of the first episode. All of the subs would be clumped together on the left side of the screen, showing lines that wouldn't be uttered for another 15 seconds. And by the time they were uttered, the “subtitles,” of course, would no longer be there.
  3. No, seriously, dubtitling is not cool.

This is the second Illumitoon disc where I have been extremely unhappy about the disc itself. They didn't bother changing the music this time to make it appeal to kids (perhaps it's different on the edited release?), but they're still not doing any purist fans a favor either by not bothering with giving a proper translation, or even decent dubtitles. So why bother?

Since it is a kids' show, I'd rather Illumitoon just release a dub DVD and market it for kids. Really. Because honestly, how many adults are there who are actually banging on the doors of Best Buy at 9 o'clock, desperate for the next volume of Bo^7? Granted, it probably costs them no money to just stick a Japanese dialogue track on there, but really, why bother? They're just toying with the few people out there who, for whatever reason, did want to collect this show subbed.

In any case, the show itself is kind of hilarious. It's amazing in that kind of Johnny Bravo meets… I don't quite know how to describe it. The hero of the show is Bobobo-Bo-Bo-Bobo, a man whose golden afro and beefy pecs are almost frightening to behold. His secret ability is being able to hear the cries of hair follicles. As such, he is a champion of hair, going as far as to use whip-like nostril and armpit hairs as his main weapons (some of which even come armed with the Boogy Brigade!). His enemy is anyone who doesn't appreciate a full lock of hair, or uses generic-brand conditioner, such as Csar Blady Bald 4th, who wants the entire world to give up their hair.

For the most part, Bo^7 is rather entertaining in short doses. After awhile, the humor gets to be a little old and a bit forced, but it's the kind of show that was made for sleep-deprived TV watching. I don't know that it's worth owning, but it's worth catching an episode or two, just for giggles.[TOP]

Alas, after staring at goofy puffy-headed burlymen for two hours, my mind once again drifted back to 24. Oh, Keifer, how I wish I was watching you torture people right now! I can't even focus on anime right now. It's times like these that I wish I had the next volume of Chevalier D'Eon, or more episodes of my favorite underrated show, Yugo the Negotiator. But no. All I've got to tide me over until Monday night is nostril hair.

In a panic, I reached for the closest violence-splattered disc I could find—Shinobi: Heart Under Blade. Essentially the live-action film version of Basilisk, the movie does a magnificent job of bringing the characters to life. Still, if you've seen Basilisk, then you've seen Shinobi. Luckily, if you don't have the patience to sit through the series, you can just watch the movie, and be done with it in 102 minutes!

In 1614, it comes to the Shogun's attention that there are still two shinobi clans living in hidden villages in the mountains. It's only a peace agreement that's preventing them from attacking each other. However, with their volatile existence and hatred for each other, the Shogun decides that the best way to maintain overall peace in Japan is to make sure these two clans are obliterated. He annuls the agreement, asking the two villages to fight to the death. At the center of it are two lovers, each from opposing sides, caught in a tragic relationship that can't possibly have a happy ending.

What follows is an hour and a half of breezy fight sequences involving swanky (albeit oftentimes cheesy) special effects, crane shots, and man with too much mousse in his hair. Overall, it's not a bad movie—if you're expecting it to be a live adaptation of Basilisk. If I saw this at a film festival, I'd be less inclined to enjoy it, with its rushed and somewhat muddy ending, but it's well directed and definitely has its finer points.[TOP]

I've always enjoyed watching ninja shows and ninja movies, though. Partially because I almost feel like it's a genre of its own. We have our obsession with superheroes. They have ninjas. Though, to be frank, I think Batman could kick the crap out of any ninja, any day. Yes, ninjas can do everything he can, but it's all about the style points, and if Batman doesn't have an abundance of style points, then I don't know what the hell he has. Naruto, on the other hand, has no style. He has guts, but no style.

Luckily, Shonen Jump shows are all about having guts over style. In fact, if they were to have a new tagline, it should be something along the lines of: “Because we have guts” (versus something more true to form, like, “We have scrappy youngsters who don't know when to quit.”). Luckily, Naruto's going to need all the guts he can muster if he wants to be ready for the Chuunin exam.

Packaged in a shiny blue box, the second uncut boxset of Naruto is out, complete with a Sand Village headband and a Sand Village necklace. For all of you who haven't been zealously following Naruto fansubs, this hearkens all the way back to the good old days when the series was still really exciting and really awesome. Comprising of episodes 14-26, it cuts in right before the chuunin action starts, with the introduction of all the other kids from the other villages.

If I may interject briefly—if you only buy a few Naruto boxsets in your entire life, you should buy this one and maybe the one after it. This stretch of episodes is seriously where all the fun happens. For the first time, character development finally starts rolling out a bit beyond just feeble flashbacks and silly internal monologue. Now that all the Leaf kids have some enemies nipping at their hind heels, it's prime time to kick back and enjoy the action as they learn to find who they are and what they're capable of. These are some of the best episodes of Naruto to date, so don't miss your chance to stick ‘em on your shelf for old times' sake.[TOP]

Now may actually be a good time to admit that I've managed to misplace a good number of my DVDs. I know they're in my room, because discs don't quite have the ability to flee on their own, but since I made an effort to organize my room by dumping everything into a corner (including a small mountain of anime DVDs), I can't seem to locate several of my discs. They're in the pile, to be sure, but their whereabouts have eluded a few attempts at search and rescue. Needless to say, I really wanted to review more Noein, Ergo Proxy, Disgaea, and what not, but uh… I can't find them right now. NEXT TIME, they'll get theirs.

Somehow, my fingers did manage to gravitate towards the second volume of Paradise Kiss. This series continues to please me as much as it did when I first saw it, largely for its delicate character relationships and the way it displays so many aspects of human emotions. After Yukari gets into a fight with her mother over skipping cram school and wanting to model, she runs away from home, finding shelter with her new Atelier friends. Deciding to stop going to school and not take midterms, she instead ventures into the fashion world, picking up modeling jobs all while helping her friends with their final project.

One of my favorite scenes is a moment where she muses over the relationship she has with her mother. Anyone who has ever felt pressured by their parents to do well in school, or felt as though they were being compared to their siblings, will likely identify with this scene. It's just one of the examples of moments in the series when you realize that its charm lies in bringing human conflicts to life. Playing out more like a primetime drama than anything else, Paradise Kiss is a truly good series.[TOP]

In any case, my time's up for this week. Hope to see you in two weeks!

Last week's DVD collection was pretty impressive. However, this week's is nothing to scoff at, either. Presenting, B. Zellers! He claims that quite a few are at his dorm, but even so, he's sitting pretty at over 700 anime DVDs!

And amongst his live-action DVDs... is that Stargate SG-1 I see (and Macguyver?!?!)? Someone needs to give this man a prize for being awesome. Personally, I just really like those shelves. Half of my anime is stowed in giant plastic bins—way uncool.

If you have pictures of your anime collection you want to show off, send 'em over to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com!

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