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Shelf Life
Ga Ga Ga Gals

by Bamboo Dong,

Shelf Worthy
Tokko DVD 1
Fate/Stay Night DVD 2
Super Gals Season 2
Hare+Guu DVD 7
GaoGaiGar DVD 3, 4
I was perusing the aisles of Target last week, and ran into a toothbrush that was supposed to make kids want to brush their teeth longer. As you brushed, it played music in your head for two minutes, and supposedly, the harder you brushed, the louder it would be. Consumed with curiosity, I bought one, selecting “Getcha Head in the Game” from High School Music to be my poison. I needed to know how it worked, and whether or not you could hear the music when it wasn't inside your mouth.

You totally could. It was the biggest rip-off ever, and terrible for oral hygiene. The volume increase is activated by bending the toothbrush neck back, and works better outside of your mouth than inside. In fact, when you're brushing, you can barely hear the music because it becomes all scrambled with your brushing. Not to mention that the design of the head is such that it doesn't give you good coverage of your molars. So you know what, gimmicky-toothbrush-marketing people? You may have suckered me into buying one of your shoddy products, when I'm not even the right marketing demographic for it, but—yeah, I guess they totally win.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

When ADV first released Super GALS!, I was immediately drawn towards the series. I loved the free-spirited lifestyles of the girls, and while I didn't quite agree that being a gal and livin' it up was more important than school, I appreciated Ran's steadfast dedication to her ideals. That said, I still remember being in the room at WhateverCon200X when TRSI announced that they were going to be releasing the second season of Super GALS!. Just hearing the opening theme fires me up, in the kind of way that only nerds can be fired up after hearing certain songs, like the theme from the original X-Men cartoons. Air guitar!

Super GALS! season two is just as fun as the first season, no more, no less. This also means that however you felt about the first season is exactly how you'll feel about this one. The girls are back for another round of shopping, gossiping, high-energy bully-beating, and karaokeing. Ever lively and eager to stick up for anyone in trouble, Ran and her buddies patrol the streets of Shibuya, making sure that their turf is safe from intruders and unruly types.

Unlike the first season, though, the conflict is a lot less heavy, and focuses more on trivial matters of the heart, like TATSUKI's little brother having a crush on Ran, or Number Two dealing with his unrequited feelings. As a result, the series is a lot more character-centric, preferring to follow the trials of their everyday lives, rather than dealing with issues like muggers, compensated dating, and the other social problems that made the first season so endearing. In fact, that was one of the best parts of the series—granted, the episodes were a bit repetitive, with everything ending with a Jerry Springer's Final Thoughts-esque speech by Ran, but they taught female viewers about the importance of staying true to oneself.

Although the fluff-heavy second season is a bit of a disappointment from the previous season, it's still entertaining. Narrowly appealing to a very girly market, it's something that's a bit of an acquired taste. Personally, I love the loud, peppy energy of the girls, and I love Ran's never-ending sunshine. With all the forlorn teenagers that grace TV nowadays, it's nice to see a show that promotes optimism as a solution for everything, rather than taking drugs and listening to 30 Seconds from Mars. And, since I watched Super GALS! the first time around subtitled, I didn't have a problem with TRSI's subtitled-only release, though this may be a concern for some. Altogether, it's a fun show, but unless you're a viewer with girly-girl tendencies, it may not be your cup of boba.[TOP]

But, never fear. Being a woman isn't all about getting a set of wicked cute nails and hanging out with your friends—you can still be tough and deadly and be all about taking names down in blood.

Saber is just one of the latest cool chicks to join the ranks of anime's list of awesome heroines. She doesn't get a lot of screen-time in the second volume of Fate/stay night, but if the last episode is any indication, then the third disc is going to be pretty intense. Rin and Shirou have teamed up in the hopes of eradicating a few Masters, two of whom appear to go to the same school. Unfortunately, Shirou's being stubborn about not letting Saber in on any of the action, so he's getting beaten up on a regular basis.

Even though these episodes is continuing the trend of slowly introducing new Masters and Servants, they've slowed down enough to be able to focus more on the character relationships, which is nice. The interaction between Rin and Shirou is interesting to watch, and it's a relationship that will undoubtedly continue to grow throughout the entire series.

Fate/stay night has been good about not becoming a Master-of-the-week series. It's settled on a very comfortable pace, and every new twist in the story is unfolding at just the right time. There's still no information about who the different Masters are, so for those who haven't played the game, there's definitely a lot to look forward to. I admit I used to be hung up on the fact that the series was based off a visual novel, but I've since gotten over it. The characters are well-developed, the story is engaging, and the action scenes are a blast to watch.[TOP]

While it's easy to decide if you'll want to keep watching more volumes of a series, it's always hard to gauge your reaction to a new show you're not very familiar with. Personally, I was definitely surprised at a new show that showed up at my door a few weeks ago. There are shows that follow a general pattern, and then there are shows that pull out something new every turn.

Before seeing the ads on the site and prodding the disc with my own hands, I had never heard of Tokko before. I had no idea what to expect, other than presuming there would be scantily-clad women who occasionally wielded swords and sported nifty tattoos. What I got was a disc full of surprises that had me guessing every scene.

Tokko starts out as many thrillers do—a monster ambles down an alleyway and destroys everything around him in a magnificent shower of blood. Then, from the shadows, comes a lone hunter, who slays the demon with a few flicks of her sword. As this scene draws to a close, the lead character wakes up, greeted by the sight of his half-naked sister who's leaning over him in lacy underwear. The audience learns that it's his first day on the job as a detective, though unlike your typical hero, he's at the bottom of the food chain and spends most of his time scrubbing bathrooms.

The city is being plagued by gruesome murders, each one involving mysterious demons, and parasitic creatures that burrow into human hosts and control their actions (read: killing sprees). The only people that know how to stop them are the members of SpecSec, a special unit within the police department that involves women who do their jobs best when wearing open pleather jackets with nothing on underneath. But, it doesn't end there. The series wastes no time in pulling out secret after secret, revealing conspiracies involving demons, evolution, government testing, alchemy, and everything else under the sun.

With every plot twist coming a bit out of nowhere, the story seems a bit incredulous at times, but at the very least, it's not boring. Tokko is anything but boring, with its rapid-fire pacing and a story that can't be predicted in the slightest. The story could very well end up being a bit convoluted, especially near the end of the series, but right now, it's definitely worth checking out. If you're tired of series that can be predicted two minutes in, you owe it to yourself to sink into Tokko. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into when I started watching the show, and felt pretty much the same way halfway through—only by then, I was deathly curious. Plus, if you like creepy monsters and showers of blood, this is the kind of splatter-tastic show that just might keep you engrossed.[TOP]

After watching something as sinister as Tokko, I had to switch things up with something goofy and light-hearted. As if by instinct, I reached for Haré+Guu. Like Tokko, you never quite know what's going to happen next, but it's less surprise, and more chaos.

Watching Haré+Guu requires a sort of patience, if you want to derive anything from it. The morals from one disc can be summed up in one or two sentences, but they take a few episodes to get through. It's nothing bad, if you like the madcap comedy of the series, but it's probably a good thing that the series ended after 26 episodes (OVAs not withstanding). By the time you're nearing the end of the seventh volume, the jokes get a little old, and it's no longer entertaining to watch Guu eat things. The random people wandering around in her stomach also cease to be entertaining, and in short, you just want the series to move on and focus on the characters.

Luckily, the ending manages to make a decent effort to balance itself. Now that Hare, Guu, and Weda are back in the city living a life of luxury, they're finding that they deeply miss the jungle. A surprise visit from the doctor shakes things up a little, but it isn't until Hare runs into a neighbor that the series really reaches a conclusion with Weda's past.

But really, I'm glad the show's over. It was nice while it lasted, but it probably lasted several episodes longer than it needed to. Yeah, it's nice to see Guu running around in a bear suit, but it's not like viewers haven't seen that before, or a million other laugh gimmicks that have been used all throughout the series. There was a nice sort of resolution, and it's been a fun run, but good riddance. Now we can all share some laughs and move on.[TOP]

For example, we should move onto something amazing like Gaogaigar. Why is it amazing, you ask?

Let us not beat around the bush, here. It's a fact that anything with a theme song that starts off with Ga Ga Ga, Ga Ga Ga, Gaogaigar! Ga Ga Ga, Ga Ga Ga Ga, Gaogaigar! is pretty freaking cool. And, if there are songs being written about robot's red mane, golden arms, and G-stone, then it's safe to assume that he is not only the very image of cool, but that he screams verile! from every vent and runs off pure testosterone.

Now, honestly, if you've seen even a handful of Gaogaigar episodes, you might as well have seen the entire series. I ended up plowing through the third and fourth episodes, squealing like a little kid at the combination one-two punch of the goofiness and old-school-ness that was the series. My life wasn't that much better having marathoned those several episodes, but whatever depression I was feeling at the beginning of the day had magically disappeared.

It's impossible to not enjoy Gaogaigar. Just saying “Gaogaigar” five times fast should plaster a smile on your face. Not because it's a good show, but because it makes you feel like a kid, only with the big-kid know-how to be able to make fun of the ridiculous character designs, the rehashed storylines, and the hussy who desperately wants to be in pornography. For those unfamiliar with this Volton-esque show, the entire thing takes place circa 2005. We didn't have flying cars, but we were being plagued by Zonderians, alien lifeforms with the ability to assimilate different metallic objects (i.e. cars, trailers, Optimus Prime) into their human hosts. The only thing that can stop them? GA GA GA GAOGAIGAR!!!

Actually, there's three parts to it. An alien mechanical lion (Garrr!), a cyborg named Guy who can fuse with the lion (Gai!), and then their combined efforts, a kick-ass lion-beast that can then combine with other mecha to become a giant steel monstrosity of villain-beating machine (GAO!!!!!). And, for episode after episode after episode, you can see Gaogaigar defeat endless Zonderians. Miss an episode? Don't worry! It's essentially the same thing in the next one! Only sometimes the Zonderians are psychotic creeps, and sometimes they're full-fledged, property-damaging mecha.

Unless you're a huge mecha fan, though, or really enjoy late-90s shows that look like they were made in the 70s, you probably won't have much of a reason to plop this on your shelf. However, I do recommend checking it out with your buddies sometime when you need something to console you after your favorite team gets kicked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If Gaogaigar doesn't bring out the little kid in you, then go eat some Fruit Rollups or something, because you need some extra cheering up.[TOP]

Thanks for checking out Shelf Life this time around. Buckle up next time when we check out the second volume of Le Chevalier D'Eon, more Noein, and stuff like Black Lagoon.

How much do y'all rock for sending me pictures? WAY too much. Thanks to everyone who sent me pictures—I can't wait to put 'em all up!

This week, our featured collection comes to us by way of Ashley Ardron and her cute dog Ginger. If Ginger had a thought bubble, what would she be thinking?

Do you have a collection you're proud of? Do you have a ridiculously cute pet, too? Regardless, send your shelf pictures to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com so we can all live vicariously through your anime/manga collection.

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