Shelf Life
Schoolgirls v. Pirates

by Bamboo Dong,

Shelf Worthy
Girl's High DVD 1
Black Lagoon DVD 1
Tsubasa DVD 2
Suzuka DVD 2
None this week
I've recently become obsessed with two musicians named Igudesman and Joo. A classically trained violinst and pianist, respectively, they are two of the funniest comedians I have ever seen. Their humor is subtle and beautiful, and I can easily spend hours of my time watching the same videos over and over again. Here's a couple links to some favorites. These people are my heroes, and as someone who grew up playing both the piano and my violin, I definitely admire the sheer amount of talent and musicianship that these two have. Watch them. All of them. And laugh. And enjoy.

And welcome to Shelf Life.

Panty-flashing has always been rather hit-or-miss with me. I appreciate the occasional sun flare of white in any comedic situation, though I'm always tempted to retch a bit when I spot severe camel toe. Bursts of wind are always kind of entertaining; the clichéd "I just tripped and fell and accidentally pulled down your skirt" is not, because skirts are seldom that poorly tailored as to not be able to stably sit on the hips.

Girl's High offers a mix of good panty-flashing, and bad panty-flashing, and at the end of the day, it delivers a pretty solidly funny mix of your typical girlie hijinks. The series stars a group of six chicks who are experiencing high school life for the first time at an all-girls school. And, to them, nothing is more important than getting boyfriends, and getting laid. After all, the last one to lose her virginity is totally uncool. It may not be an exceptionally positive message to send to young female viewers, but honestly, these are the kinds of conversations that speckle every high school anyway. Together, the girls learn the importance of watching out for their friends, while doing everyday stuff like participating in field day, singing karaoke with fiends, and getting their annual physical.

The thing to note is that this show is pretty lecherous. There are panty shots galore, plenty of (innocent) breast action, and your token “banana eating contest” scene. At the same time, this stuff isn't too over the top, and it's done more in jest than anything else. Most of the emphasis rests on the girls' friendship and their prattling conversations, and really, they seem like an awesome group of gals to hang out with. They also don't try to hide their lewd conversations, which is great for fans who love toilet humor. My favorite scene is in the first episode when they peer into one of the girls' locker rooms. Expecting an all-girls school to have spotless facilities, they're totally grossed out when they see a napkin that holds a pair of scissors and a small pile of pubes. Amazing. Girl's High doesn't require many brain cells to watch, but that's also the best part. Watching this reminds me of hanging out with my friends, and that's something I never get sick of.[TOP]

Of course, while it is fun watching girls run around and talk about boys, I have to satisfy my craving for action, too. And really, what's more exciting than pirates? (Well, okay, ninjas are more exciting, but that's an entirely different debate.)

Black Lagoon's been out for a couple months, but I only recently got around to popping it into my DVD player. I kind of wish I'd done so earlier, because this show's pretty badass. This show is like the summer blockbuster of anime. It's pretty much a universal rule that if you have girls with guns, rocket launchers, and torpedoes, no matter what happens, you have at least a 60% chance of having fun.

Rokuro (Rock) was an average businessman, toiling away under a jackass boss, until he was kidnapped by a crew of pirates who are after a disc that he has. A few explosions later, and he learns what the pirating life is really life; before he knows it, he's recruited to the crew. Calling themselves deliverymen, the members of Black Lagoon make their living retrieving and delivering objects for clients, even if it involves breaking into a submarine buried under the sea.

Much like every other anime show that involves either bounty hunters, mercenaries, or arms dealers, Black Lagoon is all about the style points. The characters are fun, but not groundbreaking; the “mysterious” nature of the crew is interesting to watch, but it's not entirely unique—in the end, it's all about having fun watching the firefights and feeling the blood coursing through your arteries. Most of the individual stories are spread out over two episodes, and follow a new mission, and for the most part, they're well-written and fairly engaging. It's easy to get a sense of déjà vu while watching the show, though; Black Lagoon is exciting, but the only thing that really sets it apart from all the other shows of its genre is the fact that it's set on a boat. Still, the decision of whether or not to watch this is simple: do you like guns? Do you like action? Do you like girls in short shorts shooting guns and promoting action? If so, then you'll probably have good time with this bullet-ridden adventure.[TOP]

While dodging lead may send anyone's heart racing, there are other things that are just as guaranteed to make you lose your cool. Like… talking to girls. Especially if you're the pansy lead character of Suzuka.

Yamamoto is the world's biggest weiner. His personality makes you want to throw him down a flight of stairs, and the fact that no one does only makes him more irritating. To refresh readers' memories, he lives next door to his high school's star high jumper. Unsurprisingly, he falls head over heels in love with her, only he's a colossal wimp about it. He can't ask her out, he can't talk to her, and he's so distraught when she jilts him that he just turns into a stalker. He joins the track team to be with her, too, and even though he's ridiculously talented, his being there totally hinges on her emotions.

I hate this guy.

I can comfortably say that I don't like the character of Suzuka either, because she's kind of a bad person. In fact, if it weren't for all the side characters, I don't know that my anger would still be at a manageable level. They're the ones that carry the show and make it less one-dimensional, and they're the ones that allow the show to move forward. This series really is too over the top sometimes. It transcends the boundaries of good drama, and just becomes one giant soggy rag of tears and sweat stains. The animation is crap, too, so really, it's more like a soggy rag that has holes punched in it.

The one thing the show does do well, though, is the side characters, as I said earlier. Through their interactions with the two leads, you really get a sense of just how awful and complex love can be. You realize that love is never just between you and the person you covet, and that there are so many other factors involved—it's this poking and tugging at disappointment, jealousy, and heartbreak that makes Suzuka work as a high school romantic drama. Good luck being able to handle the one-two Yamamoto-Suzuka Whiner Punch, but if you can get past them, then you get an interesting glimpse into just how much love can blow.[TOP]

For me, it's always been easy for the second volumes of series to disappoint. You can be intrigued by the first volume, but when you realize that the second is really just a more drawn out version of its predecessor, then you feel a little slighted.

When Tsubasa first came out, I fell for its bright colors and its magical atmosphere. I loved the characters and the way their serenity added to the overall mood. But…it occurs to me now, that I'm going to be for a lot of repetition in the discs to come. I'm not surprised by this, because I'm sure there's a lot of feathers t chase after, but I'm a little annoyed by how predictable the adventures in each new world are.

In search of yet another feather, the group members find themselves in a village that's under a wizard's control. And, like all evil wizards, he makes people's lives miserable. Luckily, Syaoran and company are there to save the day, and with their gusto and gumption, they'll be able to help the villagers, defeat the dark forces, and maybe get a feather or two. I have a sneaking suspicion that all of the subsequent worlds will be like this, and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. The episodes are engaging enough to watch, it's true, but it just doesn't feel like the story is going anywhere. It's to be expected from a long-running series, but I've always been a bit impatient.

Still, each individual episode still has that same charm that makes the characters so delightful. Throw in that Kajiura music, and you've got something that feels as fantastical as it sounds. I just wish they'd shake things up a bit. You know, maybe go to a new world just to eat ice cream or something, or change the order of the scenes so that it's not just a replica of the prior disc. At least Mokona is cute.[TOP]

And that's the way the dough rises. See you next time!

This week's shelves come from Asuki, who hails from Sydney, Australia. She has the most organized shelves in the world, and her small zoo of plushes = amazing.

Man, if only my shelves looked that neat. Heck, if even a tenth of my apartment was that neat! Alright, that's a pretty awesome collection. Now it's your (reader, that's you) turn. Interested in showing off your loot? Send your jpgs to shelflife at animenewsnetwork dot com!

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