Shelf Life
Jars of Claymore

by Bamboo Dong,

Hello readers,

What I'm about to tell you is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with ANN. These are just my personal words to you, and I hope that you will read them. This may not even apply to many of you. But for the people whom it does apply to, please consider that in one month, the fate of the United States will be sealed for another four years. It may be selfish of me to ask this, but please, please vote. You don't have to vote for everything on the ballot. You don't have to memorize every proposition for your state if you don't want to. But please get out and vote, if only just for the presidential nomination.

Maybe you live in a state where the decision is almost already sealed. Maybe you live in a swing state. It doesn't matter. Your vote does. Now's not the time to be cynical or apathetic and think that one vote doesn't matter, or that every election is, to quote the overquoted South Park episode, between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. Just vote for what you believe in, whether it's Barack Obama, John McCain, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, or someone else. Just vote, because this time, it actually matters.

Welcome to Shelf Life.

Elsewhere in the country, the temperature is already starting to drop. Just last weekend, at NYAF, I got to feel the glorious rain on my face again. This means that in a very short time, much of the country will be covered in snow, and once again, little prepubescent girls can sit under a tree, twiddle with their mittens, and cry until their earmuffs fall off. To prepare for this annual gathering of sad girls in the snow, Funimation has released the final volume of Kanon, finshing ADV's labor of love with the most freaking ridiculous character story arc yet.

To date, I have compiled a short list of ways that a girl could tragically appear and disappear from a man's life, and still have it be super moe: She could be dying of a terminal illness. She could get hit by a truck. She could actually be a genetic engineering experiment that leaves her body wracked with powers. She could be a fox that's somehow turned itself into a human. She could be a physical manifestation of a girl who's actually in a coma somewhere. She could be a crazy psychopath who stabs people.

These are all valid ways in which a cute little girl could introduce herself into a man's life. Which one of those makes me want to hug her the most? All of them.

Well, the last volume of Kanon does not disappoint on that front. It pulls out one of the more ridiculous story lines yet, but it comes with a happy ending, so presumably all is okay. These last few episodes deal with Ayu, whose traits include saying, “Uguu” when she's upset, carrying a backpack with wings on it, and looking like she's a small child. Incidentally, these all play a role in the story that unfolds, but it doesn't make it more okay for Yuichi to make out with her in the previous volume. Still, my prejudices aside, I secretly really like Kanon. I liked Kanon the entire way through, because it's so ridiculous. Storylines like this don't happen in America, unless it's the X-Files or Touched By An Angel. And in a sick way, it's kind of charming. You have these girls who are so madly in love with a boy that they'll overcome nature to meet up with a boy. It's cute, but demented.

I knew I was in for a good one when one of the classroom scenes showed the teacher talking about Schrödinger's Cat. It didn't exactly apply to the story that followed, but I guess it was close enough to qualify as adequate foreshadowing. Either way, Kanon has been a fun ride, and while I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, it's a cute show for those with extremely open minds. I don't know that I'd ever watch it again, but I'll likely never forget it, either.[TOP]

After finishing up with Kanon, I made a somewhat crude transition to the third volume of Lucky Star, whose girls were on the opposite end of the personality spectrum. I actually really dig this show. It's fast-paced, it's completely random, and it has a twisted sense of humor. Seriously, props to the writers for the scene in which one of the girls proposes that all children should learn martial arts in order to protect themselves from predators. Another girl responded, “But wouldn't that just lead to a generation of even stronger adults?” I died laughing, then resurrected just to laugh some more.

This volume, like the previous two, didn't really have a point. An entire episode could be devoted entirely to doing homework and playing gal games, and nothing important would be said. There were plenty of shout-outs to the fandom, though—with one of the highlights being a trip to Winter Comiket, and watching employees at Animate fighting over customers. Everything else was just a stream of nonsequitur comments and endless shots of the girls eating cake. Nothing ever comes out of it, but it's insanely fun, because it's just like sitting around and shooting the bull with your own friends.

Now, some would say, “But why wouldn't I just go outside and talk with my real friends?” Valid point, but this is good for all those days in which you want to be a total hermit, but still want some strand of contact with the human world. It's like freeze-dried instant friends, and that's enough to make me keep watching this show. I really don't know how anyone could be sad while watching this show, so if you want some easy, no-brainer chuckles, then check this show out.[TOP]

By now, I'd already spent several hours of my life watching little girls running around my TV screen. Why not just add a few more. Especially since Funimation just sent me the spring and summer specials of Negima. You know what that means? Naked/partially naked girls—everywhere. At the time of the show, the girls are about 15 years old, but that doesn't mean they're not insanely developed. As evidenced by both the beach scenes and the bathhouse scenes, all of these girls not only have large breasts, but they love showing them off. Move aside, Miley Cyrus.

Usually whenever a show has a spring or summer special, it means one of two things. Either everyone takes a huge trip to the beach, and all the girls show off their new bikinis, one by one. In this case, they all headed to a private island. They got there, of course, by sky diving from a luxurious jet. Once there, the island transforms into a scene from DoA: Beach Volleyball, only these girls lack the independent breast physics that made the game so memorable. The entire reason they're there is to cheer up Negi, who's upset because Asuna is mad at him again, because he sneezed her clothes off. Again.

Never fear, there are more chances to see her naked in the second episode, where all the kids pile into a bus and head to a hot spring. Negi is bound to a girl the entire time because of a magic spell gone awry, but the girls are too busy showing off their busts to really care. And of course, Asuna ends up naked, and ends up getting massaged and prodded by a robot.

All of this would be pretty darned scintillating if the girls weren't all underaged. But really, at this point, no should be surprised. These two Negima specials are cut from the same cloth as the series, and if you're a fan of the manga or the anime series, well... you might lap it up, but frankly, I don't think it holds a candle to the manga series. The story's not as strong, the characterization is non-existent, and it's really just a ploy to show as much nubile skin as possible. Given the completionist mentality of fans, though, if you own the series, it might be hard not to want to own this too, but I really recommend renting it first. If it's fanservice that you want, then that's exactly what you get.[TOP]

Luckily, with the bad comes the good, and plenty of good new series are coming out. Amongst those, Claymore, which was a bit tedious for the first three episodes or so, but got much better as it went on. The first volume doesn't come out until next week, but it's worth checking out once it hits stores shelves.

Although the whole genre of half-human, half-[insert dangerous species of creature here] characters gets a bit wearisome at times, Claymore has managed to milk another series out of such a premise. Unsurprisingly, like most half-monsters, these halfsies live to destroy their full-monster counterparts. Called Claymores, they are half-“yoma” hybrid women who are contracted by the “Organization” to kill other yoma who have taken up residence in cities. They're generally not very well-liked by humans, but they're the only weapon that mankind has against these beasts.

The central figure of the story is a Claymore named Clare. After the first episode, she takes in an orphaned boy, whose family was killed by yoma. From then out, we learn more about Claymores and what they are, and also how their bodies work. The biggest treat comes from the last episode, which goes back in time and shows Clare's past and how she became a Claymore. It really wasn't until that point that I actually got into the series, but now that I'm hooked, I want to see what happens next.

Visually, Claymore is very beautiful, in a classical way. Clare is the pinnacle of elegance and beauty, and she stands out amongst the villagers. The artists did a really great job of capturing her somewhat ethereal existence, and it really helps the mood of the series. Combined with a standard, but calming orchestral soundtrack, this is a series that looks and sounds as serene as it feels—a hard feat, considering half of it is monsters getting slashed in half. Of all the new series coming out right now, Claymore is definitely one to watch out for.[TOP]

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Mike, who reigns over his collection from Ohio. These are his words:

This is everything. The photos spilled a little bit over into my movie collection, but it's unavoidable due to size constraints. Also my GitS S1, Fullmetal Alchemist season sets and Trinity Blood box set are all out on loan, so they are not pictured.

I kind of want to sit in that chair. It looks really comfortable.

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