Shelf Life
Space Invaders

by Erin Finnegan,

In one word, New York Comic Con was crowded. Reed Exhibitions has succeeded in its goal of making NYCC into another San Diego Comic Con, in terms of long lines, anyway. For example, I waited two hours to make sure I got into the Adventure Time panel, but I got the feeling at SDCC it would've been a four hour wait for the same panel.

Happily, I got to meet some Shelf Life readers at the con. Hooray! It happens that October 19, 2011 marked the second year anniversary of my Shelf Life takeover.

I celebrated by watching something I like: Fist of the North Star.

I've been loving Fist of the North Star collections, here are my reviews of collection one and two. Sure, the dub dropped off after the first box, and there are some problems with this release, but I'm still charmed by these old-school muscle men. No doubt, the quality of these DVDs is beginning to slide. Collection three had a handful of noticeable subtitle typos, and, for some reason, you can't skip the end credits if you're watching it on a PS3.

This set collects a nicely rounded arc wherein Kenshiro encounters the “Five Chariots” (predictably most of them are huge tough guys), all of whom face off against Raoh one by one. Some of the characters seem more believable than others; one baddie biker gang villain wears all purple and sits atop a double-wide pink motorcycle. The slightly more realistic Juuza is a lady's man whose past is believably tied to Kenshiro's. Finally the show gets around to Kenshiro's big showdown with Raoh.

Much time is spent with Fudo, a gentle giant (in Earthbender colors) who runs an orphanage. There are some light-hearted moments, especially with Fudo, and especially in the first half of the box, including this shot where Kenshiro has been gifted an egg, and contemplates it. The comic stuff doesn't hold up all that well, and it's hard to laugh at a show where people are explosively decapitated as a rule. That is, unless you're laughing at the explosions; it's easier to laugh at FotNS than with FotNS.

In the second half of the box, Kenshiro ditches Bat and Lin (they were annoying anyway) and gets down to some serious angst and manly fighting. It's eventually established that sadness itself gives Kenshiro's fighting skills a boost. From that point on I pictured FotNS as a videogame where Kenshiro has a sadness meter, and when the sad-o-meter is full he gets limit breaker moves.

There is at least one major twist I couldn't buy wherein a certain dead character happened to still be alive, but I'm willing to forgive FotNS. After all, one gets the feeling that the show should've clearly ended just after episode 49, or at least by 108, but the manga was so popular the author was clearly goaded into keeping it going.

This set comes to a very satisfying conclusion with episode 108. 109 is just a recap to help set up for Fist of the North Star 2, which is coming out in a 4th collection from Eastern Star this November. I'm not sure if I'm up for more action if it doesn't involve my favorite villain from part one. Plus, these boxes are kind of expensive, although you do get a lot of episodes for your dollar.[TOP]

I mean, for SRP, you get 36 episodes for $59.95, so it's about $1.67 per episode (or about $1.25 per from discount retailers). Compare that to the second volume of The Girl Who Leapt Through Space, which is about $4.28 per episode SRP, (or $2.57 from at least one internet store).

I was hoping in my review of part one that part two of Sora Kake Girl might make a little more sense. Indeed, episode one of part two contains some vital background information that might've been better to learn in part one. It turns out Leopard is an A.I. from a giant “smart” space colony leftover from some ancient war. Good to know. We still don't know what the deal is with the girl who can leap through space.

Like no other show, SKG highlights the difference between the internal logic of a scene versus the logic of an episode. Individual scenes of this show make sense. The episodes just don't hold together well. I can tell you for certain that there was a stand-alone baseball episode, a hot springs episode (with important backstory), a jungle episode, something about people with boxes on their heads, and an episode about a girl in a moving wardrobe-like cabinet (she communicated like Gantz), but I'm having a hard time describing the arc of this set.

I think when I reviewed volume one, I must've been watching it on my computer, because on this go around I realized this is a show you should be watching on Blu-ray, (if at all). Many of the CG-heavy space scenes look pixilated around the edges in a way that I suspect I didn't notice in SD.

That said, there is probably no way this show will get a BD release. I'm just guessing, based on the total lack of forum reaction to volume one and some near-dead silence when I asked about this on Twitter, that SKG is staggeringly unpopular in North America. But by all means, prove me wrong! If you're running a giant SKG fan community, I want to know about it!

As far as I can tell, the few people who've seen this show are in agreement with me that the robots are the best part. Leopard, the “self actualized” robot, steals all the scenes he's in, and the super advanced robot potatoes are totally adorable. Asimo even makes it into a few scenes, but he all he does is ask people to be friends with him. What a swell guy!

There is no dub, and the only extras are some un-translated, very short TV spots.[TOP]

Continuing on with my SRP per episode theme this week (I won't do this every week, I promise), SKG's $4.28 per episode racks up as slightly pricier than Squid Girl's $4.17 per episode price (about $2.50 when it's on sale). But at least Squid Girl has a dub!

I have long contended that puns are “old man jokes,” and indeed, in Japanese particularly eye-rolling puns are called oyaji gagu (old man gags). Squid Girl is Shelf Worthy if you absolutely love puns, otherwise, this scant six-episode release is probably not worth the money. Unless you paid about $6 for this set, you're better off waiting for the inevitable full series box (or at least a bundle). It is Stream Worthy. Nevertheless, I've heard Squid Girl is very popular and I'll probably get flack for rental shelving it. (Personally, I preferred Princess Jellyfish and endlessly confused the two titles until this week.)

Squid Girl came from the sea to take over the Earth (like Invader Zim) and within minutes of episode one her mistakes become apparent; she's underestimated the number of humans and has no idea of our military might. Squid Girl's powers include vomiting ink and using her tentacles in a prehensile way. Somehow, she is no match for the (human) Aizawa sisters, who recruit her into waitressing at a seaside food stand.

The episodes unfold in mostly two-part segments that could be viewed out of order, save for some sequential gags.

First and foremost, this is a show about fish puns. Squid Girl peppers her speech with oceanographic references in a way that would be insufferable if the dialog were any slower than spit-fire speed. The dub does a surprisingly nice job using equivalent English groan-worthy puns. Squid Girl does a lot better job of this than My Bride is a Mermaid, but if sea puns were your favorite part of Seto no Hanayome, stop reading this review and immediately purchase Squid Girl. Let's face it – you probably already have.

If it were 100% puns, I might not be able to take Squid Girl, but there are plot-based jokes as well. For example, Squid Girl is recruited to puke ink onto squid ink spaghetti dishes at the restaurant until she is comically dried out.

In a creepy twist, Sanae, one of the Aizawas' neighbors, develops an obsessive crush on Squid Girl that's the terrifying equivalent of a running gag on Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster. That is to say, in one episode she dresses in a shrimp costume to get Squid Girl's “attention,” and it's more disturbing than funny.

The included extra is incredibly boring footage of a seiyuu signing autographs. I think if Squid Girl came with a little toy, or halfway decent extras, that would push it over the fence into Shelf Worthy. I can't really see re-watching this one.[TOP]

I also checked out a couple shows from the new fall season of anime this week, but I want to wait for at least four episodes of anything to be out before I start reviewing those titles. I made a lot of progress this week on the latest Dragon Box, but not enough to review it yet.

This week's shelves are from Andrew:

"I've been collecting manga/anime and figure for about 3 years and a half. I'm proud of how my living room look.

I don't have all my manga showing up because i lend them on a regular basis to my friends and coworker. I have 672 mangas and a few anime series and japanese movie. I really love Satoshi Kon work and I can't wait to get my hand on a Paranoia Agent box to complete my collection.

I'm a big Evangelion fan, so I have a small section dedicated to it.

That's about it, I'm really happy that my collection grew so quickly and I know it'll only get bigger."

Love the figures!

Want to show off your stuff? Send your jpgs to [email protected] Thanks!

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