Shelf Life
Don't You Forget About Me

by Bamboo Dong, Gabriella Ekens, Paul Jensen,

Jump to this week's reviews:
One Week Friends

On Shelves This Week

A Lull in the Sea Vol. 1 DVD, Vol. 2
NIS America - 308 min - Hyb - MSRP $49.99|$49.99
Currently cheapest at: $37.99 Right Stuf|$37.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Humans used to inhabit the seas, until one day, a group of humans decided to move ashore. Now there's a rift between those who live in the sea village, and those who live on land. Four children from the sea village must now go to school on land, learn how to adapt to life on the surface, and navigate their way through a world of new people and challenges.

Thoughts: The premium edition boxset was just released recently, but those who want to buy the individual volumes at a lower price point can with these DVDs. We'll have a review for you shortly of the premium boxset. You can watch the series streaming at Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Is the Order a Rabbit? BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.49 Amazon|$29.20 Rakuten

Synopsis: Cocoa has just moved to a new town to start school. When she gets there, she finds herself a little lost, but soon discovers that her new boarding house is also a restaurant. To pay for her accommodations, she ends up working alongside the owner's granddaughter Chino and military otaku Rize.

Thoughts: This show is Hiroyuki Hashimoto's directorial debut, but the staff is backed up by series composition writer Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, who's also penned other comedies like Ben-To, Denki-Gai, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, and this season's Monster Musume. You can check out the series on The Anime Network, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.

One Piece Collection 13 DVD
Funimation - 625 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $20.15 Rakuten

Synopsis: The battle at Enies Lobby continues with the various Straw Hats unleashing their new techniques. Then in the aftermath, Luffy and his friends head back to Water 7 when they are visited by Marines. This set contains episodes 300-324, which includes the remaining episodes of the Enies Lobby Arc and the Post-Enies Lobby Arc.

One Piece Season 7 Part 1 DVD
Funimation - 325 min - Hyb - MSRP $39.98
Currently cheapest at: $23.28 Rakuten

Synopsis: Luffy agrees to help a mermaid named Camie save her friend, but things go wrong when the rescue mission is derailed by sea monsters, flying fish, and a familiar enemy. This set contains episodes 385-396, which includes half of the Sabaody Archipelago Arc.

Thoughts: If you're mostly caught up on the series, you can follow along with Sam's One Piece episode reviews, which start at episode 696, but until then, you can find One Piece streaming on, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.

Sailor Moon R Season 2 Part 1 BD+DVD, DVD, LE
Viz Media - 506 min - Hyb - MSRP $69.99|$44.82|$79.98
Currently cheapest at: $52.97 Rakuten|$24.98 Amazon|$58.23 Rakuten

Synopsis: The Sailor Guardians must pick up their scepters again when Earth is visited by two space aliens, Ail and An, both disguised as normal students. Then later, they must fight against the Black Moon Clan, led by Prince Demande. Meanwhile, someone new joins the cast, a pink-haired girl who wants Mamoru for herself.

Thoughts: This is the second season of Sailor Moon, which follows after the events of the first season. You can check out our reviews of Viz's Sailor Moon boxsets, or catch up on the series at Viz and Hulu.

Super Robot Wars Original Generation Complete Collection DVD
Media Blasters - 870 min - Sub - MSRP $25.98
Currently cheapest at: $17.52 Rakuten

Synopsis: The future of the world is at risk from extraterrestrials with advanced technology. In order to battle this new threat, one scientist has created humanoid mecha called Personal Troopers.

Thoughts: We have an amalgam of reviews for Super Robot Wars OG, but you can actually check out the magic for yourself at Crunchyroll.

The Familiar of Zero F Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.49 Amazon|$29.20 Rakuten

Synopsis: Saito and Louise hardly have a second to themselves, especially when things keep going awry. When events in Halkeginia start running amok, Saito and Louise are once again asked to try and save the world. Things get even stickier with the arrival of Tiffania, who has her sights set on Saito.

Thoughts: Be sure to check out our reviews of episodes 1-6 and 7-12 of Familiar of Zero F. You can watch the series online at The Anime Network, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.

Shelf Life Reviews

We've got another two great reviews for your this week, both released this summer and worth keeping on your radar.

First up, Gabriella takes us on a journey about friendship with One Week Friends.

One day at school, Yuki Hase notices that one of his classmates, Kaori Fujimiya, is always alone. An outgoing kid, he decides to befriend her and, after some prodding, discovers why she's so isolated – she suffers from a form of amnesia that makes her forget about her friends every Monday. At some point, Kaori just gave up on making friends and resigned herself to living alone. Despite knowing this, Yuki decides to draw Kaori out of her shell, befriending her all over again every week. Under his influence, Kaori begins to take active steps to maintain relationships and secure her own happiness.

Animated by Brain Base, One Week Friends is an adaptation of a Matcha Hazuki's manga. While it hasn't come out in English, this anime marks itself as an emotionally intelligent, beautifully realized, charming entry into the slice of life genre.

The emotional intelligence most surprised me. I like how Yuki isn't the magical solution to all of Kaori's problems. A lesser show would've rested on Yuki as a Manic Pixie Dream Boy-esque construct to fix the broken girl. Instead, Kaori also pushes him to grow. He makes mistakes, and Kaori calls him out on them. Early on, he becomes jealous of Kaori's new friendship with Shogo and tries to monopolize her for himself. This could've turned into a horrible situation of emotional abuse, especially considering Kaori's amnesia. Fortunately, Kaori sees what's up and rebukes him. They fight, Yuki acknowledges his fault, and their relationship emerges stronger.

Ultimately, the show is as much about Yuki's growth as Kaori's. He develops some substantial intimacy issues, grows from someone who's afraid of hurting others to accepting that real relationships necessitate the possibility of pain.

Shogo Kiryu and Saki Yamagishi make up a supplementary couple. Shogo is Yuki's sardonic, tight-lipped best friend, while Saki is a spacey girl who approaches Kaori soon after Yuki does. They form a stable friend group about halfway through the show. Shogo and Saki are responsible for most of One Week Friend's humor. Unlike Yuki and Kaori, their relationship is more obviously romantic, and they have an amusing dynamic. Saki uses her sluggishness to deliberately annoy the usually-unflappable Shogo. It's really cute.

One Week Friends is primarily an atmospheric show. The visuals do a great job at illustrating Kaori's condition, depression, and gradual recovery. It's worth watching just to see how the faux-water color style mirrors Kaori's growth. For example, the backgrounds are constantly fading into white. This emphasizes the ephemeral quality of Kaori's memories – in terms of shot composition, she's constantly cut off from others by splotches of white. These splotches, which fade in via a gradient effect, represent her entrapment. Kaori cut off from the world by the haze of her faulty memory. As the show goes on, these white areas diminish. The color work becomes more even, and the shot composition does more to unite Kaori with other characters. This reflects Kaori's success at overcoming her isolation. Due to Yuki, Shogo, and Saki's influence, she's now proactive in forming and maintaining relationships. The animation isn't showy, but always enhances the emotional tenor. Overall, it's a very inspired and successful artistic production.

Sentai's release includes the Kaori's Journal Shorts. They're nice, cute additions for fans. Otherwise, One Week Friends is slice of life at its best. Gentle, atmospheric, and emotionally resonant, it's the perfect comfort food for an afternoon in. It might be quiet, but you won't forget about it any time soon.
- Gabriella[TOP]

Speaking of keeping the memory alive, Paul takes us on a tour of yet another series about Oda Nobunaga, this time a girl who wields a massive gun that channels his spirit.

At this point, it goes without saying that you shouldn't become a major historical figure unless you're OK with being turned into a fictional action hero after you die. Abraham Lincoln hunts vampires, King Arthur is actually a girl who periodically shows up in Japan to fight for the Holy Grail, and so on. Oda Nobunaga has endured some of the weirdest fictional incarnations in recent memory, but at least he's not alone in Nobunagun. From Isaac Newton to Mahatma Gandhi, everyone's a little crazy in this one.

All these famous personalities naturally need something to fight, and the series provides an endless supply of creepy space monsters called Evolutionary Invaders. The only ones who can fight the baddies are the E-gene holders, people who've inherited the unique talents of history's greatest movers and shakers. The holders use their connections to the past to summon weapons and gear suited to whatever made each person famous. Jack the Ripper has a blade, Newton has a gravity hammer, and Galileo has spy drones and long-distance vision. Our hero is Sio Ogura, a charmingly dorky high school girl who inherits the spirit of Oda Nobunaga. Since her special weapon is a giant freakin' machine gun, she decides to call herself Nobunagun. (It apparently sounded cooler in her head than it did when she said it out loud.)

On paper, this show sounds like it ought to be unbelievably stupid. By some miracle of good writing, however, it isn't. Nobunagun embraces its goofy premise and uses it to craft fun action scenes full of entertaining banter and one-liners. The animation itself is merely competent, but the art style is refreshingly creative and fits well with the tone of the series. Intricate patterns blend with the characters and backgrounds to bring out specific emotions, and the color palette in the action scenes is completely different from the more normal style used in the rest of the show. It's a cool series to look at, and the story keeps things rolling along nicely. It's a simple plot without much in the way of depth or insight, but it gets the job done without any major missteps.

Much of the Nobunagun's appeal comes from Sio herself, who manages to be immediately charismatic without falling completely into any single character trope. She's a shy, clumsy military otaku, but all that awkwardness is tempered by a healthy dose of courage and a knack for thinking calmly under pressure. Sio's initial reaction to becoming an E-gene holder feels honest and authentic, and her relationship with her high school friend Asao lends the series a much-needed human element. The holders' personalities all tend to shift a bit when they use their powers, and it's fun to see Sio go a little berserk whenever she channels Nobunaga. A weak protagonist can easily kill a series like this, but Sio carries the show almost single-handedly.

Sadly, not everything in Nobunagun measures up to the standard set by its main character. The supporting cast is very hit-or-miss, and most of the characters feel more like clever plays on their historical namesakes than real people. Most of them are fun and likable enough, but I never really felt any connection to them. The show's strong beginning and ending are also separated by some weak middle episodes. Everything at least serves to advance the story or expand our knowledge of what's going on, but the actual content gets a bit dull from time to time. The series is also unwilling to kill off all but the most obviously expendable characters, and that reluctance deflates the tension in the big action scenes.

I enjoyed watching Nobunagun, and it's worth checking out if you're in the market for a short action series with a well-written heroine. The “Oda Nobunaga as someone else” sub-genre has some real trainwrecks in it, but Nobunagun is a genuinely good time. It's as strong as a rental title can get, but it's just not exceptional enough in any one area to leave a lasting impression. I felt like I got all I was ever going to get out of it after one viewing, so rental it is.
- Paul[TOP]

This week's shelves are from Washu Takahashi, who wrote in the following:

"I've been enjoying seeing everyone else's shelves every week, and kept meaning to take pictures of my own. I just found out we'll be having someone move in with us so I need to to clear out the spare bedroom of my 3 extra bookshelves, so figured this was my last chance to get pictures of my current set-up. I've been collecting manga and anime for roughly 12 years now. At first it was really slow, getting a volume at Borders here and there, but more recently I've been buying complete sets off ebay and splurging on rightstuf sales. Last I counted them was a few months ago, but I have over 700 manga (quite possibly over 800 now) and over 60 complete anime series and a bunch of movies. I've got giant stacks of shonen jump magazines from back in the day, as well as volumes 2-12 of CLAMP no Kiseki and the chess pieces. I've also started collecting artbooks and figures (this isn't nearly all of my figures) in recent years. My advice to anyone starting their collection: Try to stick to one thing! After your first artbook or figure or 3D keychain, there's no going back and you get sucked into a deep abyss that cleans out your wallet at every turn..."

These are gorgeous shelves!!! I'm going to move in immediately.

All right folks, start sending in those collection pictures, or those vegan cheese platter pictures will definitely be splashed up in all their 300dpi glory. If you've sent them in previously and they were never featured, please re-send them to [email protected] I can't wait to see them. Thanks!

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