Shelf Life
Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone

by Paul Jensen,

So many new seasons have been starting up in the last week or so. New anime season! New baseball season! OK, those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head, but it still feels like everything is full of fresh possibilities. Some new series could work its way onto my list of all-time favorites, and the Mets could toy with my emotions yet again by taking another shot at the World Series. Until I'm presented with convincing evidence to the contrary, anything is possible. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone

On Shelves This Week

Garokawa -Restore the World- [Import] BD
Ponycan - 67 min - Sub - MSRP $89.99
Currently cheapest at: $71.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Dual and Dorothy fight to protect a space inhabited by multiple worlds and timelines from invading viruses. When they save a girl from a virus attack, she tells them that she needs to return to a place called the "flower garden."

Extra: We've got a review here that might help make some sense of this sci-fi movie. If you want to check it out for yourself, it's available streaming on Crunchyroll.




Gugure! Kokkuri-san - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $38.99 Right Stuf|$29.99 Amazon

Synopsis: An eccentric girl named Kohina summons the fox spirit Kokkuri by playing a spirit-summoning game. Appalled by Kohina's poor diet and lack of parental supervision, Kokkuri decides to stick around and act as her guardian.

Extra: I watched a few episodes of this show, and it's pretty entertaining in its own crazy way. Episode reviews are here, and we've also got a full series review here. You've got plenty of streaming options for this one, including Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.




Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 650 min - Hyb - MSRP $99.98|$79.98
Currently cheapest at: $58.99 Amazon|$49.99 Amazon

Synopsis: In a distant future where Japan has been divided into territories ruled by foreign powers, the inhabitants of a flying city-ship find themselves caught up in a war with humanity's survival at stake.

Extra: Our review coverage for this show is limited to the first six episodes, but you can check it out in its entirety on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.




Love Live! School Idol Project - Season 2 BD
NIS - 308 min - Hyb - MSRP $59.99
Currently cheapest at: $44.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After helping keep their high school open through the power of music, the girls of µ's set their sights on a national tournament for school idols. In addition to competing against rival groups, they'll have to face plenty of personal challenges as they aim for the top.

Extra: This set doesn't have an encyclopedia listing at the time of this writing, but you can read a review of this season here. I also had a devil of a time finding it for sale at most of the usual retailers, so take my "currently cheapest at" listing with a grain of salt. You can get your school idol fix on Crunchyroll and Hulu.




Maken-Ki! Two - The Complete Series BD+DVD
Funimation - 275 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Takeru and the other members of the Leadership Committee work to defend Tenbei Academy from people who would use their Maken abilities for evil. It just so happens that their mission frequently leads to raunchy hijinks.

Extra: We don't have much coverage of this season, but you'll find reviews of its predecessor here and here. You'll find both seasons streaming on Funimation and Hulu.




Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers [Collector's Edition] - Set 3 BD+DVD
Ponycan - 96 min - Sub - MSRP $89.98
Currently cheapest at: $71.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: The story of the Seven Braves draws to a close as they try to find the traitor in their midst and prevent the resurrection of the Demon God.

Extra: We've got your episode reviews right here, along with reviews of the first and second collector's sets. If the hefty price point has your wallet bursting into tears, the show's also available streaming on Crunchyroll.




Tonari no Seki-kun - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 168 min - Hyb - MSRP $49.98|$39.98
Currently cheapest at: $29.99 Amazon|$25.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Rumi sits in the back row of class next to Seki, who spends every day finding ambitious new ways to slack off. As much as Rumi wants to pay attention to the teacher, she can't help but get caught up in Seki's antics.

Extra: Since we don't seem to have any official reviews, I'll go ahead and put in a kind word for this show. I'm not sure I'd want to watch the whole thing in one sitting, but the short episodes can be pretty darn funny in small doses. You'll find it streaming on Crunchyroll.




Shelf Life Reviews

2016 seems to be turning into the year of big anime franchises for me, at least when it comes to Shelf Life reviews. After having some good experiences with One Piece and Fairy Tail back in January, I decided to take a sample from another vast ficitonal universe in the form of Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone.

I've come to enjoy watching shows and movies that find a way to surprise me, especially when they turn out to be smarter or more fun than they first appear. Sometimes, though, it's nice to find something that does exactly what it says on the box. Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone presents itself as a slightly dark but stylish Lupin adventure, and that's more or less what it is. If you want to see anime's iconic master thief and a couple of his friends flirt with danger and look good doing it, then step right up. If you're looking for something more than that, well, you might still have some fun with this movie.

The movie follows Lupin and Jigen as they steal a valuable gemstone from a foreign embassy in the country of East Doroa. As they try to make their escape, they're attacked by an assassin whose sharpshooting skills rival Jigen's. Expert sniper Yael Okuzaki makes a point of preparing his targets' graves in advance, and his intentions become all too clear when the guys find a tombstone with Jigen's name on it. An unexpected encounter with Fujiko gives Lupin a clue as to why only Jigen has been targeted. What started as a duel between two marksmen quickly becomes something much bigger as everyone gets caught up in a web of international intrigue.

This movie is billed as a “continuation spinoff” of the TV series Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and there is some crossover between the two works' creative staff. That helps explain the similarities in tone; like the TV series, Jigen's Gravestone offers a darker take on the Lupin the Third universe. The violence is visually explicit, the characters are quick to gamble on matters of life and death, and the film's sexual elements veer into some pretty unsettling territory. If you like the idea of a more serious Lupin, there's a good chance that this movie will work for you. If you prefer the franchise's more lighthearted entries, then it may have a tougher time winning you over.

Whether you like the darker tone or not, Jigen's Gravestone is worth watching once for the visuals alone. Redline director Takeshi Koike takes the helm for this movie, and the results are impressive. It's a slightly less artistic look than The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, but the new style fits the story well. The animation really shines during the film's gunfights and car chases, and the background art makes the Cold War-ish European setting come alive. The character designs have “cool” written all over them, and the shot composition and use of color are both on point. This is a good-looking movie from top to bottom.

My one big complaint about Jigen's Gravestone is that its abundance of style isn't necessarily backed up by a similar amount of substance. The story boils down to a cat-and-mouse game between the heroes and the villains, and that's about all there is to it. Some questions of morality pop up here and there, but the script doesn't take the time to give its themes more than a brief examination. Given that this is an action/heist movie at heart, however, I don't think it loses all that much by choosing to focus on the story's twists and turns instead of looking for some deeper meaning. The moment-to-moment action of Lupin and Jigen trying to outwit Okuzaki is enough to carry the story, and the political intrigue that surrounds them serves mainly as a useful tool for finding Okuzaki's weakness. I'll take simple and focused over sloppy and complicated any day.

That “keep it simple” style is also applied to the characters. Nobody grows or changes much over the course of the movie, but everyone is compelling and charismatic enough that they don't really need to. Lupin has some strong chemistry with both Jigen and Fujiko, and Okuzaki is a pretty strong villain. It helps that the Japanese voice actors for Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko have all played their respective parts before. They all sound comfortable in their roles, which is vital for maintaining the film's naturally cool vibe. The English dub is pretty solid, but it struggles to replicate that effortless fit with actors who don't have a long history with the recurring characters. The strongest performance comes from Jamieson K Price as Okuzaki, which makes a certain amount of sense given that the character's confinement to this movie levels the playing field a bit.

Taken on its own, Jigen's Gravestone is a stylish and entertaining movie that should easily hold the average viewer's attention over its relatively short runtime. As an entry in the Lupin universe, I suspect that its value will depend largely on whether or not you like its take on the characters. It certainly deserves credit for its accessibility to franchise newcomers, as it doesn't ask for much beyond a passing familiarity with the protagonists. This release is nicely packaged with some attractive cover art, and I can easily see myself watching it again somewhere down the road.
-Paul[TOP]

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

This week's shelves are from Dallas:

"'Ello!

Love and really appreciate the column! I've picked up and enjoyed a lot of the series covered in it!

Thought I'd finally send a few pics of some of my collection. Sadly do not have enough shelf space right now to display complete collection of figures and manga. I got into anime and manga over 20 years ago and started with Vampire Hunter D and  some Gundam figures and continue to collect and grow the collection. I have a wide variety from every genre. On the shelves is 354 series/movies and I have more in storage along with the majority of figures, statues, and other merch. The latest additions is the 1/2 SuperSonico statue. Hopefully I can get a bigger place with extra shelving to display the full collection in the future!

Any Gundam fans out there that haven't checked out The Origin manga… I highly recommend it!"

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Wow, that Sonico statue is huge. That's a mightily impressive collection, thanks for sharing!

If you've got a collection of your own that you'd like to show off, send me your photos at [email protected]!


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