Shelf Life
Akiba's Trip

by Paul Jensen, James Beckett,

It's Preview Guide time once again, and I'm back in the lineup after taking a couple seasons off. This spring looks like it'll be packed full of big sequels, bigger remakes, and some cool original stuff for good measure. There's no time like the present to sort out those simulcast queues, so go take a look when you get a chance! In the meantime, we've got some new releases to check out. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Akiba's Trip

On Shelves This Week

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As rumors of a coup spread through the kingdom of Dowa, government inspector Jean Otus finds himself at the center of a conspiracy.

Extra: I enjoyed what I saw of this series, but I never got around to finishing it. You'll find our episode reviews here, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.




Ajin: Demi-Human - Season 2 BD, DVD, Limited Edition
Sentai - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98|$59.98|$99.98
Currently cheapest at: $39.99 Amazon|$38.99 Right Stuf|$64.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As Sato begins targeting people connected to Ajin research, Kei decides to take a stand against him.

Extra: We have a review of this season, along with a review of season one. You can stream it on Netflix.




March Comes in Like a Lion - Season 1 Part 2 BD
Aniplex - 275 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $159.98
Currently cheapest at: $129.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Rei continues to face challenges in his personal life as he takes on new opponents in shogi.

Extra: We have episode reviews for both seasons of this series, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll.





Puzzle & Dragons X - Part 2 BD+DVD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Ace's journey to become a Dragon Caller continues.

Extra: We have a review of part one, which is apparently quite palatable for an anime based on a match-three phone game. You can stream the series on Crunchyroll and Funimation.





Super Lovers - Season 2 BD+DVD
Funimation - 275 min - Sub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As Haru and Ren try to understand their feelings for one another, an acquaintance from Haru's pasts arrives to complicate things.

Extra: We have a review of seasons one and two, and Gabriella recently covered season one for this column. The series is available streaming on Funimation.





Shelf Life Reviews

Shelf Worthy
Nothing this week.
Rental
Akiba's Trip
Perishable
Nothing this week.

Otaku culture and wardrobe malfunctions are the order of the day as James takes a look at Akiba's Trip. Here's his review of the comedy series:

I've played the PlayStation Vita Akiba's Trip game, Undead and Undressed, for all of fifteen minutes, but fortunately that lack of experience was not a hindrance to reviewing Funimation's Blu-Ray/DVD release of Akiba's Trip: The Animation. As far as I can tell, the anime takes the general idea of the game (stripping the clothes off supernatural creatures in order to expose and destroy them) and goes in its own wacky direction with the premise. This iteration of Akiba's Trip focuses on the adventures of Tamotsu Denkigai, a proud otaku who ends up involved in a fight against the Bugged Ones, cosplaying monsters who are trying to destroy the shopping paradise of Akihabara from the inside. After suffering a particularly nasty case of chest-stabbing, he is revived by Matome Mayonaka, a Bugged One who fights for justice and transforms Tamotsu in the process of saving him. Tamotsu and Matome are joined by the enthusiastic human cosplayer Arisa, whose eccentricities are only matched by her love for helping her friends fight the Bugged Ones. Together, the trio and their companions form Electric Mayonnaise, a group devoted to tearing the clothes off Akihabara's invaders and protecting the nerdy culture that they love so dearly.

If the premise of a trio of goofballs running around and stripping down monsters across Akihabara sounds dumb, that's because it absolutely is, and Akiba's Trip: The Animation leans into that stupidity with gleeful abandon. While the setting and supernatural threat come from slightly more serious-minded video-game origins, this anime adaptation of Akiba's Trip opts for a more sitcom-style approach, using Electric Mayonnaise's fight against the Bugged Ones as an excuse to toss our heroes into new silly situations every week. There are plots involving elaborate rice cooker heists, forming idol groups, and figuring out how to replace expensive anime figurines, with the Bugged One battles mostly serving as a means to provide fanservice and cheap laughs throughout the adventure. Surprisingly enough, the saucy aspect of the premise never crosses the line into being gross; there's plenty of T&A for those interested, but the more cartoonish art style and zippy comedic pacing of the series keep Akiba's Trip from feeling truly lascivious.

This isn't a show where the cast go through transformative arcs or develop incredibly meaningful relationships; this is a hangout comedy that just so happens to feature a ton of people getting stripped half-naked in the middle of Akihabara. What's most important in a comedy like this is that the cast play off each other well, which is definitely the case for this show. Tamotsu strikes a fine balance between being charming, nerdy, and kind of a dick, while Matome is very likable as the show's leading lady, sharing a lot of chemistry with Tamotsu. Arisa is the most flagrantly ridiculous character, which means her gags miss as often as they hit, though a running gag involving her increasingly bizarre backstory is one of the show's best bits. The plots that these oddballs fall into range from hilarious to meh, but the cast interactions are enjoyable throughout. Tamotsu is also joined by his sister Niwaka, who supports the team in their adventures and has remarkable patience for dealing with her brother's weird new lifestyle.

The villains and schemes that challenge the team are less impactful; they're fine, but none of them are particularly memorable, even when they get more personal for our heroes. A plot involving Arisa's family history is introduced late in the game, and while it provides some decent drama and helps the story set up a satisfying climax, it also isn't quite as funny as it ought to be. Overall, I'm inclined to think of Akiba's Trip as a handful of fairly strong comedy adventures surrounded by other stories that are merely okay. I was surprised at how much I laughed at some individual gags, but the series overall doesn't stick in your mind for long after it's over.

Similarly, the production is inconsistent but generally positive. Studio Gonzo's animation starts off strong, taking advantage of the show's bright colors and expressive character designs, but other episodes struggle to maintain that level of quality, especially as the series wraps up. Director Hiroshi Ikehata makes sure to take advantage of the medium's malleable qualities, meaning that even when the animation suffers, the storyboarding carries the comic pacing along just fine. This isn't an amazing-looking show, but it has personality, and that goes a long way in keeping the highs high and the lows easy to stomach.

Funimation's release contains all thirteen episodes on both DVD and Blu-Ray, though the latter format is where you'll find the set's one real bonus feature, a commentary featuring Alejandro Saab, Jad Saxton, and Natalie Hoover, who play Tamotsu, Matome, and Arisa respectively. It's a good track, and the actors' chemistry is apparent even when they're just hanging out and laughing at the weird little show they worked on together. The English dub is a decent product overall; it goes out of its way to add its own jokes and switch up the translations to make a gag flow better, but I've always thought that kind of loose approach to adaptation was appropriate for comedies—a perfectly translated joke doesn't do much good if it doesn't get the audience to laugh. Purists may want to stick to the Japanese audio, but I think Funimation's work on Akiba's Trip is admirable.

Overall, Akiba's Trip: The Animation is a solid Rental recommendation. It's a raunchy but well-meaning comedy that perfectly suits a weekend in need of some laughs, but I don't know if it's substantial enough to warrant dropping $50 on the set. It's not a perfect series, but so long as you don't go into Akiba's Trip expecting either a faithful game adaptation or a transcendent comedy experience, there's plenty of fun to be had in spending some time defending Akihabara with Electric Mayonnaise.
-- James[TOP]

That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Alex:

"Hi!  Started collecting manga in middle school when I bought the ADV edition of Yotsuba at a middle school book fair.  Bought the Bleach box set after that and my addiction spiraled into chaos.  I try to only go for the books and no memorabilia because it'd be impossible to afford both, but every once in a while I at least splurge on a LE box set.  Used to really addicted and had books arriving every week.  Slowly decided to focus on series that I like the most and the ones that if I sold I'd never be able to get back (Berserk, Eden, ect.)

Moved recently and have sold at least 3 more shelves of these off, but these ones left are what I consider the necessities! "

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I remember the old ADV Manga releases well. In fact, I still have quite a few of them on my shelf! I love the collection, thanks for sharing!

Want to show off your own anime and/or manga shelves? Send me your photos at [email protected]om!


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