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Anime DVD Reviews
  Neon Genesis EvangelionNeon Genesis Evangelion (DVD) recommends this pick, which is the first of a series (established Evangelion fans should note that a complete boxed set of the series has just come out). And what a series it is! Neon Genesis Evangelion may be one of the most dramatic, thought-provoking, intelligent, emotionally charged TV series ever made, animated or otherwise.

Evangelion: Not just another robot show!The tale centers around Shinji, who is unwillingly selected to pilot Evangelion Unit 01 (by his father, to whom he has no love), to defend the Earth against mysterious aliens known only as "Angels". Don't mistake this series for "just another robot show", the robot isn't the center of the story or even the action. It's the characters and their three-dimensionality that bring this to life. So much so that fans of the series hotly debate the justifications and motivations behind the characters of the story.

All this combines with Anno Hideaki's super-skillful direction, which breaks the mold for anime, presenting an unusual assortment of film noir, experimental cinema, hints of Sergei Eisenstein, and emotional allegorical sequences similar to what you'd see in something like Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries". This is anime for fans of film, and this is anime for fans of anime. Once you get absorbed into the story and the characters, you'll wonder why all anime, or even all TV shows and Movies aren't like this.

DragonBall Z: History of TrunksDragonBall Z -History of Trunks (DVD)
If you've watched DBZ on Cartoon Network, you know that Trunks is the son of Vegeta and Bulma (and what an unlikely couple they are!). Trunks competed against Go-Ten at the World Martial Arts Championship, and not only won, he landed a pretty good punch onto Hercule as well.

Hmmm. Vegita has black hair, Bulma has aqua hair, so Trunks' hair is violet?Now if you think back a series or two, there was another Trunks, who came from the future and promptly destroyed Freiza without even breaking a sweat. This Trunks is from an alternate future. Trunks warned Goku about a virus that would kill him and the two androids that would destroy the world in three years. Because of this warning, Goku beat the virus, and was alive to take on the androids, which of course, leads into the Cell Games.

But now see the future that never was! If Trunks had not come into the past to warn Goku, he'd be dead (along with all the other Z-Fighters!) and it would be Gohan and Trunks alone to challenge the two destructive androids. Can Gohan train Trunks in time, or will Gohan have to face them alone? Every day that they delay stopping these androids means thousands of innocent deaths in what remains of the cities of Earth. Even as Super Saiyans, do they have the strength to take on Number 17 and sexy Number 18?

Ghost in the Shell: Cyberpunk Anime!Ghost in the Shell (DVD)
Don't worry about the plot, just look at this film. Every dollar spent is on the screen. Even six years after it's release, Ghost in the Shell remains the best-looking anime film ever made. Some of the sequences are just so jaw-droppingly amazing you won't believe that the majority of the film is hand drawn animation. Incredibly choreographed actions sequences, fantastic music (the eerie, haunting title track will stay with you forever), and the dead-on film direction of Mamaru Oshii make this one of the greatest anime films of all time. To say this is a "must have" is an understatement. It's one of the ultimate cyberpunk films, and it's visuals were definitely an inspiration to the Wachowski brothers when they created the blockbuster "The Matrix" -- just the opening sequence alone is a dead giveaway of that fact.

The character designs blend very well with the rest of the look.This is one of those movies that requires multiple viewings to take it all in. There's so much on screen that your first two viewings will probably leave you not even caring about the story. Then, on your third of fourth viewing, you'll start to understand the complex plot, and understand what a "ghost" is -- and why it's so critical to the action at hand. For the uber-geek, this film is filled with cool-looking high-tech gadgets including some cleverly designed big guns, a six-legged tank, camouflage like "The Predator", and just some amazing art-direction that just won't quit making your eyes fall out of your head. Ghost in the Shell presents a dark and realistic view of the future, where mankind as we know it will soon be replaced by his own creations.

Akira: The Ultimate Anime DVDAkira Special Edition (DVD)
What really needs to be said here? Akira simply is the most popular anime film ever made, having had several theatrical runs even here in the US. Directed by writer Katsuhiro 'tomo, the manga he produced became the most-read manga ever. When the film came out in 1988 it represented over two years of painstaking labor to create the stunning visuals in the film. Remember that in 1988 there was no computer animation to speak of at the time -- this was all done by hand.

Akira: One of the great masterpieces of anime.This DVD represents a new cleaned-up version of the film, digitally remastered, redubbed, and in widescreen format, it's simply awesome to behold. Otomo's richly detailed world of NeoTokyo, which is designed from huge buildings down to the smallest details of passing vehicles or police uniforms is combined with nonstop action that doesn't pause for even a moment to allow you to catch your breath. Plus there's a gruesome and yet thoughtful ending (which was parodied in a South Park Episode), that will leave you gasping for more. Akira deserves its rating as the most well-known, most popular anime film ever created. You can't even call yourself an anime fan if you've never seen it.

Bambi meets Godzilla!
Bambi Meets Godzilla (VHS)
Everyone knows the joke, but have you actually ever seen the film? It's quite possibly the funniest one-joke film ever made, although, I guarantee you'll be in hysterics just reading the credits. Where would we be without Marv Newland? This videotape offers more off beat animation classics including Betty Boop in "Crazy Town" and Max Fleisher's "Small Fry," so this is not an entire tape of crudely animated films by amateur animation fans. Like the title animated short, every film included on this tape is a guaranteed classic -- you're not likely to be the same after you've viewed them all.

What would Walt think?!If you are a student of animation or just a fan, the films included on this tape showcase just how far you can go with a limited budget, lots of creativity and an extremely bizarre sense of humor. It inspires me to go out and make my own films. Perhaps you'll feel that way as well after you view Bambi Meets Godzilla. I mean, just think of the possible sequels, what with Barney and those darn Teletubbies running around perverting our youth.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
  Final Fantasy XFinal Fantasy X
First of all, we'd like to state here and now that Final Fantasy IX was the best game we ever played on the Playstation. When someone asked us what it was about, we replied through tear-filled eyes "it's about ... friendship." You just won't understand unless you've experienced it yourself. At we’ve never been so moved by a videogame.

Final Fantasy X: The best game ever made?Leave it Squaresoft to improve upon perfection. Final Fantasy X may be the best game ever made, with an amazing story and utilizing the full power of the PS2 to allow game sequences that look as good as the cinematic scenes. Overall gameplay has been improved, as has the battle system (one cool feature worth mentioning -- you can now switch the battling "team" during a battle). And ah, oh, how good it looks. Next to Pixar, Square may be the strongest 3D house on the planet, with innovative and majestic design, rendered to the point that it feels as though you're playing a Hollywood feature film.

Some GREAT 3D!!!Of course, like every version of Final Fantasy, this game has an amazing amount of depth (you'll never see it all), extremely strong characterization and lots and lots of hidden "stuff" for you to find as you go through the adventure. There's also the usual assortment of puzzles to solve, strategies to form, resource management, skills to acquire, experience points, boss monsters, and all the other niceties of a solidly-constructed, skillfully-executed RPG. And we’re not going to tell you what it's about. You just won't understand unless you experience it yourself. Recommended Books:
 Robots and SpaceshipsRobots and Spaceships,
Edited by by Teruhisa Kitahar

This book covers two of our favorite subjects, robots and spaceships! Taschen publishes some great art books, and this is one of them. This book is from the “Icon” series which focuses on topics ranging from Tattoos to Pin Up photos. The quality of the photography and printing is always very high, so these little books tend to make great gifts. This title will be of special interest to anyone fascinated by early space travel and technology, those who simply want to wax nostalgic about a bygone era of their youth, and of course to collectors and fans of 50s and 60s tin toys.

Didn't we see these guys in Star Wars?The attempt here is to give a reflective taste of some of the best of what was the golden age of space toys. Between the retro red covers you'll find your 1950s Smoking Robot, Thunder Robot with box, your Mr. Robot, and a couple of "The Gang of Five". The 191 pages, mostly with full single page shots of the toys, is enough to give the uninitiated a real appreciation for the talent that went into their creation. The roots of today's toys can be seen in these precursors, notably in the early transformer robots. Taken from collector Teruhisa Kitahara's vast collection, which is on display in many museums in Japan, the robots and spaceships featured here are quite rare and give a wonderful overview of this era in the history of toys.

The Insider's Guide to SakeThe Insider's
Guide to Sake

On a cold rainy day there is nothing nicer than enjoying a warm soothing cup of sake at your favorite sushi establishment. An encounter with Japan's favorite libation is bound to be memorable, yet despite its growing popularity worldwide, information on this eminently drinkable beverage remains scarce.

The Insider's Guide to Sake is the consummate introductory handbook. It unravels the history and intricacies of this exotic drink, and provides an extensive list of restaurants and retail outlets in Japan, the United States, and Europe where the beverage in all its variety can be found. In the book you will discover over 100 sakes for all tastes and pocketbooks, tips for beginners and connoisseurs alike, and a knowledgeable explanation of the brew-master's skills. Labels and specs for each selected sake are displayed in a concise, easy-to-follow format.

Iron Chef: Cooking Anime Style!Iron Chef:
The Official Book

While not a cartoon character Gourmet Academy chairman Takeshi Kaga and his Iron Chefs hold a special place in the heart, no make that the stomach of anime fans. Translated by Kaoru Hoketsu this book will introduce readers to "exclusive stories and recipes behind meals never before attempted, meals filled with lobster, foie gras, truffles, and other delicacies."

This book reveals the show's apparatuses with the breathtaking hype familiar to its television audience, via "The Rules of the Game," Iron Chef interviews and profiles, "Testimony of the Cast and Staff" and various "Prestige Menus."

Fans of the Food Network's series will revel in chronologies and other tidbits about this hour-long video extravaganza that mixes cooking shows, sports, game shows, and plenty of showbiz pyrotechnics. The book documents the show's genesis from an idea of Takeshi Kaga, the spectacularly coifed chairman of the Gourmet Academy. Diehard fans who follow the art and the antics of these gifted chefs will create plenty of demand for this exhaustively detailed guide to the show. Recipes are for experts only, but those who want to eat the Iron Chefs' creations may use the book's inventory of the worldwide restaurants where iron chefs cook for the public.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
We admit it -- we originally got into this band because I saw the video for "Clint Eastwood", and every other word out of my mouth was "cool... awesome..." But after experiencing the entire CD, we gotta say, it's a pretty good mix of stuff and has a unique sound. This group mixes everything from rap, funk, and rock to produce a strange, funkadelic sound that really is unlike anything else I've ever heard.

MurdocA motley crew of mismatched misfits, the group consists of pretty-boy singer "2D", metalhead bassist "Murdoc", hip-hop drummer "Russel" and 10-year-old wunderkind guitarist "Noodle". All of these characters are alter-egos for the talent behind the music. While some bands are content to simply sound cartoon-ish, Gorillaz are animated ideas brought to life by comic-book creator Jamie Hewlett (who's famous for "Tank Girl") and Blur frontman Damon Albarn, who lends his vocals to most of the songs on the group's self-titled debut album. Other "real-life" musicians who assisted the group in the studio include former Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth, Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, who produced the album.

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