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Anime DVD Reviews

Battle of the PlanetsBattle of the Planets (DVD)
This is EASILY the best DVD to come along in years! This AMAZING disc allows you to compare and contrast the ORIGINAL "Gatchaman" episodes with the Americanized adaptions of both "Battle of the Planets" (Sandy Frank Productions) and the later adaption (done by Turner) of "G-Force".

A blast from the past...Released by Rhino, who make those great compliation CDs, this DVD is a fanboy dream come true. It allows us the dual role of becoming nostalgic for a great show remembered in childhood (BotP was a big favorite of ours... Until along came Star Blazers!), while at the same time allowing us to become the nit-picky fanboys we are, and see how jarring the inclusion of "7-Zark-7" was and how much of the true plot and action were sacrificed in the name of children's broadcast standards. If you ever watched this show and wondered what the hell that R2-D2 rip-off was doing there, you've got to get this disc and see how it really went. Gatchaman is certainly one the most stellar creations of the Tatsunoko studio, and definitely one that has inspired the legions of animators that followed.

Outlaw StarOutlaw Star (Collection 1) DVD
With what may be the best opening song since the original Hokoto No Ken, this series starts off like a rocket and doesn't stop until you get to the Galactic Leyline. The motley crew of title spacecraft is assembled over the first few episodes, and if you've seen Cowboy Bebop, you'll no doubt recognize quite a few of the same voice actors. They do an impressive job of bringing to life the zany characters -- from the troubled, brooding Gene Starwind who's afraid to fly in space, to the hysterical "cat-girl" Aisha Clanclan who seems to have a knack for getting into trouble.

Humor, mystery and long hair...Or perhaps you think you've seen this already because it aired on Cartoon Network? Guess again! This uncut version is rated 13 Up for nudity, sexual situations, profanity, and violence. Yeah, that's right, Melfina's hot-pants and bra were digitally painted on for the American broadcast -- wait'll you see her when she bonds with the ship's navigation system in this version! Overall, the series does a great job of combining the action with a good amount of humor, while at the same time, drawing you nearer and nearer to the mystery of the treasure that they all seek at the leyline.

Yu Yu HakushoYu Yu Hakusho - Spirit Detective (DVD)
Any anime that kills off the main character in the very first epsiode has our vote! Yu Yu Hakusho is a very surprising series, mostly in that we didn't expect it to be as good as it is. As with Dragonball and Dragonball Z, Funimation has a knack for picking a quirky series with interesting characters that help sustain a complex plot along with enough hand-to-hand combat to keep up the level of action.

You will like Yu Yu Hakusho!Yusuke Urameshi turns out to be a very interesting character -- he's definitely got more brains than he's letting on, which is probably why he was given a second chance in life as a spirit detective, rather than just staying dead. But in this first DVD, dead he does stay -- at least for a while. And his guide, Boton, is really cute -- aside from the fact that she's supposed to be the Grim Reaper (hey, maybe death ain't so bad!). Most entertaining is the brainless but indestructable Kuwabara, who can take more damage and keep flying than a B-17. If you like DBZ, you'll go for this as well. It's got action, it's clever, and the characters are a lot of fun.

Dragon Ball ZDragon Ball Z - Movie Boxed Set (DVD)
This boxed set of films contains the three best of the 13 DBZ movies, uncut, "Dead Zone", "World's Strongest" and "Tree of Might", and is an awesome addition to any DBZ fan's collection.

What are you looking at?!"Dead Zone": Garlic Junior and his quest to gain immortality while also fufilling his father's dream of transforming the Earth into a world of pure evil. Funniest DBZ movie, and with the most characterization.

"World's Strongest": A mad scientist wants to implant his brain into the world's strongest man (in other words, Goku). However, the scientist is dead, and it's just the brain in a glass jar that continues to survive! (Our pick as best DBZ movie ever!)

"Tree of Might": A Sayian's quest to become the strongest person in the universe with the fruit from the tree of might that only the eternal dragon is allowed to eat from because it gives enormous powers to whom ever eats from it. Saiyan VS Saiyan action!

The Iron GiantThe Iron Giant (DVD)
We love a good robot story...This is the finest anime film never made in Japan. It's not cheezy, it's not just for kids, it doesn't preach, and it doesn't have any stupid songs. It's a good, honest movie with a solid script, refreshingly intelligent dialog and likeable characters. You'd have to look far and wide to find a better animated-film made on this side of the planet. A loving attention to detail allows computer animation and traditional cel-work to be smoothly combined in this film, which gives the giant robot of the title a real mechanical feel particularly when he transforms (like a swiss-army knife!).

Regardless, you'll see the familar touches that render this to be essentially "Gigantor The Movie", except that it takes place in the "Cold War Hysteria" of the 1950's where things like "Duck and Cover" were a reality. In fact, the older you are, the more likely you are to get half the jokes in the film!

Overall, the anime influence is apparent, and yet, there's an impressive amount of originality, particularly in the humorous sequences where Hogarth must hide the independent bits-of-'bot that are all scurrying to get back to the head to rebuild the Giant after an unfortunate run-in with a locomotive. This sequence, made all the more hilarious due to the mother (voiced by Jennifer Aniston) and federal agent snooping around, is critical to the overall plot, as you'll see later in the film -- it's not just "thrown-in" for comedy, as is often seen in films like this from other American animation studios. This ability to blend the comedy into the film in a way not usually seen makes this a prime example of how to tell a good story -- it's just really an excellent movie. Watch it once and you'll treasure it forever. Recommended Books:
 Hamtaro = Anime HamsterThe Official Hamtaro Handbook
"Little hamsters — big adventures!" is the tagline for Japan’s most popular children’s series. So of course might be in a rush to purchase an unofficial guide to Hamtaro, but what fun would that be? The Cartoon Network has produced an official guide to the series which features cute hamsters as heros.

Hamtaro: Too Cute!The entire Hamtaro gang is all here — ten-year-old Laura, her inquisitive pet golden hamster Hamtaro, and the infamous Ham-Ham crew — get the royal treatment in this colorful, comprehensive guide. The handbook includes biographies of all the characters, a synopsis and guide to each episode of the series, the words to the theme song, and even a lesson in how to do the official Hamtaro Dance! Also included are a dictionary of the Hamtaro language, clips of the anime, a map of the town, a family tree, stickers, and a Hamtaro comic.

Strange Stories for Strange KidsStrange Stories for Strange Kids (Little Lit, Book 2)

If you are a fan of “Raw” comics from the 80s this book is a must have for underground comix fans who want something different. Editors Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly have packed so much top-notch talent into this flabbergastingly funny all-ages comic collection that you'll have a terrible time deciding what to read first. You'll find some of the most hilarious, intelligent, and diverse short comics around inside these pages: Maurice Sendak's omnivorous infant gobbles up everything in sight in "Cereal Baby Keller"; David Sedaris pairs up with Ian Falconer to define true cuteness; "Where's Waldo?" creator Martin Handford searches for old socks; Paul Auster (yes, that Paul Auster) and Jacques de Loustal's offering follows a man who's found he's disappeared; Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) brings back the beginning of his classic '40s strip, "Barnaby" (a favorite of Duke Ellington and Dorothy Parker, among others); and Spiegelman himself takes on "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake." And that's not even the half of it. This downright quirky collection will charm comic fans of all ages--and, no doubt, make fans out of those who weren't already. Even the endpapers are fun thanks to Kaz of "Underworld."

Hirohito and the Making of Modern JapanHirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

by Herbert P. Bix
This is one of the better Japanese history books that we have recently read. To many, Emperor Hirohito of Japan is remembered as a helpless figurehead during Japan's wars with China and the U.S. According to the received wisdom, he knew nothing of the plan to bomb Pearl Harbor and had no power to stop atrocities like the Rape of Nanking. The emperor was the mild-mannered man who brought peace through surrender, certainly not "one of the most disingenuous persons ever to occupy the modern throne."

Herbert Bix's biography, however, argues that such accepted beliefs are myths and misrepresentations spun by both Japanese and Americans to protect the emperor from indictment. Since Hirohito's death in 1989, hundreds of documents, diaries, and scholarly studies have been published (and subsequently ignored) in Japan. Bix used these sources to develop this shocking and nuanced portrait of a man far more shrewd, activist, and energetic than previously thought.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
 Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest HitsSaturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits
This CD is worth the price for three great tracks (although all of them are pretty darn good!), but the three that take the cake are (in order of perference), Butthole Surfers performing the Underdog theme, Matthew Sweet (who is an anime fan!) doing Scooby Doo, and the Ramones perfoming the Spiderman Theme (they actually do it straight!)

Reverend Horton Heat also does a great job with Jonny Quest, although it's clear that he'd rather be doing "Stop the Pidgeon!". The only dull spot on the album may be Helmet's performance of Gigantor, but perhaps that's just not our thing. However, it's all made up for by the Violent Femme's version of "Eep Oop Ork Ah-ah", which will have you dancing and singing (hey, it was even a great song on the original Jetsons!).

This is a great gift item for anybody who was into cartoons in the 1970s. Once you listen to this just once, you can't get the tunes out of your head! Current Issue | Sitemap | The Anime Wallpaper Guide

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