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Anime DVD Reviews
Spirited Away
Spirited Away (DVD)
At long last history is made this year as an anime film wins the Oscar for 'Best Animated Picture' at the Academy Awards. Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki's stunningly imaginative supernatural adventure about a plucky little girl in a world of ghosts bested four much higher-profile American opponents, proving quality counts.

Spirited Away with the Oscar!Using his unique trademark style, along with some very subtle computer animation, Miyazaki has weaved a lush spirit world, while Jo Hisashi breathes life into the film with yet another beautiful score. This is a film no anime fan should miss because it's perfect in every detail. Children and parents alike will find it fascinating.

Patlabor 1
Patlabor Movie 1 (DVD)
Mamoru Oshii's (Ghost in the Shell, Beautiful Dreamer) landmark series spawned 2 movies - darker and more politically complex than you'd expect. Keep your brain turned on for these films, you need to hear every word of dialog to understand what's happening, but that's what makes the Patlabor films so damn enjoyable - they are true social-economic dramas with giant robots as the backdrop of a story about how good technology can be perverted by evil men.

More than just giant robots!These films carry a powerful message and you should listen. And no expense was spared to make the film(s) gorgeous, carrying the Oshii trademark style of kick-ass anime that is avante-garde film-making on every level, while also being a good detective storyas well. Patlabor, in every incarnation, carries the essential elements that make anime the great genre it is - scifi plot, intelligent script, wonderful characters, and action worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster at a fraction of the price.

Wicked City
Wicked City (DVD)
Absolutely one of the most excellent anime films of all time, Wicked City was the progenitor of all gothic-inspired horror/action films that came after (including the recent Blood the Last Vampire). The art is spectacular and unusual because most of the colors are very dark and muted: lots of blues, purples and blacks, which contribute in no small way to the many creepy moments in the film.

Warning - NOT for kids!Highly stylized, slickly drawn and tremendously animated, "Wicked City" revolves around two agents, one Human and one Black World Warrior and their assignment - to bodyguard a bigwig coming to sign a 500-year treaty between the two worlds. Protecting him draws the two agents into a series of exceedingly violent encounters with demon "radicals" who oppose the treaty. But the real way of binding the two worlds together in peace lies with something other than a contract.

Warning - absolutely not for kids as blood and gore fly amid scenes of rape, torture, shootings, slashings, and exploding bodies. It's one of our favorites!

Go Shogun: Etranger
GoShogun: The Time Etranger (DVD)
A lost anime classic! If we had to choose the top ten anime films we'd want to be stranded on a desert island with, this one would be near the top of that list. You'll never get tired of it. Director Kunihiko Yuyama and scriptwriter Takeshi Shudo clearly had a special love for the Goshogun team, as they are imbued with a depth of character and love for each other rarely seen in any kind of media. The story splits between three points of the main character's life, as she fights her way through a dream while in a coma.

One of our favorites!This film deals with many big issues, from the death of an old friend to the tragedies of just getting old. That you never see the face of the "old" Remy is one of the unspoken critical points of this skillfully directed film, as her friends gather around her bedside to remember the glory days. And the film single-handedly makes up for every bit of sexism -ever- in anime, by presenting one of the most fully-realized, strong-willed, independent women characters ever created in any film.

Don't miss this one! After the first viewing, you'll be confused, by the second you'll be amazed, and by the third, you'll be ripping the DVD out of the tray and showing it to your friends screaming "You gotta see this!". This film is a real treasure - from the opening music to the closing "See You Again".

Akira Kurosawa - 4 Samurai Classics - Criterion Collection
Akira Kurosawa - 4 Samurai Classics - Criterion Collection (DVD)
All other Samurai classics bow down at the feet of this boxed set. Containing 4 of the most revered classics (Seven Samurai / The Hidden Fortress / Yojimbo / Sanjuro), nothing else even comes close. With a western flair that has influenced other westerns,

Samurai Classics!Kurosawa has built some of the finest movies ever made. Seven Samurai, one of the most powerful films of all time, voted in the 1979 Kinema Jumpo critics' poll as the Best Japanese Film ever, has Kurosawa's unbeaten blend of swords, spears, arrows, men, horse, rain, wind, mud, blazing tracking shots, giant close-ups, chiaroscuro lighting, telephoto lenses that put us underfoot as horses clash amid struggling men, and more, that bring life and three-dimensionality to the characters as the saga unfolds.

Kurosawa is often copied but never topped. These four films cover the Kurosawa/Mifune collaborations at their best. Don't even talk about film or Japanese Cinema without knowing, in detail, every frame of these magnificent classics.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kit
Robotics Invention System 2.0

Lego is for everybody, but this particular Lego is for those that want to start building their own real-life Gundam / giant robots, or at least get started in the wonderful world of robotics in general (personally we'd start crafting Olga from Phoenix 2772 - Ooh la la!). The enormous 718-piece LEGO Mindstorms Robotic Invention System lets you construct a variety of moving robot vehicles and then program them from your Windows 98 or compatible computer.

The entire kit...What's so freakin' cool about this set is that it's very versatile -- like most Lego you're only limited by how far you can take your imagination, but at the same time, guess what, you're getting to learn mechanics, the basics of programming and a lot of other complex subjects the easy, fun and Lego way! Like the Media Lab's old Lego/LOGO project, this is something any 9-year old can tackle and 40-year olds will still think it's fun! Recommended Books:
The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation
The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation
If you've ever wondered why Ataru puts his hand behind his head when he's been caught in an embarrassing situation, this is the book you seek.

As anime is made in Japan, it's often filled with cultural influences that might not make sense to the average American. This book seeks to redress this problem by presenting everything that you need to know about Japanese culture to understand what's going on in anime (like those funky nosebleeds!)....
Why does this kitty have his paw  raised?
With more that 500 glossary-style entries, this book is a complete guide to anime's distinctive visual style. Included are illustrations, film citations, and numerous references to the related art of manga (Japanese comics), plus the opinionated author's rants on fandom, food, anime babes, large eyes, and everything hentai.

Anime Essentials: Every Thing a Fan Needs to Know
Anime Essentials: Every Thing a Fan Needs to Know
If you're new to Japanese animation, you're beginning to understand that it's a lot more than Sailor Moon and Pokemon: there's drama and comedy, gender-bending and culture-tweaking, complex characters and giant robots -- sometimes all in the same movie!

Was Tezuka a medical doctor?What makes anime so cool? How did it all start? What's the deal with fanzines? Where can I find the stuff I want right now? Answering just about every question a fan (or curious parent) has, Anime Essentials is an easy-to-read and fun-to-look-at overview of the pop culture phenomenon sweeping America. It discusses the major players, where to get your anime fix, otaku etiquette, how to run an anime club (and get pre-release screenings!), how to "talk" anime to outsiders, the pleasures and pitfalls of buying toys, cards, garage kits & more, plus lots of other salient info of interest both to veterans and newcomers.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
Smile Paradise
Smile Paradise
(Limited Edition) [IMPORT]

This CD is for all of those seeking the ultimate in j-pop should look no further! With really smooth vocals and charming melodies, these pop divas produce a sensational sound unmatched in the field of idol goddess goodness. The music can actually be described as "yummy".

Ganstas - errr - Smile Paradise...This is actually's third album, but don't be disappointed, as all of the songs are kicky, bouncy, and bright. The music is highly 'danceable' and outrageously fun. If you loved the music in the videogame Dance Dance Revolution, then you already know this group contributed tracks to the game. Rock on!

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