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Anime DVD Reviews
Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky
Our favorite Miyazaki masterpiece comes out on DVD. Of all the films the master is famous for, this one really gives you that feeling of flight, along with a tight storyline, astounding animation and of course, the most beautiful score ever written.

Castle in the SkyThis film is absolutely, positively guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes -- it's just that good. No anime collection is complete without it. This is the Citizen Kane of anime, a film that can be appreciated by children and adults alike, and for many who have seen it, a life-altering experience.

Patlabor WXIII
Patlabor WXIII - The Movie
The Patlabor films are a standout in their breadth of scope. Although you'd swear this was just another mecha series, the films astonish the viewer by actually being social-political thrillers that often have little or nothing to do with giant robots. The latest, WXIII, challenges the viewer even further by keeping the usual cast in the periphery.

Patlabor the MovieDirector Fumihiko Takayama allows us a look in a different direction within the same universe, and gives the film a distinct look that is different from the previous films (directed by Mamoru Oshii). Those looking for heavy-metal action should look elsewhere. This is a detective story and you need to keep your brain turned on. The deliberate pacing builds the suspense, and you may need to watch it several times to really appreciate all that's happening, particularly in the first 1/2 hour, where the seemingly unconnected events don't mesh yet. The animation is, of course, stunning, and the DVD itself is well crafted, we particularly enjoyed the bio-hazard motif throughout.

Bubblegum Crisis
BubbleGum Crisis
Watch out for the NightSabers! In a wicked clash of Blade Runner and The Terminator, Priss and the Replicants fight the Boomers -- androids with Wave-motion-gun mouths, using their hardsuits and other high-tech gadgets. It's actually much better than it sounds, with rockin' good music and ton's of explosive action.

Bubblegum CrisisBubbleGum Crisis has spawned numerous spinoffs and sequels, but the original series was the best, armed with art-direction and pizazz that few others have matched, even to this day.

Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden - Combat Maid (Vol. 1)
Ever wonder what would have happened if Aeon Flux had lived through at least one episode of her TV series? Could she have, say, retired and gotten a job as a maid for a young man with an inferiority complex? This is pretty much the plot of Mahoromatic Automatic Maiden, although the Aeon Flux here is an perky android named Mahoro who's spending her declining days wearing an apron instead of battle armor.

MahoromaticShe just doesn't quite know how to act in front of her charge, Suguru. He's a healthy young man who finds her attractive, however, he doesn't yet realize that she only has a year left on her warranty. On the surface it's a innuendo-laden romantic comedy in the tradition of Urusei Yatsura. Deep down it examines an avenue few anime series have even considered. Does Mahoro have a place in the world she championed?

Chinese Ghost Story
Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
One of the most influential films ever made, this popular and beloved film, produced by Tsui Hark and directed by Ching Siu Tung, is a standout in the Hong Kong supernatural-action genre and spawned many sequels and copycats. A Chinese Ghost Story has been widely praised for infusing the genre with humor, action, romance, and inventive special effects. Memorable images include an attacking mile-long tongue and a cloak opening to dozens of ghastly decapitated heads.

Chinese Ghost StoryThe final battle in hell is said to have inspired scenes in Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness. And the film has its share of homage: A group of crusty zombies are reminiscent of the skeletons in special-effects guru Ray Harryhausen's 7th Voyage of Sinbad -- and they are eliminated by Tsei-Shen in comedic slapstick fashion, not unlike the style of Charlie Chaplin. A must-see for Hong-Kong action fans, this is *the* film that legitimized HK flicks onto an art form.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
Yumi Japanese Speaking Doll
Yumi Japanese Speaking Doll
Okay, this is perhaps a little silly, but it's a great way to introduce yourself (or perhaps introduce your children) to speaking and understanding the spoken Japanese language. "Yumi" is an appealing bilingual doll who can introduce herself in both English and Japanese, as well as list her favorite classes and musical instruments.

When her hand is pressed, she says each sentence or phrase first in English and then in Japanese, in a sweet, feminine voice. She can also say "I love you" in English and Japanese when a heart on her knee is pressed. Umi requires three AA batteries (included). She's cute and great fun! Recommended Books:
japanese for Dummies
Japanese for Dummies with AUDIO+CD
We consider all the 'for Dummies' books to be the best in their genre. Well written and un-intimidating, the series' ability to "hand-hold" the reader through the daunting task of learning something new has not been matched by another other. Japanese for Dummies is no different in that is makes learning the language both fun, and easier than you would expect.

The layout of the book is perfect for the language newbie with chapters that focus on a variety of things (like going shopping) each with new vocabulary, useful verbs (and their basic conjugations), set phrases and a practice dialogue. We can't recommend it enough!

Nobu the Cookbook
Nobu: The Cookbook
Does your mouth water at the mere mention of Sushi? Are you an Iron Chef fanatic? If so, then you've obviously heard of Nobu, the pre-eminent Japanese restaurant. In NYC you need to make your reservations 3 months in advance just to get in! But now you can bring the style, elegance, and best of all, the flavor of Nobu creations into your own home with this gloriously detailed and handsomely crafted cookbook filled with lush photography.

This book provides a strong foundation in both ingredients and techniques but even more impressively it provides a fantastic tutorial on the principles of combining color, texture, and flavor. Just flipping through the pages made us hungry. Teriyaki-Boy this most certainly is NOT!

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
Final Fantasy Soundtrack
Final Fantasy IX: Original Soundtrack
Excellent, amazing and astounding are some words we could use to describe this music. But if you've played the game, you know that mere words fail to do justice to the melodies you'll carry in your heart forever. There's just no way to express the raw emotion and power contained in these tracks. FF9, was to us, one of the greatest games ever made, and the incredible music is one of the prime reasons the game meant so much to those who have experienced it.

You'll find so many styles represented here, you'll be hard pressed to believe it is from the work of a single composer, so be prepared -- not only will you find tracks that appeal to your style, you'll discover pieces that will melt your soul and change your life. If you can't dig deep to afford the entire soundtrack, there's a "Best Selection" soundtrack as well that picks some of the more popular tracks.

Upcoming Events and Cool Links: is your starting point for academic research about anime, manga and other aspects of Japanese popular culture.

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