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Anime DVD Reviews
Last Exile - First Move (Vol. 1) With Collector's Box
Last Exile - First Move (Vol. 1)
With Collector's Box

Retro-Futuristic excellence! It's as if someone decided to make a series based on the Miyazaki created world of Laputa and put it about 100 years in the future. Huge warships patrol the skies, while fleets battle it out, sailing vessel style, but in the air. Through it all, a young duo become entangled in an aerial adventure between two embattled nations. It's Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but centered on one world with an eclectic level of technology.
Last Exile - First Move (Vol. 1) With Collector's Box
Cel and computer animation are blended seamlessly, and the show gives an enthralling feeling of flight. Wonderful set pieces are set-up against an undercurrent of class-struggle, honor, romance, and mystery. Last Exile may be one of the coolest animes to come around in years, and we predict a videogame if there isn't already one.

Initial D - Battle 1 - Akina's Downhill
Initial D - Battle 1 -
Akina's Downhill

Just as Speed Racer introduced the "older generation" of anime fans to fast cars driven by cartoon characters, Initial D is the version for the next generation of anime fans.
Initial D - Battle 1 - Akina's Downhill
Featuring CGI race scenes based on actual tricked-out cars, Initial D is the Fast and the Furious of the animated breed. Illegal Street Racing is the backdrop against which we are drawn into the story of Tak, and how he and his Toyota Trueno AE86 will go up against all odds as he spins out, learns to drift, and punches through the RPMs on his way to the top.

Based on a driving game of the same name, the series is flashy and fast paced and gives in to it's videogame roots. If you like fast cars and fast action, if the sound of Type-R with NOS gets your blood pumping, then this series is for you.

L/R (Licensed By Royalty) - Deceptions (Vol. 1)
L/R (Licensed By Royalty) - Deceptions (Vol. 1)
In the grand tradition of ITC shows like The Persuaders!, comes this send-up of spy shows that features an unflappable duo similar to The Man from UNCLE who manage to get themselves in and out of trouble with the usual British panache. While there's the expected spy-like double-talk, gadgets, guns, and gals, it's restrained compared to the likes of Totally Spies or Inspector Gadget. There's more detective work than car chases, but the action is fair and balanced.

L/R (Licensed By Royalty) - Deceptions (Vol. 1)With a stiff upper lip there's plenty of good times in store with action, snappy repartee, and a good dose suave style reminiscent of The Avengers. Which one is "L" and which one is "R"? They are secret agents so secret, that this becomes the running gag of the show. The British secret-agent show is alive and well, and living in Japan.

Dragon Half
Dragon Half
Oh my! How incredibly silly, and yet, so very very funny. Dragon Half is for those who do not take anime (or anything else for that matter) seriously. It mocks the conventions of both anime and the fantasy genre (for example, a villain character, dramatically surrounded by smoke, with a caption pointing to it saying 'Dry Ice' and in another shot you can see a bucket of dry ice behind him) while intentionally poking fun at shows like Slayers (itself a parody of Lodoss War).

Dragon HalfThe story (there's a story in this mess?) abounds with bizarre interactions, insane dialogue, scantily clad women, gratuitous explosions, and ridiculous violence. The animation style changes constantly, becoming more cartoony when things are particularly wacky. It's as if Project Ako took on the fantasy genre instead of Sci-Fi. Dragon Half is one of those strange titles, like Ping Pong Club, where you can't describe it, you just have to see it. Our only complaint is that it's too short!

Ringu (1998)
Ringu (1998)
Perhaps you remember the 2002 blockbuster "The Ring", which supposedly scared audiences from Coast to Coast. In Japan, however, the film was a yawn -- because they'd already seen it.

Ringu (1998)This is the ORIGINAL film that "The Ring" was based on. Fans of the U.S. version will find a less elaborate storyline and more primal fear in the original; the basic plot, however, still has a worried reporter (Nanako Matsushima) tracking down the meaning of the video--and, having watched it herself, she has only a week to uncover the mystery of its origin. With a smaller budget, but a far more artistic flair, this film builds up the suspense and becomes much creepier than the American remake. It will have you unplugging the TV set at night so you can go to sleep.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
Dragon Ball Z : Budokai
Dragon Ball Z : Budokai
In America, DBZ games have been few and far between. However, the popularity of the TV series has convinced ATARI (of all companies!) to bring out this killer app of a game. Faithfully recreating the series, not only in look, but in using the voice actors we're familiar with, the game goes far and beyond what you'd expect. It's a fun fighting game with a plethora of characters, but it's also a very cool interactive version of the show itself -- the story mode summarizes everything from the Saiyan Saga through to the Cell Games.

Dragon Ball Z : BudokaiFor fans of the series this game is a godsend because just about every character is represented. Sure, we all like playing Vegeta, but how many games can you name where you can play as Tien or Great Saiyaman or #18 (yum!)? Half the fun of the game is throwing someone into a mountain, or performing a Kamehameha. Videogame inspires TV Show inspires Videogame. Pop will eat itself! Recommended Books:
Cyborg 009, Vol. 1
Cyborg 009, Vol. 1
Make no mistake, Cyborg is simply the most durable manga/anime franchise in Japan. It never gets old, and there isn't an animator or manga artist living in Japan who doesn't have fond memories of being a child and reading the original Cyborg 009 manga. It inspired everyone it touched and set the example of making an exciting and original action-adventure (In this case about a team of super-soldiers fighting against their former masters/creators).

Cyborg 099As they battle, we learn about each character's past and how each suffers to find his or her own humanity, while trapped inside a cyborg body. Take up this amazing manga and discover this ancestor to everything you know about anime today. There's so much buried in the story, it's little wonder that so much evolved from it.

Inu-Yasha : A Feudal Fairy Tale, Vol. 1
Inu-Yasha :
A Feudal Fairy Tale, Vol. 1

Judging by their reaction to even a week's loss of Inuyasha on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, Inuyasha fans are a rabid and fanatical lot. That said, they probably hunger for all things connected to Rumiko Takahashi's wonderful Feudal-era action-adventure romantic-comedy.

Inu-Yasha : A Feudal Fairy Tale, Vol. 1Delight to the tale as told by Ms. Takahasi, as only she could draw it. The original manga is a joy to behold, her art and wit could not be sharper, the panels simply burst from the page. As long-time Urusei Yatursa fans, we are certain this is her greatest manga achievement since Ranma 1/2. Those rabid fans are right, you really can't go a day without it.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
Ai Yori Aoshi Soundtrack CD
Ai Yori Aoshi
Soundtrack CD

If you remember our review of this series, you'll know we're nuts about this show. It's the smartest, sweetest, most satisfying romantic comedy since Love Hina. In this soundtrack cd (BGM), the juxtaposition of modern, bouncy j-pop tunes are set against more traditional sounding Japanese music that complements and highlights the culture-clash that is the focal point of the series.

Ai Yori Aoshi Soundtrack CDAi Yori Aoshi explores something most anime have dared not touch -- that while Japan screams headlong into embracing Western values, it continues to stubbornly hold on to it's traditional culture, to preserve what makes Japan so 'Japanese'. We were impressed that the music alone could communicate that.

If you've ever wanted to get a taste of the many flavors of J-Pop, but didn't want to spend a fortune collecting CD's, this is your chance to experience 15 very different tracks that all come under the heading of J-Pop. This one CD will give you the entire experience at once. The lyrics are included in the booklet phonetically, so you can sing along if you like, although if you want to understand what you're singing, you'll have to go to the company's website for the translations.

Some of the tracks are themes to anime you may recognize, others are just pure pop-idol sensation. Pick up this CD and use it as part of your next Dance Dance Revolution Rave.

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