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Anime DVD Reviews
Kimagure Orange Road TV Series Vol. 1
Kimagure Orange Road TV Series Vol. 1
KOR (as it known to fans) is the hilarious, charming, and often touching story of three high school students and their relationships with each other and their friends. The story centers on Kyousuke, a somewhat shy teenager who is drawn into a love triangle between two girls: one a lively tomboy who desires him, and the other, a statuesque, aloof lady he must worship from afar (who is best friends with the tomboy... Oops!).
Kimagure Orange Road TV Series Vol. 1
Kyousuke has other problems as well, such as keeping hidden the family secret (psyonic powers). However, it is the stunningly beautiful, moody Madoka that steals the show. One moment playful, the next moment disinterested, the mystery of what's going on under that head of hair makes her even more alluring. KOR is a delight in every way and one of the most perfect series of its type. Cherished by fans for over a decade, it's finally available in America.

Android Kikaider - Lonely Soul
Android Kikaider - Lonely Soul
We're suckers for retro-style anime that has a lush graphic-novel look, and Kikaider is definitely in that league. With a wonderful 70's era manga/comic look, yet, modern kick-ass animation, it's a fantastic mesh of the old and new, giving it a very stylized feel with its similarities to the layout and movement of a manga series. Based on a Japanese live-action superhero show, the anime allows a greater creative freedom for the storytellers and they make use of that freedom with dramatic flair.
Android Kikaider - Lonely Soul
Originally airing in Japan during 2000, Kikaider uses the digital animation look to mesh with the feel of the series 70's style. The transfer has very vibrant colors and a clean look to the show, adding to the graphic-novel feeling. Cartoon Network (previously) ran it as a part of Adult Swim, but now we don't need to stay up until midnight to watch it!

Gall Force: Earth Chapter
Gall Force: Earth Chapter
Kenichi Sonoda is one of our favorite anime/manga artists. Creator of Gunsmith Cats, he's also the character designer for Bubblegum Crisis, Riding Bean, Otaku no Video and Gall Force.

Gall ForceThe latest CPM release of Gall Force: Earth Chapter continues the storyline set forth in Gall Force: Eternal Story (with Rhea Gall Force coming afterwards). In this series of three-OVAs-on-one-DVD, humanity is the legacy left by the Solnoids and Paranoids, but they are following the war-like ways of their ancestors. Paranoid-like machines known as Cyberoids (or MMEs) now seek to destroy every human they can.

Sonada is an avid gun fanatic, so you'll see lots of recognizable hardware being used by the characters. If bodacious babes packin' pistols is your thing, then you'll appreciate all that Gall Force has to offer.

Great Teacher Onizuka
Great Teacher Onizuka
What do you get when you combine unruly students, crabby teachers, and a twenty-two year old ex-gang member with aspirations to become the greatest high school teacher the world has ever known? Sheer pandemonium, unbelievable situations that you couldn't conjure up in your wildest dreams, and laughs guaranteed to have you rolling all over the floor non-stop.

Great Teacher OnizukaWelcome to the world of Eikichi Onizuka, teacher in training. Vulgar, hot-tempered, and rough around the edges, he makes use of these qualities along with his street smarts to deal with his formidable adversaries at Holy Forest Acedemy.

Based on the wildly successful manga by Tohru Fujisawa, 'GTO' is clever, witty, and devilishly funny, but is also sharply insightful about how to inspire students. Without a doubt, Onizuka's antics will knock your socks off, and you'll never look at high school quite the same way again.

Daft Punk / Interstella 5555
Daft Punk / Interstella 5555
This DVD is an extension of four previously released music videos based on Daft Punk's Discovery album, directed by anime grand-master Leiji Matsumoto (Harlock, Yamato, Queen Emeraldus, Galaxy Express, and more...). Now the entire album has been animated and tells a more complete story, which has twists and turns, and moreover, a respectable ending.

Daft Punk / Interstella 5555Sound effects have been added in certain parts, and complement the music. The audio is fantastic, and Matsumoto's art has never looked so sharp. The plot is remarkably complex considering that the story moves forward entirely on the strength of the visuals. If you're into the music or Matsumoto, this DVD is worth every cent. We think it's a match made in heaven.

Our Favorite Toys, Models and Gizmos
Xenosaga for PS2
Xenosaga for PS2
The Playstation console has always had a good stable of solid RPGs, and Xenosaga clearly adds to their already impressive library. It's a shoe-in for recommendation here, as it's a deep-plotted, Action-Horror-Sci-Fi-Drama done in an anime-style and set in outer space. What more do you need? The characters are amazingly complex and subtle, the animation is top notch, and the storyline is simply one of the best ever put to any medium other than a novel. Many fans are claiming that this game is worth making into a movie (and some of the cut scenes are long enough that you'll think you're in a movie!).

Xenosaga for PS2Namco has created a helluva' game, the only RPG we can think of to go head-to-head with Square. With 60 to 80 hours of gameplay squeezed onto the disk this game is an investment that will be well-spent. That said, it's not for everyone. You need to be a die-hard gamer and an RPG fan. You'll also need vacation time because once you're hooked into the game, little things like work, school, eating and sleeping just seem so .... unimportant. Recommended Books:
Animated Classics of  Japanese Literature

Animated Classics of
Japanese Literature

What's yet another anime DVD doing in the book section? Welcome to Animated Classics of Japanese Literature, a great way to introduce yourself to Japanese culture by learning some of their classic fables and great literature. You'll find these DVDs to be entertaining as well as educational.

Animated Classics of  Japanese LiteratureThese animated tales both inspire and act as a "Cliff Notes" version of each story without detracting from the feel of the original work. These are excellent stories and skillfully executed, as only the Japanese could do. In a country where 75% of the population reads manga, it is hardly surprising to discover this treatment of traditional literature. We're just surprised it didn't happen sooner!

Video Girl Ai

Video Girl Ai
We've often compared Chobits to Video Girl Ai, but many newcomers to the anime scene have no idea what "Ai" is all about. Here's your opportunity to rectify that horrible oversight.

Video Girl AiFrom the creator of Iria comes a love triangle too complicated to express in a paragraph, but our hero is too damn shy to express how he yearns. A magical interaction between a "date video" and an electrical short, and poof, instant video-girl. She will help him to win the girl of his dreams, or is Ai really the girl for him? A love triangle within a love triangle!

This is manga with real depth, the characters are multi-layered and complex. All are struggling with the issues of teenage love and just being a teenager. A feeling of naive, childlike innocence runs through this manga, a feeling you'll remember from your youth. Your first crush, and the first time you *were* crushed. Touching, funny and sad, Video Girl Ai plays the heart strings we've all experienced. A manga you'll identify with so strongly, you'll swear it was written just for you.

Encyclopedia of Contemporary of Contemporary Japanese Culture Japanese Culture

of Contemporary
Japanese Culture

This mega-informative volume contains a little bit about everything you need to know about Japan since 1945 to today. Over 700 entries cover areas such as literature, architecture, food, health, political economy, religion, and technology. And while it does cover music, film, TV & anime and manga, it also looks at more traditional aspects of Japan in the modern world, including kabuki and noh, fishing and fireworks.

With only 634 pages, the book sensibly points readers towards more in-depth studies. You may not get all the answers you want from an entry, but in most cases, you can close this book with a better idea of where you should look next. It would take twenty other books to cover the subjects that this one volume takes on - making this an excellent starting point for students of Japanese culture, or anyone with a deep need to understand modern Japan.

Music and Soundtrack Selections:
WXII Patlabor The Movie 3 O.S.T.
WXII Patlabor The Movie 3 O.S.T.
This music, by Kenji Kawai, is experimental and atmospheric. In combination with the movie however, it's downright creepy, but nevertheless, this soundtrack album (or BGM, as we used to refer to them) is as far removed from your normal j-pop soundtrack as Goth is from Britney Spears! In other words, if you're looking for something other than the standard fare, we suggest you give this a try. It's not bouncy, it's not humm-able, and it's not infused with idol-singers.

WXII Patlabor The Movie 3 O.S.T.And that's why it's good. If you're tired of usual Casio-Keyboard compositions and want something a little less generic and roller-rink sounding, then this might be what you're looking for. And yes, track #15 was written by Beethoven (which adds to the atmosphere)...

Upcoming Events and Cool Links:

Fred Schodt's (author of Manga Manga and Dreamland Japan) website.

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