[Personal Shoplifter™] Agent Aika Complete Collection (Bandai Anime Legends, 2008)

The 30-day Amazon Prime trial subscription initiated by this blogger some 29.9 days earlier [bats eyelashes innocently] was within minutes of expiring as he tossed the Agent Aika Complete Collection DVD into a cyber shopping cart and pimp strutted over to the virtual checkout aisle. He hadn't previously viewed any of this 7-episode OVA (original video animation) before, and was only vaguely familiar with Aika from having seen the cover of the 7th episode DVD on a store shelf a time or two. What had prompted this last minute impulse purchase, with free 2-day shipping, was the $4.90 list price on a 2-disc DVD set with an original SRP of $39.98!

Another significant selling point was that fact that the Agent Aika Complete Collection was produced under the Anime Legends line of the dearly defunct Bandai Entertainment (1998-2012). Anyone who owns any of the other Anime Legends releases––the Cowboy Bebop Remix Complete Collection, Ghost in the Shell 2nd Gig Complete Collection, and Gurran Lagann Complete Collection among them––knows the level of geek friendly care that was lavished upon these sets. And the Agent Aika Complete Collection lives up the Anime Legends reputation admirably, as there are oodles of cool extras packed into this 2-disc set!

Now regarding the actual anime itself? Well, let's just say that Aika offers viewers gratuitous levels of 'fan service' that may catch the uninitiated (yours truly included) a bit off guard. But it's really all in good, clean...ok, almost dirty fun. And it's also deftly illustrated and beautifully animated. In fact, in terms of execution, I'd put Aika up against any of the best anime titles produced in the '90s, including Giant Robo and Neon Genesis Evangelion. It's that well done. And still priced at $4.90 at the time of this post (buy here), this one is a real steal of a deal™.


[Flashback] Japanese Cartoon – In the Jaws of the Lords of Death*

*Previously on YKFS blog in September 2010

The year after Kanye West blind-sided pop music by freeing his inner torch singer on the critically acclaimed 808s & Heartbreaks, his West Side connection, Lupe Fiasco, let loose his inner punk rocker on the even more unpredictable In the Jaws of the Lords of Death. But, in direct contrast to Ye's clearly branded tunes, Lupe's guitar-grinding post-punk music was clandestinely leaked to the web under the unknown band name Japanese Cartoon. For weeks after the release of the first singles––which featured Lupe singing in a faux British brogue––the rapper feigned as if he had nothing at all to do with the tracks. And though he wasn't exactly foolin' anybody, Lupe had managed to impress nearly everyone. In the Jaws of the Lords of Death gave new and old Lupe fans a splendid set of '80s flavored rock. It was cool music from a mysterious punk band with a famed frontman whose primary Grammy-grabbing forte is hip-hop. And yet, despite that successful genre-jumping accomplishment, accompanied by the promise of more to come, Japanese Cartoon has thus far turned out to be little more than a clever experiment by a brilliant rap artist who seems to bore quickly and who threatens to retire from hip-hop often. Still, the project provided Lupe Fiasco (aka Lupin III) with a much-wanted opportunity to flex his creative muscles. It also gave listeners a chance to hear and see that when it comes to making music, Lupe is an Akira-like force to be reckoned with. – SP



[Personal Shoplifter™] Astro Boy: The Complete Series DVD Collection (Sony Pictures, 2003)

In July of this year, Mill Creek Entertainment re-released the 50-episode Astro Boy animated TV series (2003), amazingly priced at under $10 dollars! And although this blogger is an unabashed fan of the Japanese film and TV import releases of Mill Creek, he has decided against getting this particular Mill Creek release in favor of the now-super-duper-low-priced 2005 edition from Sony Pictures. Back when the Sony release first hit the marketplace, it carried an SRP (suggested retail price) of $39.99. But today, due to the atom smashing price on the Mill Creek set –– oh, and those pricing algorithms that internet vendors love to use –– the price has dropped big time! On Ebay, DVD-Closeouts has the Sony set for $10.75––with free shipping. In aggressive, algorithmic response, the price has dropped on it at Amazon, as of this writing, to $8.05!

Now, the main reason this blogger leans toward the Sony set is 'cuz he's a big, fat geek when it come to original releases. Not in all cases, but in some––like this one. And Mill Creek has been known to load all of the discs in a multi-disc set (4 in this one) on a single spindle inside one DVD keep case to keep costs down. And that's all fine and good when no comparable product exists. But the Sony set has 5 discs (ten episodes per) in separate slim cases with full-color cover inserts, and all housed together in a glossy black slipcase with embossed logo lettering on the face and spine.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner (this is a great stocking stuffer for youngsters and the young-at-heart, by the way) whether you go with the Sony or the Mill Creek release, you're getting a steal of a deal™. But, for geekish collectors with other Sony releases like TekkonkinkreetSteamboy and Cowboy Bepop: The Movie on the anime shelf, the 2005 Astro Boy: The Complete Series has something of an edge. Well, at least while the price is still right.


Betcha' didn't know who voiced Dr. Tenma on the Astro Boy animated TV series...

That's right, you super cool otaku, you––actor Dorian Harewood! You probably also knew that this longtime presence on the American stage and screen has used his velvety voice to breath life into a variety of characters in other animated film and TV productions over the decades. Included amongst this notable list are: Spectacular Spider-Man (2008), The Land Before Time (2007), Static Shock (2000), Godzilla: The Series (1998), Sonic the Hedgehog (1993), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) and many, many more.


[Press-N-Play®] Ice Box Baby – HUTOCCHO MAMA

Judging the CD by its old school influenced cover, the last thing a listener might ever expect to hear mixed into this 10-track album of retro and internationally seasoned pop music from Ice Box Baby (a mid-1990s here-today-and-gone-the-day-after J-Pop group) is a head bobbin' hip-hop track. But the listener's ears are tossed a dizzying curve ball with "Hutoccho Mama," track five on the group's immensely enjoyable 二人の夏曜日(1995). Paying homage to uptempo rap jams like JJ Fad's "Supersonic" and Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It," "Hutoccho Mama" features Ice Box Baby kickin' the back and forth rhyme ballistics over a booming 808 bass line, and doing it like true school queens of rap. Yours truly has absolutely no idea how much play "Hutoccho Mama" got when it was released as a single back in the day, but he hopes that it somehow saw its fair share of pretend 'hootchie mamas' up in the club, moving their lil' rump shakers on the dance floor, and rapping right along with every well placed word.


[Archives] Manga Mania #38, September 1996

Guys love dolled up hunnies with big'uns, right? And maybe even more so when they're fake––Whoa, whoa, wait-a-minute. I'm talkin' about big guns that are fake. What did you think this blameless blogger was taking about? Oh, no, no. For shame!!  Anywhoo, the September '96 issue of the dearly defunct magazine Manga Mania boasted an über cool, cover and an anime-inspired fashion spread inside that featured two sexily dressed hotties...with big'uns.

 The powerful looking peashooters featured in the photo shoot were courtesy of the Weird & Wonderful division of Elstree Film Studios. The clothes and styling of the spread's "video vixens" Ning and Nong was handed by Ad Hoc of London. Suzuki Quattro handled the photography, and the "Japanimation" screenshots inserted into the spread as backdrops were taken from Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira and Yoshiaki Kawajiri's Cyber City Oedo 808.

 That sultry expression says it all: size does matter.