The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
New anime DVDs
are a good reason
to stay home

May 30, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Tired of standing in long lines at the movies? Then stay home with a DVD instead. Several new anime releases appeal to a variety of tastes.

First up is Tokyopop's comedy series "GTO." That's short for "Great Teacher Onizuka."

Eikichi Onizuka is a 22-year-old former biker who, for reasons even he doesn't understand, decides to become a schoolteacher. Maybe it's because he thinks he can do a better job than all the teachers who discouraged him when he was in school. Or maybe it's just so he can be around lots of nubile young schoolgirls.

But just being a teacher isn't enough for Onizuka; he must be the world's greatest teacher. So, he can't let little things like his shady past, short temper, spotty education and wandering eyes get in the way.

In fact, when it comes to dealing with bullies, teen-aged temptresses, corrupt administrators and a class full of high-IQ pranksters, Onizuka may be the perfect guy for the job.

"GTO" Vol. 1 contains the show's first four hilarious episodes, following Onizuka through student teaching and on to his first full-time assignment. It retails for $29.99.

The second DVD in the series is also available.

If you're looking for action, then pick up "Spriggan," new from ADV Films.

"Spriggan" is part James Bond and part Indiana Jones, sort of like "Tomb Raider," only better. It's probably the best all-out action/adventure anime since "Ninja Scroll."

Archaeologists have uncovered Noah's Ark, but the ancient ship is nothing like what they expected. It's too big. It isn't made of wood. And it contains an unearthly power that threatens the entire world.

A shadowy agency within the U.S. government sends cyborg troops to recover the Ark, and the only ones in the way are the Spriggan, elite agents of a secret organization out to destroy the Ark before it falls into the wrong hands.

Unlike "GTO," "Spriggan" is a self-contained feature film. The 90-minute DVD retails for $29.98.

Lupin is always ready for action.
Lupin is always ready for action.
If you want some humor mixed with your action, try "The Secret of Twilight Gemini," the first Lupin the 3rd movie from Funimation, the folks who brought "Dragonball Z" to America.

Unlike Funimation's previous releases, "The Secret of Twilight Gemini" includes the original Japanese soundtrack with subtitles as well as an English dub track.

As usual, Lupin the 3rd, the world's greatest and luckiest thief, is in trouble. Interpol is after him and so is everyone else. That's because Lupin possesses a jewel that is actually the key to a much larger treasure, hidden somewhere in Morocco.

The DVD retails for $24.95, and if you like it, track down "The Castle of Cagliostro," a Lupin adventure directed by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki ("Princess Mononoke," "Kiki's Delivery Service"). It retails for $29.95.

Lastly, Bandai Entertainment has finally released its first two-disc, nine-episode volume of "Brain Powered," from Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yadate, the creators of "Mobile Suit Gundam."

"Brain Powered" has a bad reputation because Tomino promised it would be the next "Neon Genesis Evangelion," which it isn't. But it is still an enjoyable series, especially for fans of giant robots and sci-fi action.

As with "Spriggan," two forces are fighting over a power that could destroy the Earth. "Brain Powered," however, revels in its twists and turns. Who is up to what only seems to become apparent after the first five episodes. (And I'm still not sure where the giant robots both sides are using come from.)

But what elevates "Brain Powered" above the standard giant-robots-fighting-each-other anime is the music.

Composed and conducted by Yoko Kanno, who provided the scores for "Macross Plus" and "The Vision of Escaflowne," the music may be the best thing about "Brain Powered." Kanno's lush orchestrations lend an epic feel to the series.

"Brain Powered" is suggested for audiences 13-years-old and older, and the opening credits of each episode feature cartoon nudity, in case that sort of thing worries you.

The two-disc set retails for $44.98.

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