June 11, 2007
3x3 Eyes Vol. 1: Immortals (DVD)
3x3 Eyes is a fun, short-form anime that follows a guy whose encounter with an immortal demon poses to him quite a quandary. Although the storytelling is a bit difficult to follow, partially due to the fact that half of this anime was produced two years following the completed production of the first half, 3x3 Eyes has genuine characters, cool action and a pretty decent backstory. This is a very good anime for new otaku freshly galloping into the medium because it's fun and easy to engage. —Aaron H. Bynum

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl Vol. 1: Role Reversal (DVD)
A cute play on both the love triangles and gender-bending common in anime. Hazumu is a sweet, slightly effeminate high school student who is goaded by Tomari (a tomboy who has been his friend since childhood) into confessing his crush to a shy girl named Yasuna. But Yasuna turns him down, so to lick his wounds Hazumu wanders off into the countryside where (as so often happens in anime) he is promptly killed when an alien spaceship crashes onto him. The aliens have the technology to reconstruct and revive him, but only in a female form. Once the silly set-up is out of the way in the first episode, the real story begins as everyone has to deal with Hazumu's sudden gender switch. Hazumu isn't bothered much by the change but now Yasuna is attracted to him since "he" is now a safe female, while Tomari finds herself increasingly jealous of Yasuna and upset over her own attraction to Hazumu. Add in parents who "always wanted a daughter," a (male) best friend who has trouble talking to Hazumu now, and a couple of space aliens tagging along "just to observe" and mix it all together for maximum comic effect. Despite its comic aspects, the characters grow on you and by the end of the series it turns into a sweet tear-jerker. The unique aspect of the marketing of this anime series is that Media Blasters is not bothering to make an English dub of this title, releasing it in a subtitled-only format in North America. Whether this trend of releasing sub-only anime will catch on now (ADV and others tried it in the late '90s) remains to be seen. (Note: The first two volumes of the manga have been released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment.) —Marc Hairston

Suzuka Vol. 1 (DVD)
Suzuka Vol. 1 + artbox (DVD)
Sports-themed manga and anime are a staple in Japan, but for some reason they have never caught on in the West. Suzuka mixes sports drama with romantic comedy and Funimation hopes it will be popular with the fans here. Yamato Akitsuki is a high school freshman who has just moved to Tokyo from Hiroshima to attend a prestigious high school. He lives with his aunt who runs an all-female apartment and bathhouse. (Despite this setup the series never turns into a harem anime, though it does provide some opportunity for fan service.) Yamato's apartment is next door to another freshman who has also moved to Tokyo to attend the same high school. Suzuka Asahina is there on a sports scholarship and pegged to place in the national high jump competition. Yamato is smitten the first time he sees her practicing. But Suzuka has her own personal demons and goes through most of the series unable to admit her real feelings, thus spending much of her time either ignoring Yamato or angry at him. Of course this just makes Yamato want her even more... While the "will they ever get together" aspect of the story could get tiring, the sports competition backstory and the slow revealing of Suzuka's past does keep the interest up. (Note: The first four volumes of the manga have been released in English by Del Rey.) —Marc Hairston

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I just picked up Kashimashi this afternoon and am pretty curious to see how it turns out.

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