Today we have a mixed bag of anime to talk about: a classic of anime fandom, a musical offering, and a boob-tastic battle title.

DVD cover art for Tenjho Tenge, Vol. 2: Round 2 DVD cover art for Yoko Ishida: Live in Concert DVD cover art for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig, Vol. 5


The cover of Tenjho Tenge Volume 2 hints that the show is as much about cheesecake and fan service as it is about sword-fighting and bushido, and, well, it is. But there's still a lot of fighting, as the Executive Council continues its vendetta against the Juken Club. However, if you're expecting anything like the nudity and violence of the manga, you will be disappointed, or relieved, as your case may be—nor is it as brutal and vicious as Battle Royale, to which it has been quite inaccurately compared. Maya wants to relieve her club's stresses with a trip to a local bowling alley. The Executive Council, of course, has other ideas, and all three episodes play out the mighty battle as it ensues and includes a number of mini-battles that showcase the various idiosyncrasies of each fighter in a very interesting and effective way. We still don't know what the heart of the conflict is really about, but we get a few more hints, along with some character development on both sides. If you don't require a lot of philosophy or depth to your anime, but do want a lot of violence and fan service, then Tenjho Tenge might be for you. (Buy it from Amazon)

Fans of J-pop, especially of the new dance craze Para Para dancing, will love-love-love Yoko Ishida: Live in Concert, a new release from Geneon in their Anime-Pop Star series. Ishida has lent her voice to theme songs for such anime series as Ah! My Goddess, the dreamy Ai Yori Aoshi, and Sailor Moon R, as well as the Para Para Max CD series. This disc is much like any live concert video from Yoko's Hollywood show: we get to see concert footage, along with some interesting backstage information, interviews, trailers, and a cool Q & A session with Yoko herself. Para Para is increasingly popular in Japan and is catching on in the US now, as well; it requires detailed arm choreography with less emphasis upon lower body movement. Songs performed include "Sugar Baby Love," "Fly Me to the Moon," and "Passionate Goddess." (Buy it from Amazon)

Finally, the madly popular Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex franchise continues with the "2nd Gig" storyline. Volume 5 of 7 gives us a couple of stand-alone stories: the first of which sends the Major to Taiwan, following a lead on Kuze, but she is side-tracked with some local gang trouble. After we get some good character development on Kuze, the Major is then sent in a second story to capture an international terrorist known as Angel's Wing. This story is much more concerned with Batou, and fans of this character will be thrilled to see the emotional development he gets here. After these two stories conclude, we go back to Japan and learn about the increasing troubles with Dejima, spearheaded by Kuze, as he stirs up trouble among the refugees and has the power to back up his power plays. This disc again just tantalizes us with hints about the big picture, but that's what we expect from Ghost in the Shell titles. The story will engross you, which is good, since the features don't make the disc worth buying. (Buy it from Amazon)