Spin-offs, bad and good.

OK, so back in the dark days when domestic laserdiscs had completely died and DVD hadn’t quite taken off yet, my wife and I used to buy an awful lot of import laserdiscs.

Oh, and by the way? Buying import laserdiscs? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I have several hundred LDs still, which I can’t bear to dispose of because of what they cost, and yet they’re taking up far too much room AND they have virtually zero resale value.

Anyway, continuing that theme, one of the series we were collecting on laserdisc was Bubblegum Crisis 2040, a spin-off of the… can I say “seminal” without the kids in the back giggling? OK, then, seminal it is… seminal mid 80’s mecha, girls, and rock n’ roll OVA series.

So, we bought this, actually we bought the first twelve laserdiscs out of thirteen – and it wasn’t that we suddenly came to our senses, or anything, it’s just that we moved away from our favorite laserdisc dealer – for about sixty bucks a disc.

So that’s well over $700, particularly counting tax. Then we bought the whole series again on domestic DVDs when it came out, at $30 a disc, so let’s call it $900 in total spent on this series.

And, well, we finally watched it, and while the first half of the series is REALLY good, the second half drags like, uh, a very draggy thing.

Put simply: Watching the first half of the show, every time the end credits started, it was a bit of a shock, the kind that yanks you out of a trance – it couldn’t POSSIBLY be the end of the show YET!

Watching the second half, and particularly the last four or five episodes, every time the eyecatch popped in, it was a welcome indicator that some time had, in fact, passed, and that the episode would, in fact, end.

So that was a Bad Spin-off Experience, made even more painful by the financial outlay needed to experience it. I understand you can now get the whole damn series for something like $40, and if you did that and pretended it stops about halfway through with an unresolved ending it would actually be a decent deal.

Good Spin-off Experience, on the other hand, came with watching the Please Twins! set that I picked up a few months ago. It has all the elements of a Painful Teen Soap Opera – Boy meets Girl! Boy meets other Girl! Both Girls Like Boy! Boy Likes Both Girls! Boy Doesn’t Know Which One Is His Sister! – but it turned out to be really enjoyable, with only one kind of draggy episode to bring it down.

Being a spin-off of Please Teacher!, one of the better boy-meets-alien shows, didn’t hurt either. It had just enough of the familiar characters – particularly Morino Ichigo, a personal favorite – to make me feel comfortable, but they never took over the screen to the point of overwhelming the new characters and story.

Oh, and if, at the end, you’re unhappy with the resolution of the love triangle, apparently the novel version of the story is almost exactly the same… but the Who Winds Up With Who is reversed at the end. So watch the series, and if you don’t like it, buy the book, too. Not a bad way to suck a few more dollars out of fanboy pockets, sirs. Well played, well played indeed.

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