Super Gals Vol. #1 (also w/box) (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
What They Say
They're smart, they're hip, and they'll shop 'til they drop. Allow us to introduce the super chic SuperGALS!, the sharpest pack of high school escapees to ever roam the streets of Shibuya.
But watch out for their leader, Ran Kotobuki. When this rebel GAL sets her sights on something, she's an irresistible force that even the most immovable object can't defy. With no plans of taking up the family business of police work, it's Ran's mission to make the most of every moment. With the help of her best friends, Miyu and Aya, and the hindrance of two confused guys, Rei and Yuya, Ran always gets what she wants. Well...almost always.
Whether she's battling crime, fending off stalkers, or sticking up for her friends, Ran never quits. She'll tell you herself: she's the world's greatest gal! But be warned: if you mess with Ran or any of her friends, it's at your complete and utter peril! That's an ironclad rule for GALS!
Just when you thought it was safe to watch teen anime, they go and explore the wild and wacky world of gals.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With it being so “street” heavy and influenced by the culture, we wanted to take it all in properly. The audio here is a pretty good stereo mix that features some good directionality as well as depth at times. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and the music fills both channels nicely. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either track during regular playback, though we only heard the English 5.1 track in a downmix form to 2.0.
Originally airing in 2001 to the tune of fifty two episodes, this series is very recent and makes out extremely well here with a very crisp and clean transfer. With it being as vibrant as it is, colors stand out a lot, such as the reds of Ran’s jacket. One color that stood out quite well that’s usually problematic is the bright blue skies, which managed to avoid any significantly noticeable graininess or blockiness, showing at most some slight color banding. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and I barely noticed any serious aliasing during regular playback.
While they’ve gone with the cute and near-pink style, the cover here doesn’t overwhelm one with its sheer girly-ness. The cover has a nice shot of the three lead girls run dead center with a heart in the background while smaller hearts make up the rest of it in various colors and shades. It’s a very eye-catching cover that you won’t feel too embarrassed about taking up to the counter if you’re concerned about your masculinity. The back cover continues the shaded hearts in the background, again without being overpowering, as well as a few shots of the show itself. The shows premise is nicely laid out here as well and a good listing of the discs extras, including actually listing the 5.1 for the English track. The discs episodes are listed by title but not episode number, but there is a volume numbering on the spine. The insert for this release is actual a foldout poster the size of about four regular inserts. The color side has a nice shot of Ran doing a solid Gal pose while the reverse side provides a list of various Japanese terms and then two panels worth of cultural notes that will definitely help people not familiar with the kogal culture.
The main menu is a cute little piece with an animated Ran doing a little jig to the music. Episodes are selectable right from the top menu and features are quite and easy to access. With no transitional animations when moving to submenus, things load quickly as well.
The extras for the opening volume are pretty much the standard plus something new. There’s a two and a half minute production sketch gallery that’s got a lot of nice pieces, with the black and white aspect providing a much sharper look for some of the characters. The opening and ending sequences make a textless appearance here as well, which is always provided. New though is a segment called “The Super Gals Explain it All” which is pretty much like it sounds, where it has clips from the episodes that make up the various that one has to live by to be a Gal. It’s nicely done and provides a good overview of how a lot of the show feels. Naturally, being a new extra created by ADV, it’s only done in English voice over. On the down side, it’s not subtitled for the hearing impaired or for those who have to listen to shows very low.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Super Gals is a series that I had very little knowledge of going into it. What scattered bits I knew was pretty much wrong, since I thought it was a few years older than it actually is, so I was very surprised and pleased by the much smoother and attractive looking show than I expected.
The story of Super Gals is one that I’ve found to be highly amusing over the course of the first five episodes, though with the caveat that it’s so manic at times that this is the kind of series that may fair better when not marathoned. It centers around sixteen year old Ran Kotobuki, a fiery young woman who lives her life as a Gal, which means there’s all kinds of rules to go by to fit in properly. It’s pretty much typical clique stuff that most teen groups fall into, though there’s plenty of passion to be mixed in as well. Ran is a very addictive personality, but also the type of person you can see having a lot of friends but very few really close friends.
Ran’s life is a fun one to begin with. Her family is something like four or five generations of police, with her immediate family all serving now. Her father, age 51, is continually trying to get her to study for the exams and push her to join into the routines that will get her into the program. Her mother, age unknown, is also a police officer. Her brother Yamato, age 21, is also a police officer. He currently serves in the Shibuya police box, something that all new police officers end up doing for a number of years, which is how they build up their basic ties to the community they serve in as well as basically paying their dues.
Naturally, Ran wants nothing to do with it. She simply wants to live in the here and now and not think too far forward. A Gal wants to have fun. This doesn’t mean she isn’t above succumbing to her parents on occasion, such as when her father offers to raise her allowance up if she does ten things that will serve the community. She’s up for that and spends her time going around Shibuya trying to do good and deal with the bad things until she can earn the stickers that will prove she’s done the job. This plays out nicely since she does it while still trying to adhere to the lifestyle of a Gal.
Of course, there’s an S in Gals which means there’s more than just Ran and her ownership of Shibuya. The first friend we get to know is Miyu, a somewhat quiet but attractive young woman who is madly in love with Ran’s brother Yamato. She’s completely head over heels in love with him and he’s apparently in love or something close to it with her, but they’re keeping their relationship simple at the time due to the age difference. Miyu provides some calming balance to things but she’s still intent on having fun and being all about the now.
The new addition to the group comes in the form of Aya Hoshino, a quiet young woman who is top in the class and very much the one that answers the questions nobody else can. She ends up becoming friends with Ran and Miyu after Ran discovers Aya is involved in subsi-dating, which means taking money for dates. Aya does it since her parents are overly strict and she wants some of the better things in life too, but is willing to use her body to get it. This of course goes against everything that a Gal is about, so Ran and Miyu do their best to try and save her from this life.
If there’s something missing, that’s boys. The trio here end up getting mixed up with a couple of good looking men who show up in the teen magazines in the area. The two we get to know are Rei, a quiet almost CLAMPy looking young man, and Yuya, something more of the free spirit type. Both get paid for basically being who they are and are minor celebrities in the land of schoolgirls who follow their lives in the magazines. The groups get mixed together after one particular incident, but the dynamic that you’d normally expect isn’t readily apparent. Rei has no interest in Ran, Yuya is panting for Ran and Aya is secretly lusting for Rei. Ran’s still waiting to find the love of her life, and at this point she certainly doesn’t even consider them possibilities.
All in all, this sounds like a normal teen anime comedy with a nice mix of potential romance and some passion about living life right. What makes it stand out is the absolute manic energy to it, usually starting with Ran but often carried through to the others. It’s the type of show that doesn’t adhere to the rules of physics but rather goes to have fun. There’s all kinds of “gal” language scattered through, which results in creative ways of getting the “translation” to the fans (which is entirely soft subtitled). There’s lots of onscreen jokes and text that adds to the moment, such as when one school bully shows up with her friend, we get her name but her friend just gets an arrow with the text of “her friend” next to her. This manic energy is great, but it can be overwhelming, which is why I think some people may enjoy it more if they don’t overdose on all five episodes at once.
Super Gals is the kind of show I wish we were getting years ago but the market just couldn’t handle. It’s not heavily culturally based, but there’s a lot to it that adds to the feel of the show. The comedy in general though is pretty broad with only a few really culturally specific pieces. The broad comedy works well here and it’s highly addictive. I spent more time shaking my head and laughing at what was going on than I usually do. I can’t wait to get another volume.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,"The SuperGALS Explain It All" segment explaining the series' cultural references,Poster insert with cultural and character notes,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Super Gals