Super Gals Season 1 Box Set (Thinpak) (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Jennifer Rocks
Review Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005



What They Say
Meet Ran Kotobuki, a 16-year-old “Gal” with a taste for the most fashionable clothing and accessories. No part of Shibuya is safe as she hunts relentlessly for those items essential to a Gal’s existence namely fake nails, Hawaiian jewelry and karaoke. She should be studying, but who can study when there are things to buy, people to see, places to go, food to eat? Join the hyperactive Ran and her two best friends Miyu and Aya as they attempt to shop their way through school and into the history books as the most famous Gals ever!

The Review!
It’s not easy being a Gal, especially when your allowance isn’t big enough and there isn’t enough time to go shopping, sing karaoke, hang with friends and still get any homework done.

Audio:
For this review I primarily listened to the English 5.1 track. Although this is a surround mix, as a dialogue driven show, the three front speakers handle most of the work. The Japanese stereo mix is similarly balanced. There were no issues with the audio.

Video:
The transfer is really nice looking. The show uses very solid and vibrant colors, which are well represented. There are a few issues with video noise on some of the fine line details. Aside from this minor issue, the show looks great.

Packaging:
The collection comes packaged in a very sturdy chipboard box. The artwork is very vibrant and gives a great sense of the show. Both main panels feature the show’s trio of friends, The Great Ran Kotobuki, Aya and Miyu. Ran is the prominent figure with Aya and Miyu arranged below her. Right away the images capture the Super Gal spirit, with the bright colors, crazy accessories and cheerful expressions. The spine features the show logo and Ran in her non-regulation school uniform. The bottom of the box has the expected technical info. The best is the top of the box, which has a chibi style sleeping Ran lying next to the show logo. Overall, this box does a great job of giving you a feel of the show.

Each disc has great character art of Ran and her friends arranged over colorful backgrounds with the show logo at the bottom. The covers definitely capture the Super Gal style. The front panel backgrounds carry over to the back, where a handful of shots for the episodes are shown next to the list of episodes and their titles. In a nice touch the discs themselves have full color printing featuring the cover image for that disc.

Menu:
The disc menu features character art against colorful backgrounds. The character art is very nice and clean, giving the menus an appealing look. The menu navigation only allows for top-level episode selection, there is no option to select a particular chapter within an episode. As such, the navigation is very clear and easy to use.

Extras:
This Thinpak collection does not have any features, other than a handful of previews on the first disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ran Kotobuki is the number one Gal of Shibuya and her life is devoted to the latest fashions, finding guys to buy her food, hanging out with her friends, and defending Shibuya from wrong doers. The last part seems a bit odd, but Ran comes from a long line of policemen, and she definitely has the avenger spirit. Her father is a detective, her mother and brother are both officers, and her little sister aspires to be a detective when she grows up. Though Ran is very clear that she does not want to join the police when she graduates, she has a very strong sense of justice, which she regularly puts into practice.

It’s this sense of justice that leads her to befriend Aya, a bookish outsider who is going on subsidized dates to earn money. Ran and her best friend Miyu help Aya see that she is selling herself short and quickly become good friends with her. Ran is always quick to point out the way things should be using her “iron clad rules for Gals”. The trio soon meets Otohata and Yuya, the two hottest guys around, and become friends with them as well. Though at first he is an unexpected explosion of energy, Tatsukichi, the comical monkey boy, is also nice addition to the group of friends. Yuya’s one-sided rivalry with Tatsukichi is both funny and painful to watch.

Initially it’s pretty clear how the relationships will develop; it seems inevitable that Ran and Otohata will pair up, leaving Aya and Yuya to get together, while Miyu keeps her relationship with Yamato, Ran’s older brother. However, the show bucks the stereotypical set up and none of the expected pairings ever happen, though Miyu and Yamato do stay together. It is refreshing to have a typical romance set up and then have it not followed, it makes the story that much more enjoyable.

There are some really great moments in the show, particularly when Ran faces her rival Mami Honda. One of their best face offs is a hilarious ping-pong match to determine who is the top gal of Shibuya. And in another surprise turn, Ran actually befriends Mami, though they still compete at the drop of a hat. Ran’s sister, Sayo and her boyfriend Masato, are also a riot whenever they appear. Their junior detective song had me rolling.

In addition to the traditional humor, there is also a heavy dose of wackiness in the show. With manga style introductions to the characters, gal-lingo blackboards, and random gals and ganguros flying through scenes, there is constant visual craziness. The gal-lingo bits are particularly enjoyable throughout the show when they suddenly appear.

Aside from the humor, the show does a great job with the character moments. The revelation of Miyu’s shocking past puts her behavior and relationship with Yamato in a whole new light. Similarly, Aya and Otohata’s entire relationship is painfully real in all its awkwardness. All the terrible gawkiness of growing up and figuring out who you are is well captured amid all the humor and hijinks.

The show does a great job of balancing Ran’s enthusiastic pursuit of the gal life, her strong sense of justice, and the everyday life of being a high schooler. It’s nice to have a group of characters that are not only hip and cool, but also so strongly want to do the right thing for themselves and others. Ran’s optimistic attitude and outgoing nature are really enjoyable and make this something more than a typical high school show.

In Summary:
Though there are lots of hilarious stories, the real heart of Super Gals is the character relationships. Watching Ran and her friends grow, all the while exuding their positive outlooks on life, is refreshing. Overall this is a solid show and really fun to watch.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Samsung HLT6187S 61” DLP HDTV, Sony DVP-NS975V Progressive Scan Up Converting DVD player, Pioneer Elite VSX-81TXV DD/DTS receiver, HDMI cable, JBL Multi-Channel Speaker System with 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Super Gals