Galaxy Angel Vol. #1 (also w/box) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, April 16, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2004
This is one of those light-hearted anime with short episodes and short plots, but plenty of cute and silly girls. This isn't something that's going to have everyone rolling around on the floor, busting a gut from laughter, but most anime fans out there aren't going to be able to help a smirk and a chuckle at the girls' misadventures.
I watched the DVD first in Japanese, since Milfeuelle's Japanese voice actress is a lot of the appeal of the show for me. She's just so perfect for that vapid-but-sweet role that I can't help but smile when I hear her. The audio is clear but doesn't feature much of any directionality. The show's pretty straightforward and doesn't use the side channels much. Music and sound effects make the most use of what is there.
For my second viewing, I went through it again in English and was really pleasantly surprised. Not only was the dub okay, but the actors they found for Milfeulle and Mint were superb. They aren't quite as consistent as the original Japanese actors and the dub script has the usual odd minor re-writes and timing problems, but dub fans should be very pleased with the performances. The rest of the cast is pretty good, although Ranpha didn't sound quite on target much of the time. Perhaps she'll grow into the role in future volumes.
Being a relatively recent and rather colorful show, the video transfer's great. Things are pretty sharp and I didn't notice any problems in transfer or quality throughout the episodes. There are a number of brief CG bits scattered around as well, mainly during the opening or whenever the girls are flying around in their spaceships, and those looked nice and clean as well. So no complaints or problems in the video department, everything checks out fine.
Like most Bandai packages, we get a nice cover that's pretty representative of the show and a back cover with a handful of shot from the show (including a few of my favorite reaction shots from Ranpha and Forte). Bandai also includes some Japanese staff information on the back, which is another thing I always appreciate. We also get a folder insert with the cover image on the front and some basic personal information about Milfeulle, along with a bunch of pictures of her. Presumably later volumes will cover other characters.
The menus are pretty simple and straightforward. The main menu has a "Play All" option along with links directly to each episode's scene selection menu, which is handy when there are so many short episodes on one volume. The scene-selection menus (and chapter breaks) are properly spaced to allow you skip over the opening and endings as well, which is especially important when the episodes are this short, as that means you get that many more credit sequences. Sure, it's not a big thing, but it's sometimes overlooked and always a pain when it is.
Other than that, the menus are cute, simply animated and fast. Borrowing themes from the opening sequence and the characters themselves, they fit the show quite well.
The extras included were actually something of a surprise. In addition to a textless opening (have I mentioned how much I love the opening yet? No? Well it's a perfect, bouncy j-pop ditty), we also have a promotional clip and a collection of "Now I Get It! GA Lectures". The promotional clip was rather amusing, as it gives the impression of a show far different than from what the final product turned out to be, involving a political coup and rebels fighting against a galactic empire. I'm not sure whether the project mutated along the way or it was a bait-and-switch marketing campaign, but it was amusing to see the now familiar and silly characters re-cast in quasi-serious roles.
The GA Lectures were a little similar in that they made it clear that the creators were happy to invent an entire universe that has almost no bearing on the show itself. We get 7 lectures, one for each episode, hosted by the Japanese voice actress for Milfeulle. She explains some aspect of the Galaxy Angel universe, from the history of the Transvaal Empire to just what Lost Technology is. The grand space opera setting she describes sounds pretty interesting but rarely actually impacts the wacky adventures of the cast in the show itself.
Galaxy Angel is pretty much just what it appears to be: a bunch of cute girls stumble through a series of ridiculous misadventures, all nominally in the name of searching for "Lost Technology", even though we're never really provided with an explanation of just what that is, at least in the show itself. Each of the girls are rather eccentric (you could say "completely around the bend") and they are really the attraction of the show as opposed to the plot that can be squeezed into the brief 12-minute episodes.
The first story follows the violent Forte Stollen and the beautiful Ranpha Framboise as they are assigned the glorious task of tracking down a missing kitten. They run into the endearingly vapid Milfeulle Sakuraba, whose absurd luck swings from good fortune one moment to disaster the next as it seems that the cat is an heir to a massive estate. Needless to say, lots of things get shot and blown up and fortunes are made and lost, something that carries into the next episode when Ranpha and Forte again run into Milfeulle after making it big at the casino before losing it all. And it turns out that Milfeulle is the newest member of the Angel Brigade.
The near-mute albino Vanilla H finds a friend and admirer in the following episode as the girls are scouring a space trash dump on the off chance that some Lost Technology might be there. Instead, they find a missile having something of an existential crisis. Once they have defused that situation by providing it with a new, plushy body (pardon the pun), the girls are off to work as bodyguards for a rich, handsome bachelor. Ranpha's plan of seducing him and living in luxury are apparently ruined when they find him to be far older in person than the picture that they had, but she might not have been that far off the mark to begin with when the real situation is revealed. Ranpha and Milfeulle take on a deliver mission in the following episode, returning an old student ID for a rich, elderly man. The catch, of course, is that his school is in the middle of pirate territory. They get to the school fine, but once there they are chased around by powerful attack robots. It turns out that the place is haunted by the memories of the past in more ways than one.
Forte, Milfeuelle and Normad (the aforementioned missile) investigate some ancient ruins in the next episode. Milfeulle stumbles on a mysterious egg and immediately tries to eat it, but instead it hatches into an adorable little mouse, much to Forte's horror. Things only get worse, however, when the mouse turns out to be an ancient biological weapon, shooting laser-beams out of its mouth. Thankfully, even bio-engineered weapon mice are still mice, and the girls are able to escape and save the day. The final episode features most of the cast, but focuses mainly on the nominal leader of the Angel Brigade, Mint Blancmanche. She's an adorable girl, and not quite as innocent as she seems, so of course I'd love her. Who could resist her twitching little anime ears, anyway? Assigned to stop a series of kidnappings at a theme park, Mint goes to great lengths to concoct a plan that allows herself to indulge a personal *ahem* hobby ? dressing up in mascot costumes.
Not much really happens in any given short episode of Galaxy Angel, but you don't really need much when you have characters like this. The show isn't as far-out wacky or hyper as something like Excel Saga and it's not quite as adorably cute as Azumanga Daioh, but instead seems to walk the middle ground that is familiar territory to Broccoli. An eccentric cast of cute and pretty girls have a series of quick and silly adventures. It's unlikely that you'll be crying tears of laughter or holding Galaxy Angel up as the next best thing in anime, but I'd bet that most anime fans will be able to just sit back and relax for this fun, distracting show, finding it hard not to smile at the antics on the screen.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 105
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Galaxy Angel