Gals! Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 1-4012-0551-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Gals! Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 25, 2005
Release Date: June 01, 2005

Gals! Vol.#02

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Fujii Mihona
Translated by:Sheldon Drzka
Adapted by:

What They Say
Two tough kogals from a neighboring town try to take over Ran's turf!

Kotobuki Ran is the kogal champ of Shibuya, Tokyo's fashion Mecca, but Shibuya isn't the only place where teens hang out. When Ran and her pals do some window shopping in nearby Ikebukuro, they run into a couple of formidable 'bukuro kogals and what starts as a minor accident escalates into a series of attacks on Ran and her friends. Can this be resolved rationally or will a no-holds-barred street fight break out between Ran and her new rivals?!

The Review
Fun in the sun. Fun in the streets of Shibuya. Fun with friends wherever.

Wherever Ran goes, fun times follow. That is if people call fighting in the streets, hanging out with Hachiko and avoiding the Middle School Detectives fun.

CMX is improving their packaging with experience. GALS! is one of their better-looking GNs from start to finish. First their cover is designed in a similar format to Shueisha's, which includes a framed image of the Kotobuki sisters - Sayo and Ran - on a white kanji covered background. CMX uses the original logo, including *'s in the "G", “A" and "!" of GALS!. The opposite cover features a headshot of Miho above an extensive volume description. CMX is still covering their negative space with kanji, which I find, distracting, but the overall design is much better than say, MADARA or Musashi #9.

Inside the printing is very good. Lines are very sharp and tone is very clean. The retouch of SFX is very good as well. CMX included and properly translated all of the mangaka notes. They also included the ato-gaki from Mihona and her brother. There is also a series of mangaka-notes and an omake manga series with Mihona and her mom! Let the bloodbath begin!

Fujii's art might turn off a few. I will say I like it. However, I can also admit it is extremely busy and a little loud. This is done purposely, obviously, but with so much on the pages readers can get slowed down and frustrated.

Let me start with the layout. This is where I was equally frustrated and impressed the most. To say the layout is hyper is an understatement. Fujii-sensei really mixes her panels with an assortment of sizes, some passive and many active. She also seems to almost get wrapped up in the placement of those panels. This is where I get frustrated, for Fujii tends to occasionally forget she has placed too many panels on a page or maybe she as forgotten her readers must decipher the direction all those panels should be read in. And while the placement might be busy, Fujii also keeps what is inside those panels busy. Her perspective can be all over the place - on one scene in one panel, on another by the next, back to the first scene in the next all on the same page, while there is a detailed scenery panel on the same page that should dictate where all this is happening. Gah! Must keep your eyes peeled to catch everything. Fujii does a good job filling her pages with decent looking background art. I'll say these can look stale, but Fujii tries to liven it up with signage and decor.

The character designs are much improved in this volume. In the first chapters of this series Fujii had her girls looking like college age. A lot more SD and adjustments to the length of her cast has changed that for the better. The costume designs she uses are not stereotypical kogal; she goes into mod fashion, mixing ideas of ganguro and high fashion. She was ahead of the times with bihaku (fair skin, which came back around the turn of the millennia). She is extremely knowledgeable covering -jacket gangs, ganguru (dark face), tropical flower patterns, and oshare (trendy casual). She knows the importance of accessories and hairstyles.

Overall impressive work, but almost too much at times.

Sigh. I really don't know what to say about the translation. To me it is a disappointment, because CMX adds so much needless slang to a title that already was hip enough. Some people might not think adding some more is that big a deal, but it changes the personalities of these characters. Some of the better translations use the existing text and work with it and keep personalities intact. This translation overdoes it. It does not know when to quit and then there are times when because of the overuse of slang it loses context or incorrectly translates all together. I went through this twice, because I read some people were fine with it. I read, some people thought the slang was old and was freshened up for modern palettes, but the main issue here is not the usage of slang but all of the unnecessary slang that was added in. It is excessive. It makes Ran, a witty normal teen, seem like an airhead. It is as if she cannot speak normally, which is not the case. This is not an anime where attitude is important in voice acting, this is manga where kids should be able to read what is happening and slang should only used in relation to the situation.

Apart from that, the translation is actually pretty good. There are moments when it is translated slang-free and it is darn near perfect. It has names family name first, given name last. They also toss in honorifics on occasion for effect. CMX also does a good job translating signage as well. Seriously, if the adaptation could calm down a bit, this would have been a great translation job.

SFX are all retouched and overlaid. They look really clean and very professional. I have to say CMX does this better than most publishers, but that is to be expected considering their years of experience in the sequential art industry.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes you just have to get away. Sometimes people need to have a change of pace. Doing the same routine over and over again can where people down.

However the minute that Ran takes a step out of Shibuya all hell breaks loose! Poor Ran just wants to hang out with her friends and people start getting in her space. It is like all the rules of logic have been broken and she has been sent to this strange new world.

People want to get in her face. They give her attitude. Whatever happened to hospitality, you know? Some people even have the nerve to want to pick a fight with the self-proclaimed top kogal from Shibuya (which with her logic could possibly make her the top kogal in Tokyo and maybe even Japan!). Some people tail her like she is some criminal or something. Sure she is cute and a lot of people look up to her for her courage, strength and style but they could be nicer about it. Who needs stalker friends, right?

There is a good reason for Ran to want to escape. First, she cannot escape the watchful eye of the Middle School Detectives. There is no place in all of Tokyo that Ran can hide from these two young detectives, and until she can lose their tail she will not likely have any peace.

There is the need to escape from school and the grind of the daily routine. Sometimes people need a change of pace. Hanging out in Shibuya is great - cheap eats, lots of fun stuff to do. Unfortunately, if you are a top kogal that also means responsibility. So, Ran and her friends really appreciate any time they get to hit the beach or go to other parts of Tokyo-to like Odaiba or even Ikebukuro.

Where is the respect?! Don't these people get around?! Don't they know who Ran is?

Maybe Tokyo is not as small as she thought it was. Or maybe it is much smaller, actually. Especially, when there are two Kotobuki sisters running around in it.

Defending justice and love can be hard work. Add schoolwork and a crazy family to that and some people need time off. Ran-chan is definitely in need of a break. She has too much to deal with and she really cannot handle it all and still expect to keep all she does at the level of excellence she is known for. Unfortunately, the more she tries to get away, the more trouble seems to hunt her down. Sometimes people should just stick to what they know best. If that means letting your grades slip, then that might be a risk to take. Nothing is going to make a gal change her mind about having fun and living their own lives. Nothing! Not even, pesky little sisters and their weird boyfriends.

Fun, pure fun is the best way I can describe GALS!. Fujii-sensei has started a mini-arc introducing new characters - Kotobuki Sayo and Honda Mami. The vibe that these two bring to this already very fast and witty series. Each of these two gals create a dynamic that increases the tension and comedic levels for GALS!.

Honda Mami is the much-needed rival type character. The total opposite of Ran, Mami is a high-end gal that makes sure she is the best at everything she does. She is a very hard worker and she does not take her status for granted. Like Ran she has a strong sense of duty, though her methods are occasionally questionable. She is also a very good friend, to those she sees have similar values as hers (which makes the lazy selfish Ran an obvious enemy).

Kotobuki Sayo is the youngest Kotobuki sibling. She is the new comedic relief for the manga and with her boyfriend Masato-kun; she seems to be following the footsteps of the Kotobuki-clan by living by the ideals of a crime fighter. In some ways Sayo is a little more mature than Ran, but at heart she is still a curious rambunctious 14-year-old who is testing the limits of her teens. She seems to have a hard time understanding the severity of what she gets into sometimes, but to her its all fun - crazy and possibly scary fun.

So let's see...

-fast paced action.... check!

-teenage romance.... check!

-intense rivalry.... check!

-middle school detective based comedy.... double check!

If you had fun with the anime, the manga does a lot of the same and adds a little nuance that makes it that much better (and by nuance I mean Fujii-sensei madness).


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