The iron clad rules for girls have never been laid out so clearly, or with such fun.
What They Say Sporting designer clothes, make-up, and nails, Ran Kotobuki is the very picture of a trendy, young Shibuya girl, but don't let that fool you. This girl comes from a family of cops, and she's ready to lay you out flat if you even think about causing trouble in her town! At least, she will... when she's not distracted with karaoke, shopping, and dodging her homework. Join Ran and her friends as they defend the streets of Shibuya and attempt to shop their way into the history books as the most famous Gals ever! All 52 episodes, every ironclad rule, and all the Shibuya slang packed into a single, complete set!
Super Gals was one of the early releases that highlighted the path of anime to come. This set has a bilingual presentation for the first half, which was produced by ADV Films, and a Japanese only track for the second half, which ADV Films did not license because the show didn't do well enough to warrant it. Rather than let fans never see the rest, Nozomi stepped in and grabbed it, but it wasn't cost effective to dub it. The first twenty-six episodes gives us a good presentation with the English in 5.1 that has a fair bit more volume and clarity to it, encoded at 448kbps, while the Japanese track is in stereo at 224kbps. The second half just has the Japanese at 192kbps, though there isn't too much of a perceptible difference outside of a slight volume different that's noticeable with the opening and closing songs in comparison. Both tracks are good throughout and the English mix definitely has its greater charms with the 5.1 mix, but the Japanese track is no slouch either and comes across well in representing the original material.
Originally airing from 2001 to 2002, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This set contains the ten discs as seen in the two previous collections, which gives us a breakdown of 5/5/5/5/6/6/5/5/5/5 for it. Super Gals has a very good look to it that's held up well since its original broadcast with lots of bright and vibrant colors and very little in the way of noise. There are some scenes where it breaks up just a touch, when there's seemingly a mild aspect of CG brought in and more visible gradients, but by and large this is a great looking show throughout and feels just as strong as it did years ago. Outside of a touch of very mild cross coloration you can see along an edge or two in a few scenes, which is very minimal when you consider there's fifty-two episodes here, it's definitely a great looking release that captures the fun and flavor of the source material.
Super Gals has had its share of releases over the years, from singles to thinpak collections. This set is the first time both seasons have been released together and with it being a ten disc priced down set, there's only a few options to really put it out onto the market with. Taking into consideration the overall price for the set, I can't complain about it too much but this kind of packaging is not my favorite. The case is rounded on both sides which gives it a rather nice look, similar to the Star Trek cases we've seen overseas, while inside we have multiple hinges to hold all the discs. The cover artwork is similar to the past releases with a great, bright and colorful shot of Ran taking up most of the space while Miyu and Aya are alongside her in a small size. The spin, which has a good bit of rounded space to it, has all three close together with the logo above them that looks good. The back cover is straightforward with more character artwork and a trio of shots from the show, while a fourth is completely obscured. The summary is kept small when you consider the amount of content but it lays out the basics nicely enough. Add in a good listing of the extras and a small but clean technical grid and you have a good looking release overall.
The problem I ran into with it though, and it may just be my copy, is that the cover insert used isn't big enough to wrap around fully. There's a good bit of space to the side of it on both the front and back because of how it has to open. If you pull it around to fill the front, part of the spine is more visible because of it. The cover just looks like it's too short, but it has to be because of the style of the case itself. The case type definitely makes you give it a second glance but I would have preferred a normal style case to hold all the disc instead.
The menu layouts are nicely done with zoomed in images of various characters that were used on the covers of the previous thinpak installments. What we get here are some really great looking pieces of artwork with vibrant colors for each disc. The layout is the same across each of them with straightforward navigation (but no top level episode selection) that have good access times and no problems moving about between them. On the bilingual discs, the show reads the player presets while the monolingual discs default to the Japanese language track with standard subtitles as opposed to the subtitles with extra notes.
The set has a good selection of extras to it that are spread across all the volumes to varying degrees. The liner notes are the big ones here in my mind as they detail a lot of the little nuance pieces for the cultural side of the show and help to flesh it out nicely. The clean opening and closings are included, a look at the slang in the show and the Super Gals Explain It All segments. Add in the bios and a look at the US trailer that was made and you've got some decent stuff overall.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the ten volume manga series by Mihona Fujii, Super Gals is a fifty-two episode series that's all about the bonds of young women and having fun. The show had quite the fan base, a vocal one at that, when it first came out and the show featured a top flight dub of voice actresses who really sunk their teeth into the roles and had a blast with it, something that's very evident throughout the dubbed episodes. With its focus on doing right by your friends, having fun, living a good life and enjoy food and fashion, Super Gals teaches the viewer exactly what's required to be a true Gal that could live the good life in Shibuya. Or Ikebukuro if you like that kind of place.
The series focuses on life in Shibuya with the main character of Ran Kotobuki, the gal oriented daughter of a police family where her father is a detective, her mother an officer and her older brother having just gotten out to working in the local police box. While the family wants her to follow in their footsteps, she's intent on enjoying her life, being the most popular and influential gal in Shibuya, savoring the foods, clothes and lifestyle of the area. She's not looking for a boyfriend, though she does acquire one over the course of the series, and in general it's all about living life to its fullest every minute possible.
Ran has two very good friends in her life that makes the days even more fun. The first is Miyu, a former rough and tumble gang girl who has turned to the right path because of Ran and has even fallen in love with her older brother, Yamato. Even though he's two years older, it's worked out well as he's reciprocated the feelings, but they can't really act on it too much until she graduates. Miyu's a good sort who is totally devoted to Yamato which can make her a little one note at times, but she has a fair bit of depth to her that's explored as her past is revealed. Her relationship with Yamato, brought out from the start, definitely is welcome since it puts one of the main trio in a relationship which eases the tension on the others for a bit.
While Ran and Miyu are definitely interesting characters, the one I enjoyed watching the most was Aya. Her role as the squeaky clean hard studying girl who ends up being drawn into the gal life offers a different look. She does start to slip in grades and cram school a bit, but she becomes more true to herself and realizes she has to have some fun as well. She's the most restrained of the trio, but because it's all new to her, she takes everything with a bit of gusto. What made her truly enjoyable is the bit of a surprise that comes in. When we're introduced to the “Good Looking” guys of the series, the one you expect to be partnered up with Ran instead becomes the focus of Aya and the two have a slow relationship that is explored across the entire set. It's cute, charming and very innocent for the most part. But having the guy not going with Ran was a surprise and it opened up Ran to other kinds of more varied experiences.
Super Gals has a really good supporting cast to it. In addition to Aya's beau, Otohata, there's also his friend Yuya who has the hots for Ran. Unfortunately, she sees him just as a good friend and even calls him Second Place because he tends to be just less popular than Otohata. He's doing his best to worm his way into her heart, but he gets upended by the arrival of Tatsukichi Machida, a young man who is just as slightly off kilter as Ran is. Yuya gets into a quiet competition with him but both Tatsukichi and Ran are oblivious to it as they're having fun being a very light boyfriend/girlfriend couple. Tatsukichi plays up the monkey role very well with lots of ook ook noises added to his dialogue and a whole lot of physical comedy.
There are two other really different characters that are very important to the series as it progresses. The first is Mami, the young woman who holds the same role as Ran does but in Ikebukuro. The two are very competitive for awhile and Mami is continually flustered and thrown off by Ran, but their relationship evolves very well as it goes on and Mami is definitely more than she seems. When her role starts to change, it adds a lot to both Ran and Mami as their relationship isn't a static thing or even as grudgingly respectful adversaries. On the flip side, the additional comedic element comes in the form of Ran's younger sister Sayo and her boyfriend Masato who play up the junior detectives gig, to really good effect, while idolizing the Odaiba Cop show that's on that has a very City Hunter/Fist of the North Star feel to it. These two have gags throughout the series and episodes devoted entirely to them, but they're just a really good little plot device used with the right kind of humor and great taglines.
Super Gals is a pretty fast moving show when it comes to some of the gags and visuals, but it's the lingo that moves the quickest. There's a lot of gal shorthand throughout the show and they do a nice job of bringing in explanations of all of it, but sometimes it can throw the flow of the show and slow things up. Some of it is pretty obvious but most of they time they use it to extend a gag or utilize it to create another one so it's all pretty useful to have. The series spends a lot of time on things that you can do in Shibuya and elsewhere so we get a good look at the life of a gal in this time period. It's fun, silly and has its challenges but the visual design of it carries it off very well, giving it a larger than life feeling with a lot of vibrancy and excitement.
Super Gals hit all the right notes years ago when it first came out here and it does so now as well. While some of it is certainly dated in its own way, it's no less enjoyable. The lives of the gals involved here with all the others that influence them are really fun to watch, even in marathon form. While it may hold up a bit better in smaller batches, there's just such an infectious amount of fun with what goes on here that I can't help but to enjoy it. These are bright, fun and energetic characters that are flawed and have issues. Seeing their arcs spread out over all of these episodes and all the fun gags and bits in between elevates the show. It's one that I was thrilled to see when ADV Films started it and was even more thrilled when I got to complete it with Nozomi. In the years since that second season came out, the market has changed a lot and it's definitely a loss that the second season was never dubbed. But what we get in this set is ten discs of excellent anime at a fantastic price point that needs to be seen, enjoyed and treasured. It holds up well and will continue to do so. That's an iron clad rule of being a Supe Gals fan.
Features Season 1: English 2.0 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English SubtitlesSeason 2: Japanese 2.0 Language, English SubtitlesClean opening, clean closing, The Super GALS! Explain It All 1-6, Super GALS! trailer, GALS! Slang, liner notes, character bios
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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