Saturday, June 15, 2013

Anime Review No. 58-Gall Force Movie 1

"The Quest is the Quest!"

Gall Force: Eternal Story
Theaterical release: July 26 1986
Studios: AIC, Artmic, Director: Katsuhito Akiyama
Writer: Sukehiro Tomita 

Well once again back to the 1980s. I have only glanced at this era twice before-looked at 1984's Birth: A War of Two Worlds, a rather stock standard sci-fi action movie last June and then last Halloween I looked at 1988's Vampire Princess Miyu, a 4 episode OVA involving vampires and the supernatural. So, where does Gall Force: Eternal Story fall? Well, let's see.

Gall Force: Eternal Story is the first movie in a science fiction film series done in late 1980s to mid 1990s. It was done by AIC, or Anime International Company, a studio which around the time this film came out, had only done Megazone 23 the previous year. Nowadays, they are a powerhouse studio, having done series like Tenchi, El Hazard, Burn Up, Ah My Goddess, etc. Now, down to the story.

Well, the story of GF: Eternal Story is essentially a science fiction epic. In the far future, there is a war waging between two groups: the Solnoids (all female race) and the Paranoids (race of amorphous aliens who reside in bio-mechanical suits, bit like the Daleks). The first part of the movie deals with a Solnoid ship Star Leaf as they journey to a planet open for colonization. Now, there are some members of the Star Leaf crew, but most are one note characters all who die by end of the movie, so no more word on them. Well except for Lufy, a starfighter pilot that they pick along the way, who does try to add some life to this dull proceedings. Seriously, it is a 'pick off the cast one by one' plot at the core of the movie.

Well, except a Paranoid comes abroad and infects one of the crew members who is close to the Captain but I'm sure it won't factor much in later. Spoiler-it does, but more on that later.

It sure says something about a movie when it has not one but two music videos embedded inside it, where there are long stretches of nothing happening. In addition, while stuff happens, one simply can't give much care since the characters haven't had much development. For instance, one of the Star Leaf crew is revealed to be a secret android who sacrified itself/herself in order for the rest of the crew to escape from the ship once it self destructs. What should be a deeply moving scene is empty because the characters and moral dilemmas haven't been fully developed, therefore I can't really care. Contrast that with the scene where Lufy ends up drifting out into space, without any way out. The audience has spent some time with Lufy and she has some sort of personality so her death has more emotional punch.

Of course, the remainder of the crew makes it to the new planet. However, it turns out, the infected crew member is now pregnant with child. She gives birth, which is one of the most unintentionally funny moment of all times. The child is revealed as male, which confounds the remaining crew most profoundly. Then the movie does the plot of TNG's The Child' as the kid grows up to full maturity in a matter of minutes. No explanation whatsoever, which miffs me a bit as this being science fiction some kind of explanation is expected, but the filmmakers said no.

The ending act is a confusing mess. It is revealed that both the Solnoids and Paranoids have planned this out from some point prior to the movie, in order to bring about peace to the galaxy or whatever. The rest of it doesn't make much sense and the movie ends on a non-ending and another fecking music video to close out.

Now, onto other stuff on this movie. The music is your standard 80s synth with the music video segments being stock 80s j-pop ballads. It is OK, not great but definitely ages the movie. The animation is well better then Birth: A War of Two Worlds. Kenichi Sonoda (creator of Gunsmith Cats) did the character designs though they mostly look like stock 80s anime character designs. The rest of the animation is very solid, even if it amounts to being an animation artifact.

The same praise can't be said of the english dub. Like Shamanic Princess, it is very dry and stiff and nearly literal to the Japanese. The only noteworthy voice actor in this is Lisa Ortiz, who one might remember as voice of Lina Inverse from the Slayers franchise. The voice acting is fairly average, though that is due in part to the material being dry and stiff and ultimately uninteresting.

On a final note: If you get this on DVD, don't watch it with the 'alternate english track'. It is not worth it. Seriously, I switched it off after a few minutes-its even worse then the original dub track, which astounds me greatly. What amazes me the most is that this enabled a film series. If I get the chance to look at the other films I might, but it is not a high priority.

If your are into science fiction and/or 80s anime, then I recommend you check it out. Otherwise, you can just skip this. The only interest it has to me is 80s kitsch, not much else.

Next time is over CyberCity Oedo 808.

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