High school student Kotobuki Ran is a fun-loving daughter in a family of duty-bound police officers. So why is it that she has a knack for getting herself and her gal-pals into loads of (harmless) trouble? Follow Ran and her girlfriends Miyu and Aya as they adventure through ultimate "gal" turf Shibuya, fending off creepy old guys, tacky kogals, and lame-o wannabes trying to steal Ran's title as the ULTIMATE gal of Shibuya!
Thoughtful angst puppies need not apply: Super GALS! is one of those titles that, like Kodocha and other hyperactive anime, require you to be awake while viewing, lest you blink and BAM!--you're in the next scene.
Super GALS! is probably one of the most bright, well-animated titles to come out of fiscally-challenged Studio Pierrot in quite some time, though the content of the show isn't really one that requires ornate action sequences or gut-wrenching drama. Super GALS! is a title that serves more as an amusing educational tool for those wanting to get a pseudo-accurate look at trendy high-school culture in Tokyo ... that is, at least for the year 2001, when kogals, platforms, and bleached, permed tresses were at its height of fashion necessity.
The opening begins with a deceptively slick "Charlie's Angels" feel to it, only to toss everything into the proverbial blender and set the viewer's perception of the series on "puree." The strutting across the screen reminds me of a mix between cute shoujo-y Marmalade Boy, with a bit of eccentric Kodocha and zany Magic User's Club tossed in for originality...but this is just the opening we are talking about. The actual episodes are chock-full with so much content, keeping a review of it at average length would be a disservice to the series.
Something extremely refreshing about the series is how complete the characterizations of the characters are ... because at a glance the girls seem to be your average shallow, superficial high school students that could easily angst over the lots life throws at 'em. But unlike most anime titles were parents are conveniently shuffled aside to focus on the heroines' love lives or whatnot, the siblings and parents of Ran (and in some cases, Aya and Miyu) are key figures on a regular basis. Ran's older brother is actually the (sometimes reluctant) love interest of Miyu (who, while appearing to be an afterthought of the writers towards the beginning of the series, has more skeletons in her closet than the other two girls combined), and Ran's little sister is a constant fifth wheel on select adventures, and sometimes eats up more screen time than our leading character.
One of the strengths of this series is, in fact, the execution of Ran as the "main character." In most shoujo titles where the main character is the one suffering through any drama apparent, Ran is actually more of an anchor than a vehicle for the occasional serious points that occur. For example, the main romantic plot involves the quiet, gentle Aya, and the highest dramatic points are centered around Miyu and Mami, Ran's "unworthy" rival. Ran's strong heart and sense of justice, even for those that she may not like all that much, are the qualities that make her, at least for me, one of the most likeable main characters in an anime series that I have seen in a long time. She is brash, vain, and even annoying at times...but it is always to be taken with a grain of salt, because you can't help but like her--she is having fun, and hey, why aren't you?! Lighten up, yo!
The background soundtrack isn't anything that really sticks out to me, but unless you find yourself wanting to claw out your eyeballs at anything resembling para para music, consider yourself warned. Para para abounds, especially during the high energy scenes. It is not to be taken seriously (but really, is this series to be taken that seriously at all?) and is certainly not out-of-place.
As much as I adore this series with all my heart, there are a few weaknesses that I found in the ADV version that should be taken into consideration when viewing this gem.
Perhaps it is the first pressing only, but my copy of the first volume DVD experiences some problems with subtitle-sync. I have not been notified if further presses of the DVD have corrected the problem, but it is a minor one, and I hope that, should ADV get a hold of the second season (and here I join Luci Christian and Chris Patton in going "PLEAAAAAAAAAAAAASE ADV?! PLEAAAAAAAAASE GET GALS SEASON TWOOOO!!!") they will take necessary precautions to avoid that boo-boo again.
But as much as I love the dub job on GALS (Luci Christian as Ran is so well done! Bravo!), this is one of those shows that I feel watching the dub defeats the purpose of watching the show to begin with. Some of the slang that is explained in the Japanese version just ... doesn't work in English. Not that it doesn't really make sense, it just seems kinda ... lame. I mean, I admit to saying "no pro" all the time as a result of this show, but in Texas it always gave me funny looks, though in Tokyo they don't so much as blink. Anyway, a dimension of Japanese "trendiness" is lost when the anime explains some of the slang that stems from katakana English--in native English. But that is simply the result of having something "lost in translation," and ADV is to be commended for the unusually loyal job of balancing translation with adaptation that causes most elitist anime snobs (don't look at me like that!) to go up in arms.
For anyone wanting to take a trip to Tokyo--for educational purposes or as a casual tourist--they should definitely do themselves a favor and sit through a viewing of Super GALS! It is an amusingly accurate depiction of Japanese daily life--moreso than most other anime titles that are more reliant on a continuous plot--and is a fine piece of entertainment. Maybe it isn't quite as eccentric as Kodocha or Elf Princess Rane, but you will definitely walk away feeling like you know more than the average anime fan about what Japan is really like. And isn't that worth a season's worth of anime that could have otherwise been spent towards, oh, I dunno--Mai Otome or Da Capo? Yeah. I knew you'd agree.
It's so rare to find an anime that I fail to find something to improve on. Super GALS! is more than I ever bargained for, and bargaining is a must! It's an iron-clad rule for a GAL! — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: Subsi-dating, gang fights, and abusive parents are a few things that might make this a little too serious for those below the age of 13, but it's much tamer than your WB drama. Recommended for anyone who is interested in Japanese pop culture, as well as gals who just want to let their hair down and celebrate the awesomeness that they are. Yeah! XD
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (26/52)
Super GALS! © 2001 Studio Pierrot
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