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ADV Films presents
Super GALS! Rule #1: GALS Gotta Have Heart! (2001)

"That's an ironclad rule for gals!"
- Ran Kotobuki (Megumi Toyoguchi)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: October 14, 2003

Stars: Megumi Toyoguchi, Haruna Ikezawa, Oma Ichimura, Hiroshi Kamiya, Kenichi Suzumura, Luci Christian, Kim Prause, Kira Vincent-Davis, Chris Patton, Greg Ayres
Other Stars: Ryoka Shima, Miyuki Yamasa, Ryu Manatsu, Aya Ishizu, Reiko Tkakgi, Yukiko Tamaki, Shunrin, Kaytha Coker, Shondra Marie, Nora Stein, Allison Sumrall, Cynthia Martinez, Cynthia Feaster, Jessica Boone, John Swasey
Director: Tsuneo Kobayashi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for language, mature themes)
Run Time: 02h:02m:50s
Release Date: September 16, 2003
UPC: 702727056420
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AAA C+

DVD Review

After watching a seemingly endless parade of series with giant robot, harem, or ultrafanservice themes, Super GALS! comes as a breath of fresh air. Its comedy is over the top, and its style manic, but underneath it all is a show that deals with real issues and the challenges of growing up in the modern age.

Sixteen-year-old first-year Hounan High School student, Ran Kotobuki, is a super gal with an eye for style, a big attitude, and a reputation as the girl in charge in Shibuya. Although her parents would like to see her follow in the long family tradition of serving in the police force, Ran would rather spend her time having fun, shopping, and hanging out with her friends. However, when it comes down to it, Ran has a heart of gold, and although she isn't the first to start a fight (usually), she isn't about to take anybody's crap either, and if you mess with her friends, you'll pay the consequences.

The first installment introduces us to what it is to be a gal, from the dress code, to the rules of galdom. We learn a few colloquialisms (with the aid of an SD gal who appears with the day's lesson), and the types of things a gal has to put up with—overbearing parents, rival gals, coming up with excuses for missing class, and the hunt for GL (good looking) guys. But there is also a darker side to being a high school girl, including subsidized dating, (where young girls are paid to accompany older men), phone hunting, stalking, the meaning of friendship, or the pressures of keeping up grades while still having a life.

Even with its mature undercurrents, Super GALS! is a flat out comic fest, fast paced and tightly edited. The look is hip and bold, with plenty of intrusions, whether onscreen text explaining gal slang, or expressions jumping out of nowhere. Ran is a gas, ready to flip out at any moment, but also dedicated to her own principles. Miyu and Aya make suitable sidekicks, one a love struck and simple girl, the other an over achiever who has come to a crossroads in her young life. The male cast supplements nicely, from Ran's older brother and Miyu's love interest, Yamato, to the pair of poster boys, Rei and Yuya, who have an unusual part in the storyline, which isn't as the standard romantic counterpart. While the cast may be extreme and caricatured, the writing does a great job of making them human by building solid relationships, and the show, at least so far, hasn't been as predictable as most series. There are some great character moments, which really add depth.

Whether Super GALS! can keep it up through its 52 episodes or not remains to be seen, but from the first five included here, there is some decent potential for a really great series. At this point, there is really nothing about this series I don't like, from the addictive theme music to the quirky character design and the personalities portrayed. If gals gotta have heart, these gals deliver in spades.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image quality is pretty much flawless, with bright, vivid colors and solid blacks. There is some minor interlacing and color-banding in places, but shimmer or aliasing are pleasantly absent.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in both stereo Japanese and a 5.1 English dub. The Japanese track is excellent, with a strong soundstage and a decent use of directional cues. The English track is noticibly louder, with a more present quality. Dialogue on both tracks is clear and distinct.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in english with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sakura Wars TV, RahXephon, Steam Detectives, Noir, Excel Saga, Angelic Layer
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening and closing animation
  2. The Super GALS explain it all!
  3. Production art gallery
  4. Poster
  5. Cultural notes
Extras Review: This first volume comes either as a standalone package or in a series box that holds the first six discs. Our review copy is the former, so I can't comment on the quality of the box. The disc comes with a quad foldout insert with a nice poster of Ran on one side, with an introduction to her character and a collection of gal slang explanations and cultural notes on the other.

On disc extras are pretty standard fare, including clean opening and closing credits sequences, and a production gallery plays as a 2m:28s slideshow.

English voice actor, Luci Christian (Ran), hosts The Super GALS! Explain it All, a 5m:15s featurette which offers the first installment of the keys to GALism.

Trailers include Sakura Wars TV, RahXephon, Steam Detectives, Noir, Excel Saga, and Angelic Layer.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

The first installment of Super GALS! works on many levels. Its comedy is riotous and exaggerated, the look audacious, but at the same time, there is a warmth and depth to the characters which makes them extremely likeable. The story issues have a basis in modern reality and the choices a young girl has to make. This series has me hooked, and that's an ironclad rule for gals.

 


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