ANIME MINOR JEWELS SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Gall Force is a much-neglected series. It hardly got the attention it deserved and is forgotten by most. Pity, since it does have an air of uniqueness and sexual weirdness that made the anime industry famous in the 80’s. It is also one of the longest movie series I know of and packs a quite good story.
Just to save time and space I will review the entire series in just this text here, since it is rather wrong to see them separately when they all have a sort of continuity. It can roughly be separated into 4 parts and each part is in turn divided into the following:
- The Original Gall Force, which is a movie trilogy (Eternal Story, Destruction, Stardust War)
- The Earth arc, which is a movie (Rhea) followed by an OVA trilogy (Earth Chapter)
- The New Era arc, which are two OVAs
- The Revolution arc, which are 4 episodes
ART & SOUND SECTION
Definitely outdated today but very good for an 80’s production. It doesn’t stand a chance next to the famous Macross or Gundam series in the mecha department. Even the characters are drawn in a very mediocre way. If some scenes and music themes deserve attention, those would be the enemy aliens or robots and the human military leaders, who are essentially the villains in the story. All the focus was given to make the bad guys look scary and imposing and very little to the good guys, so you simply wait for some action to happen and find most peaceful time and interaction between the protagonists to be boring. Not the best thing to do if you want the audience to bind with the cast.
A major change can only be found in the latest installment, where they shift from 80’s OVA retro looks to a 90’s more mainstream one. The character figures hardly remind you of the ones in previous arcs and sadly, the animators aimed for more fan service and less drama, so the whole series hardly feels like a war drama anymore. There is so much nude that I hardly cared looking at the battles or the music themes. Not that it was that great; although there are only women present, there is hardly any yuri involved. Generally, the animation was mediocre, with lots of childishly drawn explosions, low-frame movements and pseudo-serious cinematics that hardly make you feel worried if the half-naked chicks will be killed in the dark. Man, I was really disappointed by the way the series lost all the spark of its former glory. It was cheap, with some nicely drawn scenes of green pastures and semi-serious dialogues to give the impression that the presentation opts for depth.
New Era: 4/10
Typical story, but with a very good twist. The series consists of space opera with a lot of drama and death going around. (spoiler alert!)
The setting takes place millions of years in the past, in a far away galaxy. There is a terrible war waging between two powerful interstellar empires. One is a human-like race, which consists only of females (breeding occurs only through cloning). The other is a bizarre alien race, with bioorganic technology, reminiscent of Ridley Scotts’ Alien movies.
The protagonists are seven women, who are separated from the main fleet during a battle and unknown to them, they are part of a secret project for the creation of a human-alien hybrid, in order for a coexistence between the two races may exist. The plot is all about how the women try to survive and find about how they are used. Also, it is about the leaders of the races having mixed opinions about peace and co-breeding and fight even amongst their own kind. The battles are very grand-scaled and total extinction for both races is eminent after the creation of solar-system destroyers.
Although it doesn’t sound that original today, the story is interesting by mixing locations of real planets and adding several ancient astronaut theories about the origin of mankind on Earth. Even after the first season of the episodes/movies ends, the story continues in its sequels, where previous events are forgotten and the characters are reincarnations with no knowledge of what they did in their previous lives. The story changes from a space opera in the past to a science fiction war drama in the future.
So, you cannot really judge the story if you don’t first see all the movies. The story is epic in proportions, as it expands for millions of years, several different time periods and settings. It is about how mistakes are repeated over and over throughout history and how this leads to almost complete destruction for all sides. The message the series tries to promote is to learn from our past mistakes and find a way to coexist or the tragedies of history will repeat indefinitely, over and over, like the endless circle of pain and reincarnation in Buddhist teachings. How many science fiction stories do you know that are so grand-scaled? The story deserves a good mark but loses a few points for a rather stale repetitive motif.
The setting takes place in the near future, where humans discover alien technology on the moon (descended from the civilizations of the previous story ark). The cold war (USSR still existed when the movies were made!) drove the two sides to typically use this alien technology for the creation of superior weaponry, when in fact, it was supposed to teach people how to live in peace. When artificial technology came to be, the machines, typically, rebel against their creators and a terrible war between West and East escalates to almost total extinction of life on the planet. The survivors make truce and try to organize themselves in order to deal with the problem. Half of them plan to destroy the machines and rebuild the planet, while the other half plan to leave the doomed Earth for another planet and nuke everything on it while leaving. The protagonists are teams of now befriended warriors and scientists, who fight to protect the civilian population until the final solution is made.
The story has a few twists but it is generally predictable and straightforward. It is reminiscent of several robots-versus-humans scenarios and is very typical as a whole.
New Era arc:
The setting takes place in the far future, where humans live in prosperity thanks to the machines doing all the hard work. Some get fed up of all this automatism and rebel. They throw a virus and without realizing, they reawaken an artificial intelligence that almost destroyed the world in the past (that would be the previous story ark). Humanity is once again almost wiped out but seven women manage to escape to a safe portion of space in order to rebuild humanity. (How? They were only women!).
Um… Isn’t this way too short and unfinished?
It took me 3 years to get just a raw of the last Gall Force, wondering why nobody subbed it. Turns out, it was too lame for somebody to care. The story is practically a retell of the first story ark; only far more childish and shallow. So, once more, Solinoid women fight each other, possess apocalyptic weaponry and seven women team up in order to prevent the annihilation. Unlike previous arcs that ended in a dramatic way, this one ended with a happy end, just to give the impression the story finally ended and all wars are over. Yet, it was so pathetically presented that I didn’t care anymore. Fan service seemed more important than the salvation of mankind and the way everything were resolved were as fake as those lame endings in fairy tales. Terrible at its plot elements, the scenario is nothing more that cat-fights, pseudo-serious background and an out-of-nowhere solution in the end. Not to mention the errors in story continuity. Where are the crazed robots that conquered Earth and annihilated humanity in the previous arc?
Man, this was dreadful…
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
The series focuses mostly on the story and not the characters. There are seven women who are present in all the different time periods of the story. From them, only three stand out. There is a kind-hearted leader type (kind-hearted people are always the leaders in anime!), a military butcy type, and a crybaby little girl. All the rest of the men/women/aliens/robots are supporting cast that don’t truly have a personality or mature. But even the three women have little presence over the story. They are passive most of the time and react rather than take action on the events of the story. They seem helpless to change the tragedies from repeating and that gives of the feeling that the characters are unable to change their destiny of being destroyed and reincarnated, over and over. This is a major contrast with almost all anime where the protagonists have total control over their lives and form their own destinies. Perhaps this contrast is their appeal. But generally speaking, there are no memorable characters. Too bad the final arc finds the characters to be no more than naked caricatures of their previous (and already shallow) selves and the story is essentially a fairy-tale with a lot of nude. The producers made this just for the quick bucks and nothing more.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS
New Era: 4/10
Very enjoyable in the beginning. What I didn’t like was the non-action parts. The lack of focus on the main characters made the bad guys and the scenes of death and destruction to be a lot more interesting (which, morally speaking, shouldn’t). Well, to be honest your interest and excitement definitely drop with each new installment, not only because the theme starts to become tiresome but also because the quality in storytelling drops significantly as well. The biggest problem with this franchise ended up being its attempt to keep milking a good idea by gradually stretching it when it was fine as a singe movie and even having the nerve to care less as time went by. Which is sad. Probably its passive characters ruin some of its appeal early on too but surely each new arc feels more and more typical and predictable, less exiting or interesting and even ends up being complete crap in the last part. But it is also a fine example of how the same story can be shown great or terrible. Good food for the mind for any wannabe scriptwriter out there.
New Era: 4/10
Birth. Same premise, weirder story.
Windaria. Also big death toll and sad atmosphere.
Andromeda Stories. Same premise, simpler story.
Cassern. It’s a Japanese live action movie. Same premise, better graphics, atmosphere and story.
The Terminator movies. Same story, cooler action.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes Best space opera ever.
Vandread. When women can reproduce without men…