ADV Films // 2001 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // July 22nd, 2004
Want it? Go get it! That's an ironclad rule for GALs!
The fun part of Super GALs, as with all escapist entertainment, is watching main GAL Ran Kotobuki get away with everything short of murder. She gets to slack off on schoolwork and responsibility, mooch off friends, and wear cute clothes. Ah, teenagehood.
Ran is Shibuya's #1 GAL, a lifestyle for girls of a punk flavor who like to dress up, wear tons of accessories, and mix it up. You'll recognize a GAL by one or more of these trademarks: dyed hair, fake nails, short skirts, loose socks, platform shoes, and bright clothing. She'll also be feisty, loud, and confrontational -- cross her, and you'd better be ready for trouble. Shibuya, famous for the shopping opportunities, is Ran's turf. She and her friends (and sometimes her little sis Sayo) keep the peace along with her policeman brother Yamato.
Like any good GAL, Ran has a posse of friends to back her up and help her have fun. Best friend Miyo used to be a gang leader but has reformed her ways since meeting Ran and (more important) Ran's older brother, who has stolen Miyu's heart. Aya completes the trio, and her somewhat shy and bookish nature is a counterpoint to the more rowdy girls. Teen idols Rei and Yuya are also part of the gang, and poor Yuya (with his unfortunate nickname "Second Place" for placing #2 to Rei's #1 in a school poll) adores Ran. I say "poor Yuya" because Ran couldn't be more clueless about his affection. Instead, Ran digs Tatsukichi, a spazzy, bold dancer from Michida who swept into town and swept Ran off her feet. Of course, since all he can do is convince Ran to hold his hand, Yuya still fights the good fight.
Despite the slacker ethic of this series, Ran's sense of justice and morality is top-notch. She has several "iron-clad rules for GALs" that she does not break, no matter how tired or hungry she is (and that is fairly often). If she isn't on the go for her own interests, she's going full-tilt on behalf of a friend. It's kind of exhausting, really. Her full-time job defending her turf in Shibuya makes for tons of loony hijinks. If she isn't beating off invading skanks or hurling insults at transgressors, she's checking out the shops and local entertainment.
In the four episodes in volume six, Ran meets up with the team captain from the sports fest. It seems that after her defeat, the entire Class 4 student body has started giving her the silent treatment, and Ran goes head to head with a teacher to correct this injustice. Then, when a chillingly accurate fortunetelling game tells Ran that she has to avoid Tatsukichi, she does everything in her power to ditch him, and he gets the wrong idea. The last two episodes finish up with a surprising development between Miyu and Yamato, and there's another fun "Ran switcheroo" where Ran's personality is transformed into über-cop mode. Her friends have to scramble to restore the old, slacker Ran before it's too late!
As usual, the ADV translation kicks ass, and the English dub rocks. This is an extremely difficult series to translate, with all of its local slang, mixed-up words, and liberal doses of English. ADV provides a subtitle that catches 90% or more of the meaning and literal translation, and a dub that changes some of the fast talk into something a Western audience might relate to better. It's a good compromise, and since it's backed up by the printed insert with translation notes and the key extra "Super GALs explain it all!" -- which gives a visual tour of the Super GALs' world and explanations for some of the happenings -- the clueless and the curious will be well informed and well entertained.
The visual transfer for Super GALs is excellent, with a clear, vibrant picture that is bursting with bright, bold colors. The glossy animation shows a lot of detail even in faraway shots. Sound quality is also excellent, with a 2.0 Japanese track and a 5.1 English track -- both make good use of stereo surround for ambient noise, and the 5.1 track makes good use of offscreen voice moving from speaker to speaker as the character comes into frame. The English dub is high-energy and well done, but even dub fans should give the original soundtrack a listen, as well, to catch the unique flavor of the slang used by the kids.
Super GALs is not a lazy series -- no gratuitous fan service, no overuse of familiar tricks, just good, solid entertainment that is well grounded and fun to watch. It's better for your mood than NoDoze with a Jolt cola chaser, and just about as addictive.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (signs only)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Super GALs Explain It All!
* Mini-Poster Insert
* Cultural/Translation Notes
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* Japanese Site