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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Super Gals: The Iron-Clad Collection
Super Gals: The Iron-Clad Collection
ADV Films // Unrated // December 13, 2005
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted January 12, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Show:

Originally a shōjo manga written by Mihona Fujii, Super Gals! was soon turned into a teen girl anime and ran in Japan for a total of 52 episodes between 2001 and 2003. The first season of 26 episodes had been given to ADV for licensing a release here in the States. While this portion of the show has already been released in individual volumes, you should know by now that the thinpak collection wouldn't have been far behind.

In the world of anime today, shows like this are something of a minority because they mostly hold appeal to young girls. That's not to say that guys won't enjoy it (I mean, I did) but the brand of humor follows the adoration of boys, shopping at the mall and searching for the ultimate handbag. It's within this particular atmosphere that Super Gals! finds a certain charm and gains a voice of its own. This probably has a lot to do with the production by Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Fushigi Yugi and Saiyuki) since they are veterans among the world of anime.

The series follows a group of friends (gals, if you will) as they go to school, go to the shopping arcade, chase boys and live by the ironclad rules that all girls must live by. Yes, this basically is a teen drama in many regards but the execution of it is hilarious with a wild sense of style and humor. The show also carries a frantic sense of energy to it and constantly keeps the viewers on their toes from start to finish. There are several real life issues that get address and while most of them may have more to do with Japanese culture than our own, the messages translate into English well.

All 26 episodes here are highly entertaining with no real bad one among the bunch. From start to finish the anime feels fresh and hip and it never really seems to hit the halfway hump that most long running series do. I found myself still laughing at the end of the series just as much as I did at the beginning and that really says something about the show's quality. It may be mostly designed for teenage girls but there is enough lighthearted humor here to appeal to everyone, even if it is more of a guilty pleasure.

The main character of the series is Ran Kotobuki who is the main instigator of every action and the constant center of attention. She's the daughter of two police officers and her brother is a cop as well, but she has no desire to go into law enforcement. Instead she'd rather remain a gal the rest of her life and not have to worry about growing up. Even so she has a set of strong convictions and stands up to anyone that she deems as a threat. Perverted men, rival gals and innocent bystanders have to watch out when she's around because you never really know what she's going to do.

Joining Ran in her many misadventures is her best friend Miyu, who shares much of her penchant for galhood. Miyu is a little more straight laced than Ran is but that is mostly because she has the hots for her friend's older brother. Because Yamato Kotobuki happens to be a cop Miyu is always on her best behavior and tries to be the voice of reason in many situations.

Another of the lead girls is Aya Hoshino. Aya not only is the quietest of the group but also happens to be the smartest cookie in class. When we first meet her she's broke and the only way that she can make money is by basically being an escort or subsi-date. The three friends have personalities that work greatly together and even the supporting cast of characters like the boys that they fall for and rival gals flesh out the show and add a certain charm.

The episodes in this collection really run the gamut in terms of content but the show remains very consistent from start to finish. Many of the stories told here are fairly stand-alone but there was a decent amount of continuity splashed in when need be and some of the material referenced events in a previous episode. There are many in-jokes and the addition of "girl lingo" does a lot to put a unique spin on the series.

If you're trying to figure out whether or not you'll like this show, it really depends on what your favorite flavor of anime is. If you like more serious-natured shows with real plots and lifelike characters then chances are good that you won't enjoy Super Gals!. However if comedy series and teen dramas are your thing, you'll be in Gal heaven with this box set.

I found myself being somewhere in between and while I really liked the show, I didn't "love" it. I thought that it was charming with many well developed characters and a great sense of humor and style, but the subject matter just didn't hold enough interest with me to push it over the top. I'm still going to recommend picking up the thinpak collection, but I didn't dig it enough to go for a high recommendation. This is the perfect example of a show that would be most enjoyed watching in short spurts instead of all at once, so if you do pick it up just do yourself a favor and pace yourself. I think you'll enjoy it more in that case.

The DVD:

Video:

Super Gals! makes its way to DVD with the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. This has to easily be on of the brightest and most colorful shows that I have ever sat down to watch. Everything is vibrant, sharp and the overall transfer is virtually flawless. The character designs are unique, the animation is fluid and the overall charm from the look of the show makes an immediate impression. My only very minor complaints about the video quality stem from the lack of a widescreen presentation and some slight aliasing at a couple of points.

Audio:

The audio department fairs nearly as well as the video in terms of quality, but it didn't "wow" the pants off of me. The available selections on the package come in the form of a 2.0 Japanese track and a 5.1 English track so depending what you're looking for you'll get some varying quality. I liked the Japanese dubbing better but the limitations of directionality made it feel like less of a track than the English option. The material is great and there isn't anything technically wrong with the presentation; it's just not enough technically to standout when compared to other series. There are also some English subtitles available for the picking as well.

Extras:

As with just about every other thinpak release, this set features nothing in the bonus content department apart from a few ADV previews. I was rather disappointed about this because the individual releases of the show featured many fun sounding extras.

Final Thoughts:

Super Gals! is definitely a series that will be either hit or miss with you depending on what you like for anime. As it stands though, the show has a lot of personality and a certain energy about it that it may be outgoing enough to draw you in. Be warned though that there is a lot of cute girl content and day dreaming about boys, so if you hate that type of stuff then you probably want to steer clear. I'm going to pass along my recommendation though because the show got me to laugh more times than I'd care to admit and the characters grew on me after a while. I am actually hoping that ADV secures the rights to the second batch of 26 episodes after seeing this group, but we'll see what happens.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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