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Super Gals - Gals Gotta Have Heart (Vol. 1)

ADV Films // Unrated // September 16, 2003
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted October 5, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Movie: Anime is full of a variety of sub-genres, no matter what those who don't like to watch "cartoons" would have you believe. If you look a bit deeper at many of the various releases on the market, you'll often notice that the themes are multi-layered, allowing both kids and adults to enjoy various aspects of the shows (which probably helps provide something families can watch together). In one show that I found completely shallow, with absolutely no redeeming values at all, Super Gals! 1: Gals Gotta Have Heart, I discovered that an occasional guilty pleasure was okay.

The show is a tribute to the wacky adventures and mini-dramas that young females go through. Ran Kotobuki is a 16-year old gal who has tons of attitude about everything modern day life has to offer in Japan. She sees herself as ruler of a shopping district/mall and does whatever she thinks fits her image. Fiercely loyal to her way of life and friends in a contemporary setting, she provides a perfect example of what young females should not strive for in a society that imposes it's will on youngsters. The show is full of cultural references and translations that pop up on screen to keep the viewer informed as to what's happening. The limited anime style was actually appropriate for the show here and the messages were loud and clear in terms of what everyone thought. In a sense, it was a show about the coming of age of young women that have led sheltered lives, which "should" be lame, but works to entertain.

Episode 1: The World's Greatest Gal, Go! Go! Ran Kotobuki:
Ran (Luci Christian/Megumi Toyoguchi), is established as a hip, street smart "gal" who rules her turf with an iron fist by means of her intelligence, her cunning, and her strong martial art skills. She provides moral and ethical guidance to her friends and others in terms of doing what's right from her unique perspective, rather than what has been deemed socially acceptable. Oh, and she was a major pain in the butt to just about everyone.

Episode 2:Phone Tag Get Chilling!, Shibuya Is Thrilling!: The Great Dragnet: :
Ran, facing spring with the prospect of no funds for designer accessories, fights with her parents (both are cops) about her future. She doesn't want to become a cop and they see otherwise. They offer her a deal, become a cop and they'll increase her allowance. She takes it to heart and starts righting wrongs, only to become involved in a scheme known as phone hunting. To clear her name, she hunts down the real culprits with the help of her friends.

Episode 3:A Girl's Feelings, Hearts Reeling: Red Streak Or Not, Miyu's Taken!:
Miyu, one of Ran's best friends, has relationship problems and Ran feels the need to help. Aya also goes through some rights of passage. Ran continues to establish that the Shibuya district is hers to rule.

Episode 4: Have Got?, Have Not?: Luck With Guys?:
Ran falls for a guy and Michi is the target of her affections. She's not used to feeling emotions so she goes overboard, as always, and finds that true love is fleeting. She also needs to defend her turf against a plot by female rivals.

Episode 5:Fresh Start?, Broken Heart?: Is It Over With Aya?!:
Aya, seeing her grades drop due to her spending too much time with Ran, decides to stay away from her friend in order to insure her future prospects. Ran doesn't take this too well and the crew finds out that balance in all things is important.

The show was certainly a guilty pleasure for me but worth a rating of Recommended to those of us willing to suspend disbelief while sitting back and enjoying what took place. There were no mech-robots or space adventures, no sword & sorcery action, and I think a lot of females will like the show a lot.

Picture: The show was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color and was bright and clear. I saw no problems with the picture and its colorful nature. The transfer was nearly flawless as well.

Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of either 5.1 Dolby Digital English or the original 2.0 Japanese with English subtitles. Both were crisp and clear with no problems and a solid mix between the vocals and music.

Extras: Aside from the usual clean opening and closing, there were the usual trailers. There was a short feature "The Super Gals Explain It All where the English dub cast provides some background as to the attitude of the females portrayed here (in character no less). There were some production sketches and a paper insert with a variety of cultural notes and definitions to the slang used too.

Final Thoughts: Most anime fans will either love this one or hate it with little middle ground. Those who like strong female characters and romantic comedies will likely enjoy it a lot while the rest of anime fandom will find the scripts and voices (on both language tracks) to annoy the heck out of them. I liked it but then I tend to enjoy some pretty weird stuff.

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