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It's a war drama, "Alien" like action film, and a war of the sexes all told in 86 minutes.
Review by Matthew Anderson
3 Episode OVA
Running Time: 86 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, nudity, language and adult situations)
A war between two galactic empires is being waged in deep space. Paranoids, bio-metallic creatures that can fuse with machinery, are becoming more and more aggressive. The Solnoids, a race of females bred only for combat, are finding themselves on the loosing side.
The crew of the Star Leaf is in a pretty tough predicament. Most of the crew have been killed, leaving only 7 humans and two robots to run the entire battleship. The Star Leaf isn't looking so hot either due to engine damage.
While they make repairs, a Paranoid scout team finds them. They unleash a mysterious creature called a "Contact Point" inside the damaged vessel.
Now the crew is being stalked by a creature that can mimic inorganic objects. It also seems that one of the crew knows more about the contact point than she lets on.
The truth behind the creature may mean the salvation of the Solnoid and Paranoid race, provided it does not kill the crew first.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: CPM has done a fine job of transferring this classic OVA to DVD. The colors are solid, with no color bleeding, wrinkles, or pixels to be seen. The image is sharp and the washed out look of the original video is gone.
AUDIO: The original Japanese 2.0 audio is the best of the three tracks. It's plenty loud, with decent directionality. The "Alternate" English audio track is about the same, but not as full bodied.
The main English 2.0 is the worst of the three. It's very subdued compared to the other two, with little directionality.
EDITS: The ending credits were replaced with a still frame image with English credits. No other changes were noted.
EXTRAS: The standard montage art gallery is the only real extra for stand alone DVD players. The DVD-ROM has the same gallery, only this time you can go through the pictures on your own.
STORY: Loosely based of the "Model Graphix" story by Hideki Kakinuma, Screenwriter Sukehiro Tomita has crammed three stories into one. It's a war drama, "Alien" like action film, and a war of the sexes all told in 86 minutes. Director Katsuhito Akiyama takes his multi layered script and really runs with it.
ACTING: Back in the 80's, Japanese voice acting really hit its stride. None more so than with "Gall Force". With so many different characters, a lesser group of actors would have woofed it. Not so with this cast. Naoko Matsui really carries most of this movie. Her sharp, commanding voice for Rabby is very sexy. It's also soft when it needs to be. Naturally Yuriko Yamamoto as the perky Rumy is down right annoying.
The English cast on the first English dub isn't so good. Their reading is pretty flat and emotionless all across the board. Even the usually awesome Lisa Ortiz is bland and uninteresting. I think the ADR director needs to let these ladies out of the box.
Still, nothing is worse than the "alternate" English dub. It is the most gawd-awful dub I have ever herd. When they are not blowing through their lines in 5 seconds, they sound like telephone operators from the 1950's. It hurts to even listen.
FAN SERVICE: There is a lot of nudity and panty shots in this one, so you fan boys will be happy. You also may recognize similar character designs that wind up in Kenichi Sonoda's "Gunsmith Cats" manga.
Back in the dawn of anime in the United States (circa 1991), I came across a copy of "Animag" magazine. My anime hungry mind snatched up this copy and read it cover to cover. The wonderful folks there had done a feature on a title that featured character designs from Kenichi Sonoda. The series was called Gall Force, and I knew that I had to see it.
Not too long after that, CPM released the first feature "Eternal Story" on VHS. Already a fan of Sonoda's work on "Bubblegum Crisis", I snatched up a copy and watched it that very night with some friends. For 86 minutes, I sat enraptured at the awesome story unfolding before me. The characters were interesting, the mecha was cool, and the action was non stop. To this day, I still have my VHS copy.
Part of what makes Gall Force so good is that there is so much going on. You have the war, which is pretty brutal. We see strong young women rise up to face any challenge they encounter. There is the whole conspiracy subplot that keeps you wondering who is really good or bad. There is also plentiful nudity that is fan service with out being gratuitous.
I give Sonoda credit for not going the typical "big boobs, skinny waist" look for the characters. Many of the women are built like, well "real" women. They have curves, some have no chest and none of them "bounce". Their outfits are not sexy, but functional. Even their underwear is utilitarian. Each of the characters are distinctive, adding to it's appeal. Well they were distinctive. Now, thanks to Sonoda's habit of recycling designs, every single character has appeared at least once in some Sonoda related manga.
I think I know why the Solnoids were loosing. Never have I seen space force with so many different types of ships. In just this OVA, we see four different types of fighters, three combat suits designs, and 6 different battle ships. Every single ship can separate into a smaller ship like Troika dolls. The Paranoids have only two battle ship designs, one "Dinoshat" design, and a whole army of Invid looking fighters with um...phallic looking weapons.
It's pretty obvious that the war between Solnoid and Paranoid is a "war of the sexes". The Solnoids are all women, with aesthetically pleasing ships and uniforms, all very clean. The Paranoids are very "masculine" with their hard looking leaders and male sounding voices. The "men" ships are these ugly looking "Zentradi" things that have no sense of style at all. Let's not forget about the aftermath of the "contact point" issue.
There are other "hints" as well. The biggest happens towards the end of the movie. A dispute between the Solnoid commanders and the "Paranoid" males comes off as an parental argument, only with atomic weapons. It's the age old question on "what is the best way to raise a child" disguised as a fight over a military objective.
I think "Eternal Story" is saying that while the men may have superior numbers, the women think faster on their feat, and are willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing. This is no more apparent than the character of Rabby. She isn't your typical "blonde". She is not only a woman, but a leader, not afraid to make the tough choices. I think that even with the fan service, women will enjoy Gall Force just as much as the men.
I am really surprised that CPM did such a poor job with such an important title in their catalogue. The extras are down right disappointing. How come in my own collection I have a "Gall Force" model book and the original Japanese trailer while all they have is some box art? The DVD ROM feature was down right pitiful, with nothing new or interesting. The inclusion of the alternate English track was perhaps not the wisest move. That dub flat out stinks. While the new dub isn't bad, it's doesn't compare to the outstanding Japanese cast.
"Gall Force: Eternal Story" is one of the best OVA's ever made. It's fast pace, interesting designs, and clever writing make this a must have on your shelf, no matter if your Paranoid or Solnoid.
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