Reviewby Theron Martin, Oct 4th 2008
Galaxy Angel AA
DVD 1-4 - Anime Legends Complete Collection
The Angel Brigade is a special branch of the Transvaal military dedicated to the recovery and securing of Lost Technology in the far-flung future. In practice, though, the five young women who compose its membership – the cooking-obsessed airhead Milfuelle, busty gun nut Forte, costume fetishist Mint, man-hungry Ranpha, and the philosophical, stone-faced Vanilla – much more often find themselves caught in bizarre and stupid situations, such as turning into a tree or ice cream, walking the desert in a pig-shaped sauna suit, kowtowing to a god of kelp for past wrongs, or dealing with the dreaded space-a-cudda. Regularly drawn into their antics are their commanding officer Lt. Colonel Volcott, the twins Malibu and Kokomo, and the long-suffering, Vanilla-obsessed punching bag (and former weapon AI) Normad.
Galaxy Angel AA, as it is most commonly known, is actually just the second half of the Galaxy Angel A series, which constitutes the franchise's third season. That daunting pedigree should not prevent any newcomer from trying this one out, however, as not a lick of background knowledge about the setting, premise, or characters is required to make full sense of what transpires here. Total newbies should need no more than one of the half-episode stories to pin down all of the basic characterizations and the general situation, and the utter lack of an ongoing plot means a viewer can jump in at almost any point without feeling like anything has been missed. As anime series go, it is one of the more accessible ones out there, so there is little excuse for not at least giving it a try.
And it is certainly worth checking out. Although often abysmally stupid, it has so much fun being stupid that almost anyone will find something to laugh at in most episodes. Without the constraints of any kind of ongoing story, the creators were free to stick their characters into all sorts of quirky and bizarre situations without concern about consequences, because every half-episode the story resets. (Thus watching these bits is much like watching the old American Tom and Jerry or Road Runner shorts.) The 10-11 minute duration of each half-episode is a perfect fit, allowing enough time for the development of good jokes without having to worry about the schemes overstaying their welcome. As a result, the series rarely stumbles in its efforts to delight and entertain with all manner of goofiness, whether it be genre parodies, word games, or poking fun at its own cast.
The entertaining mix of characters also plays a key role in both the fun factor and the continuing popularity of the franchise. None of the characters ever get developed beyond their basic personality traits, but that isn't necessary for this kind of show and prevents the series from being taken seriously – which, with rare exceptions, is exactly the way the series wants it. Each represents a common archetype: Milfuelle is the ditzy, “brainless in a cute way” one; Mint is the smart one; Ranpha is the dating fanatic; Vinalla is the silent Rei Ayanami rip-off; and Forte is the gun nut. Make them all cute and/or pretty, throw in common obsessions like cooking, religion, fortune-telling, and wearing costumes, and you have a perfect recipe for fun. That each of the main characters has a name modeled after a type of dessert, the twins are named after well-known beach-related destinations, and the stuffed critter that Vanilla carries around is probably named after NORAD (it has a missile's AI in it, you see), provides additional in-jokes, especially given that all of the episode names have something to do with food.
Artistically, the series tries nothing complicated, but it hardly needs to impress with its visuals, which are only there to support its jokes. Its main cast forms a highly visually appealing lot of character designs, especially Milfuelle, but never falters on secondary characters or guest appearances, either. Its animation impresses less, as does CG ship artistry that looks a little clunky by current standards, but this is not a show trying to win viewers with its action and visual effects, either. Fan service value is virtually non-existent; this is good, clean fun.
An innocuous musical score adequately plays up whatever mood the individual episode promotes, relying on a spunky opener to get the audience in the mood and a hip closer to round things out. (Two half-episodes play in between each opener and closer, with an interlude between them.) The original opener and closer for Galaxy Angel A continue through episode 27/28, after which point they are replaced by the equally peppy new opener and funky new closer, both by Angel-tai. Those continue until the end of the series with the exception of episodes 51/52, which have a quality alternate closer.
The Ocean Group team who did the English dub clearly had a lot of fun with it, as evidenced by a playful enthusiasm which arguably exceeds (for better or worse) that of the original Japanese dub and all of the odd accents it tosses in for side characters. The relative balance of the casting at least generally resembles the original, with Forte having the deepest and most-masculine-sounding voice while Milfuelle inherently sounds high-pitched and ditzy, and watch for some interesting casting choices. (Richard “Inuyasha” Ian Cox is unrecognizable as Normad, for instance.) The faithfulness of the English script varies widely from episode to episode depending on the content, with biggest differences being present in the interludes and bits which involve Japanese-specific wordplay and food references.
The version reviewed here is the Anime Legends Complete Collection rerelease of the original 2007 individual DVDs, which contains all four disks in a case only slightly thicker than a normal DVD case. The last disk does include the bonus half-episode “An Oyster Fried Very Shameful” but not, apparently, the special unaired episode “Fried Chicken.” Extras scattered about the four disks include clean openers and closers and various installments of footage from a concert featuring the main seiyuu performing major series songs live.
For inexplicable reasons the series occasionally tosses in a mostly serious episode, which in all three cases are among the better episodes but certainly break the continuity of the series' normal boisterous spirit. That does not, however, prevent the series from maintaining itself as a delightfully and consistently funny piece of fluff.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B
+ Strong English dub, consistently funny.
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