Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Jan 31st 2008
Galaxy Angel Rune
Rico and her Rune Angel comrades are back for one last bout of cliché skewering. First, sports clichés: When they destroy yet another solar system, the brass decides it's time to retrain the Rune Angel Troupe. Their new training regimen essentially consists of trying to best their instructor at various activities. Unfortunately for them, Instructor Sakae is an indestructible freak of nature. Then mystery clichés get their turn when one of Princess Natsume's servants ends up dead and everyone—including the Rune Angels—ends up suspects. And then it's off to a hot-springs comet and from thence to a bout with Angel Troupe in-fighting when everyone but Rico gets turned evil by a giant peach. Luckily (or not?) Rico's big sis Milfeulle is on hand to help her straighten her former comrades out and naturally wreak Sakuraba-sized havoc in the process.
Think of Rune as the original Galaxy Angel's annoying, hyperactive little sister; definitely spawned from the same cash-cow gene pool, but lacking all the charm and humor of its elder sibling. Considering that Galaxy Angel itself was an empty-headed hit-and-miss comedy, that's a damning criticism indeed. Rune raises the energy up a few notches, lowers the character development more than a few, and even manages to shortchange its animation budget more. If it weren't so disappointing, it would almost be impressive. But, that its characters are Tickle-Me-Elmo automatons that spout the same handful of lines at every stimulus ("What?!" "That's against the way of the sword!" “Nano da!") or that it's a visual bore that can't be bothered to animate more than rudimentary movements or keep its characters' features and proportions consistent from scene to scene, are minor shortcomings when arrayed alongside the series' one overwhelming drawback: it just isn't funny.
Nothing is more painful than watching an unfunny comedy. Watching repetitive behavior and sheer abrasive energy try to pass themselves off as humor, watching slight comedic premises diluted to impotency by full-length episodes, watching parodies played so straight that they become exactly what is being parodied (a hint: simply showing that you're aware of the bad cliches you use doesn't make them amusing). Those jokes that do survive are so declawed that they barely even scratch the surface of funny. The franchise has always run on silly Lost Technology mayhem, pointless quests (for hot springs!), and serious situations (like murder) that end up having no repercussions. But even as chronically upbeat as Galaxy Angel was, its humor had a becoming mean-spirited edge. Rune is too busy trying to build camaraderie and end each episode on an uplifting note to give its humor teeth. No one who ever succeeded on humor alone (which really is Rune's only choice, given its lack of other merits) ever did so by being nice. It's no coincidence that this volume's few genuinely funny sequences are all in the final "Evil Rune Angel" episode where an outside force frees up the cast to be hilariously, pettily mean.
It's also the only episode where the cast seems to be honestly enjoying themselves. The rest of the volume is acted without conviction, the performances as frenetically soulless as the rest of the production. For all of the rioting colors and busy artwork, there's little of interest in the art, and all of the action and dashing about (with the exception of the incongruously high-quality space battling) is fatally undermined by a fundamental lack of animation. Even the soundtrack sounds like some high-school student's idea of funny music, and the opening and closing numbers aren't nearly as amusing or as catchy as their Galaxy Angel predecessors.
Whatever else can be said about Bandai Visual's pricing, dub-aversion, and weird 1-4-4-4 episode breakdown, they produce a fine product. Nice pink packaging with a nice pink reversible cover and a nice pink (if uninformative) insert booklet and plentiful extras. Which this time include clean versions of all four ending sequences, a short video starring Lily's seiyuu Erina Nakayama (and Whisper of the Heart's plot), and a 15-minute concert video featuring the entire main cast. Good stuff, so long as you're flush with cash and can actually stand the show.
Which limits the series' audience to die-hard Galaxy Angel fans with steady jobs. And among them there are bound to be those who will recognize this series for what it is—a tired attempt to wring money from a worn franchise without bothering to study up on what made it successful—and act accordingly. Hopefully their toilets can handle it.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D+
Animation : D+
Art : C
Music : C-
+ The last episode is pretty funny.
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