Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Ken Hargon, Mar 31st 2004
DVD 4: Look Out! Love is Dangerous!
The latest trials form Ran and her gang of fashion-conscious teenage girls come fast and furious in the fourth volume of Super GALS! Ran's arch enemy and rival Mami Honda challenges her to a duel down an indoor ski slope, and a giant snowman stands between Ran and her title of reigning Shibuya queen! Then, Miyu's dark past rears its ugly head, and Ayai's relationship with the detached Rei continues to develop.
Super GALS, the show everyone loves to love, rolls right along with volume four. The series has become a little more romance-minded; the girls were boy crazy before, but now that they've been paired off with solid male leads, we spend a lot more time watching these relationships blossom. There doesn't seem to be as much time for Ran's wacky antics, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had. Thankfully, the series' quality has remained consistently high, at least in terms of storytelling.
The stories included on this disc are light as a feather but engrossing nonetheless. While the series was undoubtedly designed with Japanese teenage girls in mind, the themes and infectiously fun drama cross all age and gender boundaries. Like HBO's wildly popular comedy series Sex and the City, Super GALS transcends demographic appeal and captivates audiences of every type. Unless you're a hardcore action fan (Super GALS even has a little action in every episode) or completely opposed to watching a show that primarily deals with women who don't have gigantic breasts and flash their panties every ten seconds or so, you'll find something to like about this series.
Since the show is still a mostly episodic affair, the characters don't really develop as much as you might hope. We see flashes of change, brief moments of clarity as the girls realize something, and usually this alters something in their relationships, but there isn't any wide-scale change yet on behalf of the characters. Don't expect any amazing revelations or great upheavals in this volume; this show is comfortable being where it is, and it'll probably stay there for a while longer. That isn't a bad thing, really, but the potential is there for a longer storyline, and it's a bit of a shame that they aren't going down that road.
The animation is, by and large, done on the cheap. It's not like the basic premise of Super GALS requires 30 frames per second, but every moment of introspection on the part of any one of the characters (something that happens with surprising frequency) results in a series of still frames while the character goes on about something. What little action there is in the series is well-animated and the characters are always on-model, so there isn't much to complain about. Visually, the show gets the job done.
The dub is suitable and surprisingly decent, considering what a train wreck it could have been. ADV has cast the girls in the series with obviously talented and seasoned actresses capable of pulling off believable teenage girls. They're a little over-the-top sometimes and occasionally dip into overacting, but given the hyperactive nature of this series, that's to be expected. The males tend to overact a little more than the women do, and considering the roles they're given, it's a little excessive at times; still, the dub does its job reasonably well without ruining the feel or intent of the series. You might prefer the Japanese dialogue; considering how intensely Japanese the show is, that might be a better option.
Basically, if you're a shoujo fan at all, you're going to find something to love about this show. It's light, fun, entertaining, and well-written. Occasionally the show slips into didactic moralizing at the end of the episode, but given the audience is impressionable teenage girls, that's to be expected and rightfully excused. Anime fans owe it to themselves to check this show out. It'll keep us all entertained until Kodomo no Omocha finally hits our shores.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : C
Art : A
Music : A
+ Fun, entertaining, etc etc etc.
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