Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Aug 28th 2007
Galaxy Angel AA
Mint gets turned into a tree and everyone tries to turn into magical girls; Milfeulle loses her spaceship license and has to retrain under the tutelage of grizzled armed forces veteran "Rattlesnake," and everyone tries to lose enough weight to please the picky AI on their escape pod. A visit by Ranpha's nieces turns into a play-acting farce, a game of volleyball is transformed into a literal battle to the death, and a hot-springs vacation ends up pandering to everyone's wildest fantasies. And as long as personal gain is involved, the Angel Brigade is, as always, willing to do anything, no matter how embarrassing—be it learning to do a proper magical-girl transformation sequence or skydiving in pig-suits (don't ask). Welcome back to Galaxy Angel, check your brain at the door.
Galaxy Angel is one of those rare shows that succeeds on humor alone. Which means, quite naturally, that there is absolutely nothing left if you take the humor away. And that's a problem. There's no characterization outside of gag-convenient quirks and obsessions, no genuine emotions, no drama, no suspense, very little action, no romance, and absolutely no new ideas. It's an issue that is aggravated by the fact that each half-episode of GA is generally based around a single joke. If that joke fails, then so does the majority of the episode. Which happens often enough in this volume to seriously impact the overall experience. As long as you're laughing your rear off everything is fine, but as soon as it stops (of all the horrors!) boredom sets in. There are enough episodes where your rear is disattached—the magical girl episode, the weight loss episode—to offset those where the joke fizzles like a birthday candle in the toilet bowl (e.g. Ranpha's nieces and Milfeulle's license), but the desire to see the show move on and leave a joke to die is still quite strong at times. The humor tends towards parody and outright wackiness, and completely ignores such impediments to humor as logic, reality, and narrative continuity. In this volume alone, each of the girls dies at least twice (Milfeulle dies three times), and the number of logic-defying last-minute twists is positively obscene. And there are plenty of moments where the series would be a lot funnier (and make more sense) if only you could only figure out what that hell is being parodied. Still, no matter how uneven or bad an episode is, it's bound to have a couple of chuckles in it, such as Milfeulle's flower-print chainsaw or Kokomo discovering (falsely) that he's actually a girl, even if they can't quite compare to the oinking pig costumes or the Colonel in magical-girl drag.
Whether a creative decision supporting the lightning delivery of sight gags and pratfalls, or the simple result of acquiring the animation budget by mugging panhandlers, the simplicity of the series' animation is undeniable. Movement is fast and jerky, often without a single intermediary frame between one position of the body and the next. The effect is comic, but also incredibly cheap. This strategy allows the creators to cram incredible amounts of hectic action into each episode, which helps to distract from some of the more directly quality-related issues (e.g. the "paper cutouts sliding across backgrounds" look of some scenes). The characters are a broad array of glossy pretty-girl stereotypes with extremely distinctive coloring and accessories (ah, Broccoli). The backgrounds are often considerably more realistic than the characters. Their exact look though—from gaudy and simplistic to dank and detailed—depends on exactly what the show is spoofing at the time.
Other than the main theme, broken out whenever the girls are up to their usual tricks, the music for the show is unmemorable. With good reason. The score is used largely in support of various parodies. Sports? Then it's faux tension-establishing rhythms. World-weary veterans? Dreary downbeatness with bursts of action music. Magical girls? Okay, so that one's an exception. The transformation sequence and its theme song are hard to shake, and gut-busting funny in the bargain. But the rest of the time the music is so busy parodying and providing counterpoint to the extremely silly goings-on that it has no time to establish its own identity.
While not as sorry a piece of work as the titles that Bandai shopped out to Odex, this could hardly be called a stellar dub. The voice actresses are serviceable-to-good matches for their roles—though Ranpha can reach ear-shredding pitches—and their comic timing is often pretty good, but there's an awkwardness to the acting that recalls a (quite good) high-school play in ways that aren't entirely flattering. To make matters worse, the digitizing effect used for Normad's voice makes him difficult to understand, and the English script, while usually a pretty strict adaptation, makes some odd changes. Of those, the removal of any mention of transformation sequences during a joke in episode one is the most questionable. Did the writers really believe that the people watching an anime parody series wouldn't know what a transformation sequence was? It kills the humor of the scene dead, and even manages to cause a brief but glaring mismatch between Mint's apparent dialogue and her facial expression, something I haven't seen since I watched Voltron. Most of the other changes were inconsequential, but one blunder like that can sour an entire dub.
The usual clean opening and closing accompany two "secret concert" clips, one for the "Galaxy Bang Bang" opener with the main cast, and the other with Milfeulle's voice actress. Judging by the glimpses of the audience, Galaxy Angel's fan-base seems to be overwhelmingly male.
There aren't as many laugh-out-loud moments here as there were in Galaxy Angel A (or maybe the novelty has finally worn off), but the spark of fun is still there, as long as you have the stomach for non-stop gags. Like candy, Galaxy Angel makes a sweet, high-energy snack, but eat too much and it'll turn your stomach inside out.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C-
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : C+
+ Very entertaining when it's being funny.
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