Reviewby Carlo Santos,
Galaxy Angel Rune
Sub.DVD 1 - Launch! Angels
Apricot "Rico" Sakuraba is a member of the Rune Angel Troupe, a galactic peacekeeping force. One day she runs into a self-proclaimed baron who says he's a nefarious space criminal, but it's hard to believe a guy who stands about three feet tall. However, the baron has a memory-storage handkerchief that contains evidence of his criminal deeds ... if only someone would pay attention to him. After the Rune Angels and the municipal police all blow him off, the baron brings in his fleet of spaceships, and suddenly the Troupe realizes that even three-foot-tall, attention-starved space criminals are a force to be reckoned with!
Love it or hate it, the Galaxy Angel franchise has always been consistent about its subject matter. The latest incarnation of the series promises more of what made it a hit in the first place: cute girls, galactic adventures, and a madcap sense of humor. If Galaxy Angel Rune should suddenly switch to dark themes and violence halfway through, or turn into a nonlinear psychological thriller, well ... it's hard to say, seeing as this DVD contains only one episode. That's right, there is only one single 24-minute episode of anime on this entire disc ... and a 45-minute seiyuu concert as "bonus material." Maybe this is just crazy talk, but when one buys an anime DVD, shouldn't one expect more anime content than live-action?
Whatever. For what it's worth, we might as well take a look at that one episode and see if it uncovers some earth-shattering secrets about the Galaxy Angel universe. (Hint: probably not.) Episode 1 jumps right into the action, introducing the Rune Angel Troupe and subjecting them to a series of sitcom gags that reveal their oh-so-wacky personalities. Some might feel that the plot charges ahead too quickly, lacking a proper introduction phase—but how hard is it to get introduced to a set of formulaic archetypes? The sprightly heroine, the hyperactive catgirl, the scientist/sexpot, the no-nonsense leader—they're all here, with the approximate character depth of a petri dish. If anything, the speedy pacing is weakest right around the midpoint of the episode, when it cuts from everyday hijinks to galactic action way too quickly.
The plotline concerning the robber baron eventually gets into gear, and as usual, formula wins out above all else. The uptempo space battle at the end offers some CGI excitement, but the "solution" to defeating the villain is pretty obvious—and not all that funny. In fact, in this episode's constant attempts to be funny, it often achieves the opposite effect: trying so hard for a laugh that's it's mostly just pitiful. The baron is probably the only character that's truly amusing, and it's mostly because his self-deprecating attitude is a welcome contrast to the "We're girls! We're silly! Laugh at us, for we are silly girls!" obnoxiousness of the Angel Troupe.
So between the sloppy story and mindless characters, is there anything that this episode does well? The vivid artwork is a start, with bright colors and an eye-popping opening that complements the series' lighthearted mood. Naturally, there's also enough bishoujo to suit the taste of every fan—Apricot and friends may not be breaking the boundaries of character design, but they're attractive enough. Similarly, their starships ("Emblem Frames") aren't exactly next-gen in concept, but have enough of a battle-ready look to them. The animation itself is subpar, however, relying on lots of simple movements and "things floating on top of other things" to achieve the illusion of motion. This is especially telling in the final space battle, which isn't so much a feat of animation as it is a feat of CGI and special effects processing.
Those with an ear for bubblegum pop will find plenty to enjoy on the disc: the opening and ending themes, all the soundtrack instrumentals (even the Angel Troupe's battle is fought to a bouncy beat), and the bonus seiyuu concert footage. Theme songs and character image songs are the focus of the concert, but it's hard to enjoy it due to the poor sound quality. Rather than going through an audio mixer, the music is recorded straight from inside the concert hall, resulting in a muffled, echo-laden effect. If you don't already know the songs, it's hard to make out the tunes—which basically cancels out the enjoyment factor of this bonus material.
Not only is this disc pathetically low in episode count, but it's also lacking an English dub. While this might be fine for Galaxy Angel superfans who want to feel as close as possible to the original Japanese product, it basically cripples the accessibility of the series to a more casual R1 audience. (They'd probably be confused by the bonus footage overshadowing the anime content, too.) Other extras on the disc include textless opening and ending sequences, and for the fanservice-minded, a secret code that disables the "Keep Out" censor bars and allows viewers to appreciate the Angel Troupe's more risqué moments.
They say that it isn't fair to judge a TV series by its first episode alone. Unfortunately, that's exactly what you have to do with this DVD of Galaxy Angel Rune, which somehow expects viewers to form their impressions based on that one episode. At $20 for so much fluff, how can any fan feel satisfied with that? It doesn't even matter that the story and characters are weak to start off, or that the bright visuals are hampered by lazy animation—the point is, without getting a few more episodes to form a solid opinion, this disc is little more than a sampler that comes with a badly recorded concert on it. And that's not anime. That's just a ripoff.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : B-
Art : D
Music : C
+ Jumps right into the action with bright colors, wacky characters, and relentless energy.
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