Reviewby Carlo Santos, Nov 29th 2007
Galaxy Angel Rune
More galactic misadventures await the lovely young ladies of the Rune Angel Troupe! Android catgirl Nano-Nano teams up with space princess Natsume to form a singing idol group, but will their newfound popularity threaten to disband the Rune Angel Troupe? Then, when the original Galaxy Angels announce an upcoming visit, the girls find themselves taking on all sorts of ridiculous projects in hopes of impressing their elders. A rainy day and a mysterious phone call leads to a perilous supernatural mystery for the group, and perpetually greedy Anise tries her hand at the "celeb" lifestyle when she comes upon a large sum of money. Of course, things don't work out quite as planned once the rest of the team hears about Anise's good fortune...
If you must have one reason to buy the third Galaxy Angel Rune DVD, let it be Aya Hirano. No, not because of her voice acting—one could watch any anime made in the last five years for that—but because of the bonus short film where she acts out a poignant slice-of-life moment. After all, the mere sight of Hirano's celestial beauty is enough to bring all true believers to their knees, and how many other anime DVDs can you buy that include a live-action clip of the seiyuu industry's most radiant star? But I digress. Maybe you're buying Galaxy Angel Rune to actually watch the anime, in which case, it's safe to say that this is more of the same. Look forward to a merchandise-driven, mid-budget effort that's one part genre experiment and three parts goofball comedy, with varying levels of success.
The genre experiment on this disc happens to be one episode out of the four: a horror-mystery where the Angels are picked off one by one by a ghostly predator. Yes, it's pure B-movie formula, but compared to the shallow storytelling elsewhere in the series, this is near-masterpiece material. In the absence of good original content, it's safer to just copy what already works in the genre: suspenseful pacing, a puzzling plot, one-by-one elimination, and the use of technology as a horror element. Creepy phone calls? Internet rumors? Instant winner! The entire episode is such a departure from the rest of the series that even though it doesn't take itself too seriously, it's still worth it just to follow the story and see where it leads.
The three other episodes, on the other hand, are completely predictable in where they lead: cute girls doing dumb things which are supposed to be funny, except sometimes they're not. Nano-Nano's brief stint as an idol is a clear example of "not", as the musical stage performances and the Troupe's attention-grabbing hijinks all fall flat. (Why is it that no anime can do a funny take on idol music, anyway? Is it because the genre is inherently absurd?) The upcoming visit from the original Angel Troupe results in some better comedy material, with each character going to extremes to improve themselves: beauty-conscious Kahlua resorts to alchemical sorcery for the perfect makeup, Nano-Nano tries to become the ultimate nanomachine by mecha-combining with every creature in the universe, and so on. Even Milfeulle and friends manage to squeeze in some absurdity as they try to make their way to the space station. The last episode on the disc, featuring Anise's "trade a paperclip into a house" trick and nouveau-riche indulgence, falls somewhere in between the others: not exactly a constant stream of humor, but still energetic enough to succeed at times.
The series' visual quality might be described in the same way as the story and humor: about half-decent half the time. Viewers who enjoy bright colors, sharp lines and simple shapes should be easy to please, but those with more exacting standards will be disappointed. There is no subtlety or grace to the misadventures of the Troupe: every pratfall goes directly from one extreme pose to the next; every act of comic violence can be reduced to a couple of repeating frames. Fortunately, a handful of other visual tricks help to cover up the cheap animation: the horror episode makes frequent use of a grainy filter, while Anise's celeb lifestyle involves lots of wacky faces and super-deformity. The main character designs, although not immediately striking, at least have enough variation to tell apart; however, side characters and backgrounds (especially crowds) show obvious signs of cutting corners.
Music is another aspect where the production quality is limited: most of the soundtrack involves jaunty pop instrumentals that only exist to accentuate just how wacky the Angels are. The only departure from that is the horror episode, which relies on more traditional orchestration to achieve its creepy atmosphere. If they can go all out with episodes that are "different," why not put more effort into the regular material as well? In any case, the theme songs probably the most accurate indicator of what the series is about: high-speed, hyperactive bubblegum, with little lasting value but catchy while it's there.
Once again, a high price tag and no English dub will probably keep casual fans from picking up this release. But even in Japanese, the tone of the vocal performances is clear: lots of loudness and silliness. The subtitles stay true to certain details of the language, such as sentence endings ("Nano da"), but at the same time the text retains a conversational flow, even managing a couple of colloquialisms in English.
Serious Galaxy Angel fans will probably be the ones to get the most enjoyment out of the extras; this is one of the few franchises where the voice actresses are just as important to the series as the actual characters. As mentioned before, the "Angel Rune Sentiment" short film starring Aya Hirano (Kahlua/Tequila) is probably the big draw here, although a separate short featuring Satomi Akesaka (Nano-Nano) gets the script with the better plot. Textless ending sequences round out the extras on the disc, while the case comes with a booklet containing episode and character trivia, as well as a reversible cover.
This edition of Galaxy Angel Rune continues with its fluffy comedy ways, stopping only once for an interesting little genre spoof. The idea of cute space cadets getting trapped in a classic horror movie plot does have its entertainment value—but that only accounts for a quarter of the disc's running time. Elsewhere, it's all about cute space cadets making fools of themselves in a far more conventional manner. There's nothing artistically special about it, and the plotting only goes as far as thinking 5 seconds ahead to the next slapstick gag—but those who like what they've seen of the series so far can at least be assured that they'll enjoy this one too.
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C+
Animation : D
Art : C
Music : C
+ The horror spoof episode provides an unexpected, intriguing departure from the norm.
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