Gall Force: Eternal Story

Do you ever feel like they just don’t make movies like they used to anymore? Do you have a favorite time period, where you feel they just kept pumping out hit after hit? Are you partial to films made in this decade or that one? For example a lot of people like World War II-era films. And what’s not to love, with films like Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and Mrs. Miniver coming out every year! It seems the 40’s may have been the best years for Hollywood, or at least that’s how some people feel. Now I’m not one of those grumpy anime fans who feels anime has “fallen from some grace” and that everything made since [insert year here] sucks or anything. No I love plenty of brand new anime series, and of course I love the classics. But they just don’t make em like they did in the 80’s. I just can’t see a film like Gall Force being made today.

Gall Force is a sci-fi anime with a primarily female cast. I’d call this genre “cute girls-in-space” if I were to give it a name. Anyway these girls are the main crew of the Star Leaf, one ship that is part of an entire fleet fighting an alien race. The alien race, a bug-machine like bunch of ugly creatures, seem about evenly matched with the humans in this war. Neither side has a real advantage. During a big battle, a small fighter ship forces its way onto the Star Leaf in a crash landing, despite the strong and intelligent Captain Eluza objecting. The fighter is piloted by the cocky, completely full-of-herself, and stubborn Lufy, who is an incredibly skilled pilot. During this battle something is shot at the Star Leaf, but more about that in bit. Lufy ends up stuck on the ship, and the entire fleet jumps to lightspeed. Lufy is not really given a warm welcome on the ship, and this is aggravated more by her harsh and unfriendly personality. She ends up making enemies out of nearly everyone onboard, but bumping heads the most with the level-headed Rabby ( the second-in-command of the ship, and arguably the main character of the film). Lufy also ends up completely terrorizing the tiny and hyper Rumy. The film seems like somewhat of a comedy, and for awhile it’s just a fun movie about these characters not getting along, yet trying to live and work on a ship together. But once they jump out of lightspeed this tone quickly changes. Something went wrong with their lightspeed, and they are now ahead of the rest of the fleet, putting them at risk of  attack by the enemy aliens. The crew eventually discovers that that “thing” shot at them during the last battle has gotten into the ship, putting everyone in risk. The crew then splits up to hunt this mysterious invader (à la Alien) . It now becomes a more horror-like movie, and quite darker and more serious then before. This is a cute girls in space film, that’s not afraid to get a little heavy on us.  During the last last third of the film the tone changes yet again, but I’ll let you watch and see that for yourself.

The plot of this film has more then a few twists to keep you on your toes. You’re never quite sure what will happen next. And as I said before since the tone of the movie changes quite often, you really can’t be sure where the movie is going until you get there. But be assured it’s all very well plotted out from the beginning. The writers knew what they were doing. Now I’m sure a few people will just be annoyed by anything with tonal shifts, period. But they’re no fun. I admit many anime manage to do this wrong, but here it seems natural enough.  And the movie is better for this fact. Another strong point of this film is the characters. While none of them are really all that developed, they are all very likable. Most of the cast is just so adorable you can’t help but love them. I’m sure even Lufy will have some fans out there, although I’m not really one of them. And since this is a movie, you can’t expect much in the way of character development anyway.  My favorite character is Catty, the quiet and mysterious new intelligence officer. Oh and the movie does reveal why exactly there are only girls on the ship, but that’s a spoiler. The themes the film deals with are a little unexpected. While I’d never call this a particularly deep or smart movie, it’s not completely shallow either. But even mentioning its themes can sort of ruin the movie, as most of the point is revealed in the last third of the movie. But be assured it’s pretty interesting (although a little cliche in science fiction by now). There is some fanservice (brief nudity!) in the movie, but it’s not a bad thing. This is a “girls in space” kind of show, so it is sort of expected. The point here is to showcase the cute girls. I find the fanservice here really adds to the anime. It gives it that little extra spark it needed. Yet it never becomes too excessive or annoying. There’s plenty of fun action scenes between the humans and bug-like aliens as well. Part of this film’s charm is its shout outs and references to classic sci-fi movies. While watching you’ll notice a nod here or there to Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and even the Twilight Zone. A major portion of the movie is even ripped straight out of Alien! But this is all done with style, and a wink in its eye. And I love it! So with a likable cast, well written story, and some decent themes there’s a lot to like here. Plus I just love this (NSFW) music video-esque scene of the movie. It’s done in a very pop-art kind of style, that I just can’t get enough of. I really like when a movie can pull off things like this, telling part of a story in this non-traditional way (yeah yeah it’s a dream but it’s important to the plot). Plus there’s boobies. Gata love the boobies.

The artwork here is very beautiful. The bright and lively pastels used for the character and some of the rooms on the ship, contrasts well with the dark and gloomy colors used for the less welcoming areas of the Star Leaf. The light colors make sure you don’t forget what decade this is from. The character designs are wonderful, they’re just a joy to look at. The girls are cute in that oh-so-80’s way, big puffy light colored hair, crazy costumes, and just a great smile. Plus you gata just love the 80’s style of characters with thick lines and rounded bodies and faces. The alien designs are very imaginative (and not goofy at all). The backgrounds look great and are pretty well detailed. The animation here is not always perfect. The film opens to a giant space battle between both sides, and this just doesn’t look as good as it could have. But after that scene the rest of the movie looks great. Character movements especially seem to have been paid attention to in this film, and all look pretty natural. Later space battles look much better. It may not blow you away, but the animation here is usually pretty good. Ichizo Seo, who hasn’t done much with anime besides working on the Gall Force franchise, was in charge of the music on this movie. And although he’s not big in anime realm, he seems to have produced a number of Japanese artists over the years, so he is no stranger when it comes to music. And let me just say right now, that I think it’s a shame this franchise is his only real contribution to anime soundtracks. Because I just love everything here. This soundtrack is amazing. There’s a handful of great insert songs used in the movie at the perfect time that really work. They are some great examples of 80’s pop that I just dig. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I just eat this stuff up. But even the regular background themes impress. They have a sense of awe and sound very space-opera-ish, yet still fun and lively. And yes you won’t mistake the main theme for something from any other decade but the 80’s.

There are two dubs for this film. The original dub was most likely done in Hong Kong in the early 90’s by a Kung Fu dub studio (or at least Justin Sevakis seems to think this is so. I personally asked him about it. There’s no info on the DVD about this).To be honest this dub isn’t terrible, but it is sort of annoying. It’s filled with girls with high pitched voices yelling a lot. It’s not acted that badly, but it’s just poorly cast. Seeing how CPM had the movie dubbed again, more recently in New York City, and they thankfully included both of them on the DVD (along with the original Japanese track) I see no reason to listen to the older dub.   Unless of course you have some nostalgia here or just want to check it out. The new dub on the other hand is amazing. This is why I love New York dubs. It was produced at Taj Studios, and it’s exactly what I expect of them, lively, well cast, fresh, and perfectly acted. Oh Taj Studios how I miss you guys. Ciarrai Nimhaille ,in her only anime role that I’m familiar with, plays Rabby with a calmness and sincereness that’s really needed. She’s perfectly cast, I can’t imagine anyone else in this role. Lisa Ortiz manages to play two characters (1, 2) convincingly enough. And all the other actresses are great.

The movie is very light and fluffy at times, at times quite dramatic, and other times still just a fun action rump. This movie jumpstarted a franchise for AIC, with plenty of sequels made right afterwards (that I have yet to see). Yes this movie came out in 1986, right at the start of the OVA boom, so it was perfect timing to become a big hit, which it has. And it’s easy to see why. I really loved the movie. It may be a little too 80’s-licious for some, but I do think this still stands up pretty well today. There’s plenty of people out there who’d like this. Personally I love everything about the 80’s, so the style here is something I’m a big fan of. But the story stands the test of time well enough, as do the characters. The art and music may date it, but that doesn’t make them bad. No, quite the contrary. The art is beautiful in a way only 80’s anime can be. And the music is far too catchy then it should be 25 years later. If there’s one major fault , it’s that the pacing is a little off. At times things happen just a little too fast. But it’s not that big of a deal. Truth be told I love almost everything about this silly film. I find it quite under appreciated. And there’s absolutely no nostalgia involved here. I just saw this film for the first time a week ago, and look forward to the sequel. Considering the ending, it will be interesting where they go from here. I’ve known about this series for years, but it was nice to finally see it for myself. And I was impressed; it was better then I thought it be. Yeah the characters may not be as  developed as much as we’d hope, but it’s just a fun movie. And there’s boobies.

Central Park Media released the franchise tons of times on DVD (and of course VHS). I own the ” Gall Force DVD Collection ” released in 2003 which includes most of the franchise. But this is getting a little expensive to buy on auction sites now. I suggest buying the first movie by itself , and if you like it to buy the others on their own. The sequel is called Destruction, which was followed by Stardust Wars, which was finally followed with Rhea Gall Force . There is also Earth Chapter, and New Era (thanks DWashington999 for pointing this out). Not to mention a remake OVA series that came out in 1996 (the only part of the franchise not released in the US). All of which are currently selling for under $15.00 a piece.

3.5/5 Stars

Positives –  Good art, animation (mostly), music, likable characters, and interesting story. And oh the lovably 80’s !

Negatives – Story feels a bit rushed. Characters aren’t well developed. May be too entrenched in the 80’s for some.

12 Responses to “Gall Force: Eternal Story”

  1. glad you enjoyed it haha you praise it too much by giving it a 4/5 XD but this is one that 80’s fans would certainly enjoy because of the delicious cheese involved i enjoyed all titles equally but only gave them a 2.5/5 😛 mostly because of boobies >.> boobs in space are the best boobs!

  2. I think you’re right that the 4 stars is a little too much. I didn’t like this as much as something like Venus Wars. So I changed it to 3.5 stars. Was really on the fence about what to rate this.

    Anyway yeah I really liked it. And yes boobies IN SPACE. Such a loveable 80’s movie. Thanks for the comment.

  3. It is a pretty amazing film for something that was based upon a set of scratch built models and dioramas based off Kenichi Sonoda designs that appeared in Model Graphix magazine around 1985. Could never find those issues on Yahoo Auctions Japan, but the magazine published a compilation mook (magazine/book – think it’s called “Gall Force – Star Front”, not at home to check). It’s pretty good, and it has a comic which uses photos from the magazine with an “Engrish” story. Funnily enough the comic mirrors the plot of the movie pretty closely. I think the two sequels are a lot better than this film.

    I think Toho did the dub. They created a lot of dubs in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Macross movie, all of the 1990’s Godzilla films, Leda Adventures of Yohko etc. You can tell it’s the same actors. Unsure if it was done in Hong Kong, Singapore or elsewhere.

  4. Yeah this film has an interesting source, model kits and such. Since you think the sequels are even better, I can’t wait to see them now!

    So Toho was behind the dub, eh? That makes sense. Justin Sevakis, who worked at CPM for a number of years, told me he thinks it was dubbed in Hong Kong, but he wasn’t even sure. Still I would put my money on Hong Kong. But who knows. I’ve listened to plenty of Godzilla dubs from the 90’s, but I can barely remember what the voices sounded like anymore…

    Anyway thanks for the comment. You had some interesting tidbits to ad, as usual. Thanks for that.

  5. Well after re-watching Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) I think you might be correct. The voice actors sounded very familiar, most likely some of the people in that are in the original dub for this.

    • Those old Toho dubs of the 1990’s, gawd they were dreadful. You could justify the dubbing on the 1990’s Godzilla films as well as other movies such as “Gunhed” and “Bye Bye Jupiter” as “enhancing” the film as the originals are silly and over the top, but I always thought that dubbing live action as rather silly. Actually out of that bunch, “Gunhed” is the only decent dub. I’ve grown to love that film. The action and plot becomes a lot more coherent after a couple of viewings. And the miniature work and effects are top notch. The 1990’s Godzilla films are a bit of a guilty pleasure. Most after “Biolante” are just completely mad. “King Ghidorah” was particularly loopy with the time travel, dinosaurs and WWII references.

      • I think Godzilla vs. Mothra is the only film from the 90’s that I really really liked. Maybe I’d add Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II to that list (although it’s been a long time since I seen that, and I think the plot was all over the place with that one…). I guess a few others are ok as “guilty pleasures” like you mentioned. But boy do the dubs not help them. Some are not completely terrible, but most are pretty bad. Old Toho dubs…how I remember you more and more now…and sort of wish I didn’t. Still i view it that a corny dub is sort of part of the Godzilla experience. It’s always been that way since I was a little kid. That’s just how Godzilla is known here. So I can’t complain too much =D .

        I’m a huge fan of Millennium series (Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla being one of my all time favorites) and the older stuff though. God I need to watch that movie again, i love it.

  6. I remember loooving this movie so so much!

    • That’s my job =D. Make people go”‘ohhh I remember this”. Well that and make people actually watch the great stuff they missed or never heard of too. Glad you got a kick out of this review 🙂 .

  7. C. Sobieniak Says:

    Most of those “Toho dubs” mentioned earlier were possibly done by an HK outfit called “Omni Productions”, whom did a lot of kaiju and anime productions for Japanese companies as well as dubbing Kung Fu movies for domestic studios.

  8. Gall Force is an underrated masterpiece, still one of the original classics, and will forever be one of my favorite anime metaseries of all time, especially the original four movies.

    So glad to see someone else likes this movie. Back in the 90s and early 2000s, Gall Force was one of those series everyone talked about. Seems everyone’s forgotten about it, sadly.

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