Tag Archives: Bubblegum Crisis OAV

Through Older Lenses: Gall Force: Eternal Story (1986)

Somewhere in the farthest unknown regions of deep space, an ages long war has raged on between the female humanoid Solnoid race, and the biomechanical threat known only as Paranoid. During a particularly heated space battle, the starship dubbed Star Leaf has found itself with a spunky, hotheaded fighter pilot as new crewmember mere minutes before being forced to undertake warp after orders are relayed to defend a much valued set of coordinates; the planet, Chaos. And yet despite evasive maneuvers, the mostly young crew of Solnoid officers are in for the shock of their lives when the Paranoid have set in motion a plan that not only threatens the future of all onboard, but of the future of both races combined. And thus is the broken down plotline of this feature length first outing for what became one of AIC’s most prolific franchises, Gall Force. Originally started as a 3D photo comic, Gall Force refined the best of both heavy ends of the 1980s otaku fantasy juggernaut by way of taking what could be seen as cute, chubby moe prototypes, and infusing them into a somewhat hard science fiction armor. What results is something that contemporary anime just doesn’t seem to have room for this side of Moretsu Pirates; a derivative, yet surprisingly well-executed mashup of western science fiction & space mecha melodrama. And this initial film released in the summer of 1986, and directed by Katsuhito Akiyama (Bubblegum Crisis) continues to remain a personal favorite despite its shortcomings.

 

For some time, I had long considered sharing a few words regarding this first go-round for the girls of GF, but had a real hard time trying to figure out an angle to work with as a work like this is rare in that for what it looks like to the casual observer, is a lot richer in detail than many might assume. One on hand, it does fulfill the “cute girls in space with guns and powered armor” one might expect from this era, but on another, it also takes the time within 88 minutes to establish the shared existence of these characters, as well as their mechanically inclined environs, and even language/typography. And to top it off, as the film rarely to never allows viewers to catch a breath once the title card bursts on the screen. There are no extended monologues, no overt platitudes on existence. These ladies are on a collision course with destiny, and there’s simply no time for such things. With a plot that borrows liberally from favorite films and novels (largely Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, which easily lends the gender choice an added amount of potentially controversial thematic depth), Eternal Story was scribed by the often underappreciated Sukehiro Tomita (Macross: DYRL), which grants the characters enough sci-fi geek cred in the dialogue and language. From an alien stowaway, to the death defying troubles they experience on the ship as well as outside, this is a fitting form for Japanese cinema of the time to do their own successful riff on classic space yarns. (Having recently reviewed the mind-blowingly odd Sayonara Jupiter recently- this is a most welcome argument for anime being the better way to go)

 

 

So as the story quickly unfolds, the crew of the Star Leaf led by cool-headed officers Eluza & Raby, now must contend with not only an invader on their ship, but a caustic but potentially dependable new crewmember, and possibly even their superiors in what culminates in an often shining example of how cool a gynocentric space adventure could be. Being faced with threats initially stemming from what seem to be outside forces, soon becomes one of greater concern when revelations (not to mention some terrible losses) spur forth an even more disturbing truth regarding the crew, and their central role in a plot to end a generations-spanning conflict. Having been perpetuated all this time via genetic engineering, the Solnoids have until now only known one universal method of reproduction to perpetuate their species. So when a shocking twist takes place in the film’s latter half, perhaps it only makes perfect sense that a remainder of the crew feels somewhat betrayed by those who would be their respected elders. And in between all the monster attacks, hair-breadth escapes, self-sacrifices, and hard suit & mecha battles (in space AND on land!), what we have here is something far more involved than merely a pastiche of Japan’s then fevered fascination with space war. It becomes a treatise on the nature of sexual roles, protracted conflict, and life’s ability to dodge even the most terrifying headshot by mere millimeters.

 

 

After many years of going back to this first film, one must admit that there are a few things worth considering in the narrative that could raise a few eyebrows. As mentioned before, the Solnoid crew of the Star Leaf are soon faced with a plot to end the war via a clandestine plan to combine both warring races, to the terrified reaction of those who make the bombshell discovery. And since these are a solely female race of beings who have only known cloning as their means of reproduction, one can imagine the reaction at the prospect of seeing what is ostensibly a baby male. But things get a little weird when the remaining crew members experience a collective series of dreams that all lead toward the new addition of a male version of their race into the gene pool. All to the tune of an all-too 1980s teen-pop song, the implication that these lifelong warrior types would go completely gooey for a phantom companion seems more than a little contradictory to the majority of the film. What was likely considered to be a narrative shorthand for implying what is to come of our central species by the end can easily be considered a dreadful oversimplification. The very idea that all these young ladies needed to feel at uncommon ease was some random male continues to be a dated thorn in my side. The story also finds itself a little out of steam come the arrival at Chaos. These along with the crew losing what was easily my favorite member by the end of the first half chock up my most egregious complaints.

 

And considering what became of AIC’s reputation years later, it’s also a bit of a sad thing to say that for an IP that received so much exposure in the US home video market, so many people continue to overlook just how ambitious this all was. Considering that the Gall Force metaseries predates the OVA classic, Bubblegum Crisis, and contains many of that iconic series’ original staff, one would surmise that this would have as much widespread notoriety among older school anime fans. And this is where a potentially controversial statement just might creep in; as much as this writer truly enjoys the adventures of the Knight Sabers, it’s Tomita’s script for Eternal Story that elevates the material beyond anything that came after. And with some truly iconic & diverse character design work by personal favorite, Kenichi Sonoda, some still great mechanical work by Hideki Kakinuma, and memorable synth music courtesy of Ishizo Seo, the overall feel of Gall Force’s initial outing is assured and exciting. The seven-member crew comprised of Eluza, Raby, Lufy, Pony, Catty, Remy & Patty somehow achieves a certain amount of diversity in their personalities and gestures. So rarely does it succumb to the pitfalls so many OVAs and shows of the time did, that it truly feels like a thoughtful one-shot. As for the follow-up OVAs, as cool as they are, they carry little of the promise and care of this primary chapter. For me, it remains something of a lost little gem that despite its release via Central Park Media during the salad days of anime on VHS, deserves more viewers, as well as more evaluation in the shadow of that bloated, disjointed musical that came after. In the case of that series, it was all about loving the idea of a great show, while with Eternal Story, we get the greatness AND the ideas. Because as the moving little coda implies; what has happened, can indeed happen again.

 

 

Analog Diaries Part 2: Thinking Of The Children

A product ripped from the blogs of recent days, The Analog Diaries is a series of recollections of a time before digital distribution. In the days when passion was gargantuan, and access was low. Created in memory of the days when all fans had on their sleeves were their desires amidst a media climate rivaling the Southern California Desert. It was a time of heroes, villains, fools & miles of tape. Welcome to the land of uncool.

How else could it have played out? A young life, within limited means.

There were only two real roads into the anime medium during those days. It was either what was provided for us on the tube, or at stores/swap meets where we could find an assortment of both authentic toy replicas as well as knockoffs emblazoned, “Made In Macau”. It was perhaps this one array of simple elements that led me down this strange road. And on that road contained a dozen or do bizarre detours, and speedbumps that only a few of us noticed. When you’re a kid, if it was cool to you, that’s all that mattered. And cable showings of edited & dubbed versions of Unico, or The Legend Of Sirius were rare. But when they came on, it was not unlike treasure landing at my feet. There was little keeping me from the tube when works like this were on. I even vividly remember catching the original Uchu Senkan Yamato feature on KTLA Channel five on a dreary Sunday morning at Grandma’s. Or how about the time’s I caught Gatchaman on mexican TV with much of the violence well intact? Better yet when Nausicaa came to cable in the form of Warriors Of The Wind? There was a quality to all of it that left me not merely surprised & inspired, but racked with longing for more.

Access…the ultimate dilemma.

And yet this very lack of access possibly even contributed to my later denial of admiration, and even disdain for it in just a few brief years later. Made all the more dramatic when my younger brother started on his weekly trips to the local video huts.

Continue reading Analog Diaries Part 2: Thinking Of The Children

Anime Diet’s Hidden Gems – Reviews, Discussions and More

Anime Diet Presents: Best Kept Secret of Anime Diet’s archive, part 1.

Looking for previously unread articles? Then our 10+ hours of work combing through 147 pages to find these little gems is definitely worth every second! Enjoy these as our year-end gift to you!

Reviews:


    Alien Nine: Utter Alienation

    Alteil

    Akira

    Asura Cryin’ 1 Review

    Black Lagoon

    Boogiepop Phantom

    Bubblegum Crisis OAV

    Review: Byousoku 5cm–The Color of Regret

    Cencoroll Review

    Claymore Review

    Code – E

    Eureka Seven: Decompression

    GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class

    Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society Review

    Hatsukoi Limited Review

    Hayate no Gotoku 01

    Jin Roh

    Kaiba Review

    Kannagi Review

    Kobato Impression

    Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette 1

    Lucky Star Review

    Mahoromatic

    Myself; yourself Review

    Noein Review

    Review: School Days–The Wages of Sin

    Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei s1 impression

    Serial Experiment Lain

    Seto no Hanayome

    Shingetsutan Tsukihime

    Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

    Welcome to the NHK

    The Zen of Eureka Seven

    Zero no Tsukaima – Futatsuki Kishi Review

Commentaries/Discussions:


    Aversion and hikikomori

    Civil Liberties Continue to Crumble

    Cyberpunk anime – the past, the present, the future (?) Part 1.

    Cyberpunk anime – past, present, future (?) Part 2.

    Cyberpunk anime – past, present, future (?) Part 3.

    Cyberpunk anime – past, present, future (?) Part 4

    Cyberpunk anime – past, present, future (?) Part 5 – Toward the Future I call the “Individulity Project”.

    Discussion on making Japanese title into English

    Discussion on making Japanese title into English pt.2

    Fan Service – What I think…

    Face Off: Ray and Mike Heap Praise on Kurozuka

    Face Off: Ray and Mike on Gunbuster vs. Diebuster (Part 1)

    Face Off: Ray and Mike on Gunbuster vs. Diebuster (Part 2)

    Face Off: Ray and Mike Try to Figure Out Kurozuka

    Horror Anime Selection

    Hayate no Gotoku 21 – Lead Me Home

    Is Anime Deep?

    Is Anime Deep, pt.2?

    Love and Purity in Ponyo

    Mortality in anime and manga

    Persona: Trinity Soul–the awesomest title EVAR

    The cancer that is killing Bleach

Miscellaneous:

    Adventures in Blogosphere: Episode 2, Attack of the Domos

    Claymore 18,19 Parody – The Chaotic War of Cirumcision in the North

    Do You Ever Talk Back to Your Anime?

    So if 86.5% of Japanese do not like lolicons…

    Soundtracks that are Better than the Show

    Weird Soundtrack Cravings

    Yaoi doujin artist arrested.

Interviews:


    AX 2008 Press Junket Interview: Shokotan

    EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! A Night With The Pillows.