Reviews of Gall Force: Eternal Story (1986) and related work

Gall Force: Eternal Story (1986Moving picture, 86 minutes)

At one point in the history of a universe featuring cyclical reincarnation, two species have reached a point of technological development where their centuries-long interstellar war has become a threat to galactic civilization. The two warring species are “paranoids”—metamorphosing giants apparently named after the usual function of similar species in SF—and “solnoids”, who are human and uniformly female. Contingents on both sides agree that a direct diplomatic solution is too improbable, so a secret, bilateral plan is set in motion. A solnoid ship is ordered to move to a recently terraformed planet for its defence, but the ship is already badly damaged, and its crew keeps dying.

Epic science fiction. The background is quite dark, with unwinnable, tragic wars, but the foreground is often cute, funny and nude. As in Fight! Iczer-1 (1985), the leads are all women. Lots of action, many traits of space opera, very Eighties. This first entry in the franchise starts a trilogy with its own continuity and runs for an hour and a half on a cinematic budget.

The result is prototypically distinctive nerdy Japanese animation. The aliens feel alien, the action is good, there are lots of cataclysms, heaps of people die, the SF is nowhere near hard but does retain some realism in details, and there are plenty of nice machines. There’s also fairly heavy T&A, comedy mixed in with mourning, amorality and lots of borrowing from Alien (1979) and Star Wars (1977) with simple characters. Silly, but not so silly as the title implies.

A bastardization of the Greek and Roman alphabets, with some flipped letters, is an odd linguistic touch. The character design is old-school bad, courtesy of Sonoda Kenichi. This particular entry has several introspective intermissions with vocal music (Engrish! Multiple 80’s shower scenes!). The requisite bishōnen is almost as complete as the one in They Were Eleven (1986).

References here: Thoughts on Earthdawn, Bubblegum Crisis (1987), “Scramble Wars: Step on It! Genom Trophy Rally” (1992).

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“Gall Force: Destruction” (1987Moving picture, 50 minutes)

Lufy is retrieved and revived from a frozen state. The war is increasingly bleak: Both sides are homeless after the intro, and 80% of solnoid pilots are now mere cyborgs. Lufy encounters a conspiracy to protect the result of the failed species combination experiment.

50-minute OVA. A little bit more melancholy. The solar system is being retconned piece by piece, apparently. Plugs Bubblegum Crisis (1987)! Mostly good English in the closing theme (surreal!).

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‣‣ Koushite Garu 2 wa Okureta (1987Moving picture)

Lufy travels to various animation studios, operated by the other characters, to collect key frames of Destruction for tweening.

Fan service produced by designer Sonoda Kenichi alone (plus acting). “AIC” produced Gall Force. “SVI” was an investor.

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“Gall Force: Stardust War” (1988Moving picture, 60 minutes)

The team from Destruction await the results of their actions in the previous movie, as sole survivors from their ship. The final battle is rapidly approaching.

An hour-long OVA. Less dramatic than its predecessors at first, providing a deeper discussion of the universe’s cyclical nature and the attempted combination, but also equipped with a spectacularly destructive finale.

Ah, the epic main theme music over a battle and chase sequence! Very good ending, full of Buddhist dramaturgy, raising the trilogy a notch over the average of its parts. The melodramatic supercomputer is ridiculous. I thought the identity of the original Catty might have been ripped from Alien 3 (1992), which is chronologically implausible. The allegory is strengthened by the explicit use of “M.A.D” to describe the situation in the fiction.

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“Ten Little Gall Force” (1988Moving picture, 18 minutes)

Bloopers from all over the recording of the original trilogy.

Metafictive super-deformed making-of. Tired age jokes, but otherwise virtually flawless for its limited purpose.

References here: “Scramble Wars: Step on It! Genom Trophy Rally” (1992).

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“Rhea Gall Force” (1989Moving picture, 60 minutes)

The technology of the Mars artifact was used to create artificial soldiers in an arms race on Earth, and they are now exterminating people. One woman speaks out against the venomous bickering of the last few tens of thousands of people on the planet, and sets out to prove that selfless cooperation can work.

An alternate continuity. Post-apocalyptic ground-war action, not space opera, partially based on the Future War sequence of The Terminator (1984). Rhea even features a large cyborg whose features are reminiscent of Arnold’s.

The central women are now surrounded by men in the army, being human rather than solnoid, and the other women are static civilians with babies, somewhat contradicting the feminism of the original trilogy. Imperfect reincarnation leaves room for some changes, including Lufy-turned-Score’s peculiar hair and Rumy’s sudden jolt towards being Newt. The bad habit of ending lots of names with the i/ii sound continues and sneaks up on a man. Silly technology, cheesy action. Interestingly, the central Cold War theme of mediation between two factions has been replaced by mediation inside just one faction: The enemy this time around is unsympathetic, though similar in design to the paranoids. Too little music, but the Engrish is oh so sweet.

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‣‣ Gall Force: Earth Chapter (1989Moving picture, 135 minutes)

The war ends, in Australia (sort of), very slowly.

Three-part OVA with three-quarters-of-an-hour episodes. It shamefully betrays attractive core concepts: The MMEs are evil, whereas humans are now basically good. The script fails to compensate in any worthwhile way. A computer screen that’s supposed to be filled with important information shows misspelled Beach Boys lyrics with unusual clarity.

References here: Ghost in the Shell (1995).

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