What They Say
From the creator of Armitage: Dual Matrix, the producer of Bubblegum Crash, and the writer of Megazone 23. In a world ruled by lethal war machines, Sandy Newman fights for her life every day. Time is running out, and the machines have driven humanity to the brink of extinction. Sandy is the last holder of the scientific secrets to save her race, and ruthless mechanoid assassins hunt her without mercy. Her only hope is to breach the machines’ fortress and destroy their computer leader, or humanity is doomed!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show has a pretty basic stereo mix with most of the dialogue through the center channel while the music and overall sound effects use the left/right channels. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we noticed no dropouts or distortions on either track during regular playback.
Originally released in 1989 and 1990, the transfer here is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar to the other releases, the show continues the earthy and drab feel to the color design, which is natural since it’s taking place in a ruined future. Colors look good and there are some moments of nice vibrancy in various places, particularly some of the space-faring areas. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal with only a few noticeable seconds here and there. The only issue that crops up with this print is a fair amount of dirt and dust across it, much more noticeable here with the traditional animation and being able to see the cels moving around in some sequences.
Keeping in tone with the box set collection that came out prior to the singles, Earth Chapter sports the same kind of layout with the logo and a shot of Sandy in her combat gear amongst the ruins. This is a pretty standard and typical SF anime heroine shot and it’s standard because it works so well. The back cover provides a brief summary of the premise and lists the basic features of the disc. The technical and information is mixed along the bottom and mostly easy to figure out. The reverse side of this cover in its clear keepcase has the chapter listings for the three episodes and provides bilingual cast lists. The production information for both sides of the show is also here with a nice black and white shot of Sandy.
The menu here is very nicely done, even though it has something of a lengthy lead in to finally loading. With the fully armored image of Sandy in her combat gear set against a metallic border, the background of moving storm clouds set to the music works out really nicely and gives the menu a great feel. This just feels so unlike so many other CPM menus that it stands out nicely. Moving to submenus is nice and fast with quick load times and no issues.
While there’s not a lot here we do get a few extras, such as the art gallery video that provides some good looking shots from the show and promotional artwork. What will be quite useful for some people will be the Storyline section, which provides spoiler summaries of previous chapters in the series so that you can watch this one without too much confusion. And while they’re not the Japanese trailers, there are trailers for all the other Gall Force US releases here to check out.
For what seemed like the longest time, all we had for Gall Force was the Eternal Story movie, which did a good job of setting the stage. But knowing that there was more out there always kept the interest piqued, but not enough to really go exploring for more. Back in the early 2000’s, it was a great time for fans of this franchise as Eternal Story got remastered and other episodes surfaced at long last in proper form and fully dubbed.
With this property, we get the three-part storyline that picks up where Rhea Gall Force left off which adds another interesting chapter in humanity’s varied history moves forward. Rhea Gall Force brought us the introduction of Professor Newman, a man who ended up unleashing a catastrophe on the world that was laid there millennia before during the Eternal Story timeframe. Contained within the artifacts left on the moon was a fascinating amount of alien technology, but also the ability for mankind to (re)build the Paranoid race once more.
And if there’s something mankind cannot resist, it’s the shiny. So with Newman’s expertise, the MME’s were created, a race of supposedly servant oriented machines that would help humanity achieve its next level. Instead, much like the Paranoids that they were based on, they attacked humans at every chance and have pushed humanity to the brink of extinction. Using their ability to calculate coldly, they’ve gone so far as to eliminate the bulk of the worlds military, something they accomplished early on. So now, Earth is in ruins with tattered groups of fighters while the Mars and other colonies try to sort out the best way to deal with all of this.
On the earthside, the two main opposing human forces from the East and West have both put aside their differences, as we saw in Rhea Gall Force, and work together to deal with the problem of the MME’s. With the situation becoming increasingly bad, it’s been decided that they’re going to bring out thirty nuclear missiles and outright annihilate the enemy. This comes as a shock to most of the people there as it was believed all the missiles were eliminated ages ago in this conflict. But as it turns out, both sides intended to get back to their own grudges as soon as the MME’s were eliminated and they kept some missiles hidden away.
With this knowledge, teams are sent to the various military bases under which there are the hidden silos. Each team has to go off and secure the area and get its systems back online and ready for launch in coordination with the home base. The first episode takes the time to follow Sandy Newman, Professor Newman’s daughter, and her group that goes after one of the missile launch sites. This plays along pretty well in that it brings us close to the ground force she’s got control of and to the elements of humanity still on the planet and what they’re fighting for. A lot of what’s here sets the stage for later on.
The following two chapters, which build against some of what Sandy and group come upon, takes out into space where we get to see both the military’s point of view and events happening on Mars as well. The series builds a nice slow upward curve to the epic scale as the cast and the battles begin to migrate to the various stages where events are occurring and bringing people from their safety zones above down into the dirt below as well. The growing cast, though most are familiar from previous adventures, does a good job of adding some new dimensions to the battles as there are those that are only concerned with winning the war, regardless of the casualties.
Much like Rhea Gall Force, Earth Chapter plays out on a much smaller stage overall than ones like Stardust Wars or Eternal Story, but with the same number of characters. And yes, I still can only think of them via their Eternal Story names and yes, I still want to smack Pony in each and every one of her incarnations. Earth Chapter does a good job however of bringing up elements from the past battles and lives of people here and mixing it in with the current world. Situations where Sandy and others learn of the real origins of the MME’s and what they represent bring a nice bit of balance and real threat to the storyline, making it more than babes fighting robots would be otherwise.
And this will depend on your overall feeling toward the show, but it’s definitely in keeping with the mood and style of previous entries in the franchise. The characters continue to look the same, the personalities close and the production design has remained very consistent, something that doesn’t happen all that often when something as varied as this production has been. The Gall Force franchise has been a lot of fun, but it’s something that I’ve found needs to be taken in doses and not a complete swallow since things start to feel repetitive even though they’re really not.
Earth Chapter at least manages to break the mold by running almost three hours in length and providing one consistent storyline.
All told, this is another solid release of something from the late 80’s that took far too long to come over to this market. Earth Chapter is just as solid as past entries into the franchise and builds nicely upon the concepts introduced there and brings them to a logical yet interesting conclusion here. If I have any grief to give, it’s simply the fact that the box set released earlier in the year did not allow room for this one more volume to be included. Fans of the Gall Force series will be thrilled to finally get all of Earth Chapter on one volume and having it match up with previous releases. CPM has definitely made 2003 a good year to be a Gall Force fan.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Gall Force Storyline
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: November 11th, 2003
Running Time: 156 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.