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Gall Force: Eternal Story Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Gall Force: Eternal Story gets a facelift and a few tucks here and there in this 2003 re-release.

What They Say
War rages in deep space between a race of warriors and a ruthless bio-mechanical civilization. Fighter pilot Lufy and the crew of the spaceship Star Leaf survive ambush only to discover a monstrous alien stalking their ship!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The dialogue for the show is a pretty decent sound stereo mix that manages to use the old material well in providing a good sounding forward piece of work. There’s not a lot of directionality but some good moments here and there. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems during playback with either track after doing a spot check of the English dub as well.

Video:
Originally released in 1986, the show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The original print materials here is showing some wear and tear in the form of dust and dirt as well as some nicks but that’s no surprise in general. Most of this seems to be in the central arc. What does appear to be different from the previous release is that a new life has been breathed into the colors. They look much more fresh and warm compared to the previous version which was looking fairly pale and almost washed out. The print overall looks decent and the encoding looks to have avoided most of the problems of older shows with only a few areas of very minor cross coloration showing up.

Packaging: 
With this being part of a larger set, the font and overall look is designed to be similar across all the releases. The same artwork we’ve seen on every release is used here but it manages to come off much better looking in this format and with the styles used. It definitely gives its age away, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The back cover has a brief summary of what the show is like and a good listing of the discs features and extras. The reverse side of the clear keepcase cover has the chapter listings, basic production credits and bilingual cast listings.

Menu:
In a similar style to the cover, the menu here uses the character art from the cover and provides motion sequences behind them from the movie set against a very nice looking panel while some light instrumental music plays as well as some sound effects from the clip. This is one of the best looking in-theme menus I think I’ve seen from CPM in quite some time that manages to mesh with the character artwork nicely. Navigation is nice and easy and access times are fast. The only continual complaint is that selecting a language takes you right to the film. That is a choice in CPM discs that to this day I still do not understand why they do it. If I want to play the film, I will select that. Not them. I still like to make my language selections and then explore the disc and then watch the feature.

Extras: 
The extras here are pretty minimal with a minute long video artwork gallery (though it does have a couple of nice pieces) and a trailer for the trilogy. Missing from the original release is the character gallery, the song listings, comics pages and the minor production notes. While they weren’t major pieces, it’s unfortunate that they did not get carried over to this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Before getting to the guts of things, one thing I really applauded CPM for here is in their handling of the audio tracks. With this remaster that was done in 2003 and the creation of dubs for previously undubbed material, they wanted some continuity between the characters and have gone and redubbed this release. The previous dub was done for the UK release and made its way over here as many UK dubs did for CPM in the early to mid 90’s. Where the thanks come in is that they have kept the original UK dub with this release. So this is a truly rare opportunity to compare a previous dub from many years ago with this new one. My only disappointment is that any form of credit for the original dub is nowhere to be found.

Gall Force: Eternal Story is the essence of 80’s anime. It’s got a decent plot, though it’ll seem nice and standard by now, some good character designs and a decent amount of action. For the 86 minutes that this movie runs, there’s little in the way of real lag, though they do make some odd choices.

The movie opens with the kind of classic anime space battles that you really don’t see anymore with lots of ships from two races going at each other. You have the all-female humanoid race called the Solnoids and you have the creepier bio-mechanical looking race called the Paranoids. Both races have been at war with each other for centuries now and things are just getting worse and worse. The Solnoids are in this particular pitched battle due to their recent creation of a world named Chaos where all their fleet is intending to go and defend as it is their last world to truly defend. Both races have recently developed massive planetary destructive weapons, so their wars can go on only so much longer.

The opening arc of the film has the battle and introduces us to the all-female cast on board the battleship Star Leaf. On board here, we have the crew fighting the pitched battle up until they’re instructed to warp out and head to Chaos to defend it there and regroup. An unfortunate accident though causes their warp jump to go awry and they actually end up far closer to Chaos than the rest of the fleet. The first arc is mostly character introductions, basic settings and getting the tension level set up.

The second arc brings us to the middle of the film where it plays out in an Alien kind of way, with the crew trying to repair the ship, hobble along and deal with a surprise visitor that got injected into their hull. What sets this and the first arc apart is that when the first arc ends, they spend some time in a near music video moment complete with flashbacks to things you just saw within the last twenty minutes. This happens again at the end of the second arc as well, with reflections of what’s gone on.

The third arc has the remaining crew members arriving on Chaos and going about the final battles that deal with its defense as well as the big revelations of what’s been going on behind the scenes in this ages-long war. One of the things that appealed to me a lot with this film during my first viewing back in the very early 90’s was that it was symbolic of what I liked about anime, mainly in that you weren’t sure if they’d kill someone off. A good portion of this cast is killed off along the way, and it does provide some surprises during the first viewing. Having seen it so many times now, it’s admittedly lost some of its luster, and I’ve seen a great deal more anime since then as well, with my tastes changing. There are key things I love, such as the deaths, but also the great early Sonoda character designs and the Invid-like Paranoid fighter craft.

In Summary:
Gall Force: Eternal Story is as far as I’ve seen in the GF universe, so it was definitely worthwhile to revisit it all these years later since I saw the first CPM DVD release of it back in the 90’s. While I’m not as hot on the show as I once was for obvious reasons, I do think it’s one of those classic simple yet fun science fiction anime series that a lot of the old timer fans cut their teeth on. And much like that original review, I’m definitely glad to have it in my library, particularly this much better-looking version.

Features
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Remastered Video, Comic Preview, Gall Force: Eternal Story Trailer

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C+

Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: March 11th, 2003
MSRP: $19.99
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
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.


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