Production Studio: Madhouse
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime Planet
Well, well… This is more like it! I remember watching Galaxy Angel back in college. Just a few years back, I bought the first volume on DVD, which I held on to for some time before selling it off, as buying the show on singles got too pricey, and discs got harder to find. So, when I was given the opportunity to review the show on Blu-ray, I jumped at the chance. And, really I have to say that this was probably the funniest time I’ve had working on a review to date.
Galaxy Angel has an interesting history behind its production. The series was initially a video game series developed by Broccoli, which revolved around a group of young women who are part of the Angel Brigade. The Angel Brigade are a special faction within the fictional Transvaal Empire, who are on a quest to find the fabled ‘Lost Technology.’ The games were a veritable mix of Dating Sim and Real Time Strategy, and there were even plans to produce an anime series that adapted the first game proper.
Sadly, fate had other plans. The first video game was delayed, leaving the anime’s producers with no more than character documents and setting briefs. With this scant information in hand, Madhouse decided to make the anime into a goofy gag comedy show. The approach proved so successful that, the Galaxy Angel anime series went for five seasons, and received a sequel show Galaxy Angel Rune in 2006.
What really helps Galaxy Angel shine its brightest is its episode length. Each episode runs for about 12 to 13 minutes, which ensures that the jokes are snappy and quick to the point. The show’s first episode shows this off this beautifully, while introducing the quirks of the major players. The episode opens with veritable gun nut and cool beauty Forte (my personal favorite) and the vain-yet-strong-willed Ranpha being tasked with a mission to find a lost cat.
Anyway, on the way, the two meet up with certified precious cinnamon roll Milfeulle, who has a bit of an innate ability: she has a high luck stat, but it comes with a negative feedback loop effect in that something good might happen to you when around her, but then it will end up biting you in the bum later. Milfeulle’s freakish luck aura becomes a tremendous driver of much of the show’s hilarity.
The series generally revolves around the core members of the Angel Brigade, which is composed of:
- Mint, the token richie rich and cosplay fangirl
- Vanilla, the stoic mystery maiden
Episodes see the gang embroiled in various situations, as they unearth certain danger (and hilarity) along the way. Seriously, I was chuckling a lot while watching this show. A lot of these situations place themselves within the context of science fiction situations. Episode plots see the crew dealing with a rogue missile named NORMAD, contending with crooks out to pilfer Lost Technology, and the like with the occasional civil duty missions mixed in for good measure. Variety is the spice of life, and Galaxy Angel lives that quite fully.
That said, it’s not all fun and games for the Angel Brigade. The series occasionally dips its toes into serious narratives, which it plays straight. Episode 14 is a stellar example of this, and one of my favorite in the series. , The episode, titled Downtown Soulfood ODEN, a serious Crime Noir story that focuses on Forte which ends on a rather sweet note and fleshes out Forte more than just a beautiful babe with an unhealthy fascination with weaponry. It gives me pause to see that, at times, the show easily could have worked as a more serious sci-fi story.
But this feeling is often undercut by the wacky humor a bit (Episode 24, for example, goes for a serious climax only to subvert it with a joke). And yet, at other times, the humor actually works to bring up a few thought-provoking notions. Episode 17, my editor’s favorite episode, features the Angel Brigade dealing with a sentient tank. And while it is peppered with laughs, the episode manages to deliver a thoughtful commentary on the concept of automated sentience.
I would be remiss without talking about Nozomi’s Blu-Ray re-release. The first season of Galaxy Angel first hit Japanese TV in 2001. Despite the show’s age showing a bit (some of the CGI work is noticeable), the HD transfer and remastering work is quite excellent. Being a comedy, the animation does derp and dip from time to time, but that just reinforces the written humor (the jokes) with the visual humor as SD/chibi art, wacky facial expressions, etc. abound in this show.
The English dub goes hand-in-hand with the carefree, lighthearted nature of the series. Though the cast is made up of B-team Vancouver voice talent from the early ‘00s, they really dive into the material. The real shocker for me, though, was discovering that NORMAD was voiced by none other than Richard Ian Cox, who’s played iconic characters like Inuyasha, Ranma ½’s Ranma Saotome, and Dragonball Z’s Goku (Ocean Group dub). Sometimes, I can look back and admire the effort made by a few of these older English dubs and, like a fine wine, Galaxy Angel’s adaptation is something that can be enjoyed time and time again.
Overall, Galaxy Angel an entertaining, fluffy sci-fi series. It could have been a total mess, given the uneasy production history, but they managed to turn it into something charmingly funny, worth all the chuckles. For folks who had the original DVDs, the Blu-Ray set is a worthy upgrade. Personally, though, I can’t wait to get my hands on the second season, which will also ship to stores under Right Stuf’s banner. I hear that Right Stuf will be releasing the second season on Blu-ray this coming year, so I can’t wait to get my hands on that. As the theme song goes, ride the rocket of romance!