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Super GALS! Season 2: The Heart of Shibuya PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Monday, 15 October 2007 17:00
Super GALS!Once thought lost in licensing hell, the second half of Super Gals! was thankfully rescued by the good folks at RightStuf and released in a very reasonably-priced box set - although fans of the (apparently very good) ADV dub will feel somewhat let down, as this is a subtitles-only set. I'm a subbie, so I don't care - I just got to see the rest of one of the better shoujo series out there. So roll on another 26 episodes of the adventures of Ran Kotobuki and her friends...

Episode summaries and screenshots are relegated to pages 2-6 of this review, since there are so many of 'em. Watching this set had to wait until I was away on my holidays - finding the time to marathon 26 episodes at home was never going to be a runner - and since we weren't fortunate enough to get any decent sunshine this year, it was up to the Super Gals to brighten my days. I'm pleased to say it did that job wonderfully.

First, a quick re-introduction to the cast, as it's been so long since the first season was released. Star of the show is Ran Kotobuki, a girl who at first glance is far too carefree and fun-loving for her own good, but who under the surface is very caring, both for her friends and her home area of Shibuya. Her best friends are Aya - the shy, smart girl who doesn't have much of an idea of what she wants to do with her life - and Miyu, who's very much in love with Ran's policeman brother Yamato. Her little sister Sayo is also in on the detective kick - she's a huge fan of cop show Odaiba Cop, and along with boyfriend Masato spends her time looking for cases to solve.

We've also got Tatsukichi, Ran's monkey-boy boyfriend (although you wouldn't know it from seeing them together); Yuya, aka Second Place as he never seems to be able to win first-place in Ran's affections; Otohata, Aya's sort-of boyfriend who's really a stand-offish arsehole; Mami, rival gal from Bukuro who's always trying to one-up Ran; and Naokichi, Tatsukichi's little brother who ends up tagging along with the Datchu Detectives after developing a crush on Sayo.

That's the cast list from 'season one', anyway - there's a whole batch of new characters introduced throughout these episodes (new rival Kasumi, former #1 gal Towa...) that bring their own personalities and sense of fun to the show, and you can read more about them all in the episode summaries. Let's just say that apart from Otohata, there's not a dull character in the bunch - which given that the show relies so heavily on the comic interactions of them all, isn't just a good thing, but an essential part of the mix. Otohata's slot as odd-one-out does play a role, but in general he's a deeply unlikeable character - which given the way he treats my own favourite character, Aya, would earn him a stabbity death from me if he weren't a fictional character.

There's no real story as such to Super Gals - a few ongoing threads, such as the rivalries between Ran & Mami and Ran & Kasumi (both girls looking to take Ran's spot as #1 gal, but both going about it in different ways and eventually losing interest for different reasons) and the ups and downs of the relationships between the lead girls and their guys of choice, but for the most part the episodes are stand-alone stories that take an event in the characters' lives and play it up - usually for comic effect, but sometime for emotional tugging. Both types of story usually work very well - we're coming back to that likeable cast again, which makes to want to see good things happen to them and really makes you sit up and watch when they don't.

Deep and meaningful? Rarely. Gut-bustingly funny? Often. Thought-provoking? Surprisingly, yes - it's not what you really expect when you start the series, but it does happen as the girls work through their problems and you begin to think about whether they've done the right thing or not. It all adds up to a very enjoyable package - I always thought the first season was horribly under-rated (which played no small part in ADV's decision not to pick up the second half), and this set may well suffer from the same lack of exposure, but it really does deserve to do well. Available online for US$29 (£15) if you look around, it's a bargain that you really shouldn't miss. Highly recommended.

Rating - ****