Japanese Title: Super GALS! Kotobuki Ran
Similar: Neighbourhood Stories
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 52 episodes
- Tough girls.
- Spastic romances.
- Unrealistic conflict with a teacher.
- Fashion gangsters.
- So looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong.
What would a high school girl do for a perm? Self-proclaimed greatest Gal, Ran, would do anything, even partake in her family’s heritage as detectives by taking to Shibuya’s streets to do good deeds – as long as she can still dress up, of course. But will her cop father ever buy the promised perm when fashion, karaoke, and boys to mooch free food from keep distracting her?
In essence, Super GALS is about a trio of fashionista girls dealing with people (often creeps) and rival Gal gangs in Tokyo’s fashion centre, Shibuya. As ridiculous as that sounds, Super GALS’ greatest problem lies in that it is too serious for the premise. The drama it introduces seems to miss the point of the world they live in.
For example, a subplot with Ran’s friend Miyu reveals she’s the leader of some street gang. Yes, totally, totally serious and legit having a spindly tween fashionista as a gang leader. They don’t play with it. Imagine Zoolander if the ‘fashion models as the most powerful people in the world’ premise was executed seriously – no jokes, no parody. That would have sucked. Well, that’s what happens when Super GALS aims for drama. No one is going to buy this girl as a street gang member, never mind as leader, so why not go all out and spring great jokes? The team should have watched Zoolander.
Another thread taken too seriously involves a teacher who goes abusive dictator on Ran. In what universe does a teacher who threatens to punch a student (and later does) last until the end of the lesson in a decent school? They could have made it comical, have the teacher get at her in subtle ways that can’t pin the blame on him (see Full Metal Panic Fumoffu episode 2). That would have taken some thought, which I doubt was spared in this series. Also, his motivations are pathetic. He does this because he hates her…just because.
Super GALS reaches its worst point during the romantic subplot for Aya (third Super Gal). She is “in love” with the most handsome teenage boy in the area from another school, but his cold personality makes him difficult to approach. Still, she’s obsessed with him. She once tells him, “I don’t care if you cheated on me – I love you. You can do whatever you want as long as you let me love you” (paraphrasing). Reality have mercy.
Okay, some teens do believe in this idealistic “love slavery” – I saw this in person during high school. However, there was always several people ready to point out the distortions of wanting such a one-sided relationship. Having the relationship isn’t the problem. It’s sick and twisted, brimming with brilliant possibilities, but you have to tap that vein or it comes across as shallow, no, idiotic. Super GALS treats it like the most romantic of relationships where no one has a bad thing to say. Mean Girls and 10 Things I Hate About You could have taught plenty to Super GALS.
Ran and co. are at their best during the comedy moments against other fashion cliques, such as the Ganguro Girls (ultra tan with bright hair). Even then, however, it’s never great. I mean, fifty-two episodes! Wow, that’s long to base such a puddle-deep premise on. It would require a skilled writer to keep the jokes interesting for that long. A few episodes was all it took to exhaust the hairspray reserves.
Art – Low
The character style is not trendy enough for the era, which is ironic considering the show’s fashion focus. Weak animation. The colouring is bright, but looks vomited onto the screen.
Sound – Low
The dub is better, for the most part, since, as is often the case, the Japanese actors made little effort at a dialect or accent. The girls sound like every other girl in Japanese. The English version does more valley/fashionista that fits much better. The voices eventually become grating regardless of language, however.
Story – Low
A trendy girl and her friends law down the law in Shibuya against other fashion gangs and creeps. Unrealistic conflicts, laughable gangsters, and trendy troubles cannot sustain 52 episodes. Better in the slice of life aspects.
Overall Quality – Low
Recommendation: Don’t bother. Unless you’re super into fashion, in high school, and like old anime, I can’t imagine Super GALS will have much appeal.
Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)