Super Deformed Double Feature

Official Blurb:

"Two self-parodies of simply sublime silliness on one tape "SD" for short is a unique Japanese genre; incredibly cute "kiddy" versions of the original characters doing outrageous things. Ten Little Gall Force purports to be a series of out-takes from the original series in which everything that can go wrong does. Scramble Wars is a mixed up parody anime, featuring Artmic's famous characters and mecha. There's a big race taking place in the lawless land of Gaiarth, and everyone's got a secret reason why they absolutely must win the Genom trophy. It's no-holds- barred and no-dirty-deed-disallowed when the Knight Sabers, the Gall Force gang, the home team from Gaiarth and some other special guest stars, race their way to the finish line."

Language Format: Japanese Language, English Subtitles
Running time:    67 mins
Certificate:     PG
Label:           Anime Projects
Catalogue no:    AP095-014
Price:           £12.99
Release Date:    16th January 1996


Explaining the concepts of 'super-deformity' to the uninitiated is tough: start describing characters with large heads and even bigger eyes, and people start thinking of 'E.T'. Best just to say that the SD genre represents anime at it's most ultimately cute; if normal characters may be turned into model kits and posters, SD ones appear as soft toys and key-rings. This tape contains two of the best examples of the genre.

'10 Little Gall Force' comes over as a parody of those 'Making of...' documentaries you see whenever some blockbuster movie appears. Set in the studios where 'Gall Force: Eternal Story' is being shot, it's a loose collection of out-takes and 'behind the scenes' footage. To really appreciate it, you need to be familiar with 'Eternal Story', as most of the humour is related to incidents in the movie, or the relationship between the characters and the actresses. It also helps to have a VCR with a good freeze-frame, as there are several occasions when the subtitling can't quite keep up with the task of simultaneously translating dialogue, signs, computer readouts and so on. The extensive liner notes also weigh in to try and explain some of the jokes.

'Scramble Wars', in comparison, is much more linear, with a 'Wacky Races' story based around a competition for the Genom trophy, between characters from Bubblegum, Gall Force, Gaiarth and other series. It's also more visual, the subtitles don't add as much as in '10', most of the humour is pretty transparent and no special knowledge is required for this one, as it's a stand alone tale. You do get the feeling that you're still missing things, however. For example, who is the winner? Is it intended to BE someone? Answers on a postcard, please.

The tape's total running time is 50 minutes, generous by AnimEigo's notoriously stingy standards (c.f. Bubblegum Crisis 2 + 3), but unfortunately, only about half of that is actually animation. At the end of '10', you get a swift tour round Ken-ichi Sonoda's studios, which is fascinating if you want to see what a sleeping anime creator looks like. But it is still several degrees more interesting than what follows 'Scramble Wars'; a feature on the making of the theme song. Let's give the voice actresses credit and assume they were only PRETENDING to be bimbos.

But overall, when this tape is good, it's very good. As concentrated, condensed humour, it's a little gem, and is highly recommended to fans of Sonoda, Gall Force, BGC, or anyone still left with a sense of humour after watching the dub of 'Crying Freeman'... [Jim McLennan]

This is a video aimed at fans of ace character designer Kenichi Sonoda. It opens with "Ten Little Gall Force", an affectionate "Super Deformed" parody of the GALL FORCE series of videos. In this parody the viewer is taken behind the scenes at the making of a Gall Force movie, in which a director with an over fondness for realism inflicts various indignities on his cast. I found parts of this very funny, but the humour depends partly on familiarity with the characters (and a good pause control to read all the subtitling).

Next comes a short live-action video of Sonoda at work and asleep, and a charming mini-anime sketch which is by way of an apology for the delay of Sonoda's latest release.

The second feature "Scramble Wars", is anime's version of the "Wacky Races". It's set on Gaiarth, and has a number of Youmex stars competing against each other to win the Genom rally trophy. The line-up includes the Gall Force girls, the Knight Sabres, Ital and Sahari (of GENESIS SURVIVER GIARTH) and a blue Boomer. Few of the competitors are above pulling a few dirty tricks in order to win. I found bits of it (mainly the rivalry between the Knight Saber girls) very funny, but other parts fell a bit flat. And it's alleged by some that the original "Wacky Races" was better.

There is also a short live action video about the recording of the GALL FORCE theme song.

Verdict: Minor league stuff for dedicated fans. [Geoff Cowie]