12 December 2001 | vkn
Has it's moments, but the saga is beginning to drag by now.
The Gall Force; Earth Chapter series will be wasted on viewers who are not at least somewhat familiar with the previous Gall Force films. They'll miss out on several essential plot points, and this installment loses all of it's punch and point when viewed out of the grand scope of the whole Gall Force shebang (so it's a bit odd that Manga Video released the Earth videos here as a standalone title to an audience that had never previously heard of Gall Force and can't really appreciate this).
To re-cap it very briefly, the first Gall Force trilogy tells the story of a never-ending war in space between two advanced races; the Solnoids and the Paranoids. The elites of the two races are aware that their ongoing war has already sent both races on their way to inevitable mutual wiping out, so they started a project to create a new, Solnoid/Paranoid hybrid race, which would hopefully have a bit more common sense. This eventually led to the birth of the human race. While it was too late to save the Solnoids and Paranoids from killing off each other altogether, the humans got the chance to start over on earth and hopefully not make the same mistakes as their ancestors. Only, by the time of the Earth Chapter episodes, mankind has hit choppy waters. Using a last scrap of Solnoid/Paranoid technology found on the moon, they've built legions of cyborgs called the MME. These MME then went a bit Terminator and have turned the whole earth into a ravaged wasteland. Most of mankind has fled to Mars, and only a handful of fighters remain on earth, struggling against the MME.
What basically happens in the Earth Chapter tapes is that mankind makes a few collective attempts at wiping out the MME, only to change their mind at the last moment when they realise that they'll do more harm than good to themselves by running in, guns blazing. In the first episode, it's nuclear missiles that will irrevocably destroy the earth's ecosystem while they wouldn't even scratch the MME, all while a small sect believes they've found a way to restore earth's ecology someday. The second episode features a huge space-based plasma cannon sent from Mars to blow up the MME HQ from space...but the blast is so powerful it'll also destroy the entire earth along with it. The MME base is finally taken out in the third tape through less radical means, and mankind may hopefully have picked up some of the message that the Solnoids and Paranoids, and also these tapes try to convey; that blind aggression never leads to anything.
Trouble is, while the story is interesting enough at points and has some strong sentimental moments, it's all done pretty poorly. Animation quality is very lacklustre, for one thing. Between the frequent re-cycling of animation sequences and the hilarious jerky walks of the MME in the first tape, we're not exactly being treated to a visual feast.
The plots also suffer from being too hurried to pack the punch they could. The way they heavily borrow elements from previous Gall Force films and a myriad of other sci-fi greats also drags them down to more predictable and sedate levels. Even the whole pacifist message doesn't come across as powerfully as it could because of this. Same to the leitmotiv that mankind has itself to blame for the pretty stupid self-destruction they've set in motion. If even strong themes like this can't make the tapes really interesting, something has to be a bit wrong with them. It's unfortunately all too obvious that you're watching low-quality stuff for a viewer to be impressed by the few good things there still are in here. The staggeringly poor English dub doesn't help matters either, leading to lots of crummy dialogue and bad acting (Fortine is cursed with an especially ridiculous voice).
Some punches in favor of the Earth Chapter tapes, all the same; it does have atmosphere, with the nicely painted backgrounds getting the feel of a destroyed earth across very well. The acres of ruined skyscrapers are especially dramatic to behold. The music was really rather nice as well, with some themes that stick in your head for a while and back up the action scenes very well. However, even with this, the Earth Chapters can only be recommended to those who know the previous Gall Forces well, and really liked what they saw there. There's very little point in watching this otherwise.