Man, I am really bitter about this one. I was looking forward to Gall Force a lot. Sci-fi action-comedy about the all-female staff of a battleship. Sign me up! While Gall Force is that in the broadest of strokes, the end result was far from what I’d hoped.
The story is set amidst an intergalactic war between two great species. We follow the exploits of a crew belonging to the all-female Solnoid race, who look perfectly human for all intents and purposes. They are locked in conflict with a monstrous-looking race called the Paranoids. During a skirmish between these factions, the crew of the battleship Star Leaf becomes separated from its army. From there, we follow its crew of “lucky” 7 as they try to get back to safety.
The charming promotional art had me believing that this adventure would lean mostly on humor. This is somewhat the case, but it’s far from being lighthearted. For example, the movie opens up on soldiers tripping and bumping into each other as main character Rumy repeatedly misreads the orders she is broadcasting over the intercom. That’s pretty goofy! Until a few scenes later when all those same people are reduced to floating corpses.
Gall Force then plays its drama 100% straight and that makes the humor rather unpalatable. Even with the cast whittled down to just the 7 protagonists, that’s not the end of it. Several of these characters die horribly throughout the story. It’s less The Irresponsible Captain Tylor and more Alien from the Darkness.
The problem isn’t so much that genres are being combined here. It’s the whiplash you get as the show jerks you back and forth between them. You can’t get in the mood for the goofiness because then it suddenly shifts into tragedy. Terrible things happen and you adjust your mood, but then the characters shifts back into comedic banter after about 30 seconds of mourning. Intersperse that with a dry sci-fi plot with obvious twists, and it was hard to ever feel excited about anything Gall Force had to offer.
Not helping either is just how annoying its comedy is. Or rather, it’s the characters that are annoying. The only survivors aboard the Star Leaf are the meek incompetents and a few bickering veterans. In other words, you either get whiners that exist in a constant state of panic or assholes that bark conflicting orders at each other. It reminded me a little too much of actual working life.
Rumy is a good example. She is panicky pipsqueak that isn’t good at anything, except for getting numerous people killed as a result of her mistakes. She never learns anything from this, preferring instead to whine anytime she is expected to do something. There is a scene where she has to do some work, but goes on a rambling tirade over the comms about how much she hates it. The joke is supposed to be that her comrades are annoyed by her as well. Fine, I guess, but this is our main character. We are supposed to like Rumy and be invested in her survival.
The quality of the voice acting doesn’t help endear the characters either, though I have to admit that it’s a decent effort for 1986.
Gall Force ended up doing quite well for itself; gaining several sequels and spin-offs. I didn’t watch those because I was not having a good time at all and—to its credit—the first movie already offers a pretty darn good ending. It gives closure to the story in a way that I actually quite liked. The action is also very solid. So if you can stomach the story’s shifting tone and obnoxious characters, then Gall Force is a pretty cool sci-fi series to check out.