October 13, 2008
Gall Force: Eternal Story
This is one of my favorite "old school" (pre-digital) anime feature films. Gall Force: Eternal Story is classic SF/F "high concept." That is, it takes a profound question about life, the universe, and everything, formulates a far-out theory, and then makes the explanation so entertaining you can ignore the galloping illogic.
That order is important. Crowd-pleasers like The Matrix and Independence Day enthrall their audiences (well, me) sufficiently that they (I) can ignore the deeply idiotic premises. As long as they don't push it. Unfortunately, as with The Matrix, a dumb premise will ultimately doom the sequels.
Gall Force keeps your superego from spoiling the fun for your id with plenty of gratuitous nudity (though of the Barbie Doll variety), a J-Pop power ballad at regular intervals, and a "Ten Little Indians" plot that has you wondering who will get bumped off next.
The profound, existential question it asks is where the human race came from (assuming that evolution isn't your cup of tea). And it devises an explanation that Mormons who know their Brigham Young arcana (and where Glen Larson got the idea for Battlestar Galactica) should be familiar with:
Mankind are here because they are the offspring of [Adam and Eve,] who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species . . . . [Adam] was the person who brought the animals and the seeds from other planets to this world. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 285; vol. 3, p. 319.)
In the Gall Force universe, the all-female race of the "Solnoids" and the reptilian (male) "Paranoids" have been engaged in centuries of ruinous warfare. In fact, the "gall" in the original is actually garu, a cognate of "girl," meaning "young woman." The American distributor must have thought a literal translation sounded silly.
In any case, faced with the prospect of mutual annihilation, the powers that be conspire to invent--wait for it--heterosexual mammalian reproduction! It's sort of like Lysistrata in reverse.
(Actually, the original intent was to produce a race of Mr. Spock superegos to mediate between the squabbling ids and egos. But they messed up and created men instead.)
The unwitting victims of this experimentation are the crew of the Star Leaf battle cruiser. The last woman standing is rewarded just as Brigham Young would have scripted it. There's a reality game show for you: the winner gets to populate a new planet!
Okay, if you want to nitpick, you could ask why the "females" have secondary sexual characteristics in the first place. But like I said, don't think about stuff like that and you'll enjoy it a lot more. There are also a bunch of Gall Force sequels and prequels, but they don't measure up to the original.
This theme pops up in other anime series. Vandread posits a future where men and women have separated into separate societies. In Tweeny Witches, this separation triggers the apocalypse. While the former rarely rises above the dumb but fun, the latter comes to some insightful conclusions.
Or as my brother Henry puts it, "In short, fish really do need bicycles."
The birds, bees, and the trees