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The Laser Disc Cover Art

The Laser Disc Cover Art

For better or for worse Gall Force Eternal Story is one of the first anime movies I ever saw, and one that had a powerful influence on how I have seen the medium ever since.

Eternal Story is a product of its times, and the passing of those times has left it more than a little dated.

The Set Up

Two races, the Solnoids and the Paranoids¸ are locked in a seemingly endless war. The Solnoids are an all-female [1] race, and the Paranoids are much more alien. The Paranoids are reminiscent of the Invid from the earlier Genesis Climber Mospeada

One Solnoid cruiser, the Star Leaf, is isolated from the fleet and becomes the target of a secret plan by both races to create a third, neutral, race that can negotiate peace in the galaxy.

It doesn’t end well.

The Cold War

Released in 1986 [2], Eternal Story is very much a product of the Cold War, and a later episode [3] explicitly references Mutually Assured Destruction as the rationale for the Species Unification Plan. Certainly Eternal Story outright states that both sides have weapons capable of destroying solar systems in a single shot.

I also believe that the echoes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be felt in the Gall Force series, and that this is true of many anime [4] of the 1980s.

However it is a product of its times, and I wonder if these aspects will resonate the same way for viewers that didn’t live through the Cold War.

The Hammer

There are probably two aspects of Gall Force: Eternal Story that hit me like a hammer when I first saw it. One is the fact that, apart from a ray of hope at the end, everyone dies [5].

This may have been the first time I’d seen such a story line on film, and it was certainly the first time I’d seen it with a female cast.

Granted that there’s a lot of gratuitous fan service [6] in the form of shower scenes, but this was still a revelation for me and something that has shaped me as anime fan ever since.

Despite that ray of hope there is a bleakness to this series that struck the much younger me as strong story telling. I’m much less likely to be attracted to such now, but it was powerful then and may still be so for some.

The attraction to strong and/or interesting female characters never went away though, and I’m pleased to report that it isn’t ever likely to.

The Problems

Eternal Story does have a couple of problems that need to be mentioned.

Eternal Story is a short movie that attempts to establish sympathy for a lot of characters just before killing them off. For the number of characters involved, 87 minutes really isn’t a lot of time. This is especially true for Lufy, and to a lesser extent Eluza.

I’ve already mentioned the gratuitous fan service, this is accompanied by gratuitously bad anime science to make the plot work. Don’t examine it too closely, and let that roll over you.

The Verdict

Gall Force: Eternal Story was one of the first films to make its way to the nascent anime fandom of the late 80s / early 90s. Despite the flaws, Eternal Story remains watchable and tells a strong story.

Weaker than it once was, Gall Force: Eternal Story is still a film that students of the genre should be aware of. If you haven’t seen it at least once, you should.

Day 1 – New Kimagure Orange Road: Summer’s Beginning (1996)
Day 2 – Naruto Shippuden The Movie (2002)
Day 3 – Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
Day 4 – Steamboy (2004)
Day 5 – Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
Day 6 – Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Day 7 – Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Day 8 – Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (2000)
Day 9 – Summer Wars (2009)
Day 10 – Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)
Day 11 – Silent Mobius I (1991) & II (1992)
Day 12 – Space Firebird 2772 (1980)
Day 13 – Junkers Come Here (1994)
Day 14 – Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Day 15 – Patlabor: The Movie (1989)
Day 16 – Card Captor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card
Day 17 – Millennium Actress
Day 18 – Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror
Day 19 – Gall Force: Eternal Story
Day 20 – (I actually know what this one will be, I’m just not saying yet) 🙂


 


[1] As designed by Kenichi Sonoda

[2] Three years prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and production would have started earlier than that.

[3] The second instalment Destruction if I’m remembering it correctly. The name of the third instalment, Stardust War is a reference to the fact that there aren’t any planets left to fight for.

[4] Superdimensional Fortress Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeada are two that spring to mind immediately. Not to mention that Kaiju films are often considered to be examples of this.

[5] It is traditional in Western Australian anime fandom to add “Oh the embarrassment” to “Everyone dies”, particularly when talking about Gall Force. You know who you are, and you probably did it automatically. 🙂

[6] Two points here: a) some things never change and b) Kenichi Sonoda has form for this.