Gall Force 2: Destruction

Sequels usually fall apart when they tread the same ground as their predecessors. Familiarity is nice, to some extent, but no one wants to see a retread, and thus the best sequels keep the central characters while ditching elements of the original that either didn't work or would feel too repetitive. The original Gall Force outing, Eternal Story, had some serious problems, ranging from underdeveloped characters to stolen riffs off better sci-fi films. Amazingly enough, despite all its problems, the series continued unabated throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Unfortunately, Gall Force 2: Destruction is no better than the original and in some ways slightly worse; although it lacks a couple of Eternal Story's shortcomings, the filmmakers ultimately wound up making the same errors that condemn the series to the moniker "mediocre."

Destruction picks up some time after the fateful cruise of the Star Leaf, whose journey Eternal Story chronicled. As Destruction starts, the Solnoid and Paranoid races are still battling each other towards complete annihilation. After the chaos of a massive battle, one of the Star Leaf's crew is found frozen and adrift in some space junk. When revived, she's startled to find out that the homeworlds of both groups have been destroyed, and the future looks bleak as they prepare to be space wanderers. As the Paranoid forces, weakened over time, attempt to pull together a last-ditch effort to stop the Solnoids, several Solnoid crew members find themselves at odds with plans to destroy their last hope of a new home.

Frankly, I was unimpressed by Eternal Story because it was simply too derivative, and I expected Destruction to be the same. On one hand, I'm happy to report that it wisely avoids following the safe route and attempts to be something a little different, not stealing clichés from major Hollywood pictures. On the other hand, without stealing plot elements, Destruction feels desperately flat. Although Eternal Story may have been the anime version of Alien and became boring because you knew where it was headed, it was engaging at a certain level that Destruction fails to achieve. Unfortunately, nobody learned a lesson from the first film's shortcomings, as many bad elements carry over: the sequel still has gratuitous nudity that adds nothing to the plot, it continues to introduce many minor characters with no background development, and it neglects presenting a story with any compelling elements. There's certainly plenty of action, but as the credits fade, you come away with the grim realization that the constant battle sequences draw attention away from the fact that this film doesn't have a single truly original idea in its head. The ship designs and concepts owe a great debt to the original Macross series and other early 80s mecha shows; the look at first glance is identical. The character designs are out of the same era, and the individuals don't appear much different from each other--and with only a brief introduction to each participant, none stands out.

Gall Force stuns me when I realize just how popular this show once was. There are still quite a few fan web sites out there, and that just amazes me. I've read several, and I still don't get it. There is a third part to the original Gall Force trilogy, but I don't think I have the strength to find it soon. Simply put, there are better ways to spend your anime money, even if it's on the lousy original Gall Force: Eternal Story.

Gall Force 2: Destruction -- non-sexual nudity, violence -- C