Oh Excel Saga, you were my first... not counting the usual stuff that every kid watched in the 90's (Pokemon, Digimon, Dragonball Z, etc).
Yes, Excel Saga was the show that took my otaku virginity and led me into the world of anime, a never-ending voyage from which I may never return. I have no regrets, for this is the only path; my whole life is now Unlimited Anime Works.
But that aside, let's get reviewin'!
~~~Review is being approved by Rikdo Koshi; please wait...
Excel Saga is (somewhat loosely) based on the manga by Rikdo Koshi (Koshi Rikdo? Which way around is it?). Primarily a comedy series, it skillfully combines parody, surrealism and non-sequiturs to create a unique style of humour that I've not seen anywhere else. Following the adventures of world-conquering-organisation henchwoman, Excel Excel, the show bounces schizophrenically between genres in every episode - this week science-fiction horror, next week girl-get-game romance - parodying everything within reach and never slowing down for anything.
THE FOUR REASONS I WATCH ANIME
As noted above, Excel Saga's humour is quite unique. Parody, surrealism and non-sequiturs can be found in many anime, but rarely all three at once. Toss in a generous helping of slapstick and puns and set the whole thing on rapid-fire; that's Excel Saga in a nutshell. In fact, it's so fast that the English dub VA for Excel lost her voice due to the strain and had to be replaced. You've heard of things being described as 'a laugh per minute'? Excel Saga is 'a laugh per dozen seconds'. Maybe even less.
The action in Excel Saga is pretty generic, but of course most of the action that takes place is taking the piss out of something else, so naturally it would have to be cliched and easily identifiable. You'll see dual-wielded light machine guns, mountain-destroying laser beams, oversized swords, even a suspiciously-named 'G**dam' or two, but it's all stuff you've seen before and will doubtlessly see again. At least it's funny though.
Excel Saga does the Fullmetal Alchemist trick of not entirely following the storyline of the original manga... except it does it thirty times worse. The plot is barely there, although it does all come together towards the last quarter of the series. But as a comedy show above all else, there's very little call for plot anyway. And besides, thanks to constant storyline resets - provided by The Great Will of the Macrocosm - and the bizarre magic of the status quo, F City of F Prefecture can be flooded, bombed and caught in the crossfire of sentai action hero antics and still make it to the next episode as if nothing happened... until the plot kicks in, that is.
Archetypes, archetypes everywhere! Excel's the Genki Girl, Hyatt's the Sick Girl, Misaki's the Tsundere, Nabeshin's the Author (Director?) Insert, et cetera et alium. But despite that, they're exaggerated so much and have enough effort put into them by the VA's that you can't help but get excited for them anyway. The setting is inconsistent at best, but having not read much of the manga I can definitely say that the chaos of the anime's genre-confusion makes it far more interesting that it would have been otherwise.
- The Ropponmatsu units were my favourite characters and inspired the earlier designs of some of the characters in my short stories (non-fanfiction, I don't write that stuff). Thanks to them, I now have a thing for kuuderes and catgirls. Well played, Rikdo, well played.
- Likewise, Ilpalazzo was my first taste of loud, Large Ham type characters, and damn are they AWESOME. Ilpalazzo ramps up the ham factor with grandiose speeches, intermittent bouts of schizophrenia, child-like tantrums over girl-get games and DIY guitar lessons, SHEER BADASSERY towards the plot's climax and a very Gendo Ikari-esque personality.
- Kinda disappointing that it doesn't seem to be that widely known and/or appreciated, especially given how funny it is.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10