"Are there any questions?"
"I've got way too many, but I'm not sure they're questions I should even be asking..."
And that, ladies and gents, sums up Excel Saga (to a tee) in its own words. If you're like me and a fan of random humor, this series will go down in your books as one of the greatest anime you've had the fortune to set your eyes upon. While not the funniest or most clever comedy to be produced, it boasts an incredibly unique flavor that you will either passionately love or fervently loathe.
The core of Excel Saga's humor revolves around a number of individual storylines that loosely tie into each other. These include:
Trying to predict the direction the series will take is virtually impossible. Even with a repeating theme such as Excel being dropped down a hole, each occurrence is distinct; something new always happens when she hits the bottom, ranging from wrestling alligators to popping out of manholes in American sewers. Yet, oddly enough, everything flows together with a surprising level of coherence -- it's incredibly hard to get lost despite the constant chaos flowing across the screen.
With all that said, Excel Saga's animation is fairly well sophisticated for its time, but nothing spectacular. However, Excel Saga is entirely self-conscious of its flaws and doesn't give mocking itself a second thought. For instance, there's an episode where all the male characters are given no screentime and the females are given a "30% increase to shading and highlights." It uses its low-budget animation quality to its advantage, which is a definite plus.
By far the least commentable (is that a word...? Is now!) of the categories; not too much else to say here.
Moving on, the sound score is much more commentable. The opening theme fits the series like a glove, and probably even better considering it's sung by the seiyuu who voice Excel and Hyatt. On the other side is an ingenious ending theme, sung in dog barks regarding the manner in which Menchi would choose to be eaten should the time come. Sandwich a great OST inbetween and there's not much to complain about. Each of the tracks capture the moods of their respective scenes with finesse, and despite their obvious lack of great production quality I quite enjoyed them. Even better, though, top it all off with an outstanding Seiyuu and you're good to go. The voice actor for Excel is especially impressive, as capturing that energy and hype is certainly no easy task. I also loved Pedro and his Spanish-accented Japanese.
If you've seen Azumanga Daioh, you probably have a good idea as to how Excel Saga executes most of its character designs. Every character has at least one trait that's exaggerated in the extreme, whether it be Excel's non-stop ranting or Shioji's knack for having little girls appear and assist him in every possible circumstance. Despite having a massive caste of characters, I found each individual to have a distinct and memorable flavor.
What really stands out in this category, however, are the interactions between the characters. Where they personally lack depth, their relationships are weaved with amusing complexity -- the quartet from the civil service agency are perfect examples. The constant sparring between Iwata and Onigunse is particularly notable, as the two are constantly at odds over everything save women; quite ironic considering the two spend the entire series chasing their respective love interests.
All in all, Excel Saga boasts some hilarious random humor that parallels its parody well. As I mentioned before, however, it polarizes itself in such a fashion that it becomes an anime you will either adore or despise. The content is much less an issue than the presentation; being able to tolerate Excel is probably the sole defining factor as to whether or not you'll enjoy the series. If you can, this will probably become a classic in your anime collection; if you can't, it will probably become a classic on your black list.
Oh lord, see what that moron Koshi Rikido did now, he allowed Excel Saga to become a crappy review.
Story - 10/10
Many of the reviews I see about Excel Saga say it's confusing, which I just don't see. Manic, random, confusing, yes, but confusing it isn't. Oh Wait.
Each episode is signed off by the original creator Koshi Rikdo, generally under threat or torture, to resemble a specific anime type, with some episodes going as far as using plot lines from Fist of the North Star and catch phrases from Trigun.
Within the show there are three main plot lines that intersect with each other and eventually combine to conclude the story, there are also a few sub plots that aren't used as frequently but do hold significance in the show.
The Excel story follows Excel Excel as she does the bidding of Lord Il Palazzo and his secret organization ACROSS. She is suppose to first conquer F City so that they can perfect their plans for world domination, but being that she lacks any brains, she often fails at her tasks. Shortly after the start of the series she is partnered up with Hyatt, who's constant dying does little to help in world domination. The finally member of Excel's story is Menchi and adorable puppy that Excel adopts in order to use him as her backup food supply.
The Pedro story line starts just as early in the series as Excel's. A poor immigrant worker from Columbia, Pedro's life in thrown into disarray when Excel's stupidity gets him killed. He must now try and regain his human form in order to rescue his sexy wife and son Sandora from his former friend Gomez, which eventually leads to a fight for the fate of the world.
The final main story plot line has to do with three roommates who live next door to Excel. In an attempt to impress Hyatt one roommate, Watanabe, applies to be a goverment worker, during the interview he sees both his roommates have joined him and continue to be a thorn in his side everywhere he goes. Along with their fourth co-worker, Matsuya and two robots, these six are trained to become the mighty Municipal Force Daitenzin. With the head of City Security, Kapapu, as their leader, they go about doing what public employees were meant to do, protect the citizens, which in reality means they kill them by the bucket load.
The sub plot mainly centers around the director of the series, an afroed man dressed like Lupin the 3rd, Nabeshin. Nabeshin's duty is find Pedro and teach him to be one of the Six great Afro Warriors who are the only ones who can defeat the ACROSS Six, made up of different versions of That Man. For the majority of the series Nabeshin gets very little screen time and many of the other characters from his plot, such as Space Butler and Tetsuko, are basically added to give you the idea Nabeshin had a secret past as a trained assassin or mercenary.
In the final episodes the series strays from being a comedy and becomes a very good serious anime, you almost feel like if they wanted to they could have just made the whole series serious and it would have worked out. At this time the plots all merge in an all out battle between ACROSS and the City Security force, both in Japan and unknowingly in Colombia.
Animation - 8/10
The animation in Excel is nothing to write home about, but then again it's also nothing to complain about. The episodes where there are tons of action or very detailed scenes are as good as any other anime of the time and throughout the episodes the characters and backgrounds are consistent, where as in many other anime you can tell there was a change in art director in some episodes.
Some of the best animation, albeit crudest, is used for Excel and Menchi's freak outs. It's very jagged and simplistic, but thats used to convey the mindset at the time of both characters, Excel's madness and Menchi's fear of being eaten. In the final few episodes there is a slight change of animation for excel to match her now solemn personality and then a third look for her time wandering around brainlessly, both match up pretty well with the tone for the three episodes preceding the finale and then episode 26 stands alone.
Sound - 9/10
I love everything about the sound in Excel Saga and the only thing keeping it from receiving a perfect score is the lack of more.
For once I think the voice acting in the English version is far better than that of the Japanese one. The character's voices are acted brilliantly and match perfectly with the character they are portraying, while the original seems a bit too plain, as if acted without actually knowing what the characters are like. Of course the shining star is Excel Excel, whose grating voice and hyper delivery work perfect for the manic character.
The music, while having only three real memorable songs, is very entertaining. Not often will I sit through the opening sequence of any show more than once (with the few exceptions being GTO, Trigun and the great Hawaii Five-0 theme) but I found myself time and time again watching the entire Excel opening, which is all the more shocking as I use to work in a video store where I had to watch a demo loop that would play the theme upwards of forty times over the course of a shift.
Along with the opening, and adorable Menchi sung closing, is Pedro's theme. Every time Pedro's story line occurs it is accompanied by a song that closely resembles the old blues song "House of the Rising Sun." Unfortunately for Pedro, unlike the character in the song, his life wasn't ruined by his own vices but instead by Excel.
Characters - 9/10
An anime like Excel Saga greatly benefits from the fact you really don't need to build complex back stories for each character, each one lives in the present and that snippet gives you everything you'll need to know.
Each character in the series is completely unique from the next, with their own personality, loves and mission, which is a saying a lot with a series that has 17 very prominent characters.
Some characters that were real standouts were, of course, our star Excel Excel, who's love of Lord Il Pollazo guides all her choices and her lack of a brain leads to all her blunders. Sumiyoshi, the mute member of the Municipal Force Daitenzin, who's character is perfectly conveyed even with a lack of dialogue. And the Puchuu, terrifyingly adorable space creatures who when hit just become racist.
Bigger than the characters themselves are the interactions between the characters, which I'll just stay silent on due to the fact many aren't revealed till late in the show and could spoil the story.
Overall - 9/10
Excel Saga is a great comedy anime that could have equally been a great serious anime. As a comedy it is laugh out loud funny, with some moments, that although you see coming from a mile away, will crack you up. Without the comedy I still can see a very good show about the attempted world takeover and those trying to fight it, about love and betrayal, and about a girl with no brains trying to live life unsuccessfully, hell I'd watch a show about that, it'd be hilarious.
Watched on Netflix and DVD Release
Ah! Excel Saga, It should be called "Excessive Saga" or "Exageratted Saga" or as many people call it "Wtf Is Going On Saga" based off the manga series of the same name this was adapted into an anime in the year 1999. A lot of crazy things were going on in '99, Prince was throwing one hell of a party, 345 prisoners escpaed a prison in Brazil by walking out through the front door, and the world was coming to an end. I guess Koshi Rikdo, the creator of Excel Saga and Shinichiro Watanabe, the director of the anime. Decided in their minds one day and just said "Fuck it why not". Why not have a dog shooting a gatling gun why not have a mexican immigrant die and have an affair with the universe. Just WHY THE FUCK NOT? That's what this show is all about, the amount of randomness Rikdo and Nabeshin can get just stuff into each episode and here's ya boy Wiru-sans take on it!
Ha! What Story?
But in all seriousness Excel-
"Seriousness" is a word that doesn't have a place when you're dealing with Excel Saga. Plenty of surreal comedy a butt-load of parodies and references and physcial comedy. Put that together and you have Excel Saga. Every episode they make fun of a new genre, they have the creator of Excel Saga at the begining of each episode give his "permission" to make the episode into whatever they want:
B-rate action flick
Even when they have this general theme, they always go off the wall. This show actually does have a general plot though. Our heroine Excel Excel, (from what she tells us that's her full name). The show starts off with Excel graduating school and running with joy for her new job at this company called ACROSS. So happy in fact she runs right into the street and gets hit by a truck and dies. Then we are greeted with this
She is then brought back into the fray known as life by the Great Will of the Macrocosm just what/who is that you ask?
The fucking universe with arms
She's like God, she restarts the show or brings characters back from the dead whenever they get off track I don't quite know what track this show is on but she brings Excel back multiple times. They actually aplogized in the second episode for the confusing events that took place, and explained briefly what the shows "plot" is, after they did this they fucking tossed it out the window and went back to normal
I don't know if you'd call this normal, but they went back to it
The plot goes like this, Excel works for a secret organzation called ACROSS who wants to take over the city. As the show puts it "This anime is the stupified saga of the trials and tribulations of Excel and her leader Il Palazzao as they try to take over the entire city." Now thats the main goal but they usually just do whatever they want and it turns out funny. She is actually tasked with killing the creator of Excel Saga in the first episode.
Towards the end of the show the plot actually comes together a bit to form something cohesive. Most of the time it's just random comedy but they actually bring some things together in the end. The show would've been fine if it was just random comedy the whole way through but the fact they actually wrap some things while keeping it funny bring the score up for this anime
It's surprising how well this anime looks even though it was made in '99. There's some quality animation to be found here. Although a lot of the animation is over the top.
Excel's usually all over the place moving very quickly, but when they do a parody or a scene when they aren't being crazy it's nice and crisp
"In the name of the moon ima need you to gtfo
although sometimes the background animation is just bad and it's something they point out and exploit
that dude is just flipping everyone off, and who hangs in front of a store like that?
The animation might be sporadic at times but when you're keeping up with a show this sporadic anyway it's ok. The animation is never an eyesore whenver it's bad they use it as a joke. The backgrounds look nice nothing outstanding but they look good.
Sound in this anime is quirky and catchy. The op basically gets you ready for the type of show you're going to be watching and it's not half bad. They even have a rip off of House of the Rising Sun that plays everytime Pedro's on scene. The themes stick so when you hear one you know what gag they're setting up. There's also the ending theme which is just kinda sad but funny at the same time.
Mechi sings in her dog language, and we have nice little human translations for us to let us know what she's saying. The sound is good and it isn't utterly forgettable, but at the same time it's not something i'd go downloading or buying the OST.
The voices for both the Sub and Dub are good it's amazing how the english voice actressess were able to keep up with the mouthflaps and stay spot on with the japanese dub. I prefer the dub but you're good either way
Excel Saga has a wide cast of characters some appearing more than the other but all of them get enough time they don't feel left out. Originally I watched the Dub but I went through it and watch the sub.
Named after a hotel she's the main girl of the sereis and has a serious ADHD problem. There are times when she's talking so fast you can't even understand what she's saying. Her role was so taxing that the English voice for Excel stepped down from it. They got a different voice actress to finish it out and even then it's still good. I didn't even notice until I read the credits. She's a loveable idiot and she's always enjoyable to watch. You either like her or think she's annoying there's no in between. Either way she should work as an auctioneer
This also exists, and I approve
Also named after a hotel, she is the titular nice girl. and assists in helping Excel and Ilpalazzo take over the city. She just has one tiny problem
She dies a lot
and it's not like from accidents or people harming her. She just drops dead every now and then, and they never really explain why. Maybe it's because she's an alien and needs to adapt to Earth's atmoshpere? Sense doesn't really come into play with this show
I guess she's like a Rouge except she doesn't gain anything
Lord Il palazzo
HAIL IL PALAZZO! You'll be hearing that a lot watching this show. He's the leader of ACROSS and is convinced that "the world is corrupt!" not much is known about him. Who he is or how he came to power we just know that he's Il Palazzo and he isn't your ordinary human being. It's a reoccuring gag when he sends Excel & Hyatt on missons he's left just sitting there with nothing to do. We see him playing dating sims, learning to play guitar, playing with dominoes and a bunch of other shit. It's funny seeing this tough guy playing a freaking galge
Move over Obama
The hispanic immigrant worker.He came to Japan to support his family, He has a sexy wife and a nice son. Everything a man can want Pedro has. Then he dies in a workplace fire because Excel is a dumbass
Good thing we have the Great Will of the Macrocosom to bring him back to life right? Well that would be cool and all the only problem is she doesn't. Instead she has an affair with him
I don't exactly know why he isn't alive or why the Great Will doesn't bring him back but he's like a ghost and only a few people can see him. His family? Oh his sexy wife moved on to one of his coworkers Gomez and basically forgot all about him.
his screams can be heard throughout the world. Nobody acknowledges it though
It's cute old Menchi. Excel and Hyatt's emrgency food supply.
Peta probably hates this
That's right, Menchi isn't their pet she is theback up food. They are actually serious about it too, she's kind of like Pedro. Nothing ever goes her way she's constantly trying to escape from Excel and Hyatt and always goes on some type of adventure. Menchi actually means something close to mincemeat in japanese
Need to gtfo out of there quick Menchi
There's a bunch of characters that are all fun to watch an each have their own problems that all get pretty much solved. You have this boss man with a cool mustache
And a loli pedo scientist guy!
Each character is distinctive and although some of them are common tropes we see in anime they each have something that makes them stand out and be something of their own
This show is crazy, but it's not insane. Hermano being insane would mean they fucking do the same thing over and over again expecting something different! They're always crazy but they never make it monotonus. It's a nice funny ride that leaves you satisfied. The humor in Excel Saga is not for everyone and if you aren't a big fan of slapstick or physical and surreal comedy you porbably won't find this show funny, however you can look and see the show has some quality production to it.
Something that’s fresh is a good fun time. Sure it could’ve been better but ultimately it’s something you don’t regret experiencing
Okay, this is one QUACK EXPEIRMENTAL ANIME you HAVE to have a VERY VERY open mind on since the story is a bit jagged...oh wait or should i have said more like a cender block of craziness...you don't even know who is doing what for the longest while but yet you find yourself laughing none the less. Also you wind up feeling sorry for a guy named Pedro and a small dog name Menchi...over all this is worth the watch if you're into a QUACK EXPEIRMENTAL ANIME.
Oh also please leave the emergency food supply in Excel's care...
This is one series that I'd been wanting to see ever since first encountering it on some music videos during my college years. Once I had the money to buy it... I found out the DVD collection was out of print. Fortunately, a brief search around various online stores rectified that problem and, in a matter of weeks, I finally had a copy in my hands. Don't bother to ask how long ago that was since I only got around to finally watching over the course of the past week. The question now is, was it worth it?
There was a story? Fortunately the answer to this is yes (sort of). The main story consists of the hyper Excel in her duties as a member of the ideal secret organization ACROSS and its efforts to conquer F City in F Prefecture under the orders of their leader, Ilpallazzo. Most of these missions involve information gathering and the occasional terrorist bombing, but in nearly all of the cases nothing happens as a result. At the same time, Excel has to make sure her friend and junior officer, Hyatt, remains alive and kicking (as she has the tendency to die from an unknown illness and revive at least once a day), that her dog and emergency food supply, Menchi, fattens up and doesn't run away, and maintain her various part time jobs in order to stay alive. Various pieces of the story fall together for the first several episodes, but the middle episodes, mostly until number 21, focus on other characters or are just recap episodes with no real purpose.
The second story features the immigrant worker Pedro, a man who loses his life due to an accident and ends up as a lost soul who must regain what he lost, most especially the love of his wife. Each episode has a bit of a featurette starring Pedro and the end result culminates in an epic battle against That Man, one of the leaders of ACROSS, in a hilarious parody of the end of the Cell Game in Dragonball Z. While one of the recap episodes stars Pedro and replays nearly all of the events up to that point before continuing, it wasn't really necessary since the first recap episode already took the time to do the exact same thing in movie trailer fashion.
The series as a whole takes parodies a different genre with every episode. Each episode begins with original manga author Rikdo Koshi granting the series his permission to turn the anime into each of the various genres (sometimes against his will). The most memorable of these are the B-movie, sports, "Japanimation," sentai, and post-apocalyptic martial arts genres.
While the first 25 episodes consist of the main plot, the production team created a 26th episode that was intentionally too violent and obscene to be aired on TV. This single episode contains contents such as intense blood, sexual intercourse, child abuse, lesbianism, and pedophilia. While most of those elements aren't displayed outright, the content behind them is some of the most disturbing things I've ever seen.
Despite the lack of a coherent story for most of the series, the characters in Excel Saga are more than memorable. Excel herself is the very epitome of hyperactive and blindly loyal to her leader's ideals (mainly because she idolizes him more than anything) while Ilpallazzo himself exudes an aura of cleverness while suffering from his own mental disorders that fuel much of the climactic conflict of the final TV episodes. While Hyatt's constant deaths and revivals serve as one of the main running gags of the show, Hyatt herself is a very gentle, polite, and innocent young woman who doesn't intentionally crack jokes and holds Excel in high esteem. Finally, out of the main characters, Menchi completes the cast as she has a greater role other than Excel's emergency food supply. Two well-connected episodes feature her and are only tied together at the very end, but they also teach her that, despite her fears of being eaten, Menchi knows that she and Excel care for each other.
On the antagonists side, we have the strangely hairstyled and thickly mustauched Kabapu, the head of the Department of City Security, and one who has sworn to protect the city from ACROSS at all costs, which his deep political connections allow him to pull off. He has six underlings, all of whom actually live in the same apartment as Excel and Hyatt: Watanabe, who is in love with Hyatt. Iwata, who fancies himself as a ladies man but only ends up being beaten up. Sumiyoshi, whose "speech" consists of floating words onscreen. Matsuya, a young woman who is no-nonsense and very likely the only character who makes any sense. And Ropponmatsu Units 1 and 2, special androids programmed to counter ACROSS's actions with Unit 1 taking on the appearance of a young woman and Unit 2 looking like a little girl with cat ears. The man who created the Ropponmatsu units, Shioji, is a genius scientist who is always punctual with his projects but also gives off the aura of being a pedophile, for this he is incredibly misunderstood (most especially since his reasons for observing little girls weren't given in the manga until long after the anime series was complete).
Along with Pedro and his family- his son Sandora and his "sexy wife"- the other major characters in the side character consist of The Great Will of the Macrocosm- a female floating entity in the shape of a spiral galaxy with human arms and the ability to grant Deus Ex Machina "resets" of events that would have otherwise left a main character dead, and the mysterious afro man named Nabeshin, a parody of series director Shinichi Watanabe, who helps train Pedro in his mission to defeat That Man. Series creator Koshi Rikdo and members of the production staff make regular appearances as well.
All-in-all, every single one of the characters played their parts perfectly and contributed to the overall story flawlessly. This also applies for all of the actors in their particular roles. Excel's incredibly fast speaking method at times is masterfully done, especially since her actress spoke so fast at times that she had to ad-lib a lot in order to make sure the lines ended at the same time as the lip movements in the animation.
There isn't much to say about the art as a whole other than the fact that every character's appearance is as memorable as their personality. Everyone looks very distinct and can easily be pointed out in a crowd of people. The background scenery and effects are a good match for the style of the characters and provide an excellent backdrop to set the current mood. One of the best moments where this happens is near the end of the series where Excel is slowly being covered with sand as she lay dying in the middle of a desert after being shot.
In terms of how smoothly the characters moved, the animation as a whole was excellent, but unique moments such as Excel's rubber movements during her moments of hyperactivity are what really stick out in mind. Not only that, but the animators did an excellent job in maintaining the style of how one would expect to see the genre that the current episode parodies. The exemplification of numerous animation styles, both Japanese and American, in episode 17 is one of the most masterfully done moments in the entire run of the show, as Excel sums up everything one can expect to see in both in just a single scene.
Most of the actors portrayed their roles brilliantly, Excel's especially as she was able to complete many of her lines by speaking so fast that the animated character's mouth was still moving, prompting the director to tell her to ad-lib. The ad-libbed portions of the script integrate so seamlessly into what was already written that it's practically impossible to tell what already existed vs. what was insterted. Hyatt's actress is another shining example as she carried her character's gentle demeanor at all times despite her constant deaths and the rare times when she had to use a weapon. Most of the other main characters fared just as well, with Pedro's catchphrase of "Nnnnnooooo!" being one of the most memorable (as well as much better than Darth Vader's in Revenge of the Sith, but I digress). The one major issue I had with the actors is when a Japanese voice actor attempts to portray American English because of how easy to tell that it's not an American speaking it, even when it's often only one word or so.
There isn't much to say about the music. Sadly, it was drowned out by much of the insane action and constant dialogue whenever Excel was onscreen. The opening theme isn't very memorable in and of itself since it didn't have much of a catchy. The ending theme is very somber and a bit out-of-place, but is absolutely hilarious as it features Mechi "singing" the end theme song with barks and whines while an actress reads off the translation nearby.
This series as a whole is definitely one that I can reccomend for people who like random wackiness that makes no sense but also provides for a good laugh and memorable experience. It's even better for those who are fully familiar with the various genres that are parodied and want to find someone (Excel) who can be used to prove that there are people out there who are even weirder than themselves. For something that is meant to be viewed as a means of just having some random fun, Excel Saga definitely doesn't fail to deliver.*
*Does not fully apply to episode 26. Be warned, because the goggles will do nothing.
This and other reviews can also be read at my blog: http://gunarmdyne.blogspot.com