Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Excel Saga

Genre: Comedy
Parental Guidance Recommended
1999 Koshi Rikudo, Watanabe Shinichi. JC Staff, Victor Entertainment, ADV (USA)

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Cover Description:
Check your sanity at the door! Excel is the perky, hyperactive agent of the mysterious organization ACROSS, which seeks to destroy all ugliness from the world. In order to win the praise (and love) of its leader and only other member, Ilpalazzo, Excel rampages through jungle and mountain alike, fends off cute and fuzzy alien invaders, lays her life on the line (and loses it... repeatedly), and in so doing breaks every convention of anime storytelling and humor, performing the equivalent of opening the Sacred Cow Hamburger Stand in downtown New Delhi.

(26 episodes)

Laugh, damn you! Laugh! >>> by MarkPoa

One of the craziest comedy anime I've seen in a long time, Excel Saga is best viewed if you have at least a working knowledge of other anime and manga or at least a basic knowledge of shows and anime cliches. This series parodies everything, and when I say everything…I mean EVERYTHING. Off the top of my head, I can cite references to: Dragonball, Sailor Moon, Slam Dunk, Fist of the North Star, Digi Charat, Gundam, Galaxy Express 999, Macross, Aim for the Ace, Captain Harlock, Getta Robo, sentai shows, You're Under Arrest, Pokemon... the list goes on. Each episode even has a "theme" wherein they parody an anime convention.

If you think you're a master anime fan, take up the Excel Saga parody challenge: write out *every* parody you see. Just don't do a drinking game out of this. Take it from me.

That's not to say that the anime newbie should be turned off. The jokes in this series rely mostly on sight gags, exaggerated expressions, and other humor that are universally funny. The jokes also hit hard and fast, so much so that I had to pause between episodes to breathe normally. Just don't expect all the jokes to be nice and childish though. I mean, what would you expect from a series that starts off with its lead character plotting to assassinate her creator and dying a few times herself over the course of just the FIRST episode?

Heck, once you see the opening title sequence, you already get a preview of the craziness and surrealism of this anime.

The cast is a great mix. Every member of the cast has a zany quirk that lends itself well to the weird situations. From the afro-ed Nabeshin (director Watanabe Shinichi's self-inserted twink) to the cute swearing Puchus, from the constantly dying Hyatt to the silent subtitled Sumiyoshi, everyone turns up now and again to surprise you and make you laugh.

If there is one thing that I hated about the series, it's that the momentum seemed to peter around episode 15 or so. It's as if the creators of the series spent all of their good ideas on the first few episodes and had to resort to clip shows to make this a 26 episode series. Thankfully, the frenetic pace picks up once again in the later episodes leading to the climax of the series.

Wait? Climax? Yep, you heard it right. There is an actual story underneath all the wacky hijinks and parodies... which is perhaps the most surprising of all, really. Definitely don't expect this anime to be your regular fare.

Pick this up for a good time.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 8; Characters 8; Sounds 9

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