F Prefecture, F City is the target for domination by the forces of ACROSS. Led by their bishounen commander Il Palazzo, Excel and Hyatt are sent on missions to prepare the metropolis for conquering. This should prove to be an easy task had Excel a functioning brain and Hyatt an abundance of iron in her red blood cells. Elsewhere, Pedro is a foreign laborer who is thousands of miles away from his “adorable son and sexy wife”. His absence apparently doesn’t make their hearts grow fonder, for Pedro returns home to find his wife in the arms of Gomez. NOOO!!! Can ACROSS overcome incompetence to see that their goals are met… and will Pedro seek the revenge he desperately yearns for?
summary by Kain
Highs: Beyond funny; parodies everything under the sun; Mitsuishi Kotono
Lows: Bare-bones plot
Excel Saga is the Airplane! of anime. Surely such an analogy would mean this anime is heavily based on parody and satire (and don’t call me Shirley). Here’s a short list of things that this series pokes fun at: Lupin III, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Di Gi Charat, Giant Robo, Macross, the entire anime industry, Power Rangers, Rocky, Aliens, Steven Spielberg, the U.S.A., Impressionism, capitalism… and that’s about two episodes worth. This type of anime has been done before, but Excel Saga‘s humor doesn’t just end there; much of it is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. You know you’re watching something special when a main character is learning English and his first words are “I am coquettish.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
Mitsuishi Kotono (Misato in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Usagi in Sailor Moon) gives, by far, her best performance to date as Excel… and she’s done a ton of great voices over the years. Her mile-a-minute ramblings set the pace for the rest of the show and, quite frankly, leave all but a handful of seiyuu in her dust.
Don’t look for any meaningful moments of poignant drama (if you don’t count the episode where the characters are given permission to refrain from slapstick… and even then it’s done satirically). Behind the frantic appearances of random characters lies a standard take-over-the-world storyline that’s merely a skeleton to keep the body of work propped up.
This brand of comedy is definitely not for everyone. It takes a peculiar penchant for tongue-in-cheek humor at someone’s expense to appreciate what this anime has to offer. If you find an anemic woman who drops dead just about every episode the cat’s meow, then Excel Saga is right up your alley.
Highs: Occasionally hilarious to tears; laughs at everything, even itself
Lows: Repetitive; laughs at itself for a reason
I am flabbergasted. To think an anime could go that far mocking everything remotely related to Otakudom. From the opening theme, you just know this anime will warp your fragile mind with insane humor and shocking truths about the world of animated features. Blinking alone can make you miss numerous subtle references. A few scenes had me laughing hysterically and some entire episodes are simply brilliant.
However, amid these strokes of genius, the combined brains of director, Watanabe Shinichi, and original manga author, Koshi Rikudo, who both star in this self-proclaimed “quack experimental anime”, sometime came short of my expectations. Seeing animated versions of the crew members behind Excel Saga worrying about their lack of ideas was fun but did not change the fact that the show really was running out of steam. Two recapitulating episodes for a series that barely has a plot: that’s pushing it a tad.
Repetition is also a significant factor. Halfway into the series, Excel and Hyatt seem to be doing the same thing repeatedly on different backgrounds and with different side characters. Good thing the last few episodes take care of re-infusing the originality. Unfitting as they may be, they are exactly what this show needed to stay fresh.
Please, don’t get me wrong; Excel Saga is an anime you will talk about for months, and some of the gags are definitely not to be missed. Yet, like many comedies before it, twenty-six episodes turned out to be a bit too much to handle. It is, however, worth seeing, if only to hear Pedro yell out his famous “NO!” or to see the Municipal Forces Daitenjin at work.