Type: Parody comedy
Target group: Shounen
Number of episodes: 26
Recommended age: Somewhat mature, includes medium violence, sexual references and nudity.
(Possible spoiler warning)
Mental. Absolutely completely positively mental. It’s pretty much impossible to think of a more fitting description for this series. Allow me to give you a short summary of the first episode: The year is 200X. The scene is F City, F Prefecture. A revolutionist group called ACROSS, led by the mysterious Lord Illpalazzo is plotting to take over the city, and in the long run, the world and rid it of its corruption. The only problem is that the current single member, Excel, is a complete airhead and produces more surplus energy than a nuclear power plant. In fact, Lord Illpalazzo has to kill off Excel twice before she is conceivable to carry out his order. Sound strange? Not at all, because this series conveniently comes with the Great will of the Macrocosm who can reset the plot whenever necessary. (Which is often) As for Excel’s first assignment, she is briefed to annihilate one of the main threats to the world; the bringers of chaos and perversion… manga artists… Target no.1; Koshi Rikudo. (Who just happen to be the original author of this series.)
The first episode amazingly manages to give the viewers a rough hint of what to expect from the other 25: It is a bunch of strange and always-failing attempts to take over the city, and members of the Excel Saga production staff are pretty often seen. Each episode is also designed by the author to be a parody on a specific genre, ranging everything from romantic comedies to dating-video games, Star Wars and B-action movies. Due to these unusual twists in style, the series is not as much a series, as 26 loosely connected episodes. The most noticeable red line Excel Saga offers is the sub-plot perils of the immigrant worker Pedro, whom gets killed in a fire caused by Excel and as ghost desperately tries to reunite with his “sexy wife” and his son.
A special warning is in place for episode 26, named “Going too far”, which is a very fitting name for one of the most perverted episodes from a not-hentai series I’ve ever seen. Also expect much blood and general grossness! Definitely not for the timid!
The main characters
Excel: She is a young girl, just graduated from high school, with enough energy to light up a block. Unfortunately she is unable to process all that energy into something productive, and therefore mostly just end up failing her missions. Her will to please Lord Illpalazzo also makes her incredibly unfocused and throws her into constant rants about the greatness of Lord Illpalazzo, which in turn forces him to use a special trap door designed for Excel only, to allow her too cool down when necessary. (Which is quite often.) It takes to the end of the series to realize, but deep down Excel is a sensitive person and the reason she follows Lord Illpalazzo at all is not out of ideological zeal but out of an over-dimensioned teenage crush.
Hyatt: She is the second member of ACROSS, and is actually some mystical Space Princess brought to this world with the invasion of the alien race of Puchuus; small, pink and devastatingly cute little creatures. Hyatt herself has a kind and innocent personality, but a curious disease causes her to cough up blood and die at least twice every episode. The reason she follows Lord Illpalazzo is unknown but her docile personality has made her Illapalazzo’s favorite.
Menchi: A stray dog who by coincidence ran into an Excel near starvation and therefore got abducted to serve as her emergency food supply. Excel’s reoccurring death threats has brought poor Menchi to a breakdown and a couple of episodes are about Menchi’s attempted escapes. Unfortunately for her, sudden twists in the plot always bring her back into Excel’s clutches.
Lord Illpalazzo: A mysterious character who’s background we know basically nothing about, but for some reason he was entrusted by the ACROSS High Command to secure F City. Apart from planning the various plots for conquest he delivers to Excel and Hyatt, he appears to be doing very little but sit on his underground hideout-throne and play dating-video games or electric guitar.
Nabeshin: He is probably the most curious character of them all, since he can jump into the plot for no apparent reason at anytime. He is the avenger in afro, and the fact that he is the director of the series (Watanabe Shinichi) makes him impossible to defeat for all the nasty bad guys.
Iwata, Sumiyoshi and Watanabe: Three ronins living next door to Excel and Hyatt. Iwata is a carefree guy mostly out to bring the over-serious Watanabe down to earth, while Sumiyoshi is a calm thinker, but for some reason he has no voice, making everything he says appear in kana and kanji characters on the screen… In order to become respectable to the ladies, they manage to get hired as municipal workers.
Kabapu: The head of a secret municipal branch in charge for city defense. An eccentric character with an impressive yellow moustache, which comes off from time to time.
Pedro: South American immigrant worker, hard working and honest, but misses his wife and son terribly. Gets caught in a fire and dies, but turns into a ghost.
You wouldn’t expect too much out of a mental comedy like this, but Excel Saga brings us a pretty all right soundtrack indeed. The composer Toshio Masuda brings us a variety of songs, from pop-ish to hard rock (one piece even sounds suspiciously alike Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’) and several melodramatic tear-jerking pieces. Most noticeable however are the up-beat and catchy opening song “Ai chuuseishin”, lyrics written by the director and superhero Nabeshin, and the hilarious ending called “Menchi’s Bolero of sorrow: ‘So, are you going to eat me’”, which is quite as insane as it sounds. We have Menchi on screen, making howling noises, which are translated into a tear-jerking story of Menchi’s death-angst. It is hardly necessary to point out who wrote the lyrics… What is really funny about the song is not only the lyrics, but mainly that the music itself is your classic, tear-jerking, tragic drama piece, in my opinion a beautiful work of art, and you often hear variations of the theme whenever the story focuses on Menchi.
Excel Saga is without a doubt the craziest series I’ve ever seen. Never before have I seen so many mental plot-twists and ridiculous occurrences and jokes. Of course, you must have a pretty special sense of humor to fully appreciate the work, expect to encounter much stupid, ridiculous Naked Gun-class humor.
However, in my opinion it is way too long, because no matter how silly it might be, the lack of a red line throughout the series apart from the Pedro-subplot makes the series a little dull eventually. Fortunately for the series, a real multi-episode plot takes place when you pass 20 episodes and the last episodes are actually quite intriguing as the humor takes a backseat to allow the initial plot to have it’s final showdown! The series actually end at episode 25, but to show the viewer that the Excel Saga staff are sick sick people with sick sick minds, they decided to make a final episodes with no boundaries. Expect heavy ecchi stuff!
The characters, on the other hand, are very well done in my opinion; They’ve put together a good mix of comedic characters, I’m especially fond of Nabeshin because of his often ridiculous and completely pointless appearances, and the minor character Shioji, an eccentric inventor whom suspiciously enough surrounds himself with young girls when he’s coming up with inventions. He has a weak spot for kawaii girlish language, and so do I. =)
All in all, it’s well worth watching, it’s a little too long, but if you got the same sense of humor that I got (somewhat twisted), you’ll be sure to have many heavy laughs!
Finally, to all those who own the DVDs, I strongly suggest that you set the ad-vid. feature on, because it will explain to you whenever a parody-remark is made, which is quite often. You can tell there’s a thorough work behind.