Thursday 24 March 2011

Anime REVIEW: Excel Saga

Excel Saga is 26 episode TV series (based on the manga of the same name). Fast-talking and hyperactive Excel is an officer of ACROSS, an secret corporation believing the world to be corrupt. Alongside fellow officer Hyatt (a mysterious space princess who dies more often than she probably should) and emergency food supply Menchi the dog, they carry out the plans of ACROSS leader Lord Il Palazzo. Meanwhile in the anime various other plots are also carried out by various side characters - Watanabe, Iwata, Sumiyoshi and their exploits in the Department of City Security and South American immigrant Pedro's battle to rejoin his family and defeat 'That Man'. And the series director, afro'd Nabeshin has his own involvement with them all.

Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of Excel Saga is that the majority of episodes each parody a different genre of film/TV/anime (for example sci-fi, detective, teen dramas etc.) while others directly parody animes themselves (watch out for the alien Puuchuu civil war, which directly parodies Mobile Suit Gundam, complete with the cute alien Puuchuu's having the faces of Gundam characters). Each episode is sanctioned by original creator Rikdo Koshi beforehand (although his willingness to do so declines more and more as the series progresses). It was a bold move, and the result is very hit and miss. Some episodes are absolute genius, while others are fractured and difficult to follow. Luckily usually there's at least one story thread that's pure comedy (Pedro's story is undoubtedly Excel Saga's highlight) to keep the audience entertained, and a bizarre cast of side characters to keep your eyes pealed for (Space Butler is an early highlight). Menchi the dog even gets 2 episodes to herself, complete with anthropomorphic talking solider dogs. Unfortunately these are among the weaker episodes of Excel Saga, which is disappointing from a series that is even able to make its clip episodes fun. Menchi's true calling comes in the ending theme - where she sings lamenting how Excel plans to eat her, with an accompanying translation. The final episode's closing credits offer a simple role reversal of this, and it proves to create easily one of the show's biggest laughs.

On the subject of the final episode, its reputation propels Excel Saga's notoriety. The concept behind it was "going too far", and thus attempts to be banned by censors at every opportunity - with nudity, lesbianism, gore and strongly suggested paedophilia. While the end result did feel somewhat underwhelming the drive to be censored still makes the episode hilarious - which is by far a large needed after 3 or 4 more 'serious' episodes which actually contained a flowing plot line.

So in short, Excel Saga is a bit of a mixed bag - when you can follow what's actually going on it's hilarious, but at the same time its quite easy to get lost in the utter randomness that makes it so special in the first place. One thing is for sure though, there is nothing out there quite like Excel Saga, and that however you end up feeling about the series it will certainly prove to be a memorable watch. It's like a brightly coloured sugar-infused acid trip.

No comments: