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"Excel Saga: Imperfect Collection": Put It In

Excel Saga is a tale of ambition. ACROSS has their ambition to take over Japan. Pedro has his ambition to save Sexy Wife from That Man. Koshi Rikdo has the ambition to see his manga be adapted into every genre of animé ever. Excel’s ambition is to be with her leader, Hyatt’s is just to stay alive, and Municipal Force Daitenzin’s is to get paid while, only if absolutely necessary, saving the day. There are also some ugly aliens wandering around and an apparantly very tasty dog. How do these plots interact? You have to see it to believe it.

Episodes included in this box set
Episode 1-26 (Complete Series)

You’ve probably heard of Excel Saga. At least I hope you have, because it’s incredibly hard to explain. It’s the most hyper, reference-filled, insane anime ever made, especially when you consider that it’s spread out to a respectable twenty-six episodes.

To explain the plot would be an exercise in futility, but in emulation of Excel’s try-again spirit, I will nevertheless make an attempt. The organization ACROSS strives to fix the world, starting with F City, Japan. Lord Illpalazzo, leader of this ideological group (consisting of only three members), constantly sends out Excel and Hyatt to achieve this goal. Excel is a walking commercial for Ritalin and Hyatt’s a walking commercial for… well… whatever cures constant death. Let’s call it “Deathalin.” Maybe I can copyright that.

See, just talking about this series makes me want to spin off on a tangent.

While Excel and Hyatt are the main characters, there’s a whole bunch of other characters that only occasionally interact with the main cast. The neighbors of the ACROSS girls, a group of three losers, decide to become municipal workers to get with the ladies somewhere down the line. While they don’t exactly accomplish this, they do end up as part of Municipal Force Daitenzin, the city’s leading sentai team, with two android girls and one serious babe. I can’t say it wouldn’t be my dream to join a task force team alongside these ladies.

And no, they’re not freaky zombie porn-bots… until the last episode. I swear, this is a freaking curse or something.

Can’t forget the third cast of characters, which dwells outside the fourth wall. Koshi Rikdo, in reality, is the creator of the manga Excel Saga, but he’s also a character in the anime. Appearing at the beginning of every episode, he gives permission for the series to be adapted into an animé. Shinichi Watanabe (also known as “Nabeshin”) is the director of the Excel Saga series (in reality). In the series Koshi is the target of an assassination plot in the first episode, and Nabeshin becomes a super warrior capable of turning his afro gold to fight That Man. Sucked into their world is Pedro, an immigrant worker killed in the first episode and who is constantly battling his way (from death) to return to Sexy Wife and his son Sandora (who ends up as an artist on the Puni Puni Poemy side-series… more about that later). “Aided” by The Great Will Of The Macrocosm, Pedro’s dreams are constantly stamped out.

Makes no sense? Don’t worry, in execution it… it still makes no sense. But at least it’s a fun ride.

The series manages to lampoon everything under the sun. The first five minutes establish the genre-of-the-week, with Koshi Rikdo approving each episode as a survival drama, a sci-fi epic, a sentai show, a dating sim, et cetera. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wonder Woman or Dragonball Z, anything’s fair game. Parody is this series’ strong suit. It sure isn’t the minor semblance of a plot, which feels out of place when it gets serious near the end.

That said the series actually manages to pull off a lot of continuity. Events, however random, do affect things down the line. Don’t watch too many episodes in a row, though, because you’ll probably go into sensory overload from all the stuff thrown at you.

The episodes move incredibly fast, and are incredibly funny, but be warned: you MUST watch the ADVid-Notes to get everything, because many of the cultural references are impenetrable to Americans. This is the single greatest extra ADV’s ever made, working as a “Pop-Up Video” informative guide to everything. Note that some of the notes only reference the Japanese language version, since some jokes were adjusted for the English dub.

I’ve watched most of the series in English, but caught some of the Japanese version. Both dubs are fine, and both of Excel’s voice actresses are suitably annoying. The animation is also very good since Excel is still a rather recent series.

Spread out over the six discs are a host of extras. Clean Japanese opening and closings (for all variations, including the extra-bloody Episode 26 intro), ADV previews, and the original Japanese trailer are norm. We also get the first cut and timing sequence for the opening, which is a nice look behind the scenes. Production Sketches are always nice, but for some reason the last disc doesn’t allow you to go at your own pace by using the left and right keys. Some of the more Japanese items included are a video piracy warning [This is an extra? -Ed], Japanese TV spots and spots for the CD single and soundtrack. There are interviews with (the real) Shinichi Watanabe and Koshi Rikdo. Some of the more off the wall extras include a “Find the (Urinal) Mint,” recipes for the emergency food supply/mascot, and a commercial for a faux Municipal Force Daitenzin show.

Then there’s the Puni Puni Poemy stuff. By the same group, this OVA was being worked on as Excel Saga was coming out, and in-show references to it abound. The discs also feature promotional material for that infamous OVA, including previews, interviews, and character designs.

Excel Saga operates on a very simple principle: throw as much at the viewer as you can and hope something sticks. Luckily, much of it does, and with the whole series in one box it’s even harder to go wrong.

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