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Quack Experimental Anime: Excel Saga
By Adam Arnold
Excel Saga in a nutshell is a story about friendship, love, and cute animals. All the characters get along and go on cool make-believe adventures in their backyard. First we meet Excel--a loveable young girl who loves to take care of her dog. Next we have a cute girl named Hyatt who enjoys making people happy and getting lots of sleep.
Suddenly, a giant space-time vortex with two female appendages pops into existence to declare, "I am the Great Will of the Macrocosm and this article must be restarted."
"Where the hell did you come from?" I yell springing up from computer desk in shock.
"Why I'm the Great Will of the Macrocosm. I ensure plot points are met and monitor the status of all the workings of the omniverse."
Having reached some greater understanding from the heavenly voice I open my mouth to say, "Um, ok. So, what's this have to do with my article?"
The fine young vortex cuts loose and yells, "Any nitwit anime fan who knows anything about Excel Saga will realize that the stuff you are blabbing on and on about in that first paragraph is a bunch of bull!"
I smartly remark, "I think your characterization is a bit off in that last sentence."
The Macrocosm yips back, "I can see that this bit of dialogue is just wasting the reader's time. So, I'll just skip to the restarting now."
Excel Saga in a nutshell is a story about a lot of things and only a few of them remain constant from episode to episode. First of all it's a story about the members of the super-secret ideological organization of ACROSS and their plans to conquer the city of F. The main headquarters of ACROSS is located in the sewers under the city where Lord Ilpalazzo sits on his throne playing video games and reading manga all day until Excel decides to show up. At that point he spouts some drivel that Excel ignores and sends her off on some mission to get her out of his hair.
So, who is Excel? Why she is the utterly cute, overly hyperactive, and totally obnoxious main character of the series. Without Excel, the bathroom of ACROSS would not be kept sanitary for Lord Ilpalazzo's delicate hiney. Actually, Excel is in reality the organization's main grunt-woman who ends up carrying out all the plans, taking all the flack, and in the process getting really, really, really hungry.
To curb Excel's appetite is her emergency food supply which just happens to be her adopted pet dog (that looks way too much like a cat) Menchi. Something tells me that the creators have something against Chinese food...
Also, along for the ride is another cutie named Hyatt. Hyatt happens to be a Martian princess who was brought to Earth when a ton of little Pokemon-look-a-likes known as Puchuus tried to conquer the city of F. Hyatt escaped and now is one of ACROSS's most functional operatives... that is, if she can avoid dropping dead like every five minutes. Yes, that's right, Hyatt has a very, very weak constitution. She seems to just fall over dead or in a coma or something whenever she's around someone. These spells of hers are always followed by her eyes rolling back in her head and blood streaming from her mouth.
That's about all of the major characters, but there are also a crap-load of supporting characters that seem to keep the episodes streaming along at a hyper-accelerated pace. The first of these is Koshi Rikdo, the creator of the manga who ends up giving his stamp of approval for the show to be made into whatever that day's episode is about. He also ends up being the first person Excel kills in the first episode (no, not the first person killed... that would be Excel).
Am I going a bit too fast for you? Sorry about that, guys and gals. You see, people die in this series at an alarming rate. Yet, they don't stay dead long thanks to a little lady, umm, thing known as the Great Will of the Macrocosm. The Macrocosm is this spiraling vortex with two female arms that pops in an out of the series whenever someone dies or some strange event happens that would totally screw up the rest of the show.
There is also Pedro, the immigrant worker, who is always the butt end of a joke. He left his dear son and his sexy wife (she is quite fine actually) to work hard labor under the hot, hot sun in Japan to support them. Tragically, Pedro's wife has become some skank and left Pedro for some other man. But no worries, because Pedro's got some late night activities going on with the Great Will of the Macrocosm. Guess he's got something for those sexy arms of hers.
The Great Will of the Macrocosm peers over my shoulder to see what I'm writing only to become disgusted with how the article is progressing. "You seem to be going on and on about the characters and plot, but not really giving any examples of what's going on. Maybe I should reset the article back to..."
I quickly interrupt with, "NO! Please don't do that! I'll stop. I'll do something else. I'll write on anything else. Just don't restart this article again. I've already had to restart from scratch once. If you restart it again, it won't make a bit of sense."
"I don't agree with my characterization or the accusations you imply when talking about the relationship that Pedro and I share. We share something special. Our relationship transcends the boundaries of love and the sex is... um, that's none of your business."
My ears perk up and my right eyebrow raises before I quip, "Right... Whatever. Just let me go back to finishing this article."
"Very well. I won't restart it from scratch," The Great Will of the Macrocosm replies with a bit of disappointment in her voice.
"Thanks," I reply happily until I look up at my computer screen and realize I forgot what the heck I was talking about in the first place.
The Great Will of the Macrocosm pears over my shoulder and states, "You want me to use my great power to start the story over again?"
I let out a small sigh and reply, "Go ahead."
Excel Saga in a nutshell is a story that has a lot of layers. Please, pardon the Shrek metaphor, but Excel Saga is just like an onion. The show can be watched solely for it's comedic slap stick comedy. Or, a keen otaku can peel the layers off and find enough hidden references that would make Otaku no Video scamper away with it's tail between it's legs.
Yes, my friends, Excel Saga is the stuff that classics are made of. The series is a clear cut comedy series that builds each episode around trying to parody a certain genre, wither it be anime, live action, or even video games. Each of these parodied episodes then has a insane number of references that are worked into the loose story.
Take, for instance, Episode 3 where Excel is in the jungle. The overall frame work of the show is based on movies such as Rambo. In fact, all the scenes set in the jungle are wide screen and all the segments set in the city of F are in full screen. Needless to say, Excel gets captured and thrown in a pit with this person in an iron mask. Next, Nabeshin, the afro-wearin' dead ringer for Lupin who is voiced by the series director Watanabe Shinichi, starts busting people up. He then rescues the person in the iron mask which leads to some crazy Leiji Matsumoto moment. That descriptive enough?
In Episode 4, things get even more wacked as the series takes on the tone of a Japanese dating sim like Tokimeki Memorial as Lord Ilpalazzo takes on the task of controlling the actions of the character's budding romances. Yes, ladies and gentlemen the new game "Love Puni" is the latest handheld video game craze. Here's an example of the kinds of choices to expect:
If you find a girl you recognize lying unconscious in a dark alley, you should:
3. Put it in
If you answered three, the magic eight ball says that you can expect to see some criminal rape charges coming your way soon.
Needless, to say. Excel Saga is one seriously screwed up series to understand, but it's one heck of a laugh riot to watch. Making sense of everything is ADV, the company behind the English adaption. Not only have they had to translate, subtitle, and dub the series, but they've also had to spend countless sleepless nights making sense of all of Excel's mindless drivel and mile a minute rants.
Their work ultimately lead to one of the DVD's coolest extras, on-screen "AD Vid-notes." This little pop-up windows gives live translation notes and help to point out anything from an anime reference to a specific script translation.
The huge fan following that this series sports also required that the English dub be on par with the original Japanese language track. Just the thought of having to synch lip flap on a show like this would have been a nightmare in an of itself. But somehow, the English cast managed to rise above the call of duty and have turned Excel Saga's English dub into one of ADV's best dubs ever, literally.
So, do yourself a favor. Run down to your local video store or click through to an online site and get this show, becausel... well, quite frankly every anime fan needs a few good laughs.
|EXCEL SAGA - CHARACTER DOSSIER
Excel holds the rank of Toilet Cleaner in the secret organization of ACROSS. She enjoys (not really) fasting for days on end and performing various missions for Lord Ilpalazzo so she can gain his favor (yeah, she has a thing for him).
An anemic and modest Martian princess who falls over dead, gushes blood from her mouth, and goes all floppy whoppy. Her touch can even contaminate food and turn people into zombies. She seems to have a bit of a relationship going with Watanabe.
The head honcho of the secret ideological organization known as ACROSS. He loves playing dating sims and reading manga, among other things. He's also very eccentric and likes to ramble on and on about things before getting to the point.
Some dog Excel found while she was working as a traffic control officer at a construction site. Menchi is a female dog that is fated to be Excel's emergency food supply. When things are looking up for her, angels appear and music plays.
|Great Will of the Macrocosm
The omnipotent being in charge of keeping track of the progression of the story. She restarts or corrects problems when things go loopy. She also has this unhealthy thing going with Pedro.
Images Copyright J.C. Staff. Copyright ADV Films. All rights reserved.