I………..I’m bewildered and yet intrigued by this. I feel like I’m lost in a crazy spiral drug filled adventure and I’m not just saying that because I’m on antibiotics as of now (long story, tooth pulled out).
For real, this is one of the craziest experiences of watching and reviewing anime that I have done in my lifetime doing this and I can see why most people refer to it as one of the most insane anime series to debut in the late ’90s.
This is Excel Saga…….SCRATCH THAT…..It’s Quack Experimental Anime EXCEL SAGA!
Believing the World to be corrupt, the secret organization Across plans to conquer the world. The first step in the plan for world domination is to begin by focusing on one city in order to minimize setbacks. Across consists of the leader of the organization, Il Palazzo, and officers Excel and Hyatt. Excel and Hyatt live in an apartment building in the city, along with their pet dog Menchi, who is also their emergency food supply, and are later joined by Elgala, another Across officer.
Living in the neighboring apartment are three guys: Iwata, Sumiyoshi and Watanabe, and other building dwellers such as co-worker Matsuya, and later Ropponmatsu, who all work for the Department of City Security under Dr. Kabapu, who intends to stop Across. Eventually the members of Across begin making appeals directly to the City’s citizens before Il Palazzo publicly declares the existence of Across and its intentions to the public.
The manga series based off this that ran from 1996-2011 was created by Koshi Rikdo and this is probably his most well-known work in his line of work. He did had another anime based off his work made this year, which I covered already in TotS and the director of this is Nabeshin.
Or simply Shinichi Watanabe. No, not Shinichiro but Shinichi. No R or O.
Actually, you know what? Call him Nabeshin since that’s quicker and less confusing and he’s quite known for his direction with stuff like Nerima Daikon Brothers, Puni Puni Poemy (the Excel Saga spinoff), Lupin III: Da Capo of Love – Fujiko’s Unlucky Days / The Columbus Days, The Wallflower and………..Tenchi Muyo!……..GXP.
Yeah, this show is off-the-wall bonkers insanity. There’s no better way of putting it as that because this show embodies the definition of that with a ton of obnoxious yet effective humor in the gags placed in here. The adventures….or misadventures of these characters are wacky to the umpteenth level as things keep escalating to levels that get weirder and wackier than before. Whether it be from the miscellaneous adventures of Excel and Hyatt to Petro trying to get in touch with his wife from the beyond while being with The Great Will of Masochism to Menchi trying NOT to get eaten by Excel or just getting away from the crazy woman.
Oh, and even Nabeshin is a character in here, dressed like he escaped from Lupin III…..and he is about as insane as the other characters in here. There is also a great amount of Meta gags throughout the series like breaking the fourth wall, especially with the creator (well, not voiced by him) and Nabeshin interacting with each other.
I can say for the humor, it worked about….85% of the time while some jokes do get repeated and become too obnoxious at some points, the show still carries on with great humor.
And speaking of off-the-wall bonkers insanity, yes, the characters are just as that especially our lead Excel who is very rapid and hyper in her presence and sometimes you question how she speak so fast and hasn’t busted a lip yet and of course every character in this show has exact weird and unfortunate traits….well, the unfortunate trait being that Hyatt is very frail, meaning one step and she’ll drop dead faster than you can snap your fingers. Did I mention she’s a space princess? (At least that’s in the anime. Manga…..not really).
The animation here is straightforward with its gag humor and knowing this came out 16 years ago, you can tell this was an late ’90s-early 2000s effort because it has aged. To me, J.C. Staff isn’t up there for favorite studios for me like Bones or Trigger but they are a studio that can do a serviceable job done with stuff that has more going on than what we’re expected to get; examples being Azumanga Daioh and Toradora, two of my favorite shows from them.
Musically, I happen to find the opening and ending songs quite catchy and fun to listen to. “Love (Loyalty) by Yumiko Kobayashi and Mikako Takahashi credited as The Excel Girls and it’s quite a fun (and hilarious with the coughing) song to hear as the opening credits roll and the ending is a far cry with Menchi’s Bolero of Sorrow with the character Menchi basically singing about ‘woe is me, this crazy-ass girl is going to eat me!!!’ HAHAHA!!! That’s funny and a bit fucked up and I loved it.
Now for the part I love to talk about in anime, the ENGLISH DUB!!! Now, this is your classic ADV Films dub with your stable of voice actors in there like Hilary Haag (Menchi), Jay Hickman, Tiffany Grant, Kira Vincent-Davis, Brett Weaver, Spike Spencer with an appearance by Vic “Every Anime Fangirl’s Dream” Mignogna and of course, our two leads the legendary Monica Rial as Hyatt and playing the eccentric Excel….JESSICA CALVELLO!!!!……..for 13 episodes.
Yeah, for those who haven’t noticed, Calvello damaged her voice in the first half of the series and was replaced with Larissa Walcott in the 2nd half. Yes, people, with eccentric hyper characters like Excel and especially Mako from Kill La Kill, the voice actors (either Japanese or English) are giving it their all into their performance as that character and sometimes you do with all you can. Calvello and Walcott do outstanding performances as Excel and I’m going to admit this……I didn’t notice the voice change in Excel until episode 16.
As for the rest of the cast, this is a decent dub from early ADV Films especially with ADR director Matt Greenfield on it. Oh, and I liked the part in the end credits where they list the English names with a lot of jokes. Yes, some can be corny but I thought they were funny so HA.
FINAL VERDICT: THIS IS SOME OF THE CRAZIEST SHIT I HAVE EVER WATCH!! EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SCREAMS INSANITY AND IT KEEPS ON ESCALATING LEVEL AFTER LEVEL AND……I love it. I don’t know what else I can say for this show but if you’re that person that loves the weird and eccentric side in anime that gets Meta in its humor, then Excel Saga is that show you should check out.
The Great MAK of the Hybrid grants this anime a………
8.5/10 – High SOLID B.
EXCEL SAGA is available on DVD via FUNimation Entertainment (formerly from ADV Films). You can also watch the series via streaming on FUNimation EVS and on Hulu.
I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and……hey, don’t eat my cat!!! DAMMIT, PUT HER DOWN NOW!!
EXCEL SAGA – animation by J.C. STAFF / licensed by FUNIMATION ENTERTAINMENT