Posts Tagged ‘excel saga’
Originally published on Ani.meToday is a special day for anime fans because Funimation has re-released the classic parody comedy Excel Saga back onto store shelves. While I consider myself one of the lucky ones who still has my ADV Imperfect Collection, there are many others out there who aren’t so fortunate. Based off the manga, the 26 episode series first premiered in 1999 before making its US DVD debut in 2002 leaving fans in a fit of laughter each time.
Finally though, Funimation is releasing this series to a brand new generation of unsuspecting fans. The fools will never know what hit them. Muhahahahahaha…. ahem, ah right, sorry. Where was I? Oh right! Now there are some of you reading this who have no idea what Excel Saga is; well among other things the main idea behind this series involves aliens named Excel and the kidnapped Princess Hyatt working for Il Pallazzo in their quest to dominate Earth. Only a team of plucky young adults on the surface can stop them despite most of them hating each other. Sounds simple enough right? Right well, you keep on thinking that.
Before you crack open that box set though, there are a few things you should know before you get started.
Bone up on your pre-21st Century anime and Japanese pop culture
This is a parody comedy that relies heavily on references to other series or events from the real world. However it’s still parody series that originally aired in the very late 90′s which means all of the references are aimed at series from the 90′s and earlier. Where Lucky Star might have been happy to take aim with moe jokes, <b>Excel Saga</b> will hit you with hardcore Leiji Matsumoto references. If you’ve never watched an anime more than 10 years old this entire series is going to fly over your head.
Every story has its place
At certain points throughout the series, the story will go on very long, winding, seemingly meaningless tangents that make no sense whatsoever. I promise that all of these scenes have a meaning and a purpose so don’t ignore them.
Dub change halfway?
If you’re listening to the English dub and are even vaguely perceptive, you’ll notice that Excel’s voice changes around the halfway mark. The character of Excel speaks at such a fast pace and for so long that the original voice actress, Jessica Calvello, damaged her vocal cords and had to be replaced with Larissa Wolcott. The change isn’t significant but if you’re paying attention you’ll definitely notice the change.
You will never see everything in this series.
Well, that’s probably an overstatement but this is a series with a very high replay value. As with many parody series, this is another great series that only gets better as you see more series and understand more of the references.
Hyper anime alert!
The pace that this series delivers its jokes and dialogue is some of the fastest to ever come out. There is NO such thing as a slow paced joke in this series and if you can’t keep up with the initial episodes you’re in for a world of hurt later. Trust me, this isn’t something to watch in the background if you expect to keep up with all of the jokes and the humor.
Well that’s it, if you haven’t already checked out this series and you consider yourself hardcore otaku than this is one series that needs to be on your checklist. Filled with insane humor and off the wall writing, this could arguably be considered one of the greatest works of Shinichi Watanabe but be ready because this one is in a class of its own.
HUGE news for those who enjoy otaku comedy!!
A huge announcement has made its way to the surface: Funimation will be rescuing the classic Nabeshin directed comedy series Excel Saga! If you never saw this series when it was released by ADV in 2002-2003, you are missing out on something very special from anime history. Produced in 1999 by JC Staff, the parody comedy about aliens and the princess that they’ve kidnapped trying to take over the world is based off the manga series and pokes a very healthy amount of fun at the various genres and tropes from the 80’s and 90’s. The rescue was first spotted by Astronerdboy who, after seeing the listing on Amazon, confirmed through Funimation that the complete series will be re-released March 29th, 2011.
Unfortunately the announcement doesn’t include any additional details such as extras. And I know that I usually bring up extras simply because they’re neat to have but this time I have one particular extra in mind. On the original ADV releases, there was a ‘pop up liner notes’ extra which explained every single obscure joke and reference (and there are a metric TON of them in this series). I would LOVE if Funimation could retain that extra but I’ve confirmed via email that there has been no discussion about extras quite yet.
Updated: Because they’re better at my job than I am, ANN has also confirmed that Funimation has rescued two other great former ADV titles: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (which, in my opinion, is still the best version of that series) and the Bee Train ‘girls with guns’ action mystery Noir.
I already own the Excel Saga Im-Perfect Collection but the other two I REALLY want to add to my collection!
Some of you may remember Studio Bones announcing at TAF that they would be working on a new anime film titled ‘Tokyo Magnitude 8.0‘. The film centers on a group of kids who are stranded after a devastating earthquake hits Tokyo and they must all find their way home. The film airs sometime this July with the following three leads cast:
Satomi Hanamura (Kanae in 5 cm Per Second, January in Coyote Ragtime Show) – Mirai Onozawa
Yuuko Kaida (Tohru in Asura Cryin‘, Ryuuken in Maria Holic, Aiho in To aru Majutsu no Index) – Mari Kusakabe
Closing out the best parody anime created.
With this volume come the final five episodes of this series and right away the creator gives his permission to ACROSS to conquer the city. Thus begins a brand new story of sorts. A few ships are coming in from outer space and they’re all manned by puuchu versions of Leiji Matsumoto characters. Yeah I know, I’m shaking my head as I’m typing this too.
Meanwhile Iwata, Watanabe and their co-workers are being sent out into F City, F Prefecture to protect the city from the impending explosion coming in the form of a spaceship crashing into the city After that though, the series becomes an end of the century violence series ala Fist of the North Star and Excel is separated from ACROSS only to find out that they are doing quite well without her. Setting up the climax in the final episodes which will tie EVERYTHING together including Pedro and That Guy, the civil servants and Roponmatsu as well as Excel and her quest to return to ACROSS.
The final episodes will take us through one episode that was purposely written with zero gags, a perfectly legitimate final episode and finally a special extra episode that uses every single joke that the staff didn’t use originally because they didn’t think they could get them past the censors including making it a musical episode, an extra dirty opening animation, the return of the murdering psychopath Sara Cossette, TONS of fan service and more.
Good and the Bad
With this the series comes to a close. Since the beginning, the staff behind this series was absolutely determined to run as many story lines as possible and on this volume they had to come up with a satisfactory way of tying them all together. Having said that, the staff of this anime was either brilliant or incredibly lucky to have everything work out the way it did. Just about every single plot point was picked up and explained away perfectly. There may have been one or two loose ends left but I can’t cite any examples at the moment.
Beyond that, I was impressed at the staff’s ability and willingness to take a chance and end an episode on a serious note and then run another episode that had zero gags. The zero gag episode was fun and still managed to keep me entertained. I also liked how they still snuck a couple of small jokes in despite their promise not to. But this is something that the staff of this series has done from the beginning which is show that they are more than happy to take chances and do things that a parody anime aren’t supposed to do.
There were some nice pieces of background music during some of the bigger battle scenes which were enjoyable. I did find that they never lasted very long again which means that they will be terrible out of context but it happens. The sound quality remained consistently good throughout the volume.
Dub vs. Sub
While I did spot check the dub track on a couple of episodes it really took no time at all before I flicked to the Japanese cast and stayed there. I loved listening to the hyper activity of Larissa Wolcott in the role of Excel and Monica Rial as Hyatt but I liked being able to hear all of the cultural puns and such.
Lots of the standards including clean versions of the extended (dirty) final animation, a news update about Puni Puni Poemy (it’s a good thing I watched PPP before I watched this otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to watch it with how much it was being shoved in my face) and some production sketches along with the notes which are as always, very educational and fun.
While I’m sad to see it go I was really satisfied with the way this series ended. With all of the plot lines out there, it was wonderful to see it all come together and end in a cohesive place that leaves me feeling like I got my entire moneys worth. This is the gold standard that parody anime will be judged by for years to come. Now I’m off to watch… oh wait, never mind.
Final Grade: 93% – A
Continually breaking the fourth wall, this anime moves into an even weirder directions than previously thought possible.
With the opening of volume five, we see that the staff of the Excel Saga anime is running out of things to steal from the manga and targets to make fun of. Luckily they are able to “convince” Koshi Rikdo to give permission to use material from some of his early doujinshi for the first episode of the volume. The second episode has Menchi getting another animal episode that has her accompanying a young girl as she travels around the world in 80 hours leading into another recap episode that goes over the entire Pedro saga and reveals new footage that will likely make your head hurt… I know it hurt mine. The final episode of the volume has the members of ACROSS getting a visit from an HQ messenger which turns out to be a visual rocker. That’s right, the episode gets turned into a rock music anime with plenty of bishie fan service for good measure.
Meanwhile in the actual anime itself, Excel and Hyatt are continuing their conquest of F City on half of ACROSS while Iwata and his co-workers have been turned into civil service power rangers of sorts called ‘Munincipal Force Daitenzin’ by their boss Kabapu.
Good and the Bad
I’m going to have to break this volume down bit by bit again. The volume starts with yet another long menu screen that has no real perks to it this time. There are some interesting things to read on some of the menu screens but that initial load is really annoying.
The first episode on the volume was really interesting in that ‘wow… really?’ sort of way. While I did think that the episode was funny and I did laugh at it a few times, I’m not entirely sure that it was funny in the way that the animators meant it to be. The Menchi episode was also slightly amusing and definitely made me laugh more than the previous animal episode. These two episodes were still fairly weak though and not nearly as funny as the series has been in the past.
The recap episode was really nicely presented. I liked the simple idea of Excel and Hyatt out at a noodle restaurant watching the Pedro clips while commenting on them along the way. It was a simple joke and the staff has long since proved that they are capable of doing simple jokes as well as complex loud humor.
I’m really not sure what I should be saying about where the Pedro story has gone. My interest in this side story has never been concrete to begin with and so really it was hard for me to pick up on all the little details along the way but this is just getting insane. At this point it seems like the staff was just throwing out any idea they could possibly think of and just putting it in without using any sort of filter to get rid of the bad ideas.
The final episode of the volume was also fairly weak but was still interesting enough that I laughed quite a bit. I really didn’t think that I’d ever see this series resort to bishie and yaoi jokes but then again, I have no idea what made me think that there was ANY place that this staff won’t go for its jokes.
Ironically I found that the places that had the best background music on this volume were the scenes with Pedro. The scene in which he fights Gomez is really quite nice and I really enjoyed it. I thought that it was a very nice fit into the scene.
Dub vs. Sub
There is nothing really new to note with the dub and sub casts. All of the actors are still doing the same incredible jobs with these characters that they were in the beginning and I’m still very impressed with Larissa Wolcott’s ability to jump into the role of Excel and really make it hers.
Along with the standards and a couple of more interviews with staff to promote Puni Puni Poemy, there is an additional interview with the creator of Excel Saga, Koshi Rikdo and a commercial for the Daitenzin.
Another slow first half leads to a slightly lower score. This volume was very entertaining and I had a blast watching it but it doesn’t do a great job of revving the audience up for the last volume. I still believe that it will be very easy to get me to watch the last volume though. Everything has been stellar so far and I’m dying to know how they end it. I’m off to watch volume 6 now.
Final Grade: 83% – B
With the second half of this series comes a brand new never before seen focus on plots!
The fourth volume starts the second half of the series and thus opens with the staff of the anime being yelled at by the network. Ratings are down and there is not a plot anywhere in sight! So in the first episode, we start moving towards a plot with a new character none the less.
Back into the civil service office where Iwata and his friends are introduced to their new partner, a beautiful female robot named Roponmatsu. It even has multiple models! Meanwhile though, ACROSS is making some more obvious attempts at taking over F City including sending a bomb into the city and a giant robot cosplaying as a panda.
Things will get even more interesting later though when two Roponmatsu stay with Excel and Hyatt and Koshi Rikdo decides to let Excel Saga become more ‘japanimation’ and the staff turn their sights on the one target that they haven’t hit yet: Americans.
Good and the Bad
With the series now starting to move something that vaguely resembles a plot I suppose, it’s odd to suddenly have to think of Excel and Hyatt as the villains. I realize that ACROSS is just an ideological organization but still… they are bent on conquest and I do believe that is listed in the evil directory. It’s just odd to think of them that way but I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.
Alright, getting into the technical bits. I thought it was interesting that this volume really toned down the menu screen. There weren’t any extended animation sequences, no vocal dialogue, just a sort of spy looking screen. I was actually disappointed when I realized that there was nothing more to the menu screen.
The animation in the last episode of the volume was wonderful except for an early scene with Excel and Hyatt that looks terrible. You really see lots of fuzziness and bad lines for that one scene which I believe might’ve been intentional but I didn’t see any notes about it so it might not have been. It still looked awful.
Beyond that though, I have to spend some time talking about the last episode on the volume ‘AnimationUSA’. In this episode, Excel and Hyatt are sent on an overseas mission to learn more about a stronger country and they arrive in a bad part of
This episode really went out of it’s way to really show what they consider as American stereotypes with animation and how they believed we viewed anime (well as of 2000, I’m sure that things have changed since then… right?). They pull out no stops and I couldn’t believe some of the things I was seeing. I wish I could cite an example but I’m really afraid of listing spoilers so I won’t. There are some very interesting scenes though including one that has a vid note that mentions that the seiyuu who does the voice for Excel was also the voice for Sailor Moon. Now… take that fact and put it into the context of a parody anime that is highlighting the most stereotypical examples of anime possible. I think you see where I’m going with this. Yeah… it’s 25 minutes of jokes like that plus more. And it was absolutely brilliant. That was anime satire at it’s finest.
There were all sorts of interesting types of music used on this volume; most of them were very short background pieces though that just fit the scene. It was a shame that more of these didn’t last longer or even get looped but it’s fine for the sake of the episodes.
Dub vs. Sub
Larissa Wolcott takes over in the dub as Excel in this volume. When I found out that Larissa was taking over I started doing some research. It seems that Jessica Cavello actually injured her vocal chords playing the role of Excel and so Larissa had to come in.
Coming in off the bench in anime has got to be one of the most challenging things for an actor to do and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So, how did she do? Well, I will say that it wasn’t until after I finished watching the first episode and saw Larissa’s name in the cast credits that I remembered she had taken over. Yes, Larissa takes the ball and runs far with it. Not only does she capture the voice that was performed on pervious volumes but she does a fabulous job of injecting brand new life into the character and her absolutely insane monologues that last for four minutes.
Besides the usual notes and clean animation, this volume is really pushing the spin off OVA Puni Puni Poemy with a trailer and an interview.
While it’s interesting to see that the series is starting to move closer to a plot and a story, it’s great to see that they are sticking to what they are good at which is making fun of everyone and everything that is even remotely connected to anime. The jokes are still great and the staff is doing a wonderful job of keeping the audience on its toes with new jokes and new types of humor added with every target they find. Now I’m off to watch volume 5.
Final Grade: 92% – A
Excel Saga Vol. 3: When Excel Strikes Out
Closing out the first half of this series with more parody hilarity (intentional rhyme).
Four more episodes take us into the end of the first half. In the first episode, Menchi gets her own episode as Koshi Rikdo gives permission to turn the series into an animal drama. After that is another slow episode with the series parodying youth dramas.
The second half of the volume really picks up though with an episode that parodies fan service series and finally closes out with an episode that parodies a Japanese New Year variety show, which also serves as a recap episode.
Good and the Bad
I’ve been able to avoid talking about each episode individually until now but this volume is really going to force me too. The first two episodes on this volume are pretty terrible. The Menchi animal episode was really slow and the writing was beyond terrible. The jokes weren’t even close to funny so this is an episode that was a rare miss for the staff.
The second episode about youth dramas was slightly better but not by much. In this episode, Excel and Hyatt infiltrate a high school that is filled with thugs. The jokes were a little stronger on this one and since they threw in a little bit of sports drama as well I was able to laugh a bit more. Though it is kind of sad that I thought the cleverest thing about this episode was the cheap plug for another ADV series, Princess Nine, during one of their vid notes. Such an obviously cheap plug was obviously intended to get even cheaper laughs and they actually succeeded. I did chuckle just a little at that.
The second half of the volume as I said really picked up and was quite fun to watch. The episode that revolved around the fan service was really one of the cleverest things I’ve seen. I loved the running gag for no male to be shown on screen during the entire episode (except for Pedro) and the opening sequence with the letter from the anonymous fan had me absolutely rolling. This was really a great episode and was a very solid recovery.
The final episode of the volume I can see as something that will be hit or miss with a lot of the audience. As a recap episode, it doesn’t have a lot going for it in terms of keeping the audience entertained so they had to be flashy with it. The idea to parody a new year’s variety show for their new year’s episode was really funny and they did such a great job of capturing the oddity of the program. I will also say that this episode has quite possibly the most subtle visual sex joke I’ve ever seen in my life.
With two slow episodes to start the volume the pacing on this volume does drag a little. This was definitely the first volume of the series where I was actually aware of how much time had passed since I started the volume. Especially in the first episode it was really difficult to keep myself focused on the story.
In the last review, I mentioned the menu screen that was annoying me with how long it took to get through it. Somehow ADV read my mind six years ago because on this volume we have the same problem but it’s fixed because alternate dialogue has been recorded for each menu screen. Taking up at least 1-2 minutes, the dialogue is actually quite funny and I actually went through each menu screen so that I could listen to all the various clips from Excel, Hyatt and Nabeshin.
I thought that it was a great treat for the audience to have the recap episode end with the full length version of the opening theme. While I can certainly see the argument that it was the staff being lazy and not wanting to come up with another 3 minutes of animation that point is easily countered by the fact that the full song comes with an animation montage that not only includes some of the previously aired scenes from the series but also a few seconds of new animation that features even more inside jokes for fans to pay attention for.
The audio problems that I detected on Volume 2 are completely gone on this volume and I didn’t notice any sort of issues with fuzziness or distortion coming from my speakers.
Dub vs. Sub
I have all the same notes on this volume for I did for my previous reviews. The only thing new that I have to say is how poorly the casts for both tracks were for the animal episode. I felt particularly bad for Vic Mignogna who had to give out that performance which didn’t have a chance at ever being good. The writing in that episode was really so bad that no one could’ve given a good performance.
Along with the terribly odd ‘find the mint’ game, there is another great extra to go along with all the standard ones that we have. Also included on this volume is a short text interview with Nabeshin himself about directing this anime. He really goes indepth on some stuff and I loved his quote “The first time I screened the finished version of this anime I said to myself ‘I can’t believe I made something this stupid.’”
While this volume was not nearly as great as the first two, a very solid second half makes up for it and keeps this as a series that is a must see and must laugh at. Oddly enough, I actually met someone earlier today that said that they didn’t like this series because the pace of the jokes was too fast for him to keep up with. So I suppose some fans should take that as a warning that this series is going to steam roll you with jokes and humor so be prepared.
Final Grade: 87% – B
Once more into the depths of satire and sarcasm I go as I sit down to give my thoughts on volume 2 of this hilarious series.
Once again, the eyes of ACROSS are on the F City in F Prefecture. This time though the missions will have Excel parodying: survival dramas, horror anime, fan service anime (with an episode that has no males getting screen time at all) and finally a sports anime about bowling.
Good and the Bad
Unfortunately this volume greeted me with an issue right away after I hit play. Upon hitting play you get to the main menu screen which features some animation from one of the episodes. After you make an episode choice, there is a little more animation to sit through. Since sometimes I get busy and have to watch volumes in short spurts, this became an annoyance to me that I had to sit through this every time I wanted to watch an episode. The good news however is that once I got past that, it was completely smooth sailing.
I really wanted to use this review to talk about something other than the humor in this series because that’s really just too obvious but with this volume there is just no avoiding it. I loved how they waited until the second volume to tell jokes that really break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience or reference the show that they are in. I thought it was a clever trick to not use every type of humor they had in their arsenal right away and saved some extra jokes for later volumes. I’ll be very curious to see if they try to sneak in yet another type of humor on the third volume as well.
The writing in general on this volume is really comic gold. I thought the fan service episode was particularly clever which is ironic since an episode completely centered on delivering purposely cheesy fan service shots has ‘fail’ written all over it but the running gag of having no male characters on screen plus the clever opening sequence with the letter from the anonymous fan were just brilliant!
When the cover of the DVD says that there are “subtle” jokes, it’s easy to just gloss over that as though they were being sarcastic. This just makes it all the more hilarious when you realize that it’s true. The staff really did a great job with inserting the device that in the middle of a hundred obvious jokes that are being thrown in your face, a lot of the episodes has very subtle running jokes in the background.
For such a fast paced comedy series I really found that the pacing was absolutely astounding. By the time I got through the end of the volume it felt like I had only been watching a few minutes and I was honestly shocked when I hit the scene forward button and realized that I had already watched the last episode of the volume. Time absolutely flies by when you are watching this series.
There were a lot of great pieces of episodic music in this volume that really stood out as strong. While I’m not going to go so far as to say that they’re going to play great out of context I did love the great music in the horror episode. There really were some great guitar riffs in the background.
I did detect some audio problems during my playback of this volume. While at first I thought it might’ve just been my speakers, I realized soon that the audio on the DVD (particularly during the fan service episode) there was some detectable fuzziness coming from my speakers during dialogue sequences. It didn’t mask the dialogue and I could still hear fine but it was definitely present on both the dub and sub tracks. I haven’t seen any substantial reports of this elsewhere though so it might’ve been a one off.
Dub vs. Sub
My list of stand outs on this volume remains the same with Jessica Calvello as Excel, Jason Douglas as Ilpalazzo, Kelly Manison as the Great Will, Hilary Haag as Menchi, and Monica Rial as Hyatt. But this time I also get to add in Tiffany Grant as the hysterical Misaki Matsuya.
The dub cast was hilarious but once again I really think that if you’re looking for the full comic effect of this series you got to watch it in the original Japanese so that you can hear all the cultural jokes.
Once again, besides the original TV spots and production sketches, the best extra on this volume were the ADVid Notes which translated a lot of the cultural jokes in the volume. As usual there was a lot of information to take in so I had to pause constantly to read all the info but really even the notes were funny. It’s always nice to know that every single member of the staff is having fun with a series like this.
Oh and if you’re interested, there are a couple of very tiny Easter eggs on this DVD. On the extras menu there is a small green button at the bottom of the screen. Hit down to highlight it and enter to see some people get blown up by an ACROSS trap. If you hit down and right to highlight the folder above the ‘main’ button, you’ll see a special ‘Menchi Soup’ commercial. You can also see some more by hitting enter on the various folders on the main menu. Just don’t click them if you have found the jokes thus far about eating Menchi to be offensive.
Hilarious. Absolutely frickin hilarious and if you do not laugh at this series than you have no sense of humor. There is no way that you can watch this series as an anime fan and not find at least one joke to laugh at. Now I’m off to watch volume 3.
Final Grade: 91% – A
Yes I admit it, I should’ve watched this series years ago but at least I am finally getting around to this classic series.
In this parody anime, the heroine is named Excel Excel (that’s not a typo) who works for an organization bent on world domination called ACROSS (though she’s the only one who does besides her boss Lord Ilpalazo) and they are going to start by focusing on taking over F city in the F prefecture. In the first episode, Excel’s mission is to destroy all comic book artists starting with Koshi Rikdo (the author of the original Excel Saga manga). By the end of the volume though Excel will face off against adorable aliens, be partnered up with a princess from Mars named Hyatt, be turned into a B level action movie, parody a visual novel ero game and then parody Japanese prime time social issue dramas.
No anime is off limits though and soon the audience is taken on plots and stories that make no sense courtesy of a cast of characters are all insane and make even less sense.
Good and the Bad
I love parody anime. I have always loved parody anime because my favorite form of humor is satire and self deprecating satire is just all sorts of wonderful. Unfortunately though, parody anime is also the hardest type of anime to review because frankly there’s only one thing to talk about… the jokes. I will do my best though so here goes…
Alright, I’m going to talk about the comedy as succinctly as possible. As one would expect from a series like this, the jokes begin as soon as you hit play and you see the humorous alternate FBI warning screen. From there the series becomes nothing but one long rapid succession of jokes. Some of them are so funny that you’ll come close to peeing yourself and some jokes are so completely unfunny that you can’t imagine that someone would actually think of it. That said, this anime is absolutely fearless with its humor and within the first five episodes they have already parodied at least a dozen anime titles and about five different genres if not more. If there is a joke to be made, good or bad, they will find it and they will find a way to use it. Oh, yes they will.
By the end of the volume though, the amount of jokes that hit vastly outnumbered the ones that missed. As I mentioned above, I knew that I was going to laugh at this series and I knew that I was going to laugh hard. The jokes in this series are classic with appearances from director Nabeshin and so many others; this is just a fabulous comedy.
One thing that this series really surprised me with though was that beyond the writing, the staff is really doing a great job of creating some simple storylines to tie everything together. One of the most difficult things to do with parody writing is finding a way to tie together all the jokes that make no sense with a story that suddenly make every single one of them obviously funny. With simples stories like the missions that Excel is sent out on and the story of the developing relationship between Hyatt and the neighbor next door, the audience has something a little extra to be entertained between jokes.
Originally airing in 1999 I was really shocked to see how well this series has aged in the last eight years. Even now the animation on this volume looked fabulous with very crisp colors and lines that didn’t show any fuzziness. The characters all look wonderful and the staff really did a great job of effectively switching animation styles depending on who they were making fun of for that particular half second.
I really impressed with the music on this volume. The opening theme song is a great pop tune and the background music is always interesting to listen to with its weird 80’s synth pop vibe. It was really quite the retro choice for genre theme and yet somehow it works. It’s not always great but it does work none the less.
Perhaps the oddest thing about this series in terms of music would be the closing theme which would be Menchi the dog sitting in front of a microphone singing Japanese poetry entitled ‘Menchi’s Bolero of Sadness: So You Really Are Going To Eat Me’ with a woman along the side translating his little doggy yelps into poetry. I’m going to be honest with everyone here… even after five episodes I still have absolutely zero idea how I should be reacting to this.
Dub vs. Sub
Jessica Calvello as Excel, Jason Douglas as Ilpalazzo, Kelly Manison as the Great Will, Hilary Haag as Menchi, Monica Rial as Hyatt… all of them, they made this series great. This was such a treat to listen to in both the original Japanese and the English dub track. While I loved the performances on the dub track though, I have to say that you get a much fuller effect from this anime if you listen to it in its original Japanese so that you can get the culture jokes a little more.
Moving straight past the usual clean animations, original trailers and video piracy warning and production sketches, the most interesting extra on this volume is the ADVid notes. When you turn these on, pop up bubbles will appear on the screen as you watch to explain some of the more obscure cultural jokes. Very handy and very entertaining!
The only downside to this is that there are six different options for subtitle tracks which means you may have to do some flipping around until you find the setting that you’re looking for. I also found that on my first viewing I constantly had to pause in order to read the cultural notes that had appeared and found a typo or two. These are really minor set backs though.
I loved this volume. I laughed from start to finish and I can’t wait to see more. Like all parody animes, this is not a series that the casual anime fan is going to be able to pick up and enjoy nearly as much as the veterans. While there are certainly enough visual gags to keep the casual fan mostly entertained, the veterans are the ones who are going to get the most joy from this series as it makes so many fun cultural references and jokes. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, you’re missing out and once this series goes out print the anime community will certainly have to collectively mourn. This is exactly what all other parody animes should be aspiring to. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch volume 2.
Final Grade: 95% – A