—--Review by Chris
While the plagiarism in Sonichu is obvious to just about anyone, there are even deeper, more subtle layers of unoriginality in Chris's masterwork. Truly, if Sonichu is the bastard gay love-child of Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu, then Excel is surely his surrogate mother. For while the characters in Sonichu are mostly fusions of Sonic characters and Pokémon characters, Chris draws a lot of his "humor" from Excel Saga (エクセル・サーガ, Ekuseru Sāga), along with various other miscellaneous ideas that wound up in the comics.
Additionally, Excel Saga has left something of a cultural impression upon Chris's personal life as well. The purpose of this article is to list as many of these influences as possible, and to provide the original context for those unfamiliar with the anime. Due to the relative obscurity of Excel Saga, and the complexity of Chris's plagiarism of it, this article will also provide some additional background on the series.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The series and Chris
- 2.1 Episode 1
- 2.2 Episode 2
- 2.3 Episode 3
- 2.4 Episode 4
- 2.5 Episode 5
- 2.6 Episode 6
- 2.7 Episode 7
- 2.8 Episode 8
- 2.9 Episode 9
- 2.10 Episode 10
- 2.11 Episode 11
- 2.12 Episode 12
- 2.13 Episode 13
- 2.14 Episodes 14 & 15
- 2.15 Episode 16
- 2.16 Episode 17
- 2.17 Episode 18
- 2.18 Episode 19
- 2.19 Episode 20
- 2.20 Episode 21
- 2.21 Episode 22
- 2.22 Episode 23
- 2.23 Episode 24
- 2.24 Episode 25
- 2.25 Episode 26
- 2.26 Puni Puni Poemy
- 3 Sources
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
The genesis of the anime lay in Kōshi Rikudō's fan comic, Municipal Force Daitenzin, which was an adult-themed parody of the sentai genre (read: Power Rangers). By 1996 he had retooled the concept to focus on Excel, one of the characters in the original fan comic, and the first Excel Saga comics saw print in Japan. Fun fact: Rikdo dabbled in some Sonic fancomics as well, and he hit the big time at the age of 26, making him everything Chris has ever dreamed of being professionally, whether Chris is aware of it or not.
The manga tells the story of two factions struggling for control of the city of Fukuoka, Japan. One, ACROSS, is led by the ruthless but myopic Lord Il Palazzo, who seeks to conquer the city as a stepping stone to world domination under his own high-minded ideals. His organization consists of only a handful of young women, who seem only vaguely aware of his intentions. The title character, Excel, is the first of these agents, later joined by Hyatt, and even later, Elgala. The second faction is the Department of City Security, headed by the civic-minded but manipulative Dr. Kabapu, a powerful government official. Over the course of the series, he recruits a number of people to work for his department, then slowly compels them to perform increasingly bizarre tasks in the name of civil defense. Though Kabapu and Il Palazzo share some mysterious history, the rest of their respective groups remain unaware of each other for much of the series. Against this backdrop, Rikdo weaves a satire of life in Japan during the recession of the 1990s.
Soon after the manga began publication, Rikdo was approached about an anime adaptation. He agreed, on the condition that the anime's storyline differ from his own, as the manga's plot was still unfolding. Further, much of the cynical, sometimes controversial humor in the comics was unsuitable for Japanese television, and so the anime's director, Shinichi Watanabe, had to come up with additional material to fill out the show. Among these contributions were a new character Pedro, an immigrant worker, the Great Will of the Macrocosm, a cosmic entity capable of reshaping continuity, and Nabeshin, the director's over-the-top alter ego. To explain this flagrant disregard for the source material, one of the running gags of the anime is an ongoing struggle between Rikdo and Nabeshin for control over the creative direction of the series, with Rikdo using a comically oversized rubber stamp to approve the use of his characters to lampoon various anime genres.
The series and Chris
The series was then adapted for release in North America by A.D. Vision in 2002, and would eventually end up in the DVD player of a certain autistic manchild we all know. The English dub adds yet another layer to the series, which parodies other anime series as it partially adapts a manga that itself parodies even more anime. To better help American audiences get the references, ADV included optional pop-up notes in the DVDs so that a befuddled viewer could learn just what the hell Excel was imitating or why such-and-such dialogue was supposed to be a pun in Japanese. In other words, 99.99999999996% of the humor in Excel Saga was almost certainly over Chris's head, and so when he speaks of the series as being funny, he's probably just repeating what it says on the back of the DVD case, or referring to slapstick humor like Excel falling down a hole. That Chris would dare to steal material from this series has three side-effects:
1) Chris doesn't actually understand what he's stealing. At least when he ripped off Pikachu, he knew how to do it. Cute yellow thing shoots lightning. Simple. From there, Chris would go on to draw its penis, but the basic gist of Pikachu was properly stolen. When Chris rips off a joke from Excel Saga, however, he robs the gag of all context, resulting in an awkward line of dialogue that's unoriginal and unfunny.
2) Chris is ripping off anime he hasn't even seen. For example, since Chris actually had watched Dragon Ball Z, it's difficult to say for certain if the Curse-ye-ha-me-ha was lifted directly from DBZ, or the episode of Excel Saga that parodied it. The vast majority of anime titles mocked or referenced by Excel Saga, however, Chris has probably never even heard of, so when he steals that material, he doesn't realize it was already borrowed the first time.
3) For once, it isn't immediately obvious when Chris is ripping something off. Since Excel isn't nearly as well-known as Sonic or Pikachu, Chris can actually sort of get away with lifting ideas from it.
|Episode guide to Excel Saga, with influences on Chris|
Excel is assigned to assassinate manga artist Koshi Rikdo, who created the Excel Saga comics on which the anime is based. After the Will of the Macrocosm restarts the story several times, Excel gets a part-time job directing traffic for a construction site. There, she meets immigrant worker Pedro, who gets killed as a result of Excel's hyperactive negligence.
Influences on Chris:
Sci-fi parody. Nabeshin senses his old master, the Space Butler, has been abducted by the Martian Puuchus, en route to invade the Earth. Excel destroys the Martian battleship in a manic fit, and the Martian's "Princess"--Hyatt--ends up in ACROSS headquarters, where Il Palazzo assumes her to be a new recruit.
Influences on Chris:
B movie action film parody. Il Palazzo tasks Hyatt with finding Excel, who was captured by mercenaries in the previous episode. Instead, Excel is rescued by Nabeshin, who infiltrates the mercenary camp to save his beloved Tetsuko. Nabeshin blows up a bunch of shit and Excel returns to Japan, where she meets the sickly Hyatt, who has barely even begun her first mission.
Romantic comedy parody. The girls' next door neighbor, Toru Watanabe (not to be confused with Nabeshin) asks Hyatt out on a date, but the matter is soon complicated to the point of absurdity by the antics of their respective roommates.
Drama about social issues. Excel and Hyatt infiltrate a government building to undermine the highest ranking city officials. Concurrently, Watanabe and his roommates, Iwata and Sumiyoshi, get jobs as civil servants working for the Department of City Security, a pet project run by the mysterious and influential Dr. Kabapu.
Survival drama. Excel and Hyatt are sent to install a powerful weapon on a mountaintop and use it to destroy the city. Coincidentally, Kabapu's Department of City Security agents undergo training with laser pistols, and Iwata unwittingly foils ACROSS' plot when his weapon misfires.
Horror film. Kabapu sends the DCS team into the sewers, not far from the underground lair of ACROSS. Excel and Hyatt activate defense systems at random, causing a flood. Both groups run afoul of the Puuchus, led by the hideous Puuchu Queen, until Nabeshin triggers a second flood which saves the cast and destroys the monsters.
Pretty girl anime. In a shameless bid to increase ratings, all male characters are stricken from the storyboards, appearing only as off-screen voices, shadows, or hands. The DCS team take a vacation day to visit the City Pool, while Excel and Hyatt coincidentally do the same. Hyatt befriends a young girl named Cosette Sara, who turns out to be a cunning assassin. In a strange twist of fate, Cosette is transported to the world of the dead, where she sees her mother's ghost once more, but Pedro warns that she cannot cross the Sanzu River to join her, for it would mean she would die as well. Taking pity on Cosette, the Great Will of the Macrocosm retcons Cosette's life so that her mother never died and her dark life as a child assassin never happened. The other male characters later confront Pedro for violating the "no-men" rule of the episode.
Influences on Chris: Nothing really obvious. This episode was primarily a tongue-in-cheek exercise in gratuitous fanservice, so Chris may have been too busy fapping away to notice anything else. He may have gotten the idea to do the Spring Break story in Sonichu #8 from this episode, but other than the all-Rosechu cover, it seems like a rather thin connection.
Sports anime. Considering athletics to be the universal language of the masses, Il Palazzo sends Hyatt and Excel to research ways to exploit sports for the purpose of world domination. This leads the duo to part-time jobs in a bowling alley, which is soon overrun by the terrorist/bowling organization "Stick and Balls", who plot to use the alley to spread their pro-bowling propaganda and return the "sport of kings" to its former glory. Excel flees to the women's restroom, where Nabeshin agrees to train her in the art of bowling to defeat the Stick and Balls' ringleader. Excel kicks everyone's ass and saves the day.
Animal anime. Menchi, Excel's pet dog/emergency food supply, escapes their apartment and tries to seek out a kindly old man who once took care of her. She soon befriends a pack of fellow strays, led by the charismatic Wolf. Wolf's pack agree to help Menchi find the old man, but soon run afoul of the Animal Control Department, a squad of dogs who serve as dog catchers. After great heartache and betrayal, Wolf and the others sacrifice themselves so that Menchi can escape. Perhaps favoring Excel's long-term threats to the immediate dangers of the outside world, she returns to Excel's apartment.
At this point, the folly of Chris's plagiarism should be clear. He steals ideas and clever lines, but dismisses the concepts that made them worthwhile in the first place. Patti-Chan's storyline in Sonichu is basically this episode in reverse, with a dead dog coming back to life and saving her friends, whereas the whole appeal to "Menchi's Great Adventure" is the absurd pathos of a Scottish Terrier with glasses and cartoon bombs being a suicide bomber.
Youth drama. Excel and Hyatt take temp jobs as teachers, and quickly get saddled with the responsibility of training the school's delinquent baseball team for the big championship game. They lose, as is a common trope in sports anime, to reinforce the greater importance of sportsmanship and teamwork.
Influence on Chris: None, apparently. Chalk this up to his apparent disinterest in sports, and the male-heavy cast of this particular episode.
Detective anime. Hyatt gets taken hostage by a pair of burglars, who panic and ultimately kill themselves when she dies and they fear they've murdered her. Meanwhile, the Department of City Security agents train under Purin, an impertinent young woman possessed by the ghost of her hardboiled gumshoe father.
Influence on Chris: None, again.
Review show. Excel and Hyatt compete in a game show-style contest assembling short films using recycled clips from the previous episodes.
Influence on Chris: None. Good going, Chris.
Episodes 14 & 15
Dr. Kabapu commissions the pederast cyberneticist Dr. Shioji to build Ropponmatsu, a female android to serve under the Department of City Security. Iwata immediately falls for the shapely robot, until she is destroyed while disarming an ACROSS bomb, and rebuilt as an obnoxious prepubescent girl.
Escalating the conflict, ACROSS deploys a robot to deliver a second bomb, which battles the second Ropponmatsu to a standstill. Shioji delivers a reconstructed Model One Ropponmatsu to assist, but ultimately both are destroyed by the bomb... only to be rebuilt again.
Influences on Chris: Ropponmatsu II may have inspired Zapina Rosechu in some way, but that would require corroboration.
Desperate for story ideas, the writers use both Ropponmatsus in the same story. By mistake, the rebuilt androids end up living with Excel and Hyatt, and imprint upon them to an almost romantic degree. After stealing food and money to support the ACROSS Agents, the Ropponmatsus eventually sacrifice themselves so that Hyatt and Excel can escape the wrath of the city police.
"American Japanimation." Il Palazzo sends Excel and Hyatt to the United States on a reconnaissance mission. There, they meet Pedro's son Sandora, who dreams of becoming a rich and famous animator in Japan, where he believes cartoonists are highly respected. Sandora makes a living selling animation sheets of later successor Puni Puni Poemy to a suspicious-looking man, and is later horrified to discover that his artwork is being traded as bootleg anime cels. Excel rescues Sandora from the criminals by employing various "rules" of both American and Japanese animation.
This was Chris's favorite episode.
Kabapu forces his DCS team to wear the power suits of Municipal Force Daitenzin, and use them to battle injustice in the city. Furious at being trapped in the sentai costumes, the team agrees to just combat litterbugs, jaywalkers, and other minor scofflaws until the suits finally deactivate. Ironically, the awesome powers of the Daitenzin, coupled with their self-absorbed motives, cause far more damage to the city than any mere crime wave.
Animal anime again. Menchi ends up joining a young heiress on a journey around the world, but their trip is cut short by a common enemy.
Influences on Chris: Chris said this was the episode with Key, but he's wrong. Way to suck, Chris.
Review show again. This episode recaps the Pedro subplot that's been going on since the show began. In short, Pedro learns that the author of all his miseries is a cosmic Yakuza-type known only as "That Man". Pedro is helpless against his awesome power, until Nabeshin unleashes the secret powers within both Pedro and his son Sandora. Now sporting afros of their own, Pedro and Sandora join Nabeshin to confront That Man, until he escapes with the Will of the Macrocosm.
Rock anime. Il Palazzo's superiors send him a message via Key, an oversexed rock musician who insists on delivering the message through song, yet refuses to sing until he feels the proper artistic inspiration. To that end, Excel and Hyatt attempt to cultivate Key's creativity, but Excel finds herself becoming attracted to Key's untamed sexuality.
Koshi Rikdo grants permission for ACROSS to actually conquer the city. The matter becomes academic, however, when a Puuchu warlord leads an invasion force to Earth to avenge their past defeats. Excel joins forces with Puuchu rebels to defeat the invaders, but the city is destroyed when debris from the battle collides with the Earth.
Post-apocalyptic anime. Cut off from ACROSS, Excel wanders the ruins of what was once F Prefecture, defending the survivors from gangs and warlords. Horrified to learn that the villains are working for ACROSS, and that she has been targeted for execution, Excel confronts Il Palazzo to learn the truth. He shoots her in the chest without a word.
Koshi Rikdo strips the series of all gags. Excel is rescued by Municipal Force Daitenzin, but after recovering from the gunshot, she has amnesia. ACROSS has conquered the region, but Il Palazzo begins to teeter on the brink of madness. The only hope left for resistance is Kabapu's promise of a secret weapon, and Nabeshin, who sacrifices himself to defeat That Man, one of the Il Palazzo's superiors in ACROSS.
Influences on Chris: Make your own "joke-free comedy" joke here. Seriously, though, Chris probably never stole anything from this episode because he couldn't wrap his brain around the irony.
As Kapabu and Municipal Force Daitenzin stage a desperate attack on ACROSS's mobile fortress, Excel sneaks into the base to confront Il Palazzo, whom she vaguely recalls as the key to regaining her memories. Il Palazzo makes short work of Kabapu's forces, but when Excel arrives and confronts his madness, he regains his sanity and they escape the fortress together as it explodes. Meanwhile, Pedro and Sandora discover That Man has survived, and defeat him for good with their ultimate attack, the Nabehameha Wave.
Sort of a bonus episode full of material too graphic for Japanese TV. Cosette Sara from Episode 8 returns as the newest member of ACROSS, who somehow causes Excel and Hyatt to switch bodies. After a lot of nudity and violence, Nabeshin kills the rest of the ACROSS Six and Hyatt floods the world in blood.
Influences on Chris: Chris was probably too busy fapping to anime noods to copy anything. The final scene is Nabeshin's wedding to some broad who kept trying to serve him soup throughout the series, and Chris probably plans to end Sonichu with his own wedding, but Real Life has made this impossible.
Puni Puni Poemy
Puni Puni Poemy is something of an Excel Saga spinoff, starring Nabeshin's daughter Poemi Watanabe as she struggles to become a voice actress while fighting aliens with the assistance of the seven Aasu Sisters. The show's relation to Excel Saga is tenuous, with only Nabeshin and Kumi Kumi present (though a news anchor bears a resemblance to Koshi Rikdo), and some reused background music from the series.
Influences on Chris: Chris has more than once referred to himself as "Great Director Chandler", shamelessly ripping off Nabeshin's declaration that he is the "Great Director Watanabe."
|Gallery of plagiarism|