Excel Saga

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Anime Review: Excel on Excel Saga

Excel Saga is a wacky anime with parodies, an energetic girl, Excel, the ideological commander of ACROSS, Il Palazzo, a wandering soul, Pedro, and many other characters. The story is that it is a saga where Excel must suffer numerous hard adventures to realize ACROSS’ plan of conquest over a corrupted world.

Excel Saga has a total of 26 episodes on a set of 6 DVDs. If I had to pick a favorite episode, I’d pick episode 17 where Excel travels to America where she describes the differences between Anime and American Animation. She also does an excellent parody to the classic Anime, Sailor Moon, in this episode.



—--Review by Chris[1]

Chris meets Monica Rial, who played Hyatt in the English dub of Excel Saga. This is also perhaps the only time Chris has touched an attractive woman without her being immediately repulsed. What a brave, brave woman.

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.


Excel Saga (note Lord Il Palazzo in background and Menchi (the dog), a plushie Chris owns)

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.


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