Martian Successor Nadesico Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2000
Overall Rating: 4.5 (on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 4
Don't you hate it when "you get to burning"? It's really annoying. It must mean that it's time to watch some Nadesico and get it all out of your system.
Nadesico looks really good on my set up. The picture and the sound were very good. It looks like there is some graininess that appears here and there, but it looks like it is more of a problem with the master than the actual authoring. The menus are plain but functional. It's got a nice shot of the cast with the opening theme playing triumphantly. It all moves nice and smooth, but lacks the pizzazz of Trigun's menus. In the presentation department this disc has a catchy cover with the main character looking cooler than he normally will in the show. The back has almost all the information, but it is missing the number of channels used on the DVD. You do have region codes, extras, rating, number of episodes and languages involved. The insert has a neat picture of the characters and includes chapter stops on it. The goodies on this disc include character bios and some translation notes. These notes are fun to read and give you a bit of insight into translating some of the tougher parts of this series. It's a shame this wasn't continued on later discs, it's a real treat. You've also got the trailers starting right when you pop the disc into the player... blech!
My first exposure to Martian Successor Nadesico was a couple of years ago. It was back in my video store days. I managed to get a screener copy at the VSDA show and I popped it into the VCR. What I witnessed made me pause, blink, laugh, and then blink again. What was going on!? I got LadyCat to come over and watch it again with me. The second viewing was better, I began to see just what this show was doing, and LadyCat was loving every minute of it. Just what is this Nadesico stuff anyway?
Simply put, Nadesico is a parody of sci-fi anime, mecha anime... heck it's an anime parody of anime. Nadesico is what you get when you put up a goofy mirror in front of shows like Gundam, Evangelion, Escaflowne, Tenchi, Macross, the list goes on and on. Stir up all these elements and make them extremely goofy and you get Nadesico.
In the first episode we are introduced to the very large cast of the Nadesico. We meet our main character, Akito, who is a pilot/cook. We also meet the captain of the Nadesico, Yurika, who has a crush on Akito. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Basically invaders from Jupiter (Jovians) attacked Mars and killed lots of people and took it over and stuff. Now the Jovians are moving in to take over the earth (cue the evil music). Because the United Earth Forces suck on toast, a company known as Nergal builds a big old battleship, and populates it with freaks and misfits. They are supposed to stop the Jovians. You know, typical anime stuff here. Anyway, Akito gets drafted on board (by accident) and has to deal with the captain's amorous intentions and the crazy crewmembers. Akito tries to get out the deal but ends up saving the ship instead. Way to go Akito!
In the second episode, the Nadesico is confronted by the Earth's United Forces. They want the power of the Nadesico to use against the Jovians. Will Yurika surrender the ship, will Akito stop whining, and what is the mysterious link to their past? The third episode finds the crew trying to leave earth and the United Forces still trying to stop them. On top of that Jun (Yurika's best friend. But Jun wants to be more than friends.... it's too complicated) . . . Anyway, Jun tries to stop the Nadesico himself, and challenges Akito to a duel in their giant Robots. Get your hankies ready on this one; it's got a tear-jerker moment. The final episode of the disc the Akito comes to grips with the realities of war. Three new female pilots appear and they are as spazzy as the rest of the crew. Jovians attack, robots are battled and it all boils down to Akito saving the day... or will he?
It's tough to give synopses of these episodes, so much happens.
The animation in Nadesico is really mixed. The first couple episodes look pretty good but the last episode on this disc really needs work. I got the feeling that the budget for the show wasn't too high and so they ended up spreading themselves a bit thin. You also get moments where the characters look really different from one scene to the next. In a lot of ways it's got the same problems Outlaw Star had, some episodes or scenes look OAV quality and others look really poor. The design elements are a mixture of the familiar, cliche, and different. Mostly the ship design is pretty typical, as are the various weapons used by the giant robots in the series. As for the robots themselves (Aestevalis), they look a bit blocky and are colored bight happy colors. In fact most of this series is bright looking. There's lots of color and it contrasts to the darker series we've been seeing lately (Trigun, Bebop, Outlaw Star). The sound work fares a bit better than the animation. It's not as cliche but it doesn't stand out very much either. Most of the time it works well with the action going on.
The plot and direction are the areas that this series really shines. To be honest it took me a couple of viewings to really see what was going on. When you first pick up the disc and take a quick look, it appears to be your typical big robot show. I remember hearing how great the show was and how it was so popular in Japan. I didn't know that it was supposed to be a parody. So if you start watching the show thinking it's going to be serious... boy are you in for a surprise. Nadesico is totally wacky. It takes all the clichés and typical anime story lines and characters and uses them to make a series. It makes you realize just how ridiculous anime can be. And with the inclusion of Gekiganger (the anime show that the crew of the Nadesico watches) you get a nice parody of anime fans as well. The character of Jiro Yamada aka Gai Daigoji, is perfect as the overzealous anime fan who gets to pilot a giant robot. There are so many elements that make this parody so funny I could write a whole article about them, and I'm sure I'm missing lots of references to anime I've never seen. But even for someone who's never seen too many mecha anime you'll have lots of fun. (LadyCat loves this show, and she isn't a huge mecha fan at all).
The English acting is cast perfectly. Almost all the actors do a great job of capturing the crazy nature of their parts and seem to be having great fun at the same time. And since ADV did this series and EVA they were able to take the parody to a new level. Whether this was intentional or not it still works perfectly. Spike Spencer played Shinji in EVA and now he's Akito in this series. It makes his character that much funnier because he's parodying Shinji most of the time in the show. Tiffany Grant plays Ryoko the gung-ho pilot that arrives in the fourth episode. She played Asuka in EVA and even though their characters aren't exactly alike, they are similar enough to allow Tiffany to parody Asuka. Now if only ADV could have gotten Amanda Lee to do Ruri (she played Rei in EVA) the parody would have been complete. All in all the dub cast is having fun and helps you laugh along right with the series itself.
At times the score is just too much. I mean really too much. So it fits right in with the over the top nature of the series. It's melodramatic, or overly triumphant or overly sad at all the right moments. The opening and ending themes are typical in their J-poppy nature. Was this an accident? I don't think so. They are catchy and I often find myself humming, "You get to burning..."
As you can see I found this disc to be really entertaining. Nadesico has to be seen in a certain frame of mind to really enjoy it. You got to sit back and look at it from a distance; this whole thing is a parody. If you take any element too seriously you're missing the joke. This plot, these characters, the situations exist to make fun of anime. Nadesico does to EVA, Gundam, and Macross what Slayers should have done to Record of Lodoss War and other fantasy anime. But Nadesico does it much better.
"Give me back my Gekigengar, Fryboy!" (snicker)
Roman J. Martel
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General Electric Performance Plus (25 Inch), Sony Playstation 2
Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Martian Successor Nadesico