Excel Saga Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Excel Saga

Excel Saga Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     April 12, 2003
Release Date: April 08, 2003


Excel Saga Vol. #6
© ADV Films


What They Say
Just when you thought the plot would never thicken, the whole thing congeals and Excel finds herself in a fight for her life! With the Great Will held hostage, the city in ruins, the Puchuu running amok, and Pedro joining forces with Nabeshin to combat the nefarious That Man, the action is fast and hilarious as ACROSS finally makes its move in the final unbelievable volume of Excel Saga!

The Review!
Wrong. Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong. Very wrong. And that?s even before we get to the infamous episode.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The series continues to sport a pretty decent stereo soundtrack that makes good use of the forward soundstage with some amusing amounts of directionality. There?s nothing going to the rear speakers here though, but the forward mix is done well. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and the music plays out nicely when it?s called into service.

Video:
Much like the previous volumes, this is a sparkling clear transfer. Colors are rich and vibrant without any noticeable over saturation. Cross coloration and aliasing appear to be pretty much non-existent. There?s hardly anything I found problematic in this transfer at all. If you liked how the previous volumes looked, expect more of the same.

Packaging:
The final cover provides a great shot of Excel in her apocalyptic mode while bringing in most of the other main cast behind her and keeping them in theme with that particular episode as well. I?ve definitely enjoyed the art style used for the covers in this series, even if not all of them were that great. The back cover has the usual odd mix of angles for text and provides a good listing of the discs extras and basic features as well as something resembling an disc summary. There?s some tiny images from the show and even tinier production credits. The pack-ins this time are interesting. There?s a postcard that features a day-glo version of Pedro, tears streaming and mouthing ?nooo!?. A mini insert advertising Puni Puni Poemy with a promise of it ?coming soon, maybe in 2004 or after?, just to mess with your heads a bit more. The last is the usual insert, this time with the front cover image of a completely naked Excel with some appropriately placed suds. This opens up to provide more Japanese cover artwork while the back side has the scene selections and extras listings.

Menu:
The menus again continue to be solid but with some problems. The designs, particularly the opening one with a rough mad Excel bouncing all over, is exactly the kind of menus I expected. The submenus use various animations from the show to great effect, though the nudity will throw you at first. The access time are nice and fast and moving about is easy. What?s problematic is the cursor selections, especially in the small menus like Vid Notes and Languages, since there?s such a small variance in color between the selected item and the highlighted item, it was actually frustrating trying to set it to what I wanted.

Extras:
The final round of extras and it?s a decent selection to close things out. As with previous volumes, the vid notes rule over everything else and provide quite a number of insights during these final episodes. Episode 25 gets a clean closing since that one is unique. The opening and ending to episode 26 is changed from earlier episodes, so they get a clean version here as well. The remaining extras is another Puni Puni Poemy info piece, which is little more than a commercial, and a number of production sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final installment of Excel Saga manages to break the even number curse. I?ve enjoyed all the odd numbered volumes quite more than the even numbered ones up to now, so I was definitely curious whether the final volume would change that. And it?s not a case of just one or two episodes doing it, but all five of the final arc here does me in.

And frankly, I can?t see how I couldn?t have died laughing from this volume.

To summarize, all that has gone before has slowly but surely set up the pieces to be put into place for this final arc. While there was seemingly no story to be really found in this very episodic series, they pulled one out of somewhere here and I think faked enough plot ideas early on to give a semblance of one here. They?ve even managed to make sure two plots are going on during the end here.

The first is the continuing saga of Gomez and his problems with Pedro. Gomez has managed to really become something during these episodes after he captures the Great Will of the Macrocosm, aka Pedro?s Sexy Wife. Using her as his power base, he becomes known as ?That Man? and sets out to conquer the world. His plans do run into a fair amount of trouble though as he has to not only deal with Pedro, but Pedro?s son Sandora and Nabeshin. In fact, Nabeshin helps so much that they all end up sporting the afro as they battle in a Dragonball Z/Nabeshin mix that simply makes you laugh and weep at the same time.

The other arc brings us back to Ilpalazzo and his plans to conquer the city. The higher-ups in the ACROSS organization have decided the time is now and so they go forcefully to conquer the city. Well, Hyatt does as he ends up essentially booting Excel out of the game plan for this little jaunt. Through a series of events, Ilpalazzo ends up taking his massive fortress and conquers the city through fear and intimidation, but much of it seems to go against his better nature and he battles his own internal struggles.

That?s the simple side of it. What makes it all work is how they get there. The first thing we get is a massive Puchuu episode. And not just any old Puchuu episode, but one where the entire Puchuu race seems to live in Matsumoto-verse as they bring in elements from Harlock to Yamato to bring it all together. There is nothing funnier than a Puchuu to begin with, but when they morph into a variant of Harlock or Deslok as well as Emeraldas and other women from the series, it really hits hard, especially as I?ve become such a huge Matsumoto fan in the past few years. They nail literally every piece of it right when they parody and pay homage to it here.

With the Puchuu?s now attacking Earth, the help bring about the conditions necessary for Ilapalazzo to begin his deeds. Of course, that catalyst is a Gundam inspired moment as their massive ship crashes into the Earth. Unlike Gundam though, this sets a chain of events into action that allows Rikdo to turn the show into a post apocalyptic parody. So with elements of Mad Max and others, it turns into Excel: Fist of the North Star.

I swear, it is such a good thing that I?ve been getting into that property lately and actually enjoying it, because with it so fresh in my mind having been reading the original manga series, this episode cuts so deep and hard that it?s beautiful. So many elements are masterfully played out here that it definitely merits multiple viewings, especially as you see more and more series during your life time and more of the jokes make sense. The entire post apocalyptic world sequence is great, where it goes from the comical and then to the gag-free episode and plays it straight. This brings everything to the full summation of the storyline, and it really is all well done. Just the right mix of humor and seriousness to make it all balance out.

With the series ending on episode 25, they went and made one more and this is the home video version. That means they avoided the censors and did things they couldn?t do otherwise. This is often considered by those who have seen it to be one of the most wrong episodes of anime ever made. I think I?ve seen worse in certain other shows, but I?ll give Excel Saga credit for really going for the jugular here. With the show starting off with Kotono asking Rikdo to make Excel Saga a musical, I knew I was in trouble right then and there. And when they broke out into song, I broke out into fits of laughter.

The episode is really an excuse just to have fun and go over the top. Hyatt bleeds so much that she covers the planet. Cosette comes back and ends up becoming a slut and tries to get Kabapu?s scientist friend to take her to a love hotel. The same love hotel that Excel is at as well, but it?s not quite Excel as she and Hyatt have switched bodies. And when Hyatt as Excel stumbles into the room, it turns into a lesbian scene that had me begging for more. And this is all split between scenes of Ilapalazzo kicking it up with his ?visual? band. There is so much that is simply wrong here. I almost hope it does offend people since that?ll make for interesting conversation. I just found it too funny to watch.

After all is said and done, Excel Saga was definitely worth the wait. It made out fantastically well by being a DVD release and not coming out back in the VHS days. A great transfer, very detailed in-show notes, excellent English language performances and a slew of hilarious extras and pack-ins, Excel Saga is something that needs to be seen. Though enjoyment will depend on how well you?re versed in anime in general, there?s a lot here for everyone.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Vid Notes,Episode 25 Clean Closing,Episode 26 Clean Opening,Episode 26 Clean Closing,Puni Puni Poemy Latest Info,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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