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Excel Saga Review

Do not ask me what on God’s green Earth compelled me to attempt to write a review on this. Maybe it was the will of some greater being like God…or Cthulhu…or Haruhi Suzumiya…or the Great Will of the Macrocosm. No matter who or what presented me with the enlightening idea to review Excel Saga, I am now semi-reluctantly reviewing it. Thanks, Past-Me!

Wait. We don’t have a plot?
**Review: **Where do I even begin with this show? It’s a difficult task to try and articulate what [Excel Saga](http://myanimelist.net/anime/379/Heppoko_Jikken_Animation_Excel_Saga) is precisely. It sends me flashbacks of [FLCL](http://myanimelist.net/anime/227/FLCL) and [Cromartie High School](http://myanimelist.net/anime/114/Sakigake!!_Cromartie_Koukou) in that respect. Hell, I could even feasibly compare it to [Daily Lives of High School Boys](http://myanimelist.net/anime/11843/Danshi_Koukousei_no_Nichijou) in the way that it just sort of does whatever it bloody well wants to. But since I can effectively compare it to some other anime, maybe I can try my hardest to illustrate just what it is to you. Excel Saga is a 1999 anime that is basically a 26-episode spoof show. What I mean by that is that Excel Saga spends a sizable chunk of time breaking the 4th wall,  making fun of anime, making fun of certain show genres, making fun of itself, and just parodying movies. It even successfully jokes around with western media. A good example of this is that there is an entire episode dedicated to spoofing the classic sci-fi, horror movie, Alien. At the end of every episode, I couldn’t help but get the feeling of “what the hell was that?” As hard as it may be to believe, Excel Saga does *technically* have a plot line. The general synopsis is that Excel, a hyperactive bozo, and her commander, Lord Il Palazzo, are planning to take over Earth. But, because of knowing how inept at practically everything Excel is, Il Palazzo decides to start small by just capturing Tokyo. Therefore, Excel, her dog named Menchi, and the newcomer, Hyatt (not the hotel chain), attempt to do Il Palazzo’s bidding and take over Tokyo. They proceed to fail miserably at every attempt and havoc ensues. However, I implore you to trust me when I say that the plot of this program has almost nothing to do with anything that occurs in the series and what actually does occur is just fuck-all. Now, this does make for a pretty enjoyable experience at times. The show frequently makes fun of common anime tropes and cracks pop culture references whenever possible. The running gags within the series are also damn hilarious at points. Nevertheless, the show still has its own package of flaws. One of the flaws, probably the most glaringly obvious of them all, is a problem that I have with a lot of anime: Excel Saga has no real plot line…even if the synopsis says that it does. Yes. It may have a baseline for how Excel and the rest of the space bafoons end up in Tokyo, but it’s really just a device used to get them into the setting that the show takes place in. As I tried to convey before, the actual content of the show doesn’t follow the plot at all and it’s not like it gets resolved in the last episode. Now, I could probably forgive this if the show was shorter like the other comedies I stated before such as Cromartie High School (26 episodes, but they’re only 12 minutes long), FLCL, and DLHB; however, I feel that Excel Saga drags its ridiculousness on for a tad too long for my liking. It’s just so hard for me to trudge through a couple of the episodes. Most of the time, Excel Saga provided me with an abundance of laughter. In contrast, at other points, I kinda just sat there and sighed either because I didn’t find the episode funny or I didn’t catch the parody. Do note that this is also just my opinion. You may have a completely different take as a viewer.

**Characters: **Now, the characters are what Excel Saga does correctly…for the most part. Menchi is your typical animal companion, Hyatt is a typical damsel-in-distress, and Il Palazzo is a typical mastermind. There are also an array of other characters spanning from your basic “hero” to your generic Tsundere to your typical male sidekick to…well…your typical hardworking Mexican who has lost his child and wife to another man and who proceeds to have a relationship with an abstract concept known as the Great Will of the Macrocosm. I’m completely fine with all these characters. If anything, they bolster the show’s enjoy-ability as much as the parodies and running gags. Heck, a remarkable amount of the running gags are odd quirks that are attributes of a larger portion of the characters and to be honest, most of them are really, really funny. However, notice how I’m avoiding our main heroine, Excel. Excel is where I have a problem. Excel is essentially your typical Genki (hyperactive and optimistic character) girl on crack. At times – meaning almost all the time – Excel is too hyper for me.

Everybody! Cry with Pedro!!
She is hyper and dimwitted to the point of being exceedingly annoying and most of the time, it was the portions of the show that she didn’t appear in that I enjoyed the most. She seriously bothered me at some moments and I just wanted to tell her politely and calmly to shut her fucking mouth. Now, generally speaking, none of these characters are fleshed out at all. Most of them do have their quirks, but that by no means says that they’re deep or receive anything resembling development. In light of this, they don’t really need to. This is a spoof comedy and additional character development would probably just hinder the show from being what it is. So, in this case, I actually prefer the lack of character depth, which fits the theme of the show.

**Animation/Sound: **Animation for this show was done by the studio J.C. Staff. J.C. Staff (see their other work) is not a studio that is particularly known for astoundingly good animation. Even with this being said, I believe that they could have done a better job in Excel Saga than what we were actually presented with. I understand that the animation is dated; however, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Ghost in the Shell, and Perfect Blue all came out before or at the same time as this show and were animated noticeably better. Even Neon Genesis Evangelion was leaps and bounds better in production quality than Excel Saga when Gainax (see what else they’ve done) had something that resembled an actual budget. Excel Saga does do well stylistically when it comes to comedic distortions, but that is about all the credit I’ll give it. The soundtrack I honestly don’t remember at all but the opening and ending are at least memorable. The opening annoyed me at the beginning, but it’s one of those openings that is so catchy that it’ll probably force you to like it eventually, even if you resent it for doing so. It’s also pretty freaking funny when you read the actual lyrics to he OP. The ending song is wonderful because of how funny it is. I won’t give away why, but if you watch this show, make sure to at least watch the ending sequence for the first episode.

Now…the sub vs dub. I usually won’t bring up subs or dubs unless I think it’s necessary. It’s necessary for Excel Saga. I watched the whole damn thing dubbed. I applaud myself for managing to watch it in such a way. I mean, it’s not bad per se, but most of the voices are pretty generic. I only really enjoyed Rob Mungle as Pedro. What really turned me off  though was once again, Excel. Her dubbed voice is almost intolerable and not in the stereotypical way. It’s not ridiculously high pitched, but more loud, obnoxious, and raspy. Personally, it just bothered me to no end. I’ve only heard a small portion of the sub, but I can tell you that it is substantially  better than the dub. In the case of dub-lovers, this will probably fare just fine for you guys. Just know that Excel may rupture your eardrums.

Like with most of these shows, it’s best not to ask.
**Overall: **Excel Saga is a show that I can say relies almost 100% on a viewer’s personal taste. For most people, Excel Saga will provide a ton of laughs. It has a great sense of humor when it comes to spoofing and playing off of either shows or common stereotypes, whether it be anime or other media. The show also bolsters a large, diverse cast that either fit into a pre-determined archetype and completely own that archetype or are so bizarre and atypical that they stand out like a sore thumb (see Pedro, the Great Will of the Macrocosm, and Space Butler). All of these characters (not including Excel at most points) are enjoyable and create countless laughs either based on their weird originality or the quirks that they’re attributed with.  But the show is undoubtedly dragged down by some flaws. The animation is unquestionably dated and that may be a huge turn-off for some people (not me) right from the get-go. Even for its time though, I don’t think it holds up as well as some other shows. The show, like others of the genre, doesn’t really have a plot either. Sure, it has a basis, but not a plot. Not only this, but I think the show drags itself out a little bit too long as a pure comedy consisting of 26 episodes. I think it would’ve been better off as a 12 or 13 episode series with a few OVAs if the populous wanted more of it. While the ending and opening songs are memorable, the soundtrack is not and I am not a huge fan of the dub. But I would like to have you know that this is by no means a bad show. I got a lot of laughs out of it. It just lacks in a few categories for me. I would prefer to watch [DLHB](http://myanimelist.net/anime/11843/Danshi_Koukousei_no_Nichijou), [Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei](http://myanimelist.net/anime/2605/Sayonara_Zetsubou_Sensei), or even [Panty & Stocking with Garderbelt](http://myanimelist.net/anime/8795/Panty_&_Stocking_with_Garterbelt) again if I wanted a pure comedy. So, if you’re looking for some good laughs and some hilariously original characters, Excel Saga is a great choice. Although, if you’re looking for anything deep or anything with an actual plot, stay away. Also understand going into this show that you may find it – for lack of a better word – stupid. To be honest, I couldn’t really disagree with you there. To its credit though, Excel Saga is stupid in a good way most of the time and has its moments of being extremely clever. However, there are also those episodes where I just want to shake my head the whole time. In all,  I can’t recommend to watch or not watch this show. In my humble opinion, it is worth an attempt for most people, regardless of personal preference. Just know that it may end up not being your cup of tea………….and watch out for Excel.

Overall, Excel Saga gets a hilariously above-average 7.4/10.


Greg is a 23 year-old from Traverse City, Michigan. He likes catching frisbees, drinking coffee, and driving over the speed limit. His favorite anime is definitely not School Days.

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