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Excel Saga
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 11/05/2003

Excel is a cute but irritating young girl with a few screws loose. She's totally devoted to a shady organization called Across because she has a crush on the big boss, Lord Ilpalazzo. Now Lord Ilpalazzo is your usual megalomaniac, wanting to take over the city and such -- and Excel is his only henchperson. It's anyone's guess what will happen next when Excel is involved...

Excel Saga is a wild, wacky anime series wherein nothing serious ever happens. To say that it's weird is probably the understatement of the decade. Unconventional humor is the main focus of Excel Saga, so there's not so much in terms of episodic continuity. One thing is constant: Excel lives (and dies) to serve Lord Ilpalazzo and help fulfill his dreams of world, uh, city domination.

The heroine Excel takes the ditzy blonde stereotype and elevates it to the highest echelons of ditziness. She makes clumsy and silly characters such as Usagi (Sailormoon) and Mihoshi (Tenchi Muyo) seem graceful and clever in comparison. In the first episode, she dies several times (with only herself to blame) and gets resurrected by the "Will of the Macrocosm". It's a running gag that re-starts the episode whenever Excel fouls up to prematurely end it. Given, it is an original approach. However, it got stale quickly for me. I fell asleep before I reached the second episode, and I was on the verge of giving up on Excel Saga. I picked up where I left off a few months after I had watched the first 2-3 episodes and was pleasantly surprised to find the series improving. It was now very watchable and even downright funny. Excel goes through everything you'd never expect -- multiple deaths, cute and fuzzy alien invasions, bungled up part-time jobs, dog-eating dilemmas... etc. Excel Saga pokes fun at almost everything, from bishoujo games to Hollywood movies to other anime titles, characters, and personalities. There's a different mood and theme each episode. Excel Saga tries its hand at drama, violence, romance, and whetever else that comes to mind. I even enjoyed the frenzied finale aptly entitled "Going Too Far", wherein anything and everything imaginable went on.

The art and animation are superb, with attractive character designs and crisp, vibrant visuals. Two very popular seiyuus head the cast: Kotono Mituishi (Usagi in "Sailormoon", Misato Katsuragi in "Evangelion") plays Excel, and Koyasu Takehito (Hotohori in "Fushigi Yuugi", Zechs Merquise in "Gundam Wing") is Lord Ilpalazzo. The opening song sounds cute and bubbly enough, but the lyrics and visuals are far out. I mean, where else can you see one of the characters singing in the middle of tubercolosis attacks -- spewing out blood in the process? The ending song features the laments of the dog Menchi (who Excel wants to eat out of desperation). Menchi barks out the melody while a Japanese translator tells us what the song means.

Excel Saga is a very entertaining series that presents a hypercharged mix of fresh and humorous takes on already existing concepts. Despite the disjointed presentation, there is a continuing plot. I was put off by the first couple of episodes but I came to appreciate the humor as the series progressed. It's not something I'd show to an anime newcomer though, since the viewer must have watched a significant amount of anime in order to understand a large percentage of Excel Saga's jokes and antics. If you're bored with the current anime fare, this may just give you the jolt you're craving.

Excel Saga is made up of 26 episodes.

Excel Saga
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Review Title:
Excel Saga
Alternative Titles:
Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga, Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
650 Minutes
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi
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