Quack Experimental Blog Post

I, Koshi Rikdo, hereby give my permission to have Excel Saga turned into a blog post about Excel Saga.

So you say that you’ve built up a resistance to weirdness. You find Aqua Teen Hunger Force insufferably mainstream. You consider Katamari Damacy trite and conventional. And let’s not even get you started on how linear and predictable a three-hour slog through FLCL is.

My friend, like a marijuana user upgrading to crack, or a Unitarian Universalist converting to Fundamentialist Christianity[0], it’s time to move you up to the harder stuff.

Allow me to introduce you to Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga. Or, Excel Saga for short.

(Oh $DIETY, you groan, another one of those rambling-about-some-random-anime posts. I promise I’ll try to keep this one interesting. Or at least thoroughly hyperlinked and with some pictures stolen liberated from Wikipedia. Oh, and I also accidentally solve the whole peace-in-the-Middle-East thing in the process.)

Excel Saga has everything but the kitchen sink fourth wall. Robots! Parodies! Aliens! Gangsters! Terrorists! Ghosts! Anemia! Self-Insertion! Dogs! Bowling! Fan Service! Immigrants! Explosions! Exclamation Marks!!

(Fun fact: “Self-insertionsounds a lot dirtier than it actually is.)

Excel Saga, in a nutshell, counts itself a king of infinite space is an off-the-wall gag-a-second anime that parodies and satirizes anything and everything. It spoofs and subverts just about every trope in the book and gleefully genre-shifts every episode. And despite all this chaos and confusion, it still manages to tell a coherent story of love, loyalty, betrayal, and afros.

Yes, afros. Do not underestimate the power of the afro.

Afro Attack!
A cautionary tale: Nabeshin (right, top), Pedro (right, middle), and Sandora (right, bottom) fail to use the power of the afro appropriately, and as a result are about to have their butts kicked by That Man (middle), while the Great Will of the Macrocosm and Pedro’s Sexy Wife (left) watch helplessly.

The world is corrupt! The secret ideological organization ACROSS plans to sieze control of the planet from the ignorant masses. However, “global conquest” is an objective only sought directly by fools capable of grasping only the most general of concepts, so ACROSS is focusing its efforts on Japan. And furthermore, due to limited resources, ACROSS is further concentrating on the conquest of F City, F Prefecture.

And by “limited resources,” I mean “having only two officers”: the eponymously cool saga-worthy Excel (not to be confused with the spreadsheet) and the mysterious, frail Hyatt (not to be confused with the hotel, especially not one in Cincinatti). Excel and Hyatt spend most episodes trying to execute the orders of Ilpalazzo (not to be confused with the, um, palace?[1]), ACROSS’s leader (aside from the shadowy, rarely-mentioned ACROSS HQ in Pogota (not to be confused with Bogotá)).

Even though most of Ilpalazzo’s orders wouldn’t do much to work towards city conquest in the first place, there’s little danger of success with Excel and Hyatt on the job. Hyatt has the habit of dying frequently — not in the “Oh my God, they killed Kenny!” sense, but rather in the “she has a CON of 1″ sense. And as for Excel, what she lacks in basic competence she more than makes up for in enthusiasm and fanatical devotion to Ilpalazzo, willing and eager to do anything for (or to) him. And while they’re carrying out his orders, Ilpalazzo passes the time reading magazines, playing dating sims, and practicing guitar to fulfill his secret dream of becoming a brooding pretty-boy rock star.

ACROSS. Front row, left to right: Hyatt, Excel. Back row: Ilpalazzo (not to scale). Not pictured: Hyatt coughing up blood, Excel being annoying, Ilpalazzo dropping Excel through a trap door for being annoying.

Meanwhile, while all that’s going on, Kabapu (not to be confused with whatever the hell could be confused with Kabapu) is establishing the Department of City Security to defend F City from the forces he imagines are threatening it. (Let’s face it, ACROSS isn’t much of a threat, and Kabapu seems surprised when he discovers there just might be a secret ideological organization out there.) Establishing a team drawn largely from other people living in Excel and Hyatt’s apartment complex, Kabapu turns them from mere civil servants into his dream municipal defense force, whether they like it or not.

Meanwhile, Pedro (not to be confused with a running gag that’s starting to run out of steam), an immigrant worker killed in a fire caused by Excel’s negligence as a part-time traffic cop, wanders the afterlife. After seeing his family quickly replace him with Gomez, Pedro’s former friend, Pedro is seduced by the Great Will of the Macrocosm (a personified reset button). Things get worse when That Man (not to be confused with That Guy), the Great Will’s lover, catches Pedro with her and tries to kill him. Um, again.

Meanwhile, Nabeshin (definitely to be confused with director Shinichi Watanabe, who is in turn not to be confused with Shinichiro Watanabe), runs around with an afro, alternately saving the day or wooing the ladies. Hey, if you’re going to self-insert, why not go all the way? (Yep, still sounds dirty.)

And if all that’s not enough for you, each episode is done in a different genre. Before the opening credits, a fictionalized Koshi Rikdo, creator of the manga Excel Saga is based on, grants his “authorization” to turn Excel Saga into the genre du jour, be it sci-fi (see Episode 2: The Woman from Mars), horror (see Episode 7: Melody of the Underground Passage), romance (see Episode 4: Love Puny[2]), high school (see Episode 11: Butt Out, Youth!), blatant fan service (see Episode 8: Increase Ratings Week), or even a parody of the porn Koshi Rikdo drew in which Excel and several other characters first appeared (see Episode 18: Municipal Force Daitenzin).

(That’s right, in Japan it’s not uncommon for non-pornographic adaptations to be made out of pornography. Oh Japan, it’s like you’re the bizarro United States. What next, cars that don’t suck?)

Municipal Force Daitenzin
F City Department of City Security Municipal Force Daitenzin. (Remind you of anyone?) Blue: Toru Watanabe. Green: Misaki Matsuya. Yellow: Daimaru Sumiyoshi. Red: Norikuni Iwata. Purple: Ropponmatsu Unit 1. Pink: Ropponmatsu Unit 2. I’d tell you which four are Excel’s neighbors and which two are robots designed by borderline pedophile Gojo Shiouji, but this caption is long enough already.

Believe it or not, all this and more does come together somehow in the end.

So, as you can see, Excel Saga is a little weird (in much the same way as Fred Phelps is “a little homophobic“). However, the strangest episode of all is surely Episode 24: For You, I Could Die, as it is played completely straight. That’s right, an entire episode of a gag-centric show is devoid of gags, instead focusing on character development and building up to the big confrontations in the would-be “final” episode.

Though, to be honest, this sudden stretch of seriousness starts at the end of (the otherwise mediocre) Episode 23: Legend of the End of the Century Conqueror, which closes with a surprisingly effective and depressing scene where (spoiler alert) Ilpalazzo shoots Excel. Which is impressive to see pulled off, considering how frequently Ilpalazzo shooting Excel is played for laughs in the first couple of episodes.

Anyway, there are two other episodes in particular that stand out from the rest by virtue of being sheer awesome. If for some reason you decide to watch exactly two episodes, these are the two you want:

In Episode 9: Bowling Girls, Ilpalazzo sends Excel and Hyatt to investigate what sports are popular among the ignorant masses, so as to better woo them into following ACROSS. Excel and Hyatt decide to work part-time in a bowling alley, which (surprise!) is completely empty, save for a local-as-you-can-get TV show filming wannabe pop idols trying to bowl. But then a bowling terrorist group — that’s right, a bowling terrorist group — takes over the alley and hijacks the TV crew to create propaganda to increase interest in bowling by introducing the world to Human Bowling, using their hostages as pins. Excel escapes and hides in the restroom, where she encounters Nabeshin in the next stall over, who mentors her in the ways of bowling (except for the actual sports training montage). She then takes on the terrorists in a combination bowling match / fight to the death to rescue Hyatt and the other hostages.

Maybe I just like this episode because I bowled for three years back in high school. Or maybe I like it because this episode is hilarious. Either way, bowling is definitely the optimal way of fighting terrorists. Hmmm…. Memo to Hezbollah: take advantage of the cease-fire, change your name to Hezbowlah, and challenge the Israelis to a three-game no-handicap match at Golan Lanes. Man, if this takes off, we could bring peace to the Middle East and give new meaning to the Arab League!

But what does everyone[3] want even more than peace in the Middle East? That’s right: gratuitous sex and violence! And Episode 26: Going Too Far is happy to oblige. This episode was made specifically so that it can’t be shown on TV, with nearly every scene (including the opening credits!) packed with something to make the Family Research Council foam at the mouth, including but not limited to nudity, decapitation, soaplands, hot mannequin-on-mannequin action, hourly-rate hotels (wink wink nudge nudge), hot rabbit-on-rabbit action, dogs pooping, hot robot-on-girl action, gushers of blood, and hot girl-on-girl action. (All of which, for the record, is played for comedy, not prurient interest; got that, Justice Stewart?) Plus it ties up the loose ends left over from the preceeding “last” episode, and it even opens with a musical number!

Broken Image???
Yeah, I don’t think my server’s AUP would appreciate a screen capture from Episode 26. But Wikipedia might have a little something for you….

A word of advice to anyone whose appetite has been sufficiently whetted: you’ll probably want to check out the translation notes on each DVD, which will pop up explanations of the various cultural references or inscrutable Japanese puns Excel will babble while you watch. Though since these explanations can sometimes cover the entire screen, you may want to watch the episodes without it first, at least so you can always see what’s going on.

So, as you can see, Excel Saga is hardcore weird. And entertaining. But mostly weird. And entertaining.

It’s just like one of our era’s great philosophers once observed, “Japanese cartoons are weird, man.

Post 552

Quack Experimental Blog Post

Today’s Experiment…………Failed

– Footnotes –

[0] Both examples with no supporting evidence, and one of which I pretty much just made up on the spot, but I won’t let that stop me from using them anyway.

[1] Yes, I know Excel, Hyatt, and Ilpalazzo are all actually named after hotels in Japan.

[2] I’m told it’s a pun in Japanese.

[3] OK, almost everyone.

3 Responses

  1. You have no idea how long this post took to write.

  2. Excel ep. 26 has nothing on Puni Puni Poemi.

  3. Oh my.

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