13 CommentsAnime Analysis, No Anime is Dropped Forever / By Scamp /

No anime is dropped forever: Excel Saga

There’s no point in running these ‘no anime is dropped forever’ posts if I never actually watch any of the anime in question. Last time I picked up Clannad ~After Story~, which despite some very poor segments, turned out to be the right choice. This time round I decided to pick up something on the opposite end of the serious spectrum. The bizarre 1999 JC Staff comedy series: Excel Saga.

Picked up on: Episode 1 (although had previously watched until episode 11)

Why I picked it up again: Because, although I dropped the series, it was originally only meant to be a temporary drop (of course, every anime is just a temporary drop, which is why I started these posts in the first place, but lets leave that aside for now), I just never got around to picking it up again. But when it showed up in these posts, it got a lot of support from the comments from people who looked back at it fondly, remembering the utter bizarreness that was Excel Saga. It won the poll from that round and was a pretty much guaranteed pick up anyway.

Review: Watching Excel Saga prompted me to make a comparison between it and Seto no Hanayome. They both rely on a mixture of absurdity, parody and taking plot points to the nonsensical extreme to draw laughs from the audience. The only real difference between the two is Seto no Hanayome spends it’s time going to complete extremes with tropes, such as the schoolground division, while Excel Saga spends more time reveling in its lack of a fourth wall. Actually there’s an even bigger difference between the two. Seto no Hanayome is funny. Excel Saga just isn’t. In fact, I’m at a bit of a loss to say quite why Seto is funny while Excel Saga isn’t. Yes, comedy that often uses randomness to draw laughs can vary hugely from person to person (I managed to ‘inspire’ this post BTW).But let’s leave Seto aside for now and focus on why Excel Saga isn’t funny. It’s hard to put my finger on as to why put a large part comes down to the characters.

Excel is meant to be the character from which most of the punchlines come from. In that sense, a dubbed Excel would have worked better for comedic timing purposes but that wasn’t an option. Excel might as well been speaking in Klingon for all I knew, such was her incomprehensibility. Even if I understood Japanese I would have had to watch the thing subbed, and they were the most difficult subs to keep up with this side of a Shaft anime. There was also a lack of facial expressions. It’s not like they lacked the animation quality to do that. In fact, the artwork and animation in this series were of a very high standard (especially when you compare this series to GTO, which came out in the same year. God did GTO ever look awful). It’s just Excel rarely went beyond shouty loud face. Bloody Menchi had more variety of facial expressions than she did.

The rest of the characters were pretty much a one-trait bunch, which in itself isn’t a bad thing. But those one-traits weren’t funny. Hyatt’s constant deaths were only funny in the last episode where they took it to the nonsensical and hugely bloody extremes. Illpalazzo didn’t do much beyond have theme music and a piece of rope. None of the office staff were remotely funny (what the hell was with the guy who only spoke with writing?) and the mustache Mr.Kabapu was done better by FLCL. Pedro’s story was all a bit of a anomaly in the series that sat there and took up time from the main story, kinda like Chibitalia except nowhere near as bad (for one, the non-chibitalia sections are actually funny). Oddly enough, the star of the show was Nabeshin, the director turned anime character. It’s as if he saw that there was a total lack of other funny characters in the show so he decided to stick himself in to liven things up a bit. His pulling of machine-guns out of his ‘fro was one of the few highlights from the first half of the series.

One thing Excel Saga did have in it’s favour was that the girls were hot. I found myself wishing that they would have more fanservice orientated comedy. This feeling, I have noted before, is usually a sign that the show is failing in other areas when I’m looking towards sex appeal for entertainment (unless you happen to be a certain spin off from Full Metal Panic)….uurrmmm…sorry, my eyes keep wandering to the above picture and I forget what I was going to type. Yeah, my mind kept wandering in Excel Saga as I looked for other things in the show to keep me entertained. I was so starved for comedy in what should have been a comedic series that I started finding laughs from parts that weren’t really meant to be for humour. I distinctly remember an episode where a few characters repeated the name ‘Mr.Kabapu’ a few times, something I inexplicably found to be the funniest thing of the series thus far and from then out found myself laughing whenver someone said his name. One thing that helped me continue was spacing the episodes with the occasional Gintama jaunt, which put Excel Saga to shame in every way bar having hot women (sorry Kagura but you stand no chance against these two).

Because I was desperately looking for something different in Excel Saga, I really enjoyed the last few episodes and the total change in tone. Then there was the last episode which, after 25 previous episodes of relatively unfunny episodes barring the occasional mentioning of Mr.Kabapu, was a joy to behold. Asides from delivering the fanservice I’d been secretly hoping for the entire show, it finally took the show to the nonsensical extremes that it had yet to do.

Was it worth picking up again: Sitting through 25 episodes to get to that one genuinely funny episode? Add on the fact that the episode wouldn’t have been as funny without the previous 25? No, this wasn’t worth picking up again.

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13 Comments

  1. Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I hate Excel Saga.

    I didn’t watch it. I didn’t need to. In 7th grade, one of my former friends became obsessed with this show, and insisted on quoting it at every opportunity.

    These quotes weren’t funny the first time, and as time went on, remained not funny.

    Looking back, I feel like I experienced the show is a secondhand way and know I wouldn’t like it if I watched it.

    Though, if they’re hot…

  2. Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Also, whoo for finally being a top commenter. Though should you expect anything less from an internet waifu. :P

  3. Posted March 16, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    I love random comedy. It might not be smart, but it’s hilarious.

    Personally, it took me a while to finish Excel Saga, but I liked it.

  4. Posted March 16, 2010 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    Ho ho ho, Irish. The only thing you managed to inspire is my foot in your ass!

    I laughed way more at Excel Saga than I did at Seto, but I don’t consider either to be top-class comedy. Did you at least laughed at the “Municipal Force Daitenzin” episode? Or the scene in Harlem?

    Other place where I didn’t really agree with you: I never really found Excel attractive. Hyatt, sure, nothing in the wrong place there. But the few times that Excel was presented in a sexual manner, it just didn’t seem “right” to me for some reason.

  5. Posted March 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I have attempted Excel Saga three times over the years and have yet to complete the fecking thing! I’m not a fan of random plotless comedy at the best of times, but Excel Saga has to be a particularly bad example of the genre.

    Friends keep telling to to finish it, but I seem to hit a wall of sheer boredom arround ep13 :? I don’t even have the option of looking forward to fanservice :( I shall finish it one day just so I can delete the files and never think of it again :P

    BTW – Happy St Paddy’s Day for tomorrow ;)

  6. Scamp
    Posted March 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    @Janette

    Actually I have heard Excel Saga being quoted before: In littlekuriboh’s abridged series. He quotes some of the most random things

    @Sorrow-kun

    Hence why the ‘inspire’ is in sarcastic quotation marks.

    And no, I didn’t find the Muni­cipal Force Daiten­zin episode funny at all.

    @Caraniel

    Actually I cheated and skippe 4-5 episodes this time round but seeing as I made it through halfway last time I felt I was allowed skip a few. The thing is, I’m generally quite fond of plotless humour, such as Cromartie. Excel Saga just sux

    Happy St Paddy’s Day right back at ya~

  7. Posted March 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I actually enjoyed the first disc of Excel, but after that totally lost interest. In the end I got rid of everything except that first disc. My favorite parts are the OP and ED. I liked the 4th wall humor, but two episodes of that are enough.

    In the end, my feeling was that it was like an SNL sketch that went on way too long. (In case you don’t know, SNL is an American comedy show that over the past 40 years has managed to be funny on average twice per hour).

  8. Posted March 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Was it? I’ve been forced to watch all of his abridged series–my sister makes me, and they’re amusing–but never picked up on that. Though I’ve picked up some of his other quotes. He does pick the strangest things.

    Oh, and best of luck with work and travel, and don’t party too hard for St. Patty’s. ;]

  9. Posted March 17, 2010 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Your lukewarm negative review inspired me to pick this show up… and promptly drop it. Kudos on sitting through 5 minutes of it, let alone 26 episodes. I hate shows that are random for the complete sake of being random (I thought Pani Poni Dash fell victim to that too). The difference between ES and a show like Seto no Hanayome, or even Zetsubou Sensei, is that the latter shows have some semblance of a plot or backbone to carry it.

  10. Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I like Excel Saga, but I can definitely see why other people wouldn’t be able to stand it. Even for me, it is a totally hit-or-miss series, much like most anime comedies. I think Detroit Metal City is the only pure anime comedy I’ve seen that hit with pretty much every joke it made.

  11. Scamp
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    @Joojoobees

    The thing is, a v.short comedy will never leave any lasting impact on you. It has to go on for at least 10 episodes to prove its worth IMO

    @RP

    Yeah, I wouldn’t say anything more than ‘lukewarm negative’. Although I have to wonder why you picked it up when I gave it a negative review…

    @Shinmaru

    DMC hit with every joke because it didn’t vary it’s jokes that much at all. I know others disagree with me but I believe that was the beauty behind DMC. It had a small repotoire of jokes and used them fantastically and kept the series short. It’s what Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei should have been like

  12. fathomlessblue
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Like Joojoobees, my take was Excel Saga was great for 5 episodes and then just went downhill from there. Watching Arakawa under the bridge has particularly made me realise that random comedy can be used to much greater effect than it was on this show.

    That said it did give us (albeit for one ep) Spacebutler, who I still see as one of the finest anime characters of all time.

  13. raf
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I guess I’m just not a fan of slapstick. Most of the humor relies on exaggerations. I’ve tried watching it since it was being compared with FLCL, which I liked. I think that the difference with FLCL is that it has a cool likable main character, while Excel Saga has an obnoxious blabber mouth. Trying to make a gag out of every single scene also deprived me of “suspense” or actively thinking. There’s just way too much that the jokes and funny scenes are no longer “out of the blue”.

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