Movie: Anime is a large, and growing, genre in the USA. In Japan, it has always had a large following for years and is a large part of the pop culture there. As such, it is fair game for a full fledged parody. While many comedy anime series touch on the stereotypes and clichés of anime, the first one dealing with such an approach full time is Excel Saga. There seems to be no sacred cows left unskewered here by the end of the series and this review takes a brief look at the final dvd, Excel Saga 6: Going Way Too Far.
The dvd provided 5 episodes of fun and entertainment for fans of anime everywhere. The biggest concern I had about this one was that it would require too much insider knowledge, to enjoy. Only a true anime geek (or Otaku) would probably get the jokes here, although even a passing fan of the genre will likely pick up some of the references as they often hit you over the head with them. The good news is that ADV Films provides a cool extra that provides some background data and gives a look at the joke in many cases when you turn on the AD Vidnotes extra. With it, you'll get to see some of the plays on words and puns, as well as information about some of the anime icons being trashed. It definitely added replay value to an already weird, yet extremely fun, show.
The show details the misadventures of a group, ACROSS, that wants to take over City F. The leader of this super secret society is Ilapalazzo who directs two young gals, Excel, a bumbling woman who screw up everything she touches, and Hyatt, a gal who seems to die more than Kenny (from the American show Southpark). In this final dvd, they achieve their goals but only in the most superficial of ways.
Episode 22: untitled: This episode dealt mainly with Matsumoto's universe (Star Blazers/Captain Harlock) and was my personal favorite of the series (I've only seen a few earlier episodes). Great fun and lots of kidding, as usual, with the subject matter.
Episode 23: Fist Of The Fork Star/Legend of the End of the Century Conquerer: This episode focused mainly on a spoof of Fist Of The North Star, complete with all kinds of Mad Max references and characters. Fans of that show will likely be laughing their butts off.
Episode 24: For You, I Could Die: Excel, having been shot by Ilapalazzo, is taken in by the City F security forces, having lost her memory. The parodies were a bit less focused this time but hit on a number of anime clichés.
Episode 25: We Will Not Be Held Responsible: With Gundam style robots, Power Rangers all about, the North Star bands of gangs, and Ilapalazzo dressed like the bad guy from the Tenchi in Space series, it all gets wrapped up here. Too many things going on except ACROSS had finally taken over the city and the people trying to change that were completely incompetent.
Episode 26: Going Too Far: This one wasn't shown on Japanese television due to lots of sexual content and violence. It looked a bit half baked at times but pushed out in the open a lot of things fans say all the time. Essentially, even more bizarre than usual.
Picture: The picture was presented in full frame, 1.33: ratio and looked very clear. The dvd transfer was crisp with no artifacts or other problems.
Sound: The sound was presented in stereo with a choice of either English, English with song subtitles, or Japanese with English subtitles. Each of the two primary tracks was very clear and a bit different which gave this one some extra replay value.
Extras: AD Vid-notes: little pop up messages that provide some background explanations for some of the puns and cultural references (i.e.:they help you "get" some of the more obscure stuff). A few clean closings and openings (the beginnings and ends of the credits without the words). A short on Puni Puni Poemy. Production sketches, trailers, and paper inserts for the show as well as a postcard.
Final Thoughts: I think casual fans of anime would enjoy this as a silly diversion more than anything but true fans of anime, at least ones who don't take things too seriously, really need to get this one. The anime styles used here vary widely as the show tries to match the shows it parodies but all of them contributed to the overall effect. I haven't seen the earlier episodes of the show (maybe I'll catch a sale soon) but if they're anything close to as much fun as this one was, they will be a great value. I'm listing this as Highly Recommended to all anime fans but you'll have to adjust that rating to your own background. Lastly, the show did make use of some adult themes, particularly the last episode, and ADV Films lists it as a 17+ release.