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Martian Successor Nadesico Perfect Collection
Some anime licenses withstand the test of time and these properties make their way into cult status. 1996's Martian Successor Nadesico shines as a perfect example of a revered anime license. This series straddles the line of parody, comedy, and drama in such a way that the mixture is almost seamless. It pulls off so many elements at once that it becomes a perfect hybrid of many genres and it withstands the test of time as a fun, witty science fiction piece that isn't to be missed. As such it's not surprising that ADV has visited the show numerous times for DVD releases. Other than the individual volume releases we have seen an Essential's collection, a complete collection, and ADV has decided to revisit the series one more time with a Perfect Collection.
With so many releases under its belt it's safe to say that most of you have seen or at least heard about Nadesico. If you haven't then you're in for a treat as this 26 episode series is a wild ride right up to the end. It's a shame that this "Perfect Collection" doesn't include the film Prince of Darkness though I suppose you can't have it all.
Coming from the mind of Tatsuo Sato (Stellvia, Ninja Scroll: The Series, Shingu) Nadesico takes place in the year 2195. Humanity has colonized other planets within the vicinity of Earth but many colonies have fallen to the power of the Jovian Lizards. The Jovians are a powerful alien race that humans can't seem to do anything about. They possess weapons that make ours useless and throughout the series they remain the number one threat.
When the show starts we meet a young man named Akito Tenkawa who is hiding with some refugees below the surface of Mars. The Jovians have come to attack and after a brief fight in the bunker Akito appears to be the only survivor. He blacks out and we meet him once again on Earth some time later as he appears to be on the run from the Jovians. Initially not much is known about how Akito survived the attack or how he got from Mars to Earth, but over the course of the series we learn more about the character. For the time being though he appears to be a skittish pilot who would rather use his skills to either cook or run.
It's while on the run from a Jovian attack that he bumps into a childhood friend named Yurika. This blue haired beauty is on her way to something called Nergal and in particular a ship known as Nadesico. Recognizing her for who she is Akito hops back on his bike and follows her to the facility only to be captured and hired as a crew cook for the ship. As Akito joins the cast we meet the rest of the crew from the energetic pilot Gai, the busty Haruka, the charming Megumi, the sharp as a tack Rumi, the leader Goat, and mechanic Seiya. Together they form a team of eclectic personalities that bring a great amount of diversity to the series and each has an important role to play as the show progresses.
With the crew assembled Nadesico's mission is revealed and surprisingly enough it has virtually nothing to do with the military. Sure the ship is powerful and yes the crew is well-trained but their mission is more of a humanitarian one than something designed for war. With the stars in their eyes the crew heads out into space with Mars as their destination which undoubtedly holds Akito's interest more so than Yurika's incessant pursuit of his love.
While there are a few throwaway episodes scattered throughout the 26 episodes for the most part there is a great deal of continuity. The plot is semi-serious though thankfully the show never becomes too full of itself and there is a nonstop barrage of witty retorts, visual gags, and self-referential humor. The character interactions are what make this show as enjoyable as it is and it's safe to say that every personality here gels in ways that other anime could only dream of.
For whatever reason Akito finds himself in the center of something of a harem situation as Yurika and other female members of the team fawn over his cooking style and penchant for being a whiny coward. As you'd imagine there's a lot of room for laughter with a situation like that and the content stays away from becoming too stale unlike other series. Akito's development as a pilot is another great bit of the tale told in Nadesico and in many ways it runs parallels to other giant robot series.
If you are unfamiliar with this show than you need to know that it in many ways makes fun of itself. Throughout the series the characters will all refer to some anime known as Gekigangar III. It's an homage to giant robot shows of the past with lots of shouting, flashy moves, and robotic goodness that fans so love. The funny part is that Akito and Gai, who both pilot mecha in this series are staunch fans of the anime and often tackle piloting the robots as if they were kids with toys. It's such a fun twist to the show and it becomes instantly endearing if you have an appreciation for the genre. I couldn't get enough of watching these anime characters watch and mimic an anime.
Not everything is fun and games in Nadesico and like I mentioned earlier there is a decent amount of drama and story to be found here. The balance between plot and humor is handled appropriately and right up to the end this series is a hell of a ride. Unfortunately the ending is VERY disappointing and it just doesn't live up to the quality set by the rest of the show. It's kind of sad that right up to the final few minutes Nadesico is rock solid until it falters. If you can get past that disappointment you're in for a hell of a ride.
Misgivings about the ending aside this show is an instant classic and it should be regarded with high praise. Despite being a parody and feeling familiar in so many ways it feels fresh from start to finish. This is a twelve year old classic that most every otaku should at least watch once especially if you have a place in your heart for giant robots and science fiction. If you missed it the first, second, or third times around consider this Perfect Collection the perfect time to hop on board.
Originally released in 1996 Nadesico is an older show by anyone's standards. Due to its age you can expect the full frame color picture to bare a few flaws within the transfer. For starters there is some color degradation and the overall image is softer than more recent shots. Grain is inherently in the film and though the video master looks fine there's no denying that darker scenes belie defects in the original print. For what it is this is a good looking show that has withstood the test of time decently but it's definitely a series that wears its years.
With English and Japanese 2.0 stereo presentations it's safe to say that the audio in Nadesico is decent but not entirely immersive. Compared to other shows from this time period the sound is perfectly fine with virtually no flaws to complain about. A 5.1 track would have gone a long way to spruce the presentation up a bit but due to the age of both the English and Japanese dubs that wasn't really a possibility. As far as those voiceovers are concerned the Japanese one stands out the most while the English one falters in parts. Both are okay by most standards but the English track felt a tad overplayed in my opinion.
Surprisingly enough ADV has once again included bonus materials for its thinpack release. If you've followed the publisher's trend then you realize that's something of a rarity but hopefully it's a practice that we'll see more of with future releases. One thing to consider about this release is that these bonus features have appeared on prior Nadesico DVDs. If you're coming to this set looking for an upgrade there really isn't much here in the way of enticement.
Included in this boxed set are three commentaries from varying points of the series. The quality of these is actually pretty good though as far as English commentaries for anime are concerned they are fairly standard. There's little information about the show itself and for the most part it focuses on the voice actors and English production crew. Of course there are a few laughs to be had but in the end these commentaries prove to be more entertaining than informative. Aside from those features this boxed set gets light material in the form of character biographies, textless animation, and sketch galleries.
Martian Successor Nadesico is arguably a mainstay in the ADV catalog. A series doesn't go through four releases without being sold to someone and quite honestly the buzz I hear about this show is almost entirely positive. With that being said I had a great time with this Perfect Collection. The humor is smart, the plot is entertaining, and the characters are all memorable. I appreciate shows that features self-referential elements and the anime within an anime aspect that Nadesico presents is an iconic way to approach this. Sure the ending wasn't very strong in my opinion but the road to that point featured one heck of a trip. Consider this series highly recommended and if you haven't seen it yet this is your best opportunity to!