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ADV Films presents
Excel Saga #2: Missions Improbable (1999)

"This is one crack team of special agents that might be doing better if they actually were on crack."
- Tagline

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 02, 2003

Stars: Takehito Koyasu, Omi Minami, Satomi Koorogi, Shinichi Wanatabe, Jessica Calvello, Jason Douglas, Kelly Manison, Hilary Haag
Other Stars: Yuka Imai, Takashi Nagasako, Wataru Takagi, Paul Sedillo, Brett Weaver, Mark Laskowski, Jay Hickman
Director: Shinichi Watanabe

Manufacturer: MOFC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (17+)
Run Time: 01h:40m:00s
Release Date: August 27, 2002
UPC: 702727023620
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+AB+ B-

DVD Review

The weirdness continues with Excel Saga volume two, providing four more episodes of 1000% of your daily required improbability intake. Once again, Lord Ilpalazzo, the leader of the ideological organization ACROSS, sends out his incompetent minions, Excel and Hyatt, to take over the world (so he can purify it of its nastiness, so they're like a nice organization bent on world conquest). Unfortunately for him, Excel can't get her mind off her stomach and Hyatt can't manage to stay alive for more than five minutes at a stretch.

This volume contains for more episodes of anime parody hilarity, though the choice targets aren't quite as distinct this time, and thus, they don't provide quite as much material to skewer. The first two episodes suffer from an overabundance of plot (the series is at its best when the jokes are strung together with less emphasis on the actual story), though there are great gags interspersed throughout. The latter episodes more than make up for any deficiencies in the previous shows. Episode 8 is an "increase the ratings" show, and thus, it features all of the female characters attending an "all-girl" pool party. One of the things that I hate most about anime is the abundant "fan service," so a show that pokes fun at the idea that all of its fans are drooling boys is quite nice. And of course, there's the sub-plot about the pre-teen assassin, who has an inner-tube that comes complete with rotating spikes. And Hyatt, ever the exaggerated parody of a frail anime princess, passes out in the pool during a breath-holding contest with Excel. Episode 9 is great as well. It pokes fun at live-action sports shows, and seeing the enthusiastic hosts babbling about bowling, exciting the youth of the nation is a bizarre hoot.

Director Shinichi Watanabe keeps things moving even in the slower episodes, packing each frame with oddball references and in-jokes. And all of your favorite characters return, including the menacing (but adorable!) Puchuus, the smooth Nabeshin, and best of all, poor Pedro. Pedro was killed in the first episode of the series, and now he wanders the earth as a ghost, lamenting the loss of his child and "sexy wife," who proceeds to instantly jump into the arms of another man (suspiciously, she's almost instantly "con niño").

The voice work from the English cast is outstanding, which is a good thing—the jokes in this series often rely on the turn of a phrase, and direct translations don't always translate through the subtitles.

Even if it sometimes feels like it's going to collapse under the weight of its own premise (a show with no story aside from whatever it can parody could get old really fast), it remains quite entertaining. I especially liked the gag in episode 9 where the pop stars who sing the theme song played themselves, looking exactly like Excel and Hyatt. I have to give credit to a satire that manages to double back and parody itself.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This disc sports another wonderful transfer from the fine folks at ADV, who always seem to do a wonderful job, particularly with newer series. The animation comes to life with amazing clarity and dazzling color, without aliasing or oversaturation marring the proceedings. Blacks are nice and solid as well, and detail remains sharp even in darker scenes.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: Excel Saga features a 2.0 track in both English and Japanese, and both sound decent. The front soundstage comes alive with music and sound effects delivered with frequent directionality, but the surrounds stay completely silent throughout. I suppose a more immersing track would be nice, but I'm just happy that dialogue is well preserved—this show lives and dies by its mile-a-minute babbling.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Zone of the Enders, Burn Up Excess, Super Atragon, Dragon Half, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Farscape: Season 2
3 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. AD Vid-notes
  2. Production Sketches
  3. Japanese CD and single soundtrack spots
  4. Original Menchi advertisements
Extras Review: ADV has once again included the fabulous AD Vid-notes option to an Excel Saga release, and the pop -up trivia facts and explanations of anime in-jokes really add to the depth of the series (particularly for non-otaku, though even the most knowledgeable fan will no doubt miss a few references without these notes).

The rest of the extras are the original promotional materials from Japan, including some TV spots and a few bizarre ads for the soundtrack and its singles. Hidden throughout the menus (which are very creative, by the way, designed around the "ACROSS 2000" operating system from episode 6) are gags including various products to better flavor your Menchi.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Though the satire isn't quite as sharp as it was in the first volume, this second disc of Excel Saga is still mighty amusing. After all, this is a series in which Pokemon-like beings are revealed to be an evil race of aliens bent on destroying the world, using their adorableness as a cover. So, just like the real Pokemon, then.

 


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