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ADV Films presents
"Hi, kids, I'm Gojo Shioji, but all you kiddies out there can simply call me Uncle Sugar."
DVD ReviewHere it is, the sixth and final disc of Excel Saga, a collection of the last five episodes of the manic anime parody series. I've found the episodes to be hit or miss as of late, and I've only been marginally entertained by the last couple volumes. There is only so much nonsensical non-plotting I can take before I start to lose interest, and the show seemed to have lost sight of its original mission of anime parody to feature nothing but running gags and non sequitur jokes.
Apparently the writers were getting sick of the old format as well, because the last four episodes manage to scrape together all of the disparate story elements into something resembling a plot. Excel and Hyatt have been working to help the organization A.C.R.O.S.S. take over the country, and now, they've finally succeeded, though with the help of those cute alien invaders, the Puchuus. Episode 22 is an all-out Puchuu parody of the anime of director Matsumoto, specifically Space Cruiser Yamato. After a frenzied battle, the Puchuu ship crashes in Japan, leaving a huge crater, which Ilpalazzo then has no trouble taking over. The result is episode 23, a nearly comedy-free "apocalyptic" episode that manages to be funny because everything is played so seriously.
The Excel Saga version of Fist of the North Star carries through the last few shows, but we also get to see what happens to Pedro, his son, and "Sexy Wife" and Mrs. Will of the Microcosm as they all face off against That Man, and the Power Ranger team from the Mayor's office gets to suit up and battle A.C.R.O.S.S. in a giant robot armed with a giant phallic symbol.
The series proper ends with episode 25, but when the show went to video, they decided to wrap everything up with one outrageous episode that would be produced free of influence from the censors. The result is 25 minutes of anime that is sure to offend everyone at least once. All of the running gags return and are amplified as Hyatt dies again and again, and her death is bloodier each time, eventually drowning the planet. Shioji, the inventor with a disturbing interest in pre-teen girls, has one of the most nauseating sub-plots in animation history as he woos (and is wooed) by the young assassin Cosette from the fan-service episode a few volumes back, and just when I was all prepared to be disgusted as the two visit a seedy hotel to spend the night together, the writers managed to redeem themselves with one of the series' funnier sight gags and the assurance that, no, they don't approve of child molestation. Because even Excel Saga uncensored wouldn't go that far.
What did I think of the series as a whole? Well, it was good for a few laughs, but ultimately, a little pointless. I did enjoy a majority of the episodes, though, and I'm sure those with a better understanding of anime history would like the show even more. I must commend ADV on the job they did both with the translation and with the dub. Many thought this series would never play with American audiences, but thanks to some hard work from the ADV team, it does, even to an anime neophyte like myself. They really took advantage of all the DVD format has to offer (particularly with the AD Vidnotes feature to explain the cultural oddities being parodied), and I can't imagine trying to watch this show on VHS.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: Excel Saga has consistently been a great looking show on DVD, and this last volume is no different. Colors are rich and bright, showing no blooming or bleeding, and good detail. The DVD master is good as well, showing no artifacting or breakup even in the busiest scenes.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: This mix is on par with the other discs in the series; basically, it's another very nice job. The dialogue is clear in both the English and Japanese mixes, and though the surrounds are more or less silent throughout, music and effects are spread nicely across the front soundstage. The series always sounds a little shrill, with cartoon-y effects and lots of screaming, but the mix handles it well.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Neo Ranga, Rune Soldier, City Hunter: .357 Magnum, Noir, Saiyuki, Wild Arms
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
ADV trailers include Neo Ranga, Rune Soldier, City Hunter: .357 Magnum, Noir, Saiyuki, and Wild Arms.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsExcel Saga is an entertaining, largely pointless (and plotless) anime. I wouldn't say it's vital that you purchase all six discs in the series, but this final volume is certainly one of the best of the bunch.
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