"There is one Earth! If it splits in half, there'll be two! All mankind is scum — and bee-yoo-ti-ful!"Anime
's answer to surrealism and Dada art
Having nothing to do with Microsoft Excel (although the software makes a brief appearance in episode 5), Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga
(エクセル・サーガ, Ekuseru Sāga
) tells the story of recent high school graduate Excel Excel. She's a small-brained
but highly energetic Genki Girl
who finds her ideal job serving as a minion to the mysterious Lord Il Palazzo, leader of the subversive yet ineffective fascist organization ACROSS.
As she undertakes missions intended to unravel the fabric of Japanese society so that ACROSS can step in and take over, Excel pines for her impressively bishonen
, and impressively eccentric, boss Il Palazzo, who spends most of his time when his minions are out on missions sitting around his headquarters playing dating sims or practicing on his guitar
. Il Palazzo, on the other hand, views Excel as a necessary annoyance who is to be killed as required, or at least dropped through a Trap Door
into an oubliette, when she gets out of hand. If it weren't for the frequent interventions of the Great Will of the Macrocosm
, Il Palazzo would be going through minions like Kleenex.
Excel's partner is Hyatt, a frail, beautiful alien girl given to bouts of coughing up horribly poisonous blood and frequent, brief attacks of death. Together with their dog/backup meal source Menchi, Excel blasts her way though a series of adventures with gleeful incompetence and a hysterically rapidfire stream of dialogue that makes, at best, only minimal sense.
At the same time, a city official, the mysterious Kabapu, has hired Excel's next door neighbors to form a counter-insurgency team that will inevitably come into conflict with the forces of ACROSS. Meanwhile, on yet a third plot thread, immigrant laborer Pedro, who dreams of earning enough money to leave Japan and return to his young son and sexy wife, dies in a terrible construction accident caused by Excel. He must now roam the world alone as a ghost, at least until the Great Will of the Macrocosm encounters him and decides he's cute. Interleaved into all three plotlines and running along on a fourth one of its own are the adventures of Nabeshin
, the Marty Stu
and self-insert character
of director Shinichi Watanabe
, who can best be described as Shaft reincarnated as an Asian guy wearing a Lupin III
The series is adapted from the original manga by Koshi Rikdo, but only very
loosely; this is actually the core gag of the anime, with pre-title sequences that feature Rikdo giving, or being violently coerced into giving, his permission for his creation to be warped, twisted and re-imagined into a completely different genre every episode. As a result, each episode it dedicated to skewering a particular genre of anime or manga, inverting and demolishing its cliches and conventions
while leaving behind a trail of sight gags, puns and the just plain bizarre. Incredibly, it manages to tell something approaching a coherent storyline at the same time. Hilariously funny and at the same time mind-warpingly strange. As one member of the fan community has said: "Excel Saga
— when crack is not enough."
A lot of the jokes and sight gags are very
Japanese puns that only the Japanese would get
. To the rest of the world, it's just plain random. Then again, the series is just plain random
.This page is for tropes that apply to the anime only.
For the original manga, check here
The Excel Saga Anime provides examples of:
- Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: A frequent trait of Excel's, who can spin her head 360 degrees multiple times.
- Absentee Actor: Pedro does not appear in episode 15. Il Palazzo does not appear in episode 18 (only a crude drawing of him by Excel).
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: "Wow, I never knew sewer tunnels were so wide and spacious."
- The Abridged Series: Excel♥Saga Abridged, as if the original wasn't absurd enough.
- Achilles in His Tent: Binbou, the Delinquent with the three meter pompadour who is the top pitcher of his high school baseball team.
- Actor Allusion: Invoked at the end of episode 21, when Hyatt suddenly talks like Ruri from Martian Successor Nadesico; Omi Minami voiced both characters.
- Adaptation Decay: Very much intentional, with Koshi Rikdo's Author Avatar getting killed at the end of the first episode, then brought back to life, then forced to give his ever more reluctant approval to change the story's very genre between each episode. It culminates in an all out battle with the director's Author Avatar, who was the one responsible for "ruining his life's work". The whole thing is a parody of the internal struggling associated with most adaptations. In fact the goal was never to make a faithful adaptation, as much as it was to see how far they could push the whacky "experimental anime" format until it imploded. The result was a bigger success than expected and even eclipsed the original in popularity by far. Even so, Koshi Rikdo still admits he's happy with the way it turned out.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Excel has blond hair in the manga and orange hair in the anime; Hyatt has brown hair in the manga and blue in the anime; and Il Palazzo has pale cyan hair in the manga and pale violet hair in the anime.
- Affectionate Nickname: Excel calls Hyatt "Ha-chan".
- Affectionate Parody: Of lots and lots and lots of other anime; one long scene in episode 3 and then all of episode 22 are devoted to gentle send-ups of Leiji Matsumoto's work, for instance.
- After the End: Episodes 23-25.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Excel has the hots for Il Palazzo, a villain. She also gets a crush on Key in episode 21, a brooding guitarist.
- All Just a Dream: Watanabe has a romantic dream about him and Hyatt in episode 18, only to realize halfway through that it's not real, and that his dream is merely made up of references to TV shows he watched that day.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Excel is in love with Il Palazzo, whose attitude towards her ranges from indifference to barely tolerating her presence. Watanabe is in love with Hyatt but she is either unaware of his feelings or doesn't care. Ropponmatsu 1 and 2 love Hyatt and Excel, respectively (specifically, through imprinting), but neither reciprocate. Iwata loves Misaki and Ropponmatsu 1, but is beat up by Misaki for his remarks and ignored by Ropponmatsu 1 (she's a robot, after all). There is almost an aversion to this trope in episode 26 when Shioji and Cosette go to the love hotel, but it's played straight when she reveals herself to be a legal adult and a G-cup. Shioji is turned off and leaves, despite Cosette begging him to stay.
- Almost Kiss: Occurs twice in episode 7: Once, to Watanabe when he tries to kiss Hyatt (he kisses a Puchuu instead), and later to Iwata when he tries to give Misaki CPR.
- Animation Bump: Invoked for episode 8... at least with the females. The males (at least the parts of them that are shown) are Off Model in contrast.
- The episodes done in-house at J.C. Staff tended to look better and have more fluid animation than the ones assisted by Digimation, SHAFT, and Studio Flag. "Going Too Far" is an exception in that it was assisted by Studio Flag but was the best-animated episode of the series.
- Apocalypse How: Class 0 for F City. This occurs both in episode 18, when the city is bombed to contain the Daitenzin squad, and episode 22, when space debris turns F City into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In both instances, however, the city is rebuilt incredibly quickly.
- Arc Welding: The Grand Finale ends up tying all running plotlines together.
- Art Shift: Episode 17, "Animation USA". To prove a point to a group of black market thugs the benefits of Western Animation and Anime, Excel shows off the tropes of both sides, where the art style shifts to superhero comic book style, and then to something resembling a Walt Disney cartoon.
- There's a lot of Art Shift in Excel Saga. Usually it drifts in the direction of whatever's being parodied this week.
- In the preview for the Shojo-parody episode they say something along the lines of: "Turn up the contrast! Make the eyes 40% bigger! Add the bloom effect and bubbles!"
- Ascended Extra: Pedro went from one panel in the manga (maybe two) to being The Chew Toy in the anime and ends up becoming important in the end.
- Ascended Meme:
-Funimation's answer for those who want the anime.
- Ass Shove: In episode 26, the doctor shoves a gigantic syringe up Hyatt's butt.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Nabeshin, after taking his revenge on the soldiers who killed Tetsuko in episode 3.
- Author Avatar: Nabeshin and manga artist Koshi Rikdo.
- Bad Liar: Excel in episode 5. When asked by the vice-mayor who she is, Excel (who's supposed to be undercover) tells everything instead of making a cover story.
Excel: Excel's such a honest person that she answered the question in full!
- Balloon Belly: Excel during the all-girls episode and episode 23.
- Banana Peel: In the opening credits.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: In episode 5, some seemingly nonsensical phrases/words on the bathroom stall are actually passwords for a secret computer.
- Beam-O-War: Between Pedro and "That Man" in Episode 25.
- Beat: In episode 20 (the second clip show), Hyatt asks, "Maybe the writers have run out of ideas?" Long pause... then Excel launches into a tirade.
- In episode 26, there's a long comic pause when Excel (who is now in Hyatt's body) notices herself in the mirror and realizes she's Hyatt.
- Bellisario's Maxim: Invoked:
Hyatt: "How can he ride a car if he's a ghost?"
Excel: "For the writers' sake, don't ask questions like that."
- Big Brother Is Watching: Used as a gag in episode 26, when Kabapu has set up lots of cameras in Misaki's shower, and is excitedly waiting for Ropponmatsu 1 to rub lotion on her. Misaki punches out the cameras before he can see too much, though.
- Big Eater: Excel, as shown in episodes 4 and 8 (the latter of which produces Balloon Belly).
- Bigger Bad: Il Palazzo takes his orders from That Man.
- Bigger on the Inside: In episode 26, Misaki is showering in a bathroom that is much larger than an economy Japanese apartment would have. She lampshades this, of course.
- Big "NO!": Pedro, at least Once an Episode. Several times, this manifests as a delightfully Engrish "Very No!"
- Episode 20 (a marathon recap of the Pedro segments) had a Big "NO!" every other minute or so.
- Bird Run: Koshi Rikdo and Excel.
- Bittersweet Ending: In episode 19, Anne ends up making it around the world in 80 hours (so she can collect the inheritance), but she is separated from Menchi, her companion on the trip.
- Black Comedy Rape:
- Ropponmatsu II assaulting Excel.
- The Great Will of the Macrocosm forces herself on Pedro multiple times. He can't escape.
- Bland-Name Product: The next episode previews always feature a logo of FQX in the background.
- In episode 16, a baseball team is named the Onions, a parody of the real-life team the Orions.
- Blatant Lies: The supposedly "gag free" episode 24 does still have gags, they're just not nearly as frequent as usual.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Episode 26.
- Blue with Shock
- Bomb Disposal: Ropponmatsu 1 was created to do this. However, she was programmed badly and both episodes 14 and 15 end with the bomb exploding instead of her successfully disarming them.
- Book Ends: The first episode has Excel being given the mission of assassinating Koshi Rikdo. The last episode (if you don't count "Going Too Far") ends with Excel sneaking up on Nabeshin in the same way, grinning evilly and saying "One more time..."
- Brief Accent Imitation: In episode 18, Excel speaks one line in a Southern accent (complete with cowboy hat).
- Broken Record: At the end of episode 20, Excel and Hyatt repeat "Mitsuo Menda naha naha" repeatedly.
- In episode 26, after Excel and Hyatt merge into a mecha, Hyatt says "How exciting!" over and over.
- Bullet Time: Occurs in episode 9's Matrix parody.
- But Not Too Foreign: Misaki is a quarter British.
- Calling Your Attacks: The Daitenzin do this in episode 25 when taking down ACROSS minions.
- Captain Obvious: In episode 9, after defeating the Ball and Stick leader at bowling: "In true sportsmanship, the one who wins is the winner!"
- Casual Danger Dialog: In episode 6, an avalanche is careening towards the city security team. Sumiyoshi's reaction? "Yup."
- Catapult Nightmare: Pedro has one in episode 2 when he wakes up from what he thinks is a nightmare... only to discover Great Will sleeping next to him.
- Catch Phrase: Pedro: "NOOOOOOO!!!"
- Excel and Hyatt: "Hail Il Palazzo!"
- Il Palazzo: "This world is corrupt!" (and variants of such)
- Puchuus: "Puchuu!"
- Censor Box: Watanabe's penis is obscured by an elephant face when he falls out of the love hotel in "Going Too Far".
- Cerebus Syndrome: Briefly; episodes 24 and 25 (plus some moments in episodes 22 and 23) are much more serious than the rest of the series. The show bounces back from this in episode 26, however.
- Character Filibuster: Averted in episode 12; Il Palazzo is about to rant about Christmas (and, by extension, Christianity), but Excel suggests he spare the audience his views and just move on. Il Palazzo agrees.
- Christmas Episode: Ostensibly "Big City Part II".
- Clip Show: Episodes 13 and 20 (the latter consisting solely of Pedro clips).
- Cold Open: Each episode begins with Koshi Rikdo giving his approval for the anime staff to produce the episode.
- Cool Bike: Subverted. Daitenzin's cool bike is a rather unimpressive scooter...that they all have to ride at the same time.
- Conspicuous CG: Episodes 22-24 are dripping with it.
- Content Warnings: In episode 5, the vice-mayor's mistress is tossed in the fridge when Kabapu walks in, and some background text reminds kids not to stuff themselves in the fridge.
- Credits Gag: The ADV releases featured joke credits.
- Cross-Popping Veins: Il Palazzo gets a lot of them in episode 21 when he's jealous of Key's good looks and guitar skills.
- Cutaway Gag: In episode 10, there are two instances where the show is interrupted by Great Will and a Puchuu having tea.
- Cute Little Fangs: Excel.
- Cuteness Proximity: The Puchuu have this effect on people. Oddly, it seems to only work on males. Then again, the only females we see resisting the Puchuu are Cloudcuckoolander Excel and Sugar And Ice Girl Matsuya.
- Cut Song: Two pieces of BGM were scored for the show but never used: "Although I Didn't Get Any Request For This, I Happened to Make It, So Please Use It." and "Will I Ever Use This?" Both pieces were included on the second CD soundtrack, however.
- Dating Sim Shot: In episode 4, "Love Puny" (original Japanese title: "Love Hena").
- Except for the very first sequence—where Il Palazzo's third option is to kill Excel (he does and gets a Bad End)—Option #3 is always "Put it in." Later decision trees were even less subtle.
-Put it in
- Deader Than Dead: Parodied in Pedro's storyline. He dies in a construction site fire in episode 1, but due to sleeping with Great Will, That Man abducts him and plans to kill him again by dumping him in Tokyo Bay. This absurdity is lampshaded by Great Will when she goes into Tokyo Bay to rescue Pedro:
Great Will: (after giving him air) Please live. Well you're already dead, but you know what I mean.
- Death Is Cheap: Excel, thanks to the Great Will of the Macrocosm, survives getting several times in the first episode. Hyatt just does because of Rule of Funny. The Ropponmatsus are constantly being blown up and then having new bodies rebuilt. Puchuus don't come back but there's so many of them it doesn't really matter.
- Delinquents: Parodied in episode 11, "Butt Out, Youth!"
- Deranged Animation: Present in many episodes, but especially in episodes 3, 13, 20, and 26.
- Desert Punk: The aftermath of the destruction of the city in episodes 23-25.
- Die Laughing: An unnamed old lady in episode 4 dies this way, sharing a laugh with Sumiyoshi before abruptly falling face down on the table.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A Running Gag in episode 18, "Municipal Force Daitenzin": To clean up the town, the Daitenzin group will prosecute anything, no matter how trivial. Example:
Man 1: Lend me some change, like 200 yen.
Man 2: Pay me back tomorrow, okay?
Watanabe: That is extortion!
Man 1: What are you talking about?
Man 2: We're brothers.
(Watanabe blows them up with a Giga Smash)
- In episode 4, during the dating sim parody, Il Palazzo responds to Excel's teasing about getting out of bed by killing her.
Excel: Big brother, you're a horrible person!
- Double Standard: Iwata points out that the skin-tight city security suits look great on women but not on guys.
- Downer Ending: Quite a few examples for a wacky comedy show, actually: In episode 10, all of Menchi's new friends are dead, and Menchi supposedly killed her former owner because he switched to the bad side. In episode 17, Sandora is shot to death by the mobsters. In episode 22, debris from the space battle obliterates F City. And in episode 23, Il Palazzo shoots Excel through the heart. Luckily she survives.
- There's also a parody of downer endings in episode 11, when Bean Boy learns that his father's company went bankrupt. This is moments after his baseball team lost the big game.
- Drop the Washtub: When Excel and Hyatt try to remove the intruders from their Absurdly Spacious Sewer, Excel tells Hyatt to press a button on the wall to spring a trap. Spears start falling down over Excel. She manages to dodge them, and tells Hyatt to press another... *BONK!*
*Gets smacked on the head with the washtub* FUCK! Hyatt:
Umm, I'm sorry. Excel:
I wanna believe that.
- Dude, Not Funny!: This in-universe quote speaks for itself.
Excel: He's gone! We only looked away for a minute!!
Hyatt: (puzzled) A minute? You were sleeping like the dead.
Excel: (dismayed) Don't say that, because when you say it it's not funny!
- Eagleland: Played for laughs in one episode that takes place in an obviously exaggerated version of America.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Episode 1 hadn't introduced Hyatt yet, who is in every other episode of the series.
- Electric Torture/Harmless Electrocution: Happens to Excel in the 3rd episode. She comments on how nice it feels and asks the torturer to turn it up higher. The torturer immediately uses it on another prisoner just to see if it's working, and the prisoner is immediately incinerated.
- Engaging Conversation: Iwata's immediate reaction when he realizes the detective in episode 12 is, in fact, a woman. Also his reaction when meeting Ropponmatsu. Iwata is very quick on the marriage proposals in general.
- Episode Title Card: Most episodes don't have them, but episode 7 does a title card in blood, since the episode is done in the style of horror anime.
- Every Episode Ending: The "Today's experiment" screen, which almost always reads "Failed", but is occasionally switched up with other grades.
- Evolving Credits: The opening animation for episodes 1-24 is the same... until episode 26, where some variants occur.
- Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!: "The Cold is Winter! Snowed Under Episode".
- Eye Catch: The "Excel Saga" logo on a hardwood background while a brief snippet of "Ai (Chuuseishin)" plays. Characters frequently run in front of the eyecatch as well.
- Fanservice: Episode 8: "Increase Ratings Week", also several sequences in episode 26, "Going Too Far", which quickly cross into Fan Disservice.
- Fanservice Cover: The ADV thinpak re-release featured Excel and Hyatt in lingerie. While this is an obvious example of Sex Sells, it's also Covers Always Lie because, aside from episodes 8 and 26, the series is mostly devoid of fanservice moments.
- Fan Service With A Smile: Lampshaded in episode 21, when Hyatt and Excel are commissioned to work at a nightclub as waitresses:
Hyatt: "Um, Senior Excel... is it just me, or does this outfit rather emphasize the breasts?"
- Five-Bad Band: The ACROSS Five (That Man There, This Man, That Man Over There, That Man Over Here, and This Man Over Here).
- Flanderization: Done deliberately in episode 26, where everyone's primary character traits are dialed Up to Eleven for the sake of comedy.
- Flashback: Usually subverted for gag value due to whether they really happened, but played straight in episode 24.
- Flashback Effects: Lampshaded in episode 11, when Mr. Aesop reveals why Bean Boy quit the baseball team: He sets up a flashback and Hyatt accompanies the ripple effect by saying "Ripple, ripple, ripple..."
- Flipping the Bird: Excel accidentally does this to Tetsuko in episode 3; when she realizes her mistake, she wipes her hand and gives a thumbs-up instead.
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Episode 16.
- Foreshadowing: In episode 22, the calendar says the year is "199X."
- At the end of episode 13, a poster on Watanabe, Iwata, and Sumiyoshi's wall shows Ropponmatsu 1 and 2, who would debut in episodes 14 and 15.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Between Excel and Hyatt in episode 26.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Humorous add-ons in the credits. In addition to the staff and actors, there are funny little blurbs such as "Fun things to make with paper" (spitballs, airplanes, pirate hats, very ineffective condoms) "Sex!!!! (Subliminal Message)", and comments on the episode ("Sorry, no gags this time"). The ending of Episode 25 had the credits in Spanish, also.
- When you realize that everybody who was knocked unconscious was left to DIE when the ship explodes.
- Actually comes up quite a bit; the opening credits has at least one, for instance (when Excel falls through the floor and erupts out of it again wrapped in tentacle. The ADVidNotes underscore this at times, flashing by unreadably fast and necessitating at least one run-through in slow-mo to catch them.
- There are a few characters Excel falls past in episode 5 that are virtually impossible to discern without freeze frame, as they only last two frames.
- Fridge Logic: In-universe example: in one scene, Sumiyoshi uses one hand to push his glasses up his nose, while shown in the previous shot with his hands stuck. Watanabe initially wonders where that third hand came from, but immediately drops the question.
- Fully Automatic Clip Show: Two of them in episode 22 (one of Excel's many failures, and another of the Puchuus getting smacked), and a brief one in episode 24 (previous instances of Excel getting dropped down the pits by Il Palazzo).
- Funny Afro: Nabeshin and Pedro and Sandora.
- Fun Size: A Running Gag in episode 13, where one of the performers will suddenly be replaced by a small, stuffed doll version of themselves.
- Gag Boobs: Cosette, who has the body of a little girl and somehow hides her very large breasts under her clothing.
- Gainax Ending: Episode 25 has a pretty normal ending, with the fates of everyone shown during the credits. Episode 26 though, ends with Hyatt drowning the planet in her blood, Excel crying out to Il Palazzo in the sky for help, and Il Palazzo replying with a thumbs up.
- Gaussian Girl: Every single girl that appears in episode eight.
- Gecko Ending: It had to, since the manga was still ongoing (and would be for another twelve years). They ended up writing their own ending that focused on the continuity they had made for the show. They point out fairly early on that they really had no intention of following the manga anyway, since it is an "experimental" anime.
- Generic Graffiti: In Episode 17, "Animation U.S.A.!"
- Genki Girl: Hyatt shows her Genki side when in Excel's body in Episode 26. If Hyatt had a perfect body, she would be extremely Genki.
- Genre Shift: Every episode.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe example: the Puni Puni Poemy Show Within a Show is very popular in America — Excel and Hyatt are saved from being beaten by gang members when animation cels miraculously fall from the sky, causing the bangers to desperately scramble for them.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In addition to her bit with the banana in the opening credits, count how many times Hyatt can be seen in the background putting cylindrical objects in her mouth.
- Hell, at one point on the recap episode, she absentmindedly starts licking her microphone.
- Then there's her reaction to a ride outside a store:
Hyatt: I've never ridden anything that only goes up and down and in and out before!
- This quote:
Hyatt: Fire a thick, hot one from the back, please!
- In episode 18, Excel reaches into a vending machine's coin return to get some change.
Hyatt: Surely, this is the result of your nightly finger training.
Excel: Oh, please, Ha-chan, it's embarrassing! That wasn't training!
- When Excel and Hyatt are looking after the rock star, we see his silhouette from behind the curtain as he "practices his guitar." Excel swoons.
- In episode 6, Excel takes Menchi (who she accidentally shot while hunting) to Great Will, who revives her. Excel reaches into Great Will to retrieve Menchi, and observes how warm it is inside.
- Note that anything in episode 26 is NOT an example of this trope, because episode 26 did not make it past the radar.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Excel does this quite a few times, and always has the stylistic fingerprint swirl.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: In the first episode, Excel's good angel shoots the bad one in cold blood ("The bullet of justice caps evil's ass!") and later in the episode she's arrested for the murder of the bad angel.
- Gratuitous English: Used for comedy in Episodes 13 and 17. In episode 17, it's intentionally used by the Americans in the dub.
- Gratuitous Spanish: In the English dub, Il Palazzo inserts random Spanish words into his speech to illustrate the importance of communication when ACROSS takes over the world. In the original Japanese, he inserts random English words into his speech.
- Green Around the Gills: Or rather, blue around the gills. In episode 12, Hyatt gets carsick and her face turns blue, freaking out the bank robbers who kidnapped her.
- Happy Ending: Not counting Episode 26, which is non-canon (its entire existence is a huge joke as to how far the production team could go, hence its title "Going Too Far".)
- The Hat Makesthe Man: A recurring bit in episode 12. With the detective hat on, Todo is tough and no-nonsense. When the hat comes off, Todo prefers to be called Purin, and is more emotional.
- Hidden Depths: Despite working for an organization whose eventual goal is world domination, Excel often helps out people during her missions, for no other reason than to stand up for the little guy (see saving the bowling alley in episode 9, beating up the mobsters who conned Sandora in episode 17, coaching the losing school baseball team in episode 11, and protecting Pad and his father from the thugs in episode 23).
- High-Pressure Blood: Parodied in episode 26, as Hyatt coughs up enough blood to drown the entire planet.
- Homoerotic Dream: In episode 21, a horny Excel has a daydream of Il Palazzo and Key rolling around in roses.
- Humongous Mecha: Played semi-straight in episode 25: the Cool, but Inefficient mecha is shaped like a cartoon dinosaur, and it is rather ineffectual in the climactic battle, but it was just a decoy anyway.
- Hurricane of Puns: Excel, frequently. Since they're translated directly instead of trying to change them to an equivalent pun, the odds'n'ends special feature on the DVD, aside from pointing out other things of interest, spends a lot of time explaining how what Excel just said is an elaborate pun in Japanese.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Nabeshin carries all manner of weaponry hidden in his afro, up to and including a bazooka.
Excel: Man, that is some SERIOUS dandruff!
- Identity Amnesia: Excel gets this in episode 24 after being shot, though she remembers who she is by the end of the episode.
- I Fell for Hours: In episode 17, Excel is dropped down the pit like usual, but it's so long that it goes through the center of the Earth. The exit to the pit is all the way across the globe, in New York City.
- I'm a Humanitarian: In the "next episode" preview for episode 6, Excel says that one of the hallmarks of a winter mountain trip is eating passengers stranded on the bus.
- Impact Silhouette: Excel and Pedro in the first episode.
WEAR A HELMET AND YOU'LL ALWAYS BE SAFE!
- Improbable Hairstyle: Bean Boy's super long hairdo in episode 11. It's so long that he can smack people with his hair from across the room.
- Incurable Cough of Death: It's so bad for Hyatt that even when singing the theme tune, she punctuates every line with coughing!
- Indirect Kiss: Watanabe is ecstatic that by sharing a soda with Hyatt, he is essentially getting an indirect kiss. Unfortunately for him Hyatt has topped the can up with her own blood...
- Inner Monologue: Il Palazzo has one when Key comes to ACROSS in episode 21, in what is the equivalent of a jealous temper tantrum.
- In the Name of the Moon: Parodied in episode 17, and combined with an obvious Shout-Out to Sailor Moon — "In the name of the Moon, I shall spank you!" ("In the name of the toons, I will punish you!" in the North American dub). If you know that the Japanese voices of Excel and Sailor Moon were performed by the same voice actress, it's even funnier.
Excel: "I was doing good with this stuff until just a couple years back!"
Or, in the dub: "I wanted that role, but they went and did the dub in Canada!" (Note that Sailor Moon was dubbed in Vancouver, while Excel Saga was dubbed in Houston)
- Intentional Engrish for Funny: Episode 13 featured an alternate version of "Beauty Theater" from episode 8, where the Japanese VAs spoke in English, which resulted in very thick accents and too-literal translations.
- Intimate Healing: Parodied in episode 6, when Excel tries to thaw Hyatt from a block of ice with "shared bodily warmth", but winds up nearly killing herself because there's so much to unfreeze.
- Lampshade Hanging
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Happens to Excel in the anime's "serious" episode, after her betrayal at the hands of Il Palazzo.
- Leitmotif: Quite a few of them:
- "Indeed, I Need no Funds to Make it Cheerful...": Excel's theme
- "The Image Color is Certainly "Red!"": Hyatt's theme
- "I Was Somewhat Troubled. I Was Quite Troubled. I Was Completely Troubled.": Il Palazzo's theme
- "The Commemorative First Song For This Occasion.": Watanabe, Iwata, and Sumiyoshi's theme. Less commonly, "I Wonder if it Was Too Ordinary...?" is used instead.
- "How Convenient! Is the Mochi Baked?!": Great Will of the Macrocosm's theme
- "It Became a Cool Song. Yeah.": Misaki's theme (though also used in other situations, like scenes of the pool in episode 8, or Anne's global journey in episode 19)
- "All Right. I'll Make It...": Nabeshin's theme
- "You Did Not Tell Me it Would Be That Tragic!": Pedro's theme
- "Small Organism Suite": Puchuu theme
- "After All, I Think it is a Strange Name": Kabapu's theme (though it's been used for non-Kabapu scenes as well)
- "Excuse Me Mr. Pervert - Who Likes Young Cute Girls": Shioji's theme
- "Hey! Ropponmatsu!": Ropponmatsu 1's theme
- "What? Ropponmatsu?": Ropponmatsu 2's theme. Also used as a "little girl" theme in relation to Shioji.
- "Love Hena Theme": An interesting case. It was originally used for the visual novel parody in episode 4, but soon came to also be associated with the Excel Girls, Excel Kobayashi and Mikako Hyatt.
- Letterbox: Used in most of episode 3. Also occurs in the Pedro: The Movie trailer from episode 13 for obvious reasons.
- Limited Wardrobe: Does Il Palazzo ever wear anything besides his huge cloak?
- Long Title: Episode 3's title is "The Sacrificial Lamb of the Venomous Great Escape of Hell".
- Lovely Angels: Excel and Hyatt
- Lucky Charms Title: The title of the show (Excel♥Saga), and the voice actresses who sing the Title Theme Tune (the Excel♥Girls).
- Machine Monotone: Averted with the Ropponmatsus, though Ropponmatsu 1 never raises her voice, and has a limited range of emotions.
- Made of Plasticine: Parodied by Hyatt, who takes this FAAAAAAAAR beyond its logical extreme, being so fragile she literally suffers broken bones or dies on a few occasions from light touches, a mild breeze, or being given a funny look, sometimes combining this with Overdrawn at the Blood Bank... with interest!
- Magical Defibrillator: In episode 26, the doctor shocks Hyatt with these.
- Malaproper: Excel at times.
- Male Gaze: Parodied during Matsuya's introduction to the cast. She was not happy about it.
- Mandatory Line: A few episodes end with Sumiyoshi commenting on how he, Watanabe, and Iwata were left out of the episode.
- Medium Blending: Episode 9 interspersed footage of actual bowling alongside animated bowling, and also included instances of 3D animation and overlaying animation over actual footage of a cliff.
- Mega Corp.: The Alps Group, from episode 19.
- Mood Whiplash: Episodes 22-25 have less and less slapstick humor and more and more dramatic content; episode 24 is described in the introduction as "gag-free". "Gag-free" is, of course, somewhat relative.
- Episode 8 also certainly counts, as Cosette's backstory is pretty tragic amidst the light-hearted Pool Scene.
- Motionless Chin: Typically, unless the character is shown from the side.
- The Musical: Episode 26, but only the The Teaser, wherein Excel says that's what it's going to be, Nabeshin argues that musicals are too expensive (hmm...), and Hyatt politely points out that they've been singing the entire time. All the music that plays during the segment are all short snippets of the music that played ad nauseam over the course of the show.
- Naked Apron: Watanabe briefly imagines Hyatt in nothing but an apron in episode 26.
- Negative Continuity: A staple of the show, sometimes caused by Great Will of the Macrocosm resetting everything, other times the reset is unexplained.
- Nerd Glasses: "Professor" in the "animal story" episode.
- New Job Episode: Excel and Hyatt started multiple part-time jobs over the course of the series.
- No Animals Were Harmed; Episode 7 had the disclaimer "No Puchuus were killed or injured in the production of this film. Well, okay, maybe we roughed a few of them up a bit. And we did cook and eat two of them, but that was after we finished filming. Does that count?"
- No Fourth Wall: The only time there's a fourth wall is if it improves the joke.
- No Name Given: Pedro's sexy wife is called... sexy wife.
- No One Should Survive That: The ending of episode 22.
- No Swastikas: Averted in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the first episode where Excel goes Motor Mouth. Her eyes temporarily turn into Swastikas.
- Ocular Gushers: Pedro's tears, which flow like waterfalls.
- Off Model: Many moments in "Big City, Part II".
- Old Shame: Invoked. Koshi Rikdo is approached by Nabeshin and the producer and writers of the Excel Saga anime for permission to use the prototype for the Excel manga, Municipal Force Daitenzin, as the basis for an episode. Rikdo steadfastly refuses, since he's embarrassed of his old work, but the group overpowers him.
- Once an Episode: Rikdo's approval, Il Palazzo sending Excel down a Trap Door, Pedro's Big "NO!".
- One Scene, Two Monologues: In Episode 6, Matsuya asks Dr. Kabapu about their training, while Watanabe mumbles to himself about how crappy a day he's having. Eventually, they both simultaneously complain about their guns looking "like a toy from a fair booth".
- It happens fairly often that Excel monologues in gibberish while other people continue their conversation.
- On the Next: Each episode ends with a verbal teaser for the next episode, almost always by Excel talking in Motor Mouth fashion. A few exceptions: The preview for episode 3 mostly features Hyatt talking; the preview for "The Best of Mr. Pedro" features Pedro talking; and the preview for "For You, I Could Die" features a dramatic narrator.
- Opening Scroll: A Star Wars parody appears at the start of episode 2.
- Orcus on His Throne: Parodied. While Excel and Hyatt are on a mission, Il Palazzo is often shown killing time by doing things such as playing dating sims or learning to play guitar.
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Hyatt floods the entire planet with her blood at the end of episode 26.
- Overly Long Gag: In the bowling episode (episode 9), during the commercial break, Excel is chased by the bowling master's minions... about four times. By the end, they're begging to stop.
- Six, to be exact. In the last one, they had lost her.
- In episode 21, Key is all set to sing his ACROSS message to Il Palazzo... but when he starts to sing, no words come out. The camera stays on his frozen face for a long time, briefly cuts back to Il Palazzo and his cuckoo clock, and back to Key for many more seconds... until he finally admits that he can't sing unless in the mood.
- Paper Fan of Doom: Sumiyoshi's weapon of choice while wearing his sentai uniform.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: In episode 23, after Excel licks the blood off the cut on her cheek, she says "Saltyish!"
- Perpetual Frowner: Misaki, though she occasionally gives a smirk, such as the end of episode 6 after she shoots at Iwata.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The Daitenzin members, who ironically cause more wide-scale damage to F City while punishing criminals than the criminal would.
- Pet the Dog: The group of soldiers who are holding Excel as a P.O.W. in episode 3 are very friendly to Menchi, who has wandered into the camp. They even build a doghouse for her.
- Pixellation: Done to Misaki's face in episode 6 when she's first introduced: "I'm not a porn star!"
- In episode 26's opening credits, Excel and Hyatt are nude in a couple scenes, and their nudity is pixellated.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: In episode 9, Nabeshin gives Excel a motivational speech in the bathroom, but Excel asks him to pull his pants up.
- Pokémon Speak: The Puchuus say their own names.
- Police Procedural: Sent up for laughs in episode 12.
- Pool Episode: Episode 8, "Increase Ratings Week".
- Pop Goes the Human: In episode 20, Excel explodes after a rant. She's back to normal in the next scene.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: One of the reasons why the anime went for an entirely different storyline was to avoid Overtaking The Manga.
- The Pratfall: Featured in the intro, when Excel steps on a Banana Peel.
- Precision F-Strike: In the dub (at least in the first half when Jessica Calvello played her) Excel lays down the occasional F-bomb, but usually at a spot where one is expected. For example, at the end of episode 6, Excel and Hyatt pull themselves out of an avalanche.
Excel: Umm, Ha-chan?
Hyatt: Yes, Senior Excel?
Excel: Where the fuck are we?
- In episode 5, when two office workers corner Excel in the secret computer room, she says "FAHK YOU!" in the dub.
- In episode 3, Excel says, "Il Palazzo, I love you so fucking much." in the dub.
- Pre-Explosion Glow
- Private Detective: Todo/Purin in episode 12.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Excel praises Il Palazzo to the high heavens, even when he says trivial things.
- Pun: Excel makes a ton of them in the original Japanese version; many of these didn't translate to the English dub.
- Runner-up for possibly one of the most cringe-worthy pick up lines in the history of anime, a rock vocalist called Key introduces himself to Excel like this:
"My name is Key, I am a key, and would you like to be... my keyhole?"
- And for some reason, Excel was completely flattered.
- Punny Name: Binbō got his name for beanballing (beanball is "binbōru" in Japanese phonetics). It also means "poor" as in "destitute" (ironically, he is actually rich).
- Not so ironic anymore when, at the end of the episode, his butler rushes in and informs him that his family went broke.
- The "Bowling Girls" hosts' names are puns in Japanese.
- Raging Stiffie: Watanabe has one in episode 26 while he impatiently waits for Hyatt (in Excel's body) to get ready for sex.
- Ratings Stunt: Parodied mercilessly in chapter 8, called "Increase Ratings Week".
- Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: Parodied in episode 17; during the Rocky parody, Pedro drinks raw eggs, but quickly spits them out in disgust.
- Reality Warper: Pedro's flashback of his family in the first episode actually happens at the construction site. Another worker nearly falls to his death because he was suddenly no longer standing on solid ground.
- Rebus Bubble: Menchi = dog = food.
- Recap Episode: Two, including an all-Pedro recap, and fourth-wall-free lampshade hanging
- Red String of Fate: Iwata says him and Watanabe are connected that way, to Watanabe's annoyance.
- In episode 5, Watanabe receives a green drink from Hyatt, and claims the two have the red string of fate between them. Sumiyoshi references the drink when deadpanning, "It's green."
- Red Wire Blue Wire: "What? Who puts a bomb in a dating game?"
- Reference Overdosed: Each episode in the anime makes tons of references in their effort to parody whatever genre they are mocking.
- Refuge in Audacity: Dr. Shiouji, for example, is able to kidnap children via helicopter and get away with only a scolding.
- Relax-o-Vision: Scenes of ocean waves and kittens playing over the sounds of Koshi Rikdo being killed, and scenes of Puchuus goofing around playing over the sounds of Ropponmatsu II violating Excel.
- Repeat Cut: Excel Surprise Triple Take! in episode 7.
- Reset Button: Actually embodied in a character — The Great Will of the Macrocosm, though the last portion of the series, except for episode 26, does have some semblance of actual continuity.
- One of the biggest differences between the manga and the anime is that this character only exists in the anime. In the manga, the characters actually have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Played for laughs in episode 16: "Take Back Love!", in that the characters in question are also Robot Girls, and showed no such emotions in previous (or future) episodes.
- Rousing Speech: Excel gives one to Pedro in episode 1 after he's homesick for Sandora and his sexy wife.
Excel: What good is being weak like that going to do them? If your son is really dear to you and your wife is really sexy, then you should work and sweat for the two of them until you drop! That's what they call true love!
- Rule of Cool: Ruthlessly and relentlessly deconstructed. Every little, mundane thing can be made awesome (and so very impractical)!
- Rule of Three: Anne's commercial in episode 19 is shown three times during the episode.
- Running Gag: Every episode begins with a disclaimer from Koshi Rikdo, absolving himself of responsibility for any genre or content. In the first show he explicitly left all responsibility with his staff, which may be why they chose Excel's first mission to be an assassination of a manga/animation artist named Koshi Rikdo.
- Excel dropped through a trapdoor by Il Palazzo pulling a rope. Lampshaded by Excel every time he pulls a rope that doesn't open a trapdoor under her, and by a sign on one rope marked 'Obligatory'.
- Samus is a Girl: Tetsuko, the iron-masked prisoner in episode 3. Parodied because she has plenty of lines before the reveal, which she speaks with a baritone voice.
- Schizo Tech: In the Desert Punk arc, ACROSS is trying to conquer central Japan, and the forces at its disposal include not only legions of Mad Max-ish club-wielding mohawk'd punk-rock-looking goons but also a gigantic flying saucer. Yes, really.
- The Scream: In one episode, Pedro's Big "NO!" morphs into Edvard Munch's painting of the same name.
- Second Episode Introduction: Hyatt isn't introduced until episode 2.
- Self-Deprecation: In "Excel Saga: The Musical" in episode 26, one of Excel's lines is "I'm a moron!"
- And in episode 13, Excel says she's a huge idiot.
- Send in the Clones: Shioji's ace in the hole in episode 25: He has an army of Ropponmatsu 1s that he activates to overwhelm Il Palazzo's minions.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Pedro works very hard so that his wife can live her dream of "Sitting around and doing nothing all day", which she does anyway.
- Shout-Out: See here.
- Show Within a Show: Puni Puni Poemi, which became defictionalized.
- To make it recursive, Excel Saga is also a show in the Puni Puni Poemi universe.
- Sir Swearsalot: In "Animation USA", Americans are portrayed as this, at least in the English dub.
- Solemn Ending Theme: The standard closing theme is a parody of these; the last episode parodies the parody.
- Non-credits related: Every other episode ends with a snippet of the fast-paced, action-themed "Mission Impossible... Huh? In This Case, It is Really Impossible..." during the "today's experiment" screen, but episode 23 is the exception, playing an ethereal, downbeat, mysterious piece. This mood change is appropriate, as Excel was just shot and left for dead, and Il Palazzo was getting away in his flying fortress.
- Something Completely Different: Episodes 10 and 19, which focus on Menchi.
- Episode 24, which is very light on the humor.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Episode 26 has this in one scene: When Shioji meets Cosette in the park and offers to take her to the nearby love hotel (which she accepts), the soundtrack briefly plays "You Mean the Death of Tetsuko...", a melodramatic piece normally used in death scenes (Tetsuko's death in episode 3, Anne's near-death in episode 19, etc.) or serious moments (episode 11: Bean Boy losing the big game in a flashback).
- Space Episode: Most of Episode 22. Episode 2 to a lesser extent; much of the action still takes place on Earth.
- Standard Snippet: Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" plays in a couple episodes.
- Stuff Blowing Up: "Anime is all about stuff blowing up!", according to Nabeshin in episode 26, and Excel in episode 17.
- Stuffed In The Fridge: when caught making out with his secretary, the vice-mayor of F City literally tries to hide her in a refrigerator
- Stylistic Suck: Rikdo must be forced to approve the episodes; staff are shown complaining about making the show (and frequently exhausted).
- Sudden Downer Ending: The final three minutes of episode 23, all of episode 24 (actually approved as a joke-free episode by Koshi Rikdo), and most of episode 25 are pretty serious, especially in comparison to the rest of the series. Though episode 25 does end on an upbeat note. And of course, episode 26 features a complete Snap Back and the wacky comedy the series is known for, but storywise it's not meant to be canonical.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Excel, who is straight, is floored over how beautiful her body can look in episode 26 when Watanabe takes Hyatt (whose soul is in Excel's body) to a love hotel. Excel (in Hyatt's body) comes across their room and tells Hyatt to strike some sexy poses, which turns her on.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: Occurs on Watanabe and Hyatt's first date.
- Take That: "Who puts a bomb in a Dating Sim?"
- Take Our Word for It: Ropponmatsu 2 takes Iwata's derisive remark, "Why don't you chew peanuts with your eyes and eat spaghetti through your nose?" literally, but her back is to the audience. Iwata is visibly disgusted.
- Taking the Bullet: Anne takes one for Menchi in episode 19, and would've died had it not been for Hyatt's revitalizing elixir.
- Theme Naming: Excel, Hyatt, and Il Palazzo are all named after real-life hotel chains.
- Theme Tune Cameo: An instrumental of "Ai (Chuuseishin)" was heard in episodes 14 (when Excel and Hyatt are walking with the package) and 17 (during the cold opening). The lyrics version played in episode 9 (when Excel is beating up the Ball and Stick gang) and episode 13 (a clip montage).
- The "The" Title: "The Koshi Rikdo Assassination Plot", "The Woman From Mars", "The Sacrificial Lamb of the Venomous Great Escape of Hell", "The Interesting Giant Tower", "The Cold is Winter! Snowed Under Episode", "The New Year’s-End Party Hidden Talent Contest".
- They Killed Kenny Again: Hyatt dies and comes back to life in many episodes.
- Think of the Censors: In episode 9:
- Third Line, Some Waiting: The Pedro plot.
- Third-Person Person: Excel and Pedro both talk like this.
- Title-Only Opening: Only for episode 25, where the credits are superimposed over the action.
- Toilet Humour: In episode 26, Menchi abruptly squeezes out some crap.
- Token Minority: Pedro.
- The Tokyo Fireball: Played straight, oddly enough, in episode 22, though there is a Puchuu-shaped mushroom cloud... and it's Fukuoka, not Tokyo.
- Too Kinky to Torture: "Higher, please!"
- Too Hot for TV: Episode 26, by design.
- Too Soon: The Japanese television networks refused to air episode 26 — as per the director's intention — and one of the many reasons for this was that one of the first gags in it is a joke about the Sarin nerve gas attacks in the Tokyo subways just four years before. Firmly steeped into Canon Discontinuity, as the anime ended definitively at 25.
- Training from Hell: Parodied in episodes 6 and 9.
- Training Montage: Pedro has one in episode 17, which he recounts to Great Will and Gomez. It ends with a Rocky reference.
- Trouser Space: Excel does it in episode 22. She shoves her hand right down her crotch and pulls out a manga.
- Twinkle In The Sky: Iwata lampshades this when he's the one who gets launched.
- Unexpected Genre Change: Lampshaded in the Dating Sim parody.
- Unusual Euphemism: "You son of a cat!" used by a dog in the "animal story" episode.
- Visual Innuendo: Episode 21, as the silhouette of Key (a rock vocalist) playing a guitar appears, a phallus-shaped shadow pokes out from his side, turned out to be a part of his guitar. It gets worse as his silhouette continues to stroke the guitar in outrageously suggestive positions.
- Visible Sigh
- Visual Pun: In the opening, Excel briefly does "the Monkey" after eating a bunch of bananas.
- The Voiceless: Sumiyoshi, whose dialog is written out in Japanese text. Lampshaded in that other characters can read this text.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Anytime Hyatt vomits up blood, it's shown.
- Excel vomits on-screen in episode 1, as demonstration that she'll do whatever Il Palazzo asks of her.
- Wall of Text: Turning on the ADVidNotes (on-screen notes regarding the many, many cultural references and language-based puns that don't translate well) can result in this at times. Given the nature of the beast, this is unavoidable.
- Waterfall Shower: The 22nd episode has Pedro, Sandora and Nabeshin showering under a waterfall.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Menchi's old owner was seemingly killed in episode 10, only for the Hounds to revive him and build a metal body suit for him.
- Wedding Day: In the epilogue to episode 26, Nabeshin is set to marry Kumikumi, the woman who kept chasing him with food throughout the story, but the priest is revealed to be Koshi Rikdo, who objects to the show ending in this bizarre manner. The show ends with the two duking it out, and Kumikumi declaring them idiots.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end credits of episode 25. Among the developments: F City is completely rebuilt, Shioji is developing a giant mecha Ropponmatsu 1, Pedro is back home with Sandora and sexy wife, and Great Will had a baby.
- Widget Series: Note how many times on this very own wiki that Excel Saga is used as the benchmark for how weird an Anime is.
- Wingding Eyes: Excel gets heart eyes when swooning over Key in episode 21.
- With Lyrics: Various BGM was given lyrics in episode 26's "Excel Saga: The Musical". Also, the next episode preview for episode 21 has Excel singing about Key to the tune of "Ai (Chuuseishin)".
- Nabeshin's theme music was given lyrics at the end of episode 5.
- Writers Suck: The writers are often shown to be lazy or out of ideas for episodes.
- Yaoi Fangirl: Excel has a rather...interesting dream involving Ilpalazzo and Key
- You Are Already Dead: Parodied by Excel in episode 23, only it turns the victims into Di Gi Charat plushies.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At the end of episode 23, Il Palazzo acknowledges that Excel has never been useful and shoots her.
- Yuri Genre: Parodies just about everything about the trope, complete with Heroic Sacrifices and Ropponmatsu II raping Excel.
- Also lampshaded earlier: "Aren't we just a few lilies ("yuri" can mean both lilies and lesbians) short of a shojo-ai?"