"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 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 headquartersplaying 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/Parody Sue and self-insert character of director Shinichi Watanabe, who can best be described as Shaft reincarnated as an Asian guy wearing a Lupin III costume.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.
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'sAuthor 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 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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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..."
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
The Danza: The anime stars two Excel and Hyatt lookalikes named Kobayashi and Mikako, who are played by Yumiko Kobayashi and Mikako Takahashi. Also, Nabeshin.
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
Delinquents: Parodied in episode 11, "Butt Out, Youth!"
Desert Punk: The aftermath of the destruction of the city in episodes 23-25.
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!*
Excel: *Gets smacked on the head with the washtub* FUCK! Hyatt: Umm, I'm sorry. Excel: I wanna believe that.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".)
High Pressure Blood: Parodied in episode 26, as Hyatt coughs up enough blood to drown the entire planet.
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.
Male Gaze: Parodied during Matsuya's introduction to the cast. She was not happy about it.
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
Ratings Stunt: Parodied mercilessly in chapter 8, called "Increase Ratings Week".
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.
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.
Rule Of Cool: Ruthlessly and relentlessly deconstructed. Every little, mundane thing can be made awesome (and so very impractical)!
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.
Also, she keeps speaking in that voice after the reveal!
There was also the detective in episode 12.
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.
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.
To make it recursive, Excel Saga is also a show in the Puni Puni Poemi universe.
Solemn Ending Theme: The standard closing theme is a parody of these; the last episode parodies the parody.
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.
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 a year or two before. Firmly steeped into Canon Discontinuity, as the anime ended definitively at 25.
Visual Pun: In the opening, Excel briefly does "the Monkey" after eating a bunch of bananas.
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.