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Martian Successor Nadesico is a sprawling Space Opera with a subversive sense of humor about its own genre.Several centuries in the future, Earth is at war with a mysterious alien species dubbed the "Jovian Lizards", who use immense hyperspatial gateways to instantly deploy remote-controlled troops from Jupiter. The war is going badly for Earth when a private defense contractor, the Nergal Corporation, decides to cut out the middleman and field its own battleship, the Nadesico. In addition to being the most powerful and advanced battleship that Nergal has ever produced, they hire the top civilian operatives in each field to be its crew... who turn out to be an ragtag bunch of Bunny-Eared Lawyers.Akito Tenkawa is a capable but shell-shocked cook who cannot remember how he got from Mars to Earth after the Jovians conquered the Martian colonies. He winds up joining the crew of the Nadesico by accident, and although he just wants to work in the galley, he demonstrates a remarkable talent for piloting Humongous Mecha and is repeatedly called upon to defend the ship. Meanwhile, he has to deal with the unwanted romance advances of his childhood sweetheart Yurika Misumaru (the Genius Ditz captain of the ship) and an Unwanted Harem of almost every other female on the ship.While it revels in being a classic "space war with giant robots" story, it also parodies the genre both overtly and subtly. One of its most famous devices is Gekiganger 3, a classic 1970s-style Super Robot anime Show Within a Show. Although G3 seems at first only a device for cheap laughs, it slowly becomes not only a sly Greek Chorus on the events of the plot but also a major element of the story in and of itself.It was popular enough to receive a movie called Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness, a Darker and Edgier sequel that takes place three years after the end of the TV series. The movie was criticized for the jarring tone shift towards angsty drama, unpopular changes to characterization and a number of unexplained plot points that were actually introduced in Nadesico: The Blank of Three Years, a Sega Saturn game that takes place between the TV series and movie but was unreleased outside of Japan. The movie is widely regarded as a Franchise Killer for those reasons.Originally licensed by ADV Films, it was recently re-released by Nozomi Entertainment.
Also shows up in-story when Akito uses his knowledge of obscure bits of the Gekigangar V manga that were never animated to defeat a security program based on Gekigangar 3.
Amazon Brigade: Both the bridge crew and the pilots as of episode 3 are almost this.
Anachronic Order: Episode 21's chronology jumps all over the the place. Thankfully we're given a timeline of roughly the order the sequence happened, although it can be confusing when seeing it for the first time.
Armed Farces: The Nadesico's crew is made up of people with no kind of military training or discipline—the few who do act military really stick out—and are recruited from voice actors, chefs, and corporate secretaries. But the actual Federation military isn't much better, with admirals prone to tantrums and tangents.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Ruri delivers one to the scientist in episode 18 upon learning about her early life.
Ascended Fanboy: Several characters are this to some degree, but the most obvious are Gai Daigoji, and the Jovian colonists.
Back from the Dead: Lampshaded and played for laughs when Gai Daigoji randomly pops up in the mid-season Clip Show to gush about how awesome the Aestivalis are.
Be Careful What You Wish For: In episode 10, Akito watches an episode of Gekiganger where one of the female enemy soldiers suffers amnesia and lives with one of the main characters for a while. Among the things she does is cook for him. Akito then wishes that he could meet a girl like that, and sure enough, does later that episode. Unfortunately, she turns out to be a bit crazy.
Admiral: You're just lucky that none of us were in the direct path of the blast so there weren't any casualties. As it is, we'll be shipping Nergal a bill for the 2066 jockey shorts that were ruined! Second Fleet out!
Chaste Hero: The Jovians as shown are all male warriors who put women on a pedestal and are frightened by the idea of sex or even romance.
Akito plays this straight for most of the series; more often than not his thoughts are preoccupied with his love of cooking and Gekigengar, his ambivalence about fighting, and his trauma over his childhood and Gai's death, even while beautiful women are fighting for his attention (which makes him visibly uncomfortable).
Yurika gets really jealous when she sees or hears about Akito being alone with any woman other than her.
This trope ends up causing Ryoko to save an otherwise incapacitated Akito from a crazy lady who seemed to be getting a little too friendly with him.
Megumi displays this early on, especially when it came to Yurika.
Yukina is this way towards her brother Tsukumo too.
Clip Show: Episode 14. They make it more interesting by making it seem like an in-universe show that the Genkiganger characters watch as if the Nadesico is a tv show, and at least in the English dub, the characters lament about how it's just a clip show. Then it's inverted again at the end when Yurika is watching it and wondering about watching it.
Conspiracy Redemption: Nergal Corporation is involved in the cover-up of the Jovian's true identity and the history of their exile so that they can continue profiting off the war. The Nadesico's crew rejects this, even their bureaucratic liason Mr. Prospector, and try to make peace.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: The Nadesico is a starship example, able to wipe out swaths of Jovian weapons with its Gravity Blast Cannon The Aestivalis squadron also manages to fend off large numbers of enemies. Averted when the Nadesico first arrives on Mars, only to find out they're heavily outgunned and outnumbered, and barely make their escape.
In one episode, they manage to destroy several manned ships of greater cost than the Nadesico by firing missiles from the Aestivalis units. One has to wonder what the ships are made out of.
Crystal Ball Scheduling: Akito sure seems to watch a lot of Gekiganger episodes that have events that coincidentally happen to them in that very episode.
Justified in some cases, as we later learn that the Jovians are the ultimate Gekiganger fanboys, basing not only their military and fashion around the show, but their entire culture, including their religion.
Dirty Old Man: Yurika's father has an... unusual obsession... with his daughter's maturation into a woman. Seiya Uribatake is just generally obsessed with young women, at least until he reunites with his wife.
Disney Death: Admiral Fukube. He turns out to have survived and reappears in the last episode.
Doomed Upgrade: The X-Tivales can't hold itself together and Uribatake wrote off as a failed experiment himself. It explodes when Admiral Munetake flips out and hijacks it in an attempt to make up for his misdeeds.
The Federation: Mildly averted, in that the UEAF seems to have little influence on the Nergal-owned Nadesico and its crew for the first half of the series. Although the characters get drafted in the second half, they don't become any more militaristic or patriotic.
Friendly Enemy: Yukina doesn't seem to be a very effective assassin, passing out and being rescued by her target in the bath, who then tells her how lucky and special she is to him for coming out to their ship. The talk of hope for an end to the fighting by several crew members also confuses her, since she believed that all Earthlings were Always Chaotic Evil.
Friend or Foe: In episode 12, the Nadesico fires on both Jovian and UEAF ships during one battle. At first it confuses everyone as to why the ship did that, but it turns out that the Nadesico has a learning computer, and still retains information that the UEAF is considered hostile. The UEAF attempts to reprogram it, but Ruri disagrees, since formatting the computer would cause it to lose valuable combat data it acquired when they went to Mars. So she decides to reprogram it herself with the help of Akito and Seiya to allow the Nadesico to retain its information, while simultaneously erasing the UEAF forces as hostile.
Good All Along: Admiral Misumaru, despite serving as an obstacle at the beginning, wants nothing to do with Nergal's conspiracy. There was something entertaining about him hitting Manipulative Bastard Akatsuki with a pan.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Admiral Munetake was never told about a dark secret regarding the Jovians. In episode 16, he learns about it from Ms. Won, along with the rest of the Nadesico crew thanks to Ruri's hacking the camera in the Admiral's room. They learn the Jovians weren't actually aliens, but humans banished from the Earth and Moon due to threat to secede from Earth's control. In the next episode, he also learns he's going to be demoted, so he tries to get Seiya to complete his prototype Aestivalis to use as a trump card, but the mechanic tells him it can't be done due to design flaws and power limitations, and attempting to fire the cannon would destroy the mecha. Finally, Akito confronts him about what really happened to Gai Daigoji in episode 3. Although he seems to flatly deny any involvement in Gai's death the Flash Back reveals he was the one who shot Gai, and probably did feel guilty about shooting him. The culmination of these events causes Munetake to finally lose his sanity and he kills himself by stealing Seiya's Aestivalis and attempting to shoot the Cosmos, a ship preparing to dock with the Nadesico, and thus blowing himself up in the process.
The second episode has a completely arbitrary announcement from a politician or general to their UN equivalent in English. It serves no purpose to the plot to have it delivered in English. Neither does the English speech to the same group by Yurika.
Green-Eyed Monster: While Akito hates dealing with his Unwanted Harem, several of the male characters just wish they had that "problem". They sometimes make it a point to tell him that when they can.
In the manga adaptation, Gai manages to pull this off, when he rushes out with a fever to save Akito, who had the wrong frame equipped to his Aestivalis. He manages to save Akito's life, but becomes dizzy and is unable to evade a fatal shot. Later on, after Akito loses the head of his Aestivalis, it is replaced with the one off of Gai's.
Hero of Another Story: (Itsuki "Seelie" Kazama, the replacement pilot from the Christmas episode is a major character and possible love interest in the spinoff game Blank of Three Years.)
Hidden Depths: Virtually every named character on the show is shown to possess these at some point, even the seeming comic relief characters.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: The main motivation behind why the Jovians are attacking. To be more precise, the Jovians were descendents of colonists from the Moon a hundred years prior to the start of the series. From the Jovian perspective, their people just wanted to be autonomous from the Earth government, but were defeated during an uprising and banished. They first fled to Mars, but then Earth sent several nukes onto their colonies there, forcing them to go even further, first towards the asteroid fields, then Jupiter where they found an factory capable of making lots of robots. And since then, they've been plotting their revenge against Earth's atrocities.
Humongous Mecha: Especially the ones the Jovians use later, which make the Aestivalis look tiny by comparison.
Hypocritical Humour: "If only the humans appreciated life as we do, I would not have to kill so many of them." Man, the Jovians are wearing irony blinkers the size of the moon.
Indecisive Parody: On the one hand, it's a World of Ham that thrives on utter absurdity and there's no way such a military force could behave this way. On the other, there's a lot of Mood Whiplash and very serious deaths.
Knight of Cerebus: The titular Prince of Darkness in the movie. Who turns out to be Akito after being horribly tortured and basically turned into Batman In Space. Quite possibly the poster boy for the unpopular characterisation changes in that movie.
Knight Templar: The Jovians act like this at times. Especially Genichiro Tsukuomi, who kills his best friend Tsukumo for trying to peacefully negotiate with the "evil" Earthlings.
Lethal Chef: Yurika and Megumi (and probably Ryoko) nearly kill Akito trying to impress him with their cooking, the real tragedy joke being that Akito himself is a restaurant-quality chef.
How bad are they? Akito needs medical attention after trying Megumi's "energy drink," and the frying pan that Yurika used to cook the meal is declared a biological hazard and is sent off to be incinerated!
Mildly Military: Justified in the Nadesico's case as they're a corporation and not the actual military. Even after the ship and crew are drafted into the UEAF, they still show no signs of military bearing or professionalism.
Mission Control: Various characters on the bridge often take this role for the Aestivalis missions.
Mistaken for Cheating: Seiya and Hikaru in episode 17. They were in fact just sharing their common interest in figurines and model robots. Seiya does seem to start falling in love with her later in the episode, but Hikaru stops him before it goes any further than that.
Mondegreen: In episode 20, Yurika is singing the opening song, and mis-sings the lyric "yume no kakera sa" as "yume no Takeda-san". She even gets called on it In-Universe.
In the dub she sings the line "the days you spend running after your dreams make up part of your dreams" as "part of your drapes".
Nanomachines: Used to terraform Mars. Also allows the Aestivalis pilots to, well, pilot, and Ruri to interface with Omoikane.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In episode 9, while on a stealth rescue mission, the Nergal is flying low through some bad weather to avoid detection by the Jovians. All is going well until Yurika overhears that Megumi is with Akito. She begins to over think it, and then inadvertently presses a button which fires off their gravity blast cannon, which gives away their position.
Please Don't Leave Me: Yurika towards Akito during times where he either seems to be leaving the ship, or spending too much time with another woman. Later Erina says this towards him while also crying.
Real Robot: The Aestivalis are pretty powerful, but they're just a small portion of the overall military.
Recap Episode: In which the characters of Nadesico watch the characters of Gekigangar III watch a Nadesico episode and try to figure out the ramifications of such a paradox.
Red Baron: After a certain point, Yurika is officially known to the Jovians as "the Daring Man of Action"... much to her chagrin.
Red Shirt Army: The UAEF seems to be easily defeated by the Jovians most of the time. When the Nadesico makes its appearance, they can't even stop one ship from escaping Earth, although to be fair, the Jovians do attack in multiple areas at the same time, forcing them to divert their troops.
The Reveal: Episode 22 has one, where Nagare Akatsuki reveals himself to be the chairman of Nergal, after pulling out the Nadesico's master key to prevent Yurika from firing a warning shot at the Earth fleet. Up until that point he seemed to be just another pilot.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Akito and Yurika's relationship tends to fall into this at times, even lampshaded in universe.
Sacrificial Lamb: Gai Daigoji, although he lasts until the second episode. He's even shot by his own side. Also, Joe Umitsubame in Gekiganger 3 — his death scene foreshadows that of the aforementioned character in the same episode, even though it occurs in the penultimate episode of Gekiganger 3.
Shout-Out: Everything from classic science fiction to Iron Chef to having a whole major character based on Megumi Hayashibara. Even the name of the ship, "Nadesico", is an ironic reference to the Yamato of Uchuu Senkan Yamato by way of the common Japanese phrase "Yamato Nadeshiko" ("Nadeshiko" is an alternate transliteration of "Nadesico"). Worth pointing out, the manga actually calls the Nadesico with Y-Unit "Yamato Nadesico".
When Akito first reunites with Yurika at the beginning of the show, he says that he will kill her and she takes this as him saying that he loves her. This is a reference to Gundam Wing, here Heero says these lines to Relena during the time of their first meeting, even if he was fully intent on killing her.
One of the model boxes in Seiya Uribatake's room in Episode 12 is the USS Enterprise.
The episode "Fight Silent, Fight Deep", is based on the movie Run Silent, Run Deep, and also includes shout outs to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror", which took inspiration from the same source.
Smarmy Host: In one episode, the various female characters on the show participate in a fashion show to be the captain for a day, with Jun and Nagare acting in the role of commentators. The latter fits into this role like a glove.
So Last Season: The Nadesico's Gravity Blast Cannon, as of about the sixth episode. Possibly a record.
Space Navy: The UEAF for Earth, while the Jovians also field one, largely unmanned due to their smaller population and space factory.
Strange Minds Think Alike: A particularly large-scale example — early in the show we meet Gai Daigoji, who has modeled himself after Gekiganger III, and think he's crazy (possibly Crazy Awesome). Then we meet the Jovians, who have modeled their entire civilization after the same show.
Stuffed into the Fridge: Itsuki Kazama, who was Tele Fragged on her very first mission. Later she appeared alive in an interaction movie. The Boson teleportation sent her into the future by luck.
Super-Deformed: Tenkawa and Ruri are represented as Super-Deformed versions of themselves when they interface with the Nadesico's computer in episode 12.
There's also a chibi Gekiganger doll in episode 6.
Take a Third Option: Subverted as hard as possible. Yurika has to choose between raising the Distortion Field (which would kill all the Martian colonists that the Nadesico came to rescue) or allow the Nadesico to be blown to scrap by the Jovians. She throws out numerous Third Options, only for them all to be summarily dismissed by the crew due to time constraints or other impracticalities. At the last second, she is forced to give the order to raise the Field, killing all the colonists except for Inez Fressange, who was already on board.
Theme Naming: The Nadesico and the Earth Forces ships are all named after flowers, including the ND-002 Cosmos which uses the English name.
Tsundere: Ryoko Subaru is a classic example. Yukina Shiratori pretty much drops the tsuntsun once she stops wanting to kill Minako. Akito might count as a male example, especially where Yurika's concerned.
The Unwanted Harem: Akito hates having so many girls vying for his attention. He'd rather be left to cook in peace.
Vomit Discretion Shot: After Yurika is forced to order the ship's Distortion Field to be raised on the ground, the field collapses the cavern below, killing all but one of the surviving Martian colonists, she suddenly claps her hand over her mouth, as if trying to keep something down. The next shot is her leaning over a sink.
Virtual Training Simulation: The Aestivalis pilots have one for practicing combat in their mecha, and in episode 9 Megumi uses a simulator room with Akito during a date.
Episode 3, which is the first real instance of Mood Whiplash. Up to this point, the Ascended Fanboys of the crew have been treating their situation like they were in a Super Robot anime, and the show generally focused on the goofy and eccentric personalities of the cast. Unfortunately, those fanboys are Wrong Genre Savvy: they're actually in a Real Robot show, and the undignified and anticlimactic death of Gai Daigoji underlines it.
Episode 6, where Yurika is forced to make an extremely difficult choice for the first time. She could attempt to attack the massive Jovian fleet, which would prove rather pointless as they can't use their Wave Motion Gun in an atmosphere repeatedly and the Jovians can continually bring reinforcements. Or they could use their gravity distortion field to generate a shield to protect the ship, but doing so would damage the ground the ship is currently over, and would collapse the ceiling on the underground shelters and kill all of the people residing inside. She ultimately chooses to save the ship at the cost of the colonists, which in the long run was a better choice, as dying there probably would have spelled doom for the colonists anyway.
Episode 15, where Akito learns that the Jovians aren't lizards at all when he sees a human inside one of the Jovian mecha. Both Megumi and Minato also aid in helping a different Jovian soldier to escape captivity from the Nadesico.
And in episode 16, everyone aboard the Nadesico learns that the Jovians are in fact humans from the Moon who were banished by Earth for attempting insurrection and trying to break free from Earth's control. Many are upset due to this revelation, when they signed up because they thought the Jovians really were hostile aliens.
Wham Line: Nagare Akatsuki delivers one in episode 22, when he reveals himself to be the chairman for Nergal.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Jovian Lizards are really a lost human colony but the Earth government (and Nergal) distribute false propaganda so that the Earthlings believe that Jovians are monster lizards. Once the Nadesico crew discovers the truth, they are reluctant to fight the Jovians.
The Worf Barrage: The Nadesico often delivers this to prove that the new Jovian ship or weapon is going to be a challenge to overcome. Sometimes the Federation fleet does this too just before the Nadesico shows up to save the day.
World of Pun: The show has a lot of puns. Izumi Maki, in particularly, uses so many puns that she barely speaks at all without a translator's note appearing.
Yandere: Akito runs into one in episode 10. It takes a jealous Ryoko to rescue him.
Zerg Rush: Due to their smaller population, the Jovians have to rely largely on unmanned drones for attacking. Interestingly, the humans seem to have trouble fighting against them early on, but later in the series the Nadesico's crew seem more competent in destroying them.