- Alternative Character Interpretation: Did Phaeton ever truly care about helping his fellow Neosapiens, and was he ever truly The Atoner for what he did at the end of the first rebellion, or was he just an evil, power mad tyrant manipulating everyone to further his own ambitions? Was he one of these things all along or did he start as the former and gradually transform into the latter as a result of repeated failures of his regime and his own deteriorating health?
- Animation Age Ghetto: Utterly averted: this show was aimed at both kids and adults, the latter gaining precedence.
- Complete Monster:
- Phaeton, the ruler of the Neosapien empire, uses words like "equality" and pretends to care about the well-being and future of the Neosapiens, but his actions prove this is nothing more than manipulative rhetoric. Before the series started, Phaeton sold out the Neosapien rebellion to save his own skin, and rises to power by initiating genocide on humanity, establishing death camps and killing any who resist—and those who don't. His tactics include forcible starvation, forced labor or just nasty executions. Not even his men are exempt, as Phaeton is very keen on executing them for minor failures and cloning them. Phaeton's ego and hypocrisy are manifest in how he sends so many of his loyal men to their own deaths on suicidal missions and, at the end, even his most loyal aide Livia deserts him for his plans that would have wiped out his own race to secure his own victory. If Phaeton ever held noble ideals, they're gone by the time he enacts his plan at the start of the series and he grows increasingly evil as he degrades physically and mentally. He is nothing more than a murderous, power-hungry, genocidal, cowardly fascist by the end, and one who would see the galaxy burn for the sake of his own power and advancement.
- General Draconis is the Neosapien Governor in charge of Venus. Cruel even by the brutal standards the aforementioned Phaeton has set for their species, Draconis doesn't even have Phaeton's pretense of trying to help the Neosapien people. Everything Draconis does is for his own advancement. Draconis enacts a scorched earth campaign on Venus, creating a planet-wide famine that wipes out the majority of the civilian population, with the few survivors sent to toil in forced labor camps. Draconis's treatment of his own race is little better, even murdering two Neo Megas assigned to him as advisors because he felt their "suggestions" undermined his absolute authority. As a contingency if Venus fell out of his control, Draconis rigged a hydrogen bomb to the city of Vesta, intending to spite his enemies by murdering thousands of human civilians. Draconis assigned a noble soldier named Thrax to detonate the bomb in order to "redeem" himself for showing mercy to an Exo Squad member. Except Draconis lied about there being a timer for the bomb, and once Thrax activated it, he and Draconis's remaining Neosapien soldiers would've died in the resulting blast. Draconis's lust for power was so great, he plotted to betray Phaeton and usurp control of the Neosapien Empire for himself. He eventually seized his chance by leaving what he thought was Phaeton to die in an exploding ship.
- Dr. Albrecht Ketzer proves that Terrans can be just as evil as the Neosapiens. It is revealed that he turned an entire village of natives in the Amazon—as well as himself—into half-plant monstrosities, a rather horrific process. Later injecting Nara Burns with the same DNA formula he used on himself, he withholds the antidote unless the exotroopers attack a nearby Neosapien command station; while this may seem like a good cause, in reality this was for his own purposes. When the heroes point out that there were still Terrans in that area, and an attack would lead to Neosapien retaliation, Ketzer dismisses these concerns. Even worse, when the squad relents and attacks, Ketzer reveals that there is no antidote. Injecting Medusa with the same formula, Ketzer later reappears to kidnap Nara again and finish his "work" on her.
- Cult Classic: Definitely.
- Foe Yay: Even though he's asexual, Phaeton seems to spend a lot of time obsessing over Marsh. Some of his interactions with Marsala have quite a bit of Ho Yay as well.
- Funny Moments:
- Not much from this show, but "Target: Earth" has the whole "Amanda Live" bit which parodies talk shows- in this case it's a vehicle for the Neosapien rule- and a random Neo, Stentor, is the announcer, wearing a tuxedo. It's fairly surreal to see in this show, which already has a fairly high tolerance for the absurd.
- Also, from "Scorched Venus", J.T., Alec and Marsala trying to fix a busted Neosapien E-Frame. Right after getting out of the water, one of its' little arms falls off the frame with a "CLUNK"! And a few moments after, Alec succeeds in starting it like a car- as in, it makes "engine trying to turn over" noises. Since when did E-Frames run on car engines?
- Genius Bonus: Some of the things the characters say don't make a lot of sense if you aren't familiar with, say, World War II or even the Vietnam War. For example, when Able squad realizes they're about to be buried by a landslide caused by Marsala shooting the cliff above them , Maggie screams FRAGGED!
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The Executive Producer of the show, Will Meuginot, once compared Exo Squad to Gundam, noting that both invoked World War II campaigns. Several of the voice actors in Exo Squad would go on to dub various Gundam series.
- Idiot Plot: The Earth Resistance captured the Neo-Sapien scientist that allegedly invented the GRAF shield. Marsala and some Resistance member start arguing over their next course of action. Diana take advantage of this to untie the scientist who escaped with no-one noticing.
- Nightmare Fuel: If you stop to think about it, quite a bit for a saturday morning cartoon. Aside from the normal carnage of war (shooting and explosions and what not), we see characters get exposed to hard vacuum, starved half to death, put in cargo containers and launched towards the sun, and the effects of the Graf Shield, which crushes starships (and their occupants) like soda cans. That's just the first season, by the way. The second season gets much worse. They outright call what Draconis is doing to the humans a genocide.
- Propaganda Piece: The entire episode "Mindset" was dedicated to Neosapien propaganda and Terran collaborators.
- Retroactive Recognition: Many voice actors, with Lisa Ann Beley standing out the most because of her distinct voice.
- The Scrappy: Captain Marcus, for being an outright incompetent Hot-Blooded Jerkass who consistently makes the wrong decisions by being overly aggressive and refuses to listen to others who point out flaws, earns a lot of fan-flack. Even his death, normally of the kind that would invoke Alas, Poor Scrappy, generally fails; most viewers only wished he'd gotten killed sooner, it probably would have been better for Exofleet if he had.
- What an Idiot!:
- Not putting Melee Weapons onto the Exoframes to deal with the Neo Warriors and Neo Lords, thus the Exoframes being mostly helpless whenever they get to Melee Range. (This may be due to Executive Meddling.)
- The making of the NeoSapiens. Leaving aside the ethical concerns of creating a Slave Race aside, maybe making it so said slave race both is physically superior to humans and even has an intellect on par with them, and having them perform forced menial labor wasn't such a good idea guys.
YMMV / Exo Squad