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< Entertainment >

New Movie Reviews

"Excel Saga: Imperfect Collection" DVD

by Steve Anderson
thevideostoreguy@columnist.com

Warning: The Raving and Drooling of a Fanboy Occurs Next Several Hundred Words.

I'll admit it plainly. I love "Excel Saga". I fell in love with this series back in college. Even though I couldn't watch the whole thing due to a lot of time pressures, including those damn things they call "classes", the opportunity to finally finish this, and to have all twenty six episodes easily available, was too good to pass up.

What you're going to be seeing in "Excel Saga" is the story of Excel, a hyperactive high school graduate with a lot more energy than good sense. Excel joins the ideological organization ACROSS, fronted by Lord Ilpalazzo. Excel, as is so often the case with anime, is wildly hot for Ilpalazzo, and terrifyingly devoted to him.

Stalking laws were created for chicks like this.

ACROSS, meanwhile, has aspirations for global domination. But in a prudent move on Ilpalazzo's part, ACROSS will be starting small. Their plan is to take over their home city first, and work their way up from there.

Which is, frankly, good. When you get a look at what ACROSS has to work with in terms of personnel, you won't be surprised either. The story, meanwhile, will only get more baffling the farther out you go. Trust me on this one.

So already you've got a formula for mayhem and madness. When you throw in the numerous parodies, and the constant stream of gags, and the just plain old psychotic plot elements, you've got a recipe for truly insane anime. Psychotic plot elements? You're probably asking right now what I mean. Before you finally get to the end of this six-disk masterpiece, you're going to run into lesbian android overtures, a municipal Power Ranger-esque crime fighting team, a dog that her owner (Excel) describes as an "emergency food supply" that gets convulsions every time someone mentions food around her (small wonder considering that the dog's name is Menchi, which apparently translates as "minced meat"), small and truly adorable aliens with designs on interplanetary conquest, and for the piece de resistance, the frequently dead princess of a far-off planet.

I had only one real problem with "Excel Saga"--toward the end, they completely pulled the gags out of script. Completely. Now, think about that. You're laughing, you're gleeful, you're having the time of your ever-loving life with this, and all of a sudden, it gets COMPLETELY SERIOUS. Whoa. It's like a room full of monkeys that suddenly went angsty.

And it would have ended on the biggest downer note ever, if it hadn't been for one great redeeming feature:

Episode 26: Going Too Far.

This is the king of them all. The episode with more blood and more gunplay and more comedy and more fanservice and more everything (except the serious stuff) than you've seen anywhere else before. It must be watched to be truly appreciated.

And after the horrible downer of Episode 25, you're going to be doubly thankful.
There's a legion of special features here. Previews for other anime including the truly preposterous "Puny Puny Poemi", a light ton of easter eggs, subtitle and audio options, and plenty more over this six disk collection.

All in all, wow. "Excel Saga: Imperfect Collection" brings together some of the best anime ever seen by mankind and puts it all into a wildly comic package. Truly fantastic stuff.

OVERALL GRADE: 4 stars ****

Excel Saga: Imperfect Collection
DVD
****
Directed by Shinichi Watanabe
Written by Hideyuki Kurata, Yosuke Kuroda, and of course, Koshi Rikudo
Starring two very long lists of individuals speaking both English and Japanese.
Produced by Shigeru Kitayama, John Ledford, Mark Williams
about 624 mins total, depending on episode length.
1999
various ratings depending on location exhibited.

The Video Store Guy knows the best movies you've never seen. Check his Reel Advice weekly at www.monstersandcritics.com

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