July 8, 2009

1046 words 5 mins read

Anime: Martian Successor Nadesico

When I first started this blog many years ago, I decided that it was going to be “tech only” and that worked for a good long while, though eventually I got tired of it. The main problem is that when you work with computers, your hobby is computers and all you write about is computers — it gets a bit… tedious. Anyways the reason that I’m bringing this up is that even when I decided to start to stray from that “tech only” approach, I made a rule with myself that I wouldn’t talk about Anime. Now I’ve long since decided to expand out into whatever I feel like writing about, but I still wasn’t covering Anime. There was no real reason to this, that I remember, I simply didn’t.

Now I’ve decided to rectify that situation. Allow me to officially introduce the Anime category and my inaugural post about anime. I do spend a good portion of my free time watching anime, and I’ve watched at least a hundred different series, so it is about time I start covering them and doing some reviews. As with all the other reviews I do there isn’t going to be anything formal. No numbers, no stars, no grades — just my impressions. One last item, I will never give away any spoilers (without a proper warning). So now on to good stuff!

Martian Successor Nadesico or just Nadesico, is a 26 episode series plus a movie Prince of Darkness about the ship Nadesico and it’s crazy crew’s wild hijinx in an attempt to save humanity. One of the first things about the series you’ll notice is that the animation is dated. Personally, I find old style animation a turn off, the older the worse. Call me a snob, but I only really like the newer stuff (generally, the last 10 years). That being said, I was introduced to Nadesico many years ago. At that point in time I found it humorous and enjoyable, but since then I’ve realized how much I really enjoy the series. I go back and rewatch it every so often and every time I find it awesomely hilarious. When I watched it earlier in my life, I just watched what was on screen and didn’t really pay attention to the “deeper stuff”. Now that I’ve gotten older, I’m actually paying attention to the deeper meaning and I actually enjoy it a little more. The basic gist of it is that war sucks, obviously there is more complexity to it than that, but I think that suffices. Even though it is a commentary about some of the downsides of war, it manages to convey its message without getting deep and boring. The entire series (more on the movie later) is kept very light and humorous.

One of really screwy (and hilarious) parts about this anime is the fact that they embed an anime inside of it, specifically Gekigangar III. I don’t mean that they mention it in passing, or it is on the TV from time to time — this “anime in an anime” is a very pervasive element of the series. It is actually a critical component to the entire series, which proves to be even more hilarious. The typical “mid-point review” episode uses Gekigangar to actually switch the tables completely. This episode is shot from the point of the Gekigangar characters sitting down and watching Nadesico on TV and taking cues from it, which is what happens in Nadesico, but in reverse. A little confusing to explain here, but I assure you that much hijinx and hilarity ensure. Gekigangar is big enough of an item that the animation studio actually made a 3 episode OVA of just Gekigangar, stand alone from Nadesico.

When Nadesico isn’t in the middle of battle (always with the Mechs), or watching Gekigangar there is quite an ensemble cast to be entertained by. Of course the main hero, Akito Tenkawa, is just your run of the mill boring guy who is chased by practically every girl on the ship. It is fairly typical harem humor, and I love it. The main heroin of the story is Captain Yurika Misumaru, who is, of course, in love with Akito. She’s constantly calling out to Akito in a most annoying manner (in the English dub) and while normally voice acting like this would make me want to murder someone, in these cases it is freaking hilarious. Akito is shown to be as visibly annoyed by the Captain as the audience is, if not more. That being said, the real main character of the series and the movie is Ruri Hoshino, the precocious 12 year old computer technician. She is so amazing and hilarious you’ll learn to love everything to do with her. If by the end of the series you don’t love Ruri and her periodic interjection of “Idiots”, there is something wrong with you. It can be a little odd to have that juxtaposition of comedy and war drama, but it keeps the series light and a very enjoyable watch. In fact I’m disappointed when my watching is completed and can’t find anything as “good” and humorous as Nadesico.

Nadesico, the series, ends with a voice over from Ruri saying “until the inevitable sequel”, which in and of itself is humorous, is a little sad because there has never been a sequel, nor is it likely that there ever will be. That is where the movie, Prince of Darkness, comes into play. It is used to finish up some of the loose ends from the end of the series, not many, granted, just enough to keep people happy. Overall the movie has a different tone from the series, being that is on the darker side. It is still humorous and fun to watch (after all, the Nadesico is now captained by Ruri), but there is a little more story and a little less time spent on comedic relief. I can’t really get into the plot of the movie, as it would give away the movie and the series, but needless to say, the ending is left open for that “inevitable sequel”. Ruri will once more earn a place in your heart by the ending of the movie, if she hasn’t already.