November 9, 2014
Rikdo Koshi – Viz – 2003 – 27 volumes
What possesses us to do the things we do? Why, when I have a room full of unread volumes of manga, would I go for the next volume of what is essentially a gag series? Well… it’s still a guilty pleasure, even on my recent manga-lite diet.
It’s hard to explain, because… well, it’s still a little confusing and slapstick-y. But the slapstick works, which I enjoy. Usually gag manga fall flat for me, or I have to slog through them. Admittedly, I think I read this in two or three sittings, because it’s hard to plow through all the stories at once. But I still enjoyed it immensely.
And there’s somewhat of a forward momentum, plot-wise. It’s clear that Il Palazzo and the Department of City Environmental Security are on some… different stuff, even if Il Palazzo still seems rather crazy.
But these chapters are still mostly joke one-shots. Excel is a mailman. The girls deal in cellphones. They work in a hospital (which, admittedly, is really funny because Hayatt is technically dead, and also the crazy doctor). Later in the volume, the members of the City Environmental Security… kind of breach ACROSS headquarters? But nobody seems to really know what’s going on except Il Palazzo? And actually, that’s funny as well.
I’m told the story begins developing more starting in volume 4, which I happen to have handy. So yes, the guilty pleasure will continue. For the time being, the humor is enough, but a story would be nice, or I don’t know that I’m going to pick up more.
May 10, 2013
Rikdo Koshi – Viz – 2003 – 27 volumes
I started this series towards the end, and I liked it well enough to go back to the beginning. The problem was, I was afraid to read additional volumes of it because the first volume was a bit too nonsensical for my taste. But I had bought the first few together, and I don’t want to read the later volumes that have accumulated without giving the beginning of the series a try again, so I dove in.
I… liked the second volume a lot better! Maybe I was in the mood for it this time more than the last, but the missions that Excel and Hayate did seemed a lot more cohesive in this volume, and the sense of humor has stabilized and just struck me as much funnier. Hayate’s sudden illnesses are much better timed. Doctor Kabapu was very funny. The terrible part-time jobs that they eventually skipped out on and stole food from were good, as was the fact they made the food last too long and it made Excel very sick.
There’s still not much plot to speak of, though it does seem like, somehow, Il Palazzo knows someone is after him, and Doctor Kabapu has organized the Environmental Security Administration to, uh… combat Hayate and Excel. I did like the chapters about that organization forming quite a bit.
As it is still kind of a gag series at this point, I don’t have much to add other than that. The humor was better, the stories seemed more on target, and I can see it’s going somewhere. I loved it, so I’m going to pick up volume 3 now that I’ve got the review for 2 out of the way.
June 21, 2012
Rikdo Koshi – Viz – 2003 – 27 volumes
I told you I was starting over at the beginning.
I still don’t quite know what to make of it. I’m no less lost than I was at volume 23. I… I think I like that. I would like to have a little better grasp of what’s going on, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything straight. Excel works for ACROSS. The leader doesn’t really like her, for some reason, and also gives unclear instructions. Excel goes out and kind of follows directions, but also usually causes some sort of firey incident that has very little to do with taking over the city. There’s sort of a sidekick who’s very ill. There’s not a whole lot of money around. There’s angry neighbors, and I recognize those guys from volume 23, but here they are simply angry neighbors.
None of this is explained. It just sort of happens. I rather like the absurdist quality of it, but admittedly, with the unconnected craziness of volume one… if it goes on like this through volumes 2-3, I may just pick back up with 24 next year and take the beginning of the series slowly. I need a point of reference or something, some sort of storyline for the mania, or I’ll lose interest fast. Sgt. Frog is a casualty of this, but I’m hoping Excel Saga can give me a little something to follow.
Even if it doesn’t, I still like volume one quite a bit, and I am eager to read two and three. I don’t have much else to offer in the way of commentary, because it really is just… crazy, and you kinda need to see it for yourself. But let’s see where it goes from here.
April 11, 2012
Rikdo Koshi – Viz – 2012 – 27 volumes
I’ve read none of the manga and seen two episodes of the anime prior to this. But I was still pretty excited when this showed up at my house. I couldn’t wait to read it. I’m not exactly sure why. I guess I heard it was funny.
Reading it without prior knowledge is pretty entertaining, simply because it is such a bizarre series. One of the enemies (or at least an enemy to Excel, I suppose) speaks with one of the most bizarre accents I’ve ever read in a manga. Also, he doesn’t speak, for some reason. His text is kinda like narration. But it acts like dialogue in the scenes. I’m not sure why. Similarly, I guess I didn’t realize that everyone could hear Elgala’s thoughts, either. That’s also very entertaining.
It’s also just funny. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to understand running gags or character-based humor, but it helps that all of them are so absurd. I actually did laugh out loud when the Kabapu force all tendered their resignations when asked to do a task, to which the commander replied he wished they wouldn’t carry their resignation slips around with them everywhere. There was also a random Evil Dead reference during the fight in the first chapter, and that’s never a bad thing.
It took me a bit to get my bearings, but once I figured out what was going on and who was on what side, I was surprised to find myself sucked in completely. I thought Excel Saga was more of a gag manga, but if this volume is anything to go on, it seems like there’s… been a story going on the whole time. About a fake city takeover, and a fake defense against the takeover. Except now it seems to be about robots, which is just fine. I had a hard time parsing what was going on with all the robots, but I understood the twist at the end. I don’t even read this series, and I loved that curveball (or, at least I think it was a curveball… everyone else seemed surprised by it). I can’t tell if it will even have any effect on the plot. But still, it is a very awesome thing indeed.
I can’t really talk about the story here, unfortunately, because I don’t understand a lot of what’s going on and I’m not sure what constitutes a spoiler. But after the confusing first fight, I liked pretty much everything in this volume. I got to see Excel and Elgala’s secret base, and how they communicate covertly. I got to see an awesome robot chariot race. There was a fire. Hyatt bled excessively. Excel yelled a lot.
I’m not sure what to make of all this, but it left me with the burning desire to read the whole thing from the beginning. I’m not sure why. It was very funny, but didn’t crack me up. The story was unclear (to me, jumping in randomly here), and… I don’t know, not really my thing, usually. But Excel Saga is somehow addictive. It’s insanity is charming, and somehow, even the story that stumped me here was endearing. Plus, it’s edited by Carl Gustav Horn, and I didn’t know that it had copious endnotes, the same type you find in the back of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. That only makes it better.
Basically, I’m going to go out and buy 22 volumes of this series in the very near future. And I couldn’t tell you why. Apparently that’s just the magic of Excel Saga’s insanity.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.