Excel Saga

Manga vs. Anime

Excel Saga 01 by Rikdo Koshi

Deep in some in some prefecture, some city in Japan is the mysterious secret organization ACROSS. The head of ACROSS, Lord Il Palazzo, is trying to take over the entire world. Dedicated to this cause is his faithful servant Excel, willing to suffer any hardship, any indignity, in order to further her leader's goals. Now if she was just a little brighter...

Excel Saga the manga came before the anime version, however, with the reversal in releases here in the US, it is almost impossible to not compare the two. The first volume of the manga introduces all of the main characters familiar to those who have watched the series, crazy Excel, cold Lord Il Pallazo, the bloody fountain affectionately known as Hyatt, and the clueless neighbors. As the absurd adventures go on with each failed attempt with world takeover, the reader follows Excel throughout her trials and tribulations just to wonder what in the world is going to happen next.

Fans who appreciate the wacky, insane world of Excel Saga will be thrilled to hear that the manga by Rikdo Koshi is out and translated into English. However, the cheering quickly turns into puzzlement as the book is read. The usual nonsense antics of Excel and Co, passable in the anime at their most redundant, get lost in a static manga environment. Although graced with fantastic visuals and a hilarious story, the plot twists and turns get lost in the translation.

Those who have seen the series will see that the episodes in the manga are far different; instead of a theme for each chapter, there seems to be a free flowing string of consciousness craziness involved. Also, some name changes have been made and some characters altogether absent. The beloved pooch Menchi is named Mince, the great cosmos is nowhere to be seen and everyone's favorite put upon foreign day laborer Pedro is absent. These changes seem to have been made for the better in the anime, some of the strange events go on a little too long and do not have the impact that they do animated.

This is not to say VIZ did not try; the fact that something so heavily pun-laden and pop culture referenced as Excel Saga turned into something remotely coherent aside the normal craziness is a testament to the translation staff; they have tried to do the utmost to make this a fan favorite. Extras such as notes from the artist himself and little messages to his audience are included. In the back pages are five pages of liner notes for the jokes, references and sound effects in the series. But even with such heroic efforts, the bounce and energy of this series is best left to the anime to bring it to the United States.

If you are looking for a way to enjoy the Excel Saga series without plunking down for the DVDs, the manga is not a good investment. If you are a rabid Excel fan and have been dying to see the original, this is worth the purchase as an addition to the series. Although not a title for the un-initiated, Excel Saga Vol 1 is a masterpiece of the translator's skill.

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