In­sider Com­edy

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

Ar­riv­ing on Blu-ray, the ir­rev­er­ent gets fun­nier the more you know about the anime con­ven­tions it’s mak­ing fun of. By Charles Solomon.

When Mar­tian Suc­ces­sor Nadesico de­buted in 1996, some otaku felt dissed by its ir­rev­er­ent spoof­ing of fan cul­ture and an­i­mated sci-fi se­ries (es­pe­cially Hideaki Anno’s epic Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion). But the satire was too good-na­tured and too funny for any­one to stay an­gry, and it quickly be­came a fan fa­vorite in both Ja­pan and the United States. Twenty years later, it’s still a text­book ex­am­ple of the take-no-pris­on­ers in­san­ity at which anime of­ten ex­cels.

In 2195, the mys­te­ri­ous “Jo­vian Lizards” are at­tack­ing Earth af­ter cap­tur­ing Mars and the moon. Fed up with the in­ept United Space Force, Ner­gal Heavy In­dus­tries con­structs a bat­tle­ship of un­prece­dented power, the Nadesico. Like many ships in sci­ence-fic­tion se­ries, the Nadesico boasts an im­pres­sive ar­ray of high­tech weapons. But nei­ther the U.S.S. En­ter­prise nor the Death Star of­fered vend­ing ma­chines (with re­cy­cling bins for the empty cans), fu­tons and crew jack­ets.

To staff their state-of-the-art vessel, Ner­gal chooses “top peo­ple who may have slight per­son­al­ity prob­lems” (to put it mildly). Com­mand­ing the Nadesico is scat­ter-brained Cap­tain Yurika Misumaru (Jen­nifer K. Earhart), who nur­tures a pas­sion­ate but un­re­cip­ro­cated crush on Ak­ito Tenkawa (Spike Spencer, par­o­dy­ing his per­for­mance as Shinji, the neu­rotic hero of Evan­ge­lion). Ak­ito was trau­ma­tized by the slaugh­ter he witnessed as a child on Mars when the Jo­vians at­tacked. He doesn’t re­mem­ber how — or if — he tele­ported from Mars dur­ing the at- tack. He only re­calls wak­ing up on Earth.

Round­ing out the crew of this ship of fool­ish­ness are sar­donic sci­ence officer/child prodigy Ruri Hoshino (Kira Vin­cent-Davis), dirty old man/ me­chanic Seiya Uri­b­atake (John Swasey) and voice ac­tress/com­mu­ni­ca­tions officer Megumi Reinard (Jenni Strader), once the star of Nat­u­ral Princess Mag­i­cal Ly­chee, a spoof of Sailor Moon.

Ak­ito signs on to the Nadesico as a cook, but he’s drafted as a pi­lot for the Aes­ti­valis, a Gun­dam-style me­chan­i­cal suit. Al­though he turns out to be an ace mecha pi­lot, Ak­ito wants no part of it — un­til he meets ir­re­press­ible Jiro Ya­mada (Brett Weaver), who’s adopted the more dash­ing moniker of Gai Daigoji. (His real name is the Ja­panese equiv­a­lent of Joe Smith.) Gai wor­ships Geki­ganger 3, a hi­lar­i­ous send-up of old gi­ant ro­bot se­ries like Gi­gan­tor and Voltron, and uses the char­ac­ters’ hero­ism to in­spire Ak­ito to charge into bat­tle.

In­ter­nal Loop Di­rec­tor Tat­suo Sat and his crew include clips from Geki­ganger that mimic the disco-beat theme song, Xeroxed lines and hammy voice act­ing that typ­i­fied the style. Ak­ito be­comes a ra­bid fan, and his “solid metal cast­ing limited edi­tion col­lec­tor’s Geki­ganger 3” be­comes his most val­ued pos­ses­sion. The story reaches rare heights of ab­sur­dity when char­ac­ters in Nadesico and Geki­ganger 3 watch each other’s pro­grams, point­ing out short­com- ings. When dash­ing Geki­ganger pi­lot Ken com­plains that the week’s Nadesico episode is just a clip show, the in­evitable half-pint sidekick sniffs, “Don’t you know, they al­ways do this in the mid­dle of an­i­mated se­ries, so new view­ers will know what’s hap­pen­ing!” Pi­lot Joe scoffs, “I’ll bet the stu­dio was run­ning be­hind sched­ule and they needed a quick filler episode.”

The ac­tion and the vo­cal per­for­mances are of­ten pitched at a hys­ter­i­cal pace, so Nadesico is best watched an episode or two at time, or it can be­come weary­ing. Many threads of the plot are left hang­ing at the end of the last episode; Ruri sug­gests that some of them will be sorted out “in the in­evitable se­quel.”

The sto­ry­line of Nadesico prob­a­bly couldn’t have sus­tained a se­quel, but Sat and many of the orig­i­nal artists pro­duced a fol­low-up the­atri­cal fea­ture sub­ti­tled Prince of Dark­ness in 1998. Sadly, Prince of Dark­ness lacks the ir­rev­er­ent hu­mor that made the se­ries beloved.

That same year, the film­mak­ers re­leased a 30-minute Geki­ganger 3 OVA, which is in­cluded in the Blu-ray set, but in Ja­panese only. Ak­ito, Yurika, Megumi and Ruri at­tend the open­ing of the Geki­ganger the­atri­cal fea­ture, which con­sists of the clips from Nadesico plus new ma­te­rial. This choppy se­quence of short scenes pushes the par­ody even fur­ther, pok­ing fun at every genre cliché from the su­per-spe­cial al­loy “Geki­gangium” to the fallen hero’s in­spi­ra­tional visit from be­yond the grave.

Mar­tian Suc­ces­sor Nadesico be­longs in the li­brary of every anime fan, and the more the viewer knows about Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion, the fun­nier it is. [

with their chang­ing re­la­tion­ships.

The home re­lease presents the film in its orig­i­nal Ja­panese with English sub­ti­tles, aug­mented with a “Look­ing Back: A Staff Re­union” fea­turette that gath­ers the cre­ators 11 years on. The Blu-ray Combo Pack ($24.99) tacks on an ex­clu­sive sto­ry­boards fea­ture. Ocean Waves is just as pic­turesque, deep and com­plex as its name­sake. fea­tures the voices of Mandy Moore as Ra­pun­zel, Zachary Levi as Eu­gene, Eden Espinosa as Cas­san­dra, Julie Bowen as Queen Ari­anna and Clancy Brown as King Fred­eric. The movie also boasts mu­sic from Alan Menken. The DVD in­cludes four an­i­mated “Tan­gled Short Cuts”: Checkmate, Prison Bake, Make Me Smile and Hare Peace. agi and Chibiusa eaves­drop­ping on a cafe con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Sailor Sen­shi fans. The Blu-ray combo set ($29.98) also in­cludes voice cast in­ter­views, the L.A. pre­miere event Q&A, and more. Both ver­sions fea­ture un­cut English dub and orig­i­nal Ja­panese ver­sions for the planet-pow­ered ex­pe­ri­ence of your choice.

Young Ak­ito is drafted to pi­lot mecha suits as a mem­ber of the odd­ball crew aboard the space vessel Nadesico.

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