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"There is one Earth! If it splits in half, there'll be two! All mankind is scum -- and bee-yoo-ti-ful!"
Anime's answer to surrealism and Dada art.
Having nothing to do with Microsoft Excel, Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga tells the story of recent high school graduate Excel Excel. She's a small-brained but highly energetic Genki Girl who finds her ideal job serving as a minion to the mysterious Lord Il Palazzo, leader of the subversive yet ineffective fascist organization ACROSS.
As she undertakes missions intended to unravel the fabric of Japanese society so that ACROSS can step in and take over, Excel pines for her impressively Bishonen, and impressively eccentric, boss Il Palazzo, who spends most of his time when his minions are out on missions sitting around his headquarters playing dating sims or practicing on his guitar. Il Palazzo, on the other hand, views Excel as a necessary annoyance who is to be killed as required, or at least dropped through a Trap Door into an oubliette, when she gets out of hand. If it weren't for the frequent interventions of the Great Will of the Macrocosm, Il Palazzo would be going through minions like Kleenex.
Excel's partner is Hyatt, a frail, beautiful alien girl given to bouts of coughing up horribly poisonous blood and frequent, brief attacks of death. Together with their dog/backup meal source Menchi, Excel blasts her way though a series of adventures with gleeful incompetence and a hysterically rapidfire stream of dialogue that makes, at best, only minimal sense.
At the same time, a city official, the mysterious Kabapu, has hired Excel's next door neighbors to form a counter-insurgency team that will inevitably come into conflict with the forces of ACROSS. Meanwhile, on yet a third plot thread, immigrant laborer Pedro, who dreams of earning enough money to leave Japan and return to his young son and sexy wife, dies in a terrible construction accident caused by Excel. He must now roam the world alone as a ghost, at least until the Great Will of the Macrocosm encounters him and decides he's cute. Interleaved into all three plotlines and running along on a fourth one of its own are the adventures of Nabeshin, the Marty Stu/Parody Sue and self-insert character of director Shinichi Watanabe, who can best be described as Shaft reincarnated as an Asian guy wearing a Lupin III costume.
The series is adapted from the original manga by Koshi Rikdo, but only very loosely; this is actually the core gag of the anime, with pre-title sequences that feature Rikdo giving, or being violently coerced into giving, his permission for his creation to be warped, twisted and re-imagined into a completely different genre every episode. As a result, each episode it dedicated to skewering a particular genre of anime or manga, inverting and demolishing its cliches and conventions while leaving behind a trail of sight gags, puns and the just plain bizarre. Incredibly, it manages to tell something approaching a coherent storyline at the same time. Hilariously funny and at the same time mind-warpingly strange. As one member of the fan community has said: "Excel Saga -- when crack is not enough."
This page is for tropes that apply to the anime only. For the original manga, check here.
The Excel Saga Anime provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: "Wow, I never knew sewer tunnels were so wide and spacious."
- The Abridged Series: Excel Saga Abridged
- Achilles in His Tent: Binbou, the Delinquent with the three meter pompadour who is the top pitcher of his high school baseball team.
- Adaptation Decay: Very much intentional, with Koshi Rikdo's Author Avatar getting killed at the end of the first episode, then brought back to life, then forced to give his ever more reluctant approval to change the story's very genre between each episode. It culminates in an all out battle with the director's Author Avatar, who was the one responsible for "ruining his life's work". The whole thing is a parody of the internal struggling associated with most adaptations. In fact the goal was never to make a faithful adaptation, as much as it was to see how far they could push the whacky "experimental anime" format until it imploded. The result was a bigger success than expected and even eclipsed the original in popularity by far. Even so, Koshi Rikdo still admits he's happy with the way it turned out.
- Adaptation Dye Job: Excel has blond hair in the manga and orange hair in the anime; Hyatt has brown hair in the manga and blue in the anime; and Il Palazzo has pale cyan hair in the manga and pale violet hair in the anime.
- Affectionate Parody: Of lots and lots and lots of other anime; one long scene in episode 3 and then all of episode 22 are devoted to gentle send-ups of Leiji Matsumoto's work, for instance.
- Arc Welding: The Grand Finale ends up tying all running plotlines together.
- Art Shift: Episode 17, "Animation USA". To prove a point to a group of black market thugs the benefits of Western Animation and Anime, Excel shows off the tropes of both sides, where the art style shifts to superhero comic book style, and then to something resembling a Walt Disney cartoon.
- There's a lot of Art Shift in Excel Saga. Usually it drifts in the direction of whatever's being parodied this week.
- In the preview for the Shojo-parody episode they say something along the lines of: "Turn up the contrast! Make the eyes 40% bigger! Add the bloom effect and bubbles!"
- Episode 9 interspersed footage of actual bowling alongside animated bowling, and also included instances of 3D animation and overlaying animation over actual footage of a cliff.
- There's a lot of Art Shift in Excel Saga. Usually it drifts in the direction of whatever's being parodied this week.
- Ascended Extra: Pedro went from one panel in the manga (maybe two) to being The Chew Toy in the anime and ends up becoming important in the end.
- Ascended Meme:
- Author Avatar: Nabeshin and manga artist Koshi Rikdo.
- Balloon Belly: Excel during the all-girls episode and episode 23.
- Banana Peel: In the opening credits.
- Beam-O-War: Between Pedro and "That Man" in Episode 25.
- Bellisario's Maxim: Invoked:
Hyatt: "How can he ride a car if he's a ghost?"
- Big No: Pedro, at least Once an Episode. Several times, this manifests as a delightfully Engrish "Very No!"
- Episode 20 (a marathon recap of the Pedro segments) had a Big No every other minute or so.
- Bird Run: Koshi Rikdo and Excel.
- Black Comedy Rape:
- Ropponmatsu II assaulting Excel.
- The Great Will of the Macrocosm forces herself on Pedro multiple times. He can't escape.
- Blue with Shock
- Christmas Episode: Ostensibly "Big City Part II".
- Cold Open: Each episode begins with Koshi Rikdo giving his approval for the anime staff to produce the episode.
- Conspicuous CG: Episodes 22-24 are dripping with it.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Cuteness Proximity: The Puchuu have this effect on people. Oddly, it seems to only work on males. Then again, the only females we see resisting the Puchuu are Cloudcuckoolander Excel and Sugar and Ice Girl Matsuya.
- Dating Sim Shot: In episode 4, "Love Puny" (original Japanese title: "Love Hena").
- Except for the very first sequence—where Il Palazzo's third option is to kill Excel (he does and gets a Bad End)—Option #3 is always "Put it in." Later decision trees were even less subtle.
—Put it in
- The Danza: The anime stars two Excel and Hyatt lookalikes named Kobayashi and Mikako, who are played by Yumiko Kobayashi and Mikako Takahashi. Also, Nabeshin.
- Death Is Cheap: Excel, thanks to the Great Will of the Macrocosm, survives getting killed several times in the first episode. Hyatt just does because of Rule of Funny.
- Delinquents: Parodied in episode 11, "Butt Out, Youth!"
- Desert Punk: The aftermath of the destruction of the city in episodes 23-25.
- Drop the Washtub: When Excel and Hyatt try to remove the intruders from their Absurdly Spacious Sewer, Excel tells Hyatt to press a button on the wall to spring a trap. Spears start falling down over Excel. She manages to dodge them, and tells Hyatt to press another... *BONK!*
Excel: *Gets smacked on the head with the washtub* "FUCK!"
- Dude, Not Funny: This in-universe quote speaks for itself.
Excel: He's gone! We only looked away for a minute!!
- Eagle Land: Played for laughs in one episode that takes place in an obviously exaggerated version of America.
- Efficient Displacement: Excel and Pedro in the first episode.
WEAR A HELMET AND YOU'LL ALWAYS BE SAFE!
- Electric Torture/Harmless Electrocution: Happens to Excel in the 3rd episode. She comments on how nice it feels and asks the torturer to turn it up higher. The torturer immediately uses it on another prisoner just to see if it's working, and the prisoner is immediately incinerated.
- Engaging Conversation: Iwata's immediate reaction when he realizes the detective in episode 12 is, in fact, a woman. Also his reaction when meeting Ropponmatsu. Iwata is very quick on the marriage proposals in general.
- Eyecatch: The "Excel Saga" logo on a hardwood background while a brief snippet of "Ai (Chuuseishin)" plays. Characters frequently run in front of the eyecatch as well.
- Fan Service: Episode 8: "Increase Ratings Week", also several sequences in episode 26, "Going Too Far", which quickly cross into Fan Disservice.
- Fan Service with a Smile: Lampshaded in episode 21, when Hyatt and Excel are commissioned to work at a nightclub as waitresses:
Hyatt: "Um, Senior Excel... is it just me, or does this outfit rather emphasize the breasts?"
- Five-Bad Band: The ACROSS Five (That Man There, This Man, That Man Over There, That Man Over Here, and This Man Over Here).
- Flash Back: Usually subverted for gag value due to whether they really happened, but played straight in episode 24.
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Episode 16.
- Foreshadowing: In episode 8, the calendar says the year is "199X."
- Freaky Friday Flip: Between Excel and Hyatt in episode 26.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Humorous add-ons in the credits. In addition to the staff and actors, there are funny little blurbs such as "Fun things to make with paper" (spitballs, airplanes, pirate hats, very ineffective condoms) "Sex!!!! (Subliminal Message)", and comments on the episode ("Sorry, no gags this time"). The ending of Episode 25 had the credits in Spanish, also.
- When you realize that everybody who was knocked unconscious was left to DIE when the ship explodes.
- Actually comes up quite a bit; the opening credits has at least one, for instance (when Excel falls through the floor and erupts out of it again wrapped in tentacle. The ADVidNotes underscore this at times, flashing by unreadably fast and necessitating at least one run-through in slow-mo to catch them.
- When you realize that everybody who was knocked unconscious was left to DIE when the ship explodes.
- Fridge Logic: In-universe example: in one scene, Sumiyoshi uses one hand to push his glasses up his nose, while shown in the previous shot with his hands stuck. Watanabe initially wonders where that third hand came from, but immediately drops the question.
- Funny Afro: Nabeshin and Pedro and Sandora.
- Gag Boobs: Cosette, who has the body of a little girl and somehow hides her very large breasts under her clothing.
- Gainax Ending: Episode 25 has a pretty normal ending, with the fates of everyone shown during the credits. Episode 26 though, ends with Hyatt drowning the planet in her blood, Excel crying out to Il Palazzo in the sky for help, and Il Palazzo replying with a thumbs up.
- Gecko Ending: It had to, since the manga was still ongoing (and would be for another twelve years). They ended up writing their own ending that focused on the continuity they had made for the show.
- Gaussian Girl: Every single girl that appears in episode eight.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe example: the Puni Puni Poemy Show Within a Show is very popular in America -- Excel and Hyatt are saved from being beaten by gang members when animation cels miraculously fall from the sky, causing the bangers to desperately scramble for them.
- Generic Graffiti: In Episode 17, "Animation U.S.A.!"
- Genki Girl: Hyatt shows her Genki side when in Excel's body in Episode 26. If Hyatt had a perfect body, she would be extremely Genki.
- Genre Shift: Every episode.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In addition to her bit with the banana in the opening credits, count how many times Hyatt can be seen in the background putting cylindrical objects in her mouth.
- Hell, at one point on the recap episode, she absentmindedly starts licking her microphone.
- Then there's her reaction to a ride outside a store:
Hyatt: "I've never ridden anything that only goes up and down and in and out before!"
- This quote:
Hyatt: Fire a thick, hot one from the back, please!
- In episode 18, Excel reaches into a vending machine's coin return to get some change.
Hyatt: Surely, this is the result of your nightly finger training.
- When Excel and Hyatt are looking after the rock star, we see his silhouette from behind the curtain as he "practices his guitar." Excel swoons.
- Note that anything in episode 26 is NOT an example of this trope, because episode 26 did not make it past the radar.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Excel does this quite a few times, and always has the stylistic fingerprint swirl.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: In the first episode, Excel's good angel shoots the bad one in cold blood ("The bullet of justice caps evil's ass!") and later in the episode she's arrested for the murder of the bad angel.
- Gratuitous English: Used for comedy in Episodes 13 and 17. In episode 17, it's intentionally used by the Americans in the dub.
- Happy Ending: Not counting Episode 26, which is non-canon (its entire existence is a huge joke as to how far the production team could go, hence its title "Going Too Far".)
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Also somewhat an Actor Allusion: in the Italian dub, Nabeshin's voice is by Roberto Del Giudice, better known as the one and only voice of Lupin III.
- Also, the voice actress for Excel in the Japanese version is none other than Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice behind such characters as Usagi Tsukino and Misato Katsuragi.
- I say, that feisty red-haired woman sounds an awful lot like a certain feisty red-haired girl!
- In One Piece, Il Palazzo is Aokiji, Excel is Boa Hancock and Watanabe is Kaku.
- Ganondorf is Pedro! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
- High-Pressure Blood: Parodied in episode 26, as Hyatt coughs up enough blood to drown the entire planet.
- Humongous Mecha: Played semi-straight in episode 25: the Cool but Inefficient mecha is shaped like a cartoon dinosaur, and it is rather ineffectual in the climactic battle, but it was just a decoy anyway.
- Hurricane of Puns: Excel, frequently. Since they're translated directly instead of trying to change them to an equivalent pun, the odds'n'ends special feature on the DVD, aside from pointing out other things of interest, spends a lot of time explaining how what Excel just said is an elaborate pun in Japanese.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Nabeshin carries all manner of weaponry hidden in his afro, up to and including a bazooka.
Excel: "Man, that is some SERIOUS dandruff!"
- Indirect Kiss: Watanabe is ecstatic that by sharing a soda with Hyatt, he is essentially getting an indirect kiss.
- In the Name of the Moon: Parodied in episode 17, and combined with an obvious Shout-Out to Sailor Moon -- "In the name of the Moon, I shall spank you!" ("In the name of the toons, I will punish you!" in the North American dub). If you know that the Japanese voices of Excel and Sailor Moon were performed by the same voice actress, it's even funnier.
Excel: "I was doing good with this stuff until just a couple years back!"
- Intimate Healing: Parodied in episode 6, when Excel tries to thaw Hyatt from a block of ice with "shared bodily warmth", but winds up nearly killing herself because there's so much to unfreeze.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Happens to Excel in the anime's "serious" episode, after her betrayal at the hands of Il Palazzo.
- Lovely Angels: Excel and Hyatt
- Lucky Charms Title: The title of the show (Excel♥Saga), and the voice actresses who sing the Title Theme Tune (the Excel♥Girls).
- Male Gaze: Parodied during Matsuya's introduction to the cast. She was not happy about it.
- Mood Whiplash: Episodes 22-25 have less and less slapstick humor and more and more dramatic content; episode 24 is described in the introduction as "gag-free". "Gag-free" is, of course, somewhat relative.
- The Musical: Episode 26, but only the The Teaser, wherein Excel says that's what it's going to be, Nabeshin argues that musicals are too expensive (hmm...), and Hyatt politely points out that they've been singing the entire time. All the music that plays during the segment are all short snippets of the music that played ad nauseam over the course of the show.
- Mutually Fictional: Just as Puni Puni Poemi is a show in the Excel Saga universe, Excel Saga is a show within the Puni Puni Poemi universe.
- Nerd Glasses: "Professor" in the "animal story" episode.
- No Fourth Wall: The only time there's a fourth wall is if it improves the joke.
- No Swastikas: Averted in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in the first episode where Excel goes Motor Mouth. Her eyes temporarily turn into Swastikas.
- Ocular Gushers: Pedro's tears, which flow like waterfalls.
- Once an Episode: Rikdo's approval, Il Palazzo sending Excel down a Trap Door, Pedro's Big No.
- One Scene, Two Monologues: In Episode 6, Matsuya asks Dr. Kabapu about their training, while Watanabe mumbles to himself about how crappy a day he's having. Eventually, they both simultaneously complain about their guns looking "like a toy from a fair booth".
- It happens fairly often that Excel monologues in gibberish while other people continue their conversation.
- Opening Scroll: A Star Wars parody appears at the start of episode 2.
- Overdrawn At the Blood Bank: Hyatt floods the entire planet with her blood at one point.
- Overly Long Gag: In the bowling episode (episode 9), during the commercial break, Excel is chased by the bowling master's minions... about four times. By the end, they're begging to stop.
- Six, to be exact. In the last one, they had lost her.
- Paper Fan of Doom: Sumiyoshi's weapon of choice while wearing his sentai uniform.
- Pre-Explosion Glow
- Police Procedural: Sent up for laughs in episode 12.
- Pool Episode: Episode 8, "Increase Ratings Week".
- Pragmatic Adaptation: One of the reasons why the anime went for an entirely different storyline was to avoid Overtaking The Manga.
- The Pratfall: Featured in the intro, when Excel steps on a Banana Peel.
- Precision F-Strike: In the dub (at least in the first half when Jessica Calvello played her) Excel lays down the occasional F-bomb, but usually at a spot where one is expected. For example, at the end of episode 6, Excel and Hyatt pull themselves out of an avalanche.
Excel: "Umm, Ha-chan?"
- Punny Name: Binbō got his name for beanballing (beanball is "binbōru" in Japanese phonetics). It also means "poor" as in "destitute" (ironically, he is actually rich).
- Not so ironic anymore when, at the end of the episode, his butler rushes in and informs him that his family went broke.
- Ratings Stunt: Parodied mercilessly in chapter 8, called "Increase-the-Rating Week".
- Reality Warper: Pedro's flashback of his family in the first episode actually happens at the construction site. Another worker nearly falls to his death because he was suddenly no longer standing on solid ground.
- Rebus Bubble: Menchi = dog = food.
- Recap Episode: Two, including an all-Pedro recap, and fourth-wall-free lampshade hanging
- Red String of Fate: Iwata says him and Watanabe are connected that way, to Watanabe's annoyance.
- Red Wire Blue Wire: "What? Who puts a bomb in a dating game?"
- Reference Overdosed: Each episode in the anime makes tons of references in their effort to parody whatever genre they are mocking.
- Refuge in Audacity: Dr. Shiouji, for example, is able to kidnap children via helicopter and get away with only a scolding.
- Relax-O-Vision: Scenes of ocean waves and kittens playing over the sounds of Koshi Rikdo being killed, and scenes of Puchuus goofing around playing over the sounds of Ropponmatsu II violating Excel.
- Repeat Cut: Excel Surprise Triple Take! in episode 7.
- Reset Button: Actually embodied in a character -- The Great Will of the Macrocosm, though the last portion of the series, except for episode 26, does have some semblance of actual continuity.
- One of the biggest differences between the manga and the anime is that this character only exists in the anime. In the manga, the characters actually have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Played for laughs in episode 16: "Take Back Love!", in that the characters in question are also Robot Girls, and showed no such emotions in previous (or future) episodes.
- Rule of Cool: Ruthlessly and relentlessly deconstructed. Every little, mundane thing can be made awesome (and so very impractical)!
- Running Gag: Every episode begins with a disclaimer from Koshi Rikdo, absolving himself of responsibility for any genre or content. In the first show he explicitly left all responsibility with his staff, which may be why they chose Excel's first mission to be an assassination of a manga/animation artist named Koshi Rikdo.
- Excel dropped through a trapdoor by Il Palazzo pulling a rope. Lampshaded by Excel every time he pulls a rope that doesn't open a trapdoor under her, and by a sign on one rope marked 'Obligatory'.
- Samus Is a Girl: Tetsuko, the iron-masked prisoner in episode 3. Parodied because she has plenty of lines before the reveal, which she speaks with a baritone voice.
- Also, she keeps speaking in that voice after the reveal!
- There was also the detective in episode 12.
- Schizo-Tech: In the Desert Punk arc, ACROSS is trying to conquer central Japan, and the forces at its disposal include not only legions of Mad Max-ish club-wielding mohawk'd punk-rock-looking goons but also a gigantic flying saucer. Yes, really.
- The Scream: In one episode, Pedro's Big No morphs into Edvard Munch's painting of the same name.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Pedro works very hard so that his wife can live her dream of "Sitting around and doing nothing all day", which she does anyway.
- Shout-Out: See here.
- Show Within a Show: Puni Puni Poemi, which became defictionalized.
- To make it recursive, Excel Saga is also a show in the Puni Puni Poemi universe.
- Solemn Ending Theme: The standard closing theme is a parody of these; the last episode parodies the parody.
- Stuff Blowing Up: "Anime is all about stuff blowing up!", according to Nabeshin in episode 26, and Excel in episode 17.
- Stylistic Suck: Rikdo must be forced to approve the episodes; staff are shown complaining about making the show (and frequently exhausted).
- Sudden Downer Ending: The final three minutes of episode 23, all of episode 24 (actually approved as a joke-free episode by Koshi Rikdo), and most of episode 25 are pretty serious, especially in comparison to the rest of the series. Though episode 25 does end on an upbeat note. And of course, episode 26 features a complete Snap Back and the wacky comedy the series is known for, but storywise it's not meant to be canonical.
- Take That: "Who puts a bomb in a Dating Sim?"
- The Tokyo Fireball: Played straight, oddly enough, in episode 22, though there is a Puchuu-shaped mushroom cloud... and it's Fukuoka, not Tokyo.
- Third Line, Some Waiting: The Pedro plot.
- Too Kinky to Torture: "Higher, please!"
- Too Hot for TV: Episode 26, by design.
- Too Soon: The Japanese television networks refused to air episode 26 -- as per the director's intention -- and one of the many reasons for this was that one of the first gags in it is a joke about the Sarin nerve gas attacks in the Tokyo subways just a year or two before. Firmly steeped into Canon Dis Continuity, as the anime ended definitively at 25.
- Training From Hell: Parodied in episodes 6 and 9.
- Trouser Space: Excel does it in episode 22. She shoves her hand right down her crotch and pulls out a manga.
- Twinkle in The Sky: Iwata lampshades this when he's the one who gets launched.
- Unexpected Genre Change: Lampshaded in the Dating Sim parody.
- Unusual Euphemism: "You son of a cat!" used by a dog in the "animal story" episode.
- Visible Sigh
- Visual Pun: In the opening, Excel briefly does "the Monkey" after eating a bunch of bananas.
- Wall of Text: Turning on the ADVidNotes (on-screen notes regarding the many, many cultural references and language-based puns that don't translate well) can result in this at times. Given the nature of the beast, this is unavoidable.
- Widget Series: Note how many times on this very own wiki that Excel Saga is used as the benchmark for how weird an Anime is.
- Writers Suck: The writers are often shown to be lazy or out of ideas for episodes.
- You Are Already Dead: Parodied by Excel in one of the later episodes, only it turns the victims into plushies.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In episode 24, Il Palazzo acknowledges that Excel has never been useful and shoots her.
- Yuri Genre: Parodies just about everything about the trope, complete with Heroic Sacrifices and Ropponmatsu raping Excel.
- Also lampshaded earlier: "Aren't we just a few lilies ("yuri" can mean both lilies and lesbians) short of a shojo-ai?"
- although the software makes a brief appearance in episode 5