Sci-Fi Comedy Anime About Villains Trying To Conquer The Planet Will Melt Your Brain

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Comedy is the most difficult genre to get right, no matter the medium, from movies to television and even anime. The secret to comedy depends on who you ask. Some comics say it’s all about timing, others go for shock value, and in the case of the 1990s anime Excel Saga, the studio decided to try everything at once.

There’s Nothing Like Excel Saga

Originally airing in Japan from 1999-2000, the complete Excel Saga was released in the United States in a DVD box set in 2004, which, at the risk of dating myself, was the perfect timing to become a favorite in my college dorm. My roommate and I watched the classics at the time: Trigun, Berserk, various Gundams, and even Big O, but the sheer insanity of Excel Saga was impossible to top.

Root For The Villains

It’s a series about a villainous organization, Across, that wants to conquer the world and has decided to start with one city. In every episode, II Palazzo launches a new scheme, relying on Excel, his only officer, to carry it out. Through sheer luck, never skill, planning, patience, or anything resembling a positive attribute, Excel sometimes succeeds, but Excel Saga isn’t about the plot.

The Bizarre Characters

As a warning as to what you’re in for with Excel Saga, the first episode has II Palazzo sending Excel to assassinate Rikdo Koshi, the author of the manga the series is based on. Not only is it a great fourth-wall-breaking bit, but it helps explain why the anime storyline is vastly different from the manga. Taking advantage of the format are two characters, The Great Will of the Microsom and Nabshim, the Director, both of whom will reset the story on a regular basis.

Emergency Food Supply

By messing around with the format of an anime series, Excel Saga gets away with having no consistent plot and can rely on the strength of the characters. Excel, a parody of anime heroines, will talk nonstop, obsesses over II Palazzo, and is constantly hungry. Later, she’s joined by Hyatt, Across’ Junior Officer, who happens to be incredibly sick and will frequently cough up blood, die, and get back up again.

Oh, and Excel has a dog, Menchi, referred to as the “emergency food supply.” Menchi might be the smartest one in the series.

Not The Power Rangers

Opposing the villains are the heroes, though, in the world of Excel Saga, they are just as damaged and bizarre as the members of Across. The Department of City Security, led by Kabapu and his cartoonish mustache, set out to foil Excel. Late in the series, the City Security employees become Municipal Force Daitenzein, a group of five color-coded individuals that are legally distinct from the Power Rangers.

The Saga Of Pedro

Outside of what passes for continuity in Excel Saga, there is a separate, completely random series of bits about the Great Will of the Microcosm, the secret leader of Across, That Man, and the poor, downtrodden Pedro, who lost his sexy wife to his former best friend, Gomez. Nabeshin, the Director, gets involved in their conflict, training Pedro to become an “Afro-Warrior” to fight That Man (who was disguised as Gomez) for the fate of the world.

If none of that makes sense, don’t worry. Excel Saga does not adhere to any storytelling rules, and it’s all the better for it.

The Episode Too Hot For TV

The ultimate example of how Excel Saga learned all the rules to break them comes in the final episode, “Going Too Far,” which was designed by the studio to be so offensive, insulting, and horrible to watch that it would be banned from television. Yes, it was banned from TV, but it was then released on DVD as a bonus feature and can be streamed today. While it’s very stupid and offensive, it’s also exactly one minute too long for Japanese broadcast standards, showing how smart this very stupid series is.

As Excel herself says at one point, “That’s what’s so great about animation! Their are no limits!”

Excel Saga Is Streaming Now


If you’re bored of anime that make sense, like Reborn As A Vending Machine Now I Wander The Dungeon, or anime with deep philosophical meanings behind them, such as the revised Bartender Glass of God, then you should absolutely destroy some brain cells by watching Excel Saga. The entire series, only 26 episodes, is available on Crunchyroll.