However, I also picked up the first volume of the anime series Quack Experimental Anime: Excel Saga. Which is probably just called Excel Saga, but I like the pre-title which is on the opening credits, because that is exactly what Excel Saga is.
The thing in the place at the time: "Excel Saga" volume one DVD
Technical shizzle: The disc includes the first five episodes, has english and japanese audio, and includes a few sets of english subtitles, one with just song lyric translations and translations for words that appear on-screen, and another that also includes the japanese dialogue. It also has a great feature in the extras that adds pop-up video style explanations for japanese cultural references, as well as funny odds and ends - occasionally even just a comment or two like "what an odd place for a PC, eh?"
The real substance: The first thing you will probably notice about Excel Saga is the gorgeous art. Made in 1999 and just recently released stateside, this show exemplifies the current trend in japanese animation. By which I mean, fantastic art and animation. The colors are rich and the fps is great. The artstyle is expressive, funny and also dramatic.
The second thing you'll notice about Excel Saga is that it is massively fucked up. The second main character in the opening sequence (appearing in epsiode 2, she is Hyatt) seems to cough up blood and pass out every five seconds, this may be the first thing that makes you go "whaa?? funny!" The story begins with our heroine, Excel, getting killed accidently in her jubilation at becoming a member of ACROSS, which you learn is a secret organization bent on taking over the city (because taking over the world is just silly, you know). At her death, we find her floating in space where she meets Will, a fourth-wall destroying character who has ultimate power over the world of Excel Saga, and she scolds Excel, telling her she must not die and has to consider the storyline. She then brings back our heroine to life.
We then find her in the secret headquarters of ACROSS, where she annoys the leader, Illpazzo, to the point of murdering her. Will brings her back. Illpazzo kills her again. Will brings her back. It's very funny, I promise.
Excel is an amazingly over-excited young girl who doesn't have a clue about much. She really says it best in episode 5 when she's trying to uncover a government plot but realizes she knows nothing about how to. "I have so much enthusiasm and nothing else!"
We also meet a preciously cute little animal that looks like a cat to me, but everyone refers to as a dog. Excel goes without eating for days on end for the cause of ACROSS, and when she meets this furry little creature, she makes the dubious equation DOG -> CREATURE -> FOOD, which is explained in japanese kana, and I think has something to do with pronounciation, becuase I could see a simmilar character in the japanese for creature and food, but didn't see the transition of dog to creature. Oh well.
She then grabs the poor animal and decides it is her last resort meal, which begins a running gag for the series, and sets up the closing credits animation, which has the animal singing about how Excel wants to eat her.
I could tell you about all sorts of characters like Pedro or the three "ronin" who live next door to Excel or about the mysterious man with a fake moustache in episode 5, or I could even try to tell you about the story plots, but the point I'm making is that this is ridiculous japanese humor at it's finest. Not so much of the ecchi, but some. As far as plots go, there isn't much. Every episode tries to lampoon some cliche in japanese animation genres, and the stories don't seem to have much in running plot, although it happens. Episode 2 directly leads to episode 3, when Excel is captured by some nameless military group and then gets rescued. Episode 5 obviously sets up a major adversary with the mysterous man with the fake moustache.
The one down point to me for this show is that I think it is sometimes too ridiculous too much for too long. It gets a little tiring because it keeps it on and on. Thankfully there is respite with a few of the characters and their interractions.
If you like your anime beautiful and over-the-top with the humor, blasting away all the walls between the fantasy and the truth that it is fiction (the first episode's mission has Excel trying to kill the creator of her own manga, and has her SEE her own manga in the show), then you really need to check it out. If your cup of tea is more like Lain or Vampire Hunter D, you might stay away. Unless you're like me, the panoramic anime fan.
Final Score: 87.
It's great for what it is, but doesn't really satisfy anything but my funny bone. It'll be great for those anime club sessions and cons though.
Man, I need to get me some more Kodomo no Omocha fansubs.