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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Excel Saga-Volume 3: When Excels Strike (Out) (1999)

Excel Saga-Volume 3: When Excels Strike (Out) (1999)

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Released 14-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
On-Screen Information Track-AD Vid Notes
Game-Find the Mint
Interviews-Crew-text interview with director
Gallery-production sketches
Notes-Menchi recipes
Trailer-ADV Previews (4)
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 97:28 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shinichi Watanabe
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Toshio Masuda


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
English Information
English Information
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode teaser

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

This is Volume Three of the Excel Saga. Please read my review of Excel Saga, Volume 1 before reading this one, even though it won't help you understand the show.

The four episodes on this disc are:

  1. Menchi's Escape Plan / Menchi's Great Adventure (24:22) - presented as an animal show. Menchi attempts to return to the old man who was nice to her.
  2. Butt Out Youth (24:22) - presented as a youth drama with overtones of sports anime. Excel and Hyatt end up coaching a team of (old) juvenile delinquents playing baseball.
  3. Big City Part II (24:22) - presented as a detective show. Excel's next-door neighbours are seconded to the police force.
  4. New Year's Year End Party (24:22) - sending up year-end shows. A large team of Excels competes with a team of Hyatts in a competition of recapping previous events.

All of these episodes are exactly the same length, but not the same length as the episodes on the previous volume which were also the same length. On volume 2 they were one second longer, so clearly we are missing out on a full second of entertainment per episode I think we should complain!

There are some subtle references in these episodes, and some, um, less subtle ones Episode 11's sending up of Princess Nine would not qualify as subtle.

Excel gets the chance to go off on a rant on a number of occasions, both unaccompanied, and with other people talking. Her voice can get quite shrill (in both English and Japanese) when she's ranting.

The Excel Girls (singers of the opening theme) get another appearance in the review show (Episode 13), but then, so does the entire production team (briefly). What else would you expect?

To a limited extent, I think the joke has gone a little stale in this volume I hope they can improve in the next volume. Some of the running gags are just a bit tired. I know that Episode 13 was meant to be a joke about shows that have re-cap episodes, but it felt a bit too close to the truth. The only episode that felt fresh was Episode 10, and it concentrated on Menchi. I must admit that I'd thought Menchi was male (her name may be at fault here!).

I'm still waiting for a mecha story, or a swords'n'sorcery piece maybe next volume?

The Excel Saga is still funny, but these are not the best episodes.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. This is a TV series, so I rather expect that this is the original aspect ratio.

This transfer is as good as the first volume, with very few artefacts.

The picture is sharp and clear, with no apparent film grain. There's no low-level noise.

Colour is vivid and bright, with no colour-related artefacts.

There are no film artefacts that are worth mentioning.

There's somewhat less aliasing and dot crawl on the black lines outlining characters, which is good to see. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. This is a nice clean transfer.

Just as on the first disc, there are five subtitle tracks, all in English. If you want both the AD Vid-notes (very strongly recommended) plus the English subtitles, you want Track 4.

The disc is single sided and dual layered. The layer change isn't visible, because it falls between episodes. You'd expect two episodes on each layer, right? Nup the first three episodes are on the first layer, and only the last one is on the second layer, which is surprising..

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224 kbps. They are most definitely stereo, with quite distinct panning across the stereo image. I listened to all of the English audio, and two episodes of the Japanese audio.

The dialogue is mostly clear, if you don't count Excel's ravings while other people are speaking. Even then, both streams of dialogue can be made out, albeit with some concentration. Dialogue moves from one side to the other of the stereo image as the characters move this is done quite well.

Toshio Masuda hits the right tone with the score, with the music fitting the style chosen for the episode.

The subwoofer and surrounds are given nothing to do by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is animated with sound. The menu is themed to match Episode 13. Excel is rather shrill, but it's rather entertaining; I recommend listening closely to both the transition and the loop on this menu it is a bit rude, but very funny.

Reversible Cover Slick

You can, if you want, pull out the cover slick and reverse it. The result is a spine with only Japanese characters on it pretty, but perhaps less than useful if you don't read Japanese yet, somehow strangely appropriate to The Excel Saga...

Trivia Track AD Vid-notes

If you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Japanese contemporary culture, and have seen every anime series (and most movies) in the last 20 years, then feel free not to use this feature. The rest of us will switch it on, and laugh at points you miss.

Game Find the Mint

This is about as silly as a game can get. You are expected to choose one of three toilet stalls, and try to find the one with the "mint" apparently this is what they call the deodorant block. If you can be bothered, this should keep you occupied for several seconds. Actually, the losing video clip runs 0:27, while the winning one runs 0:25, so maybe a minute or two.

Interview Shinchi Watanabe

This is not the video interview I expected, but rather the text of the interview 9 pages in all. Some of the questions relate to this director's proclivity to insert himself into his shows, using names like Nabeshin.

Menchi Recipes

A series of recipes you can use the next time you have a Menchi or two to cook:

Gallery Production Sketches

Sketches showing the designs of various characters. There are 20 images.

Trailers ADV Previews (5:36)

These trailers just run one after another

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This series was released a little while back in Region 1. The DVD content is reportedly identical, but they get some extras packed into the box that we miss (cardboard cut-out figures). The cover art is the same.

I'd guess that you could choose either version, and not regret it, apart from the price which favours the R4 rather strongly.

Summary

More episodes of the craziest show on anime, given an excellent transfer to DVD.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are reasonable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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