I haven’t done a classic review in awhile, so I felt like now was a good of time as any, and I’ll do it with one of the very first series (excluding what aired on Toonami) that got me into anime way back when. Martian Successor Nadesico.
Martian Successor Nadesico (or Kidou Senkan Nadesico) was a starship-bound science fiction series originally aired October 1996 to March 1997 spanning only 26 episodes. Produced by XEBEC, directed by Satou Tatsuo, with character designs by Gotou Keiji, it was based on the manga of the same name by Asamiya Kia which ran from 1997 to 1999. The story was based around Tenkawa Akito, a resident of the Mars colony where his parents were stationed as part of the scientific community. After an accident kills them, he remains until an attack by unknown enemy units forces him to take shelter with other refugees. He encounters a little girl whom he protects by using the nanomachine controller embedded in his hand to control a heavy-lifter and block the attack. However a bizarre accident occurs and he wakes up to find himself in a field on Earth, millions of miles away. He takes up a job at a local restaurant doing what he always wanted to do, cook. Being a Mars resident however, he had nanomachines integrated into his hand to operate machines, on Earth, only military pilots have such marks, making him seem like a military deserter to everyone he meets.
Meanwhile the daughter of Admiral Misumaru, Misumaru Yurika, is preparing for her first day as the Captian of the Nadesico, a private battleship funded by the NERGAL Corporation, whose intent is to return to Mars as the military abandoned it after the attack years previous. Since they could not assemble a traditional military crew, Prospector, in charge of running the ship as a representative of the company, along with Goat Hory, round up the most bizarre cast of characters who are experts in their field, but leave little to be desired in social graces. This includes Chief Engineer Uribatake Seiya, an expert at mechanics and Aestivalis but not with women, Hoshino Ruri, a child prodigy and ship controller, isolated from society most of her life, Minato Haruka, the secretary of a corporate president who becomes helmsman, Reinard Megumi, a voice actress who becomes the communications officer, and Howmei, the ship’s cook and former military officer. Together they are to launch with Fukube Jin, a retired admiral and commander of the forces which first encountered the aliens on Mars. En route to the ship though, Yurika bumps into Akito as he is riding his bicycle and some of her things fall out of her trunk. Among them is an old picture of the two of them when they both were children living on Mars together. He remembered who she was and followed her to the ship. One thing led to another and he wound up in an Aestivalis defending the ship while it launched amidst a battle with the aliens. Having successfully defended the ship and boarding it on its way through the atmosphere, and robbing it’s main pilot, Daigoji “Yamada Jiro” Gai of his chance at super robot glory, he is met by starry-eyed Yurika who never lost her love for him ever, in front of the entire ship’s crew.
As the series progresses they add more characters to the crew, including “The Three Angels”, Aestivalis pilots, the cryptic pun master Maki Izumi, hot-headed Subaru Ryoko, and female otaku, Amano Hikaru. Together with ship’s XO Aoi Jun and other characters from the military and NERGAL they set forth on a mission to Mars, and discover not only what danger really lies out in deep space, but also about each other. They uncover secrets and lies held deep in the hands of certain people for years, and an almost century-long stuggle between humanity.
It was made to parody many series at the time. Space Battleship Yamato, Gundam, Macross, Captian Harlock, and more. The anime within an anime, Gekigangar 3, was a parody of most super robot shows of the era, mainly Go Nagai shows, like Getter Robo. It’s subplots were used to fuel the main plot of the show and how the characters acted and reacted towards the end. The great thing is though, that while executed perfectly, the show took on its own voice in the second half of the series and became an awesome piece of drama and storytelling, rivaling that of any Gundam series. It’s a shame they really didn’t make more of this than they did, because I would have dug it all the way to the bank.
One of the show’s main characters, and still my “All Time Top Favorite Character” is Hoshino Ruri. Not only do you get smartass cynical loli, you get the best deadpan humor one could hope for along with what most would call today a typical tsundere although not immediately noticeable. She went from cynical kid in the corner to radical free-thinker towards the end, setting her up for her greatest performance as the star of the movie. But not only she was awesome, Yurika, Akito (when he wasn’t a whiny bitch), Seiya, Gai, Ryoko, even Goat MOTHERFUCKING LOYALTY Hory made this show worth watching down to every last letter.
Now as far as Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness, if you’ve seen it for the first time, it is awfully confusing. It’s set 3-4 years after the events of the series, but that time skip isn’t explained in the movie, it’s explained in “The Blank of Three Years” which was published for Sega Saturn in Japan only. So for us US folks, you’ll have to check out the internet to get the TLDR for what happened, which I will omit due to spoilers from the show and the movie, but the basic premise of the movie is Hoshino Ruri, now 17, commands the Nadesico B for the UE Spacy fleet. She and her crew of mostly new cast with a couple of old faces, embark on a new mission that completely rips apart everything she knew and loved and puts a final spin on the story that overshadowed it all.
The movie, after you make sense of what is going on, is probably the most satisfying and bone-crushingly annoying ending to a franchise you’ll ever experience. Quite honestly, I really wish XEBEC made more, even if it was same universe different characters, it was such an awesome franchise. Some say that Stellvia of the Universe was almost like a prequel (or sequel) in a way, due to its similarities and styles, and Shipon is also among my top-tier favorites. Unfortunately it too was shelved for a second season because XEBEC seems to not be able to produce beyond one season of everything there is good in the world, despite having some excellent titles like Bakuretsu Hunters, DN Angel, Outlaw Star, Rockman.EXE, Shaman King, and more. Really, only To-Love Ru and Zoids seem to get past that one-season barrier. But when quality over quantity counts, they do deliver of the better shows to watch, even Ladies X Butlers wasn’t half bad.
So if you’re looking for an old school space comedy and drama with super/real robot action and memorable characters, you want to tap one of the greats, Nadesico. I suggest finding the remastered version as the graphics upgrade is the best until we possibly see a BD release someday, which I will own.
Title: Martian Successor Nadesico
Sub Group I Watched: (Back in 2001) Unknown RM files (Today) ADV DVDs (original release version)
Rating (1-10): 10
Favorite Character: Hoshino Ruri
Favorite Robot: Black Selena (Movie)
Least Favorite Character: Akatsuki Nagare
Least Favorite Robot: Those silly looking things Jun piloted in the first few episodes.
Favorite Angel: Ryoko
Obligatory Troll: Omoikane
Crowning Moment of Awesome:Every time Akito appeared in the Black Selena in the movie. He was out for vengeance and to get Yurika back, and I only wish he had that in the series, it was fucking awesome.
Least Explained Element of the Series: Omoikane, the ship’s sentient computer system. Why would NERGAL go through the effort to make it when Ruri can bend it to her will without much thought?