So, I feel like a smoother transition out of Anno August is needed here. I mean seriously, for some reason I kept typing longer and longer posts as the month went on. How crazy is that? My last Evangelion post, which was part 2, was almost three thousands words in length. So in order to get completely out of the mood of Neon Genesis Evangelion, let’s look at a series that I think is slightly better then Evangelion, even if it’s incredibly obvious how much Nadesico has been influenced from it. This show did come out a year after Eva, so I guess that’s just going to happen. Then again, almost everything did after that show appeared anyway. What does that mean? This series is more than great transition from Anno August to normal Mechanical Anime Content. Boy, I’m sure glad that I watched this series at the same time as Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s almost like I planned this little thing. Oh yeah, I suppose I did. Is there the point where I laugh evily or just cry in how sad my life is? How about both?
In the year 2196, space war broke out. You know, like it happened in older science fiction anime series. The so called Jovian Lizards attacked Earth with superior technology from who knows where and humanity was completely unprepared. Our story starts with the fall out of a Mars colony called the Utopia Colony. Directly above it, Earth forces where completely overwhelmed by Jovian forces leading to their ships crashing directly onto the colony itself with mass casualties all around. Or so we are let to believe originally. Before the fall out happens, Akito Tenkawa, our protagonist, is shown in the colony handing a little girl named Ai an orange. Then the fall out happens, everything explodes, and Akito Tenkawa finds himself on Earth as a cook with PTSD following what happened to him. Or just war in general. How did he appear there at first? Why does he have a thing that allows him to pilot a robot on right hand? Questions that will be answered later on.
Our story truly starts when Akito Tenkawa, who was recently fired from his job as a cook, gets hit by the luggage of his former childhood love interest Yurika Misamaru (and her best guy friend named Jun). Yes, her luggage was over stuffed and just fill out of the back of the car to hit Akito just so they could meet again. Of course, they didn’t remember each other until Akito notices the picture of them together as kids from her luggage. Seeing it, he immediately chases after her. Unfortunately, Yurika is supposed to be the captain of the Nergal Heavy Industries independent battleship called the Nadesico. A ship that is going to have a crew of different types of weirdos including a voice actress, and a large variety of otaku. So what I’m saying is that Akito runs into some trouble and finds himself a member of that strange ship. A ship whose mission is to retake what is left of the Mars utopian colony
Akito is not only assigned to be the cook on this ship of strange people, but he’s also assigned as a back up pilot because they don’t have many of them at that moment. Well, except one guy who calls himself Gai Daigoji who just broke his leg after a stupid accident. Someone whose obsessed with an 1970’s super robot anime called Gekiganger 3 and pilots his Aestavlis Unit (what they call robots in this show) like it’s a super robot. Except you know, this is a pretty heavily real robot series. Incidents happen, Akito finds himself piloting a robot and also tutored by this strange guy in more ways then one including getting Akito stuck into watching Gekiganger 3 along with him in a very super robot sort of protege way. Then reality truly hits. After multiple successes with the Nadesico breaking away from Earth’s gravity and heading towards Mars, Gai Daigoji is killed by a simple gunshot from an escaping group of Earth soldiers because they can. There is no honor in dying this way, it’s cold blooded and completely dirty. That’s the wake up call about what this show is truly about. Grief, humanity, and War.
Martian Successor Nadesico has a reputation of being called a comedy anime and in my mind, that couldn’t be more wrong. I do get why though. The first few episodes are full of comedic moments, the main cast of the Nadesico are weirdos, and the forgetting one is in a real robot anime is all good comedy stuff. Except, all that comedy and strangeness is a coping mechanism for this crew stuck in this war they shouldn’t have to fight. I will call it a parody because I believe in the idea of a serious parody. With that aspects out of the way, Nadesico is a very human and powerful anime because it’s real. Otaku activities and habits are coping mechanisms for these characters dealing with the stresses of war. Same with the fight over Akito from the female characters in the show. Why? Because it’s obvious who wins that war from the beginning.
When a space station explodes out of nowhere when the ship’s communicator’s officer, Megumi, was still in communication with them she was completely shocked by it and just doesn’t know how to handle it. At the same time, Akito still carries on watching through Gekiganger 3 and living with Gai’s ideals because it’s his way of dealing with loss. That loss brings the two together for a short amount of time and results in a quick kiss that feels natural after Akito returns from battle. At the same time, Yurika runs around in one funny costume to another for funerals of the people who died on the space station because of how many religions there are on Earth. It’s all comedy until it hits you that people died and what she is doing represents people’s beliefs. Just like the cook carrying all sorts of spices from around the world in her spice cabinet. She doesn’t want to deny a dying officer a meal from wherever they came from before they die.
Do you know what seals this deal for me for this show being more serious in nature? The Nadesico showing up at what is left of the Utopia colony to save people and completely failing at it on every level. Why? Because they got everyone left on that colony killed. Akito literally shows up at the colony on his robot with his current girlfriend Megumi like a hot shot pilot and says “I will save you” to all of these people. Other than acquiring a scientist that was living there who becomes their exposition person, everyone else died. Why? Because the Nadesico was completely overwhelmed from a Jovian attack and had to turn on their defense field called the Distortion Field, which comes out as a bubble, to survive. On the bottom of this field were the people they were trying to save. It was the Nadesico crew that killed these people instead of the Jovians. How shocking is that? Would a comedy anime have this sort of horrifying and soul crushing content in it? Maybe, but it wouldn’t come across as strongly.
Before continuing on, I think that I need to at least discuss what Gekignager 3 is and how much effort the production crew put into this little universe show to make it feel real. Gekiganger 3 is what you get when you take Mazinger Z and Getter Robo and jam them together. There is so much effort put into the show that it looks and moves like an actual 1970’s show and even has it’s own opening. Yeah, just watch it right here. It’s important, because Gekiganger and Nergal’s conpsiracies play together to finding out who the Jovian Lizards are. I feel like who they are might be obvious in some way, but I have to leave some suspense when talking about this show right? Somehow, how all these characters feel about Gekiganger 3, read what it’s finale says, or even if characters like anime connects to all of this as well. This is the reason why Nadesico it an entity to itself. Please watch this show.
What I can tell you is that the second half of Nadesico makes the Nadesico crew feel so isolated from the rest of society itself. Like they are the only ones who don’t want to fight in this war as far as they know. The Earth’s media in general is controlled to death by the mysterious Nergal Industries and it’s kind of obvious that the Jovian lizards want to fight the war for their own reasons? What’s left? The Nadesico crew can only turn to each other to possibly find a way for this war to stop. Add in the craziness behind distortion fields and Nergal’s continuous research towards manned phase jumping and you have an idea of what is going on. It’s crazy how Nadesico is able to put all of thee concepts together to make one, cohesive narrative. The only problem is that by throwing these all together, the ending worked on a character level but not at a story level. That’s at least how I see it. (Prince of Darkness doesn’t exist.)
With that, we can at least talk about Nadesico’s visual levels. For the most part, I think Nadesico looks great. The spaceship feels like it’s a place you can just drop down and live in and each location the crew visits has such a large amount of personality to them or realistic looking. If the crew is on Mars, then everything about the location they are on feels like how a modern Mars would look. Plus, the character designs. I think they are all great. I feel like each character looks like what an Evangelion character would look like if they had some 1970’s super robot flair to them. Does that make any sense at all? I hope it does. With all this said, there are some places where Nadesico takes some short cuts. There are a lot of still frames of the crew sitting in chairs on the Nadesico bridge OR sideways shots of tons of battles resulting in lesser details of ship combat. Still, it does make the battles feel more convenient to understand as well. Most of the mecha combat looks absolutely glorious though. Why wouldn’t they?
Then I need to at least talk about the mecha or Aestivallis designs too. With Martian Successor Nadesico’s parody nature, I feel like the mecha more then make fun of the toy nature of most mecha shows. Why? Is there any other reason for all sorts of mecha frames where parts of some just snap into place in others in the show besides them looking cool? Ok fine, there are like how this is a real robot show and each frame is useful in universe for very specific purposes. There are the sea frames, air frames, heavy artillery frames, and space frames that each have their own particular function. Still, I can’t help but think about all those Aestivallis designs feel like what would happen when a toy was transformed by me or a kid with all the changes and parts snapping in place. Whatever it is, I really like it. Why? You can tell that the people behind this anime absolutely love mecha series because of the detail they put into the Aestavalis units and the Gekiganger 3 stuff. Nothing to complain about there.
In conclusion, I can’t say enough good things about Martian Successor Nadesico. It’s well thought out, loves all the things it was influenced by, which the list includes Space Battleship Yamato, Gundam, Macross, 70’s super robot series, and so on, and have so much heart and meaning behind it. Meaning that everything in it, including some aspects of media criticism, helped Nadesico to age like a fine wine. Also, the cast is pretty great. Especially Ruri, who I didn’t have a place to talk about until now unfortunately because she is the definitive best girl in the show. But anyway, please watch Martian Successor Nadesico when you have the chance. It’s on VRV, available on disc, on Nozomi’s youtube for free if you need it. What else do I need to say? I can’t call this one completely underrated because most mecha people know about it and like it, but it’s left in closest for everyone else. WATCH MORE MECHA, PLEASE! That’s all. That’s my consistent statement through all these blog posts on mecha anime.