Anime of the Month
They Were 11 by Kitty Film
This a short (running just 91 minutes), perfect little self-contained space opera. While it was made in the 80’s it is adapted from a manga made in the 70’s and the character designs reflect that. Ten cadets are sent off on their final test of survival, which happens to be on an abandoned space ship, but when they board the ship there are 11 people in the group. Since the test is randomized no one has a clue as to who is the odd man out. Suspicion, sabotage, and mystery ensue as the cadets form factions and cope with a decomposing ship, rising temperatures, and a fatal disease that is spreading among the crew. They can end the test with a push of a button but then they all fail. All manner of species and personalities clash in this small group, which makes it a pleasure to watch it play out and almost impossible to figure out who the 11th man is.
Manga of the Month
Excel Saga by Koushi Rikudou
While Excel Saga the anime had it’s time in the sun, most people ignore the excellent manga it was based on which is a shame because while I love the anime, I love the manga even more. Where as the anime was a high energy gag a second parody of anime, the manga is a little more subtle with social satire mixed in with its parody of anime tropes. Also I really think Elgala is cute and she’s only in the manga.
Excel, Hyatt, and eventually Elgala are soldiers and agents for ACROSS, an organization bent on world domination. Ilpalazzo, the leader of ACROSS, has determined that he must first take over F city before he can take over the rest of the world. And so Excel spends most of her time going on bizarre missions in hopes of taking over the city and then the world. Ilpalazzo’s old nemesis, Dr. Kabapu, has organized the Department of City Security with his own agents to stop the plans of ACROSS. Technically both organizations are hunting each other but most of the time they are so incompetent that they spend more time fixing their own mistakes, dilemmas, and financial problems than fighting one another.
I must make note that the Viz translation is done my the famous Carl Gustav Horn so they are expertly translated and researched with amazing translation notes at the end. I think learn a little sometime every time I read a new book of Excel Saga. Sometimes the translation notes are as amusing as the comic itself. And that is high praise indeed.