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Excel Saga Vol. #23 Manga Review

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A knock down, drag-out fight between Across and the CESA breaks out, but what are they fighting for, exactly?

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Rikdo Koshi
Translation:Kyoko Kondo
Adaptation: Carl Gustav Horn

What They Say
They were always hassling Number Six about why he resigned, but when your boss is Dr. Kabapu, there should be no mystery that the younger and still human members of the City Environmental Security Administration have just given notice. But their mass walkout from the office is about to collide with the massive presence(s) coming in, known as Miwa Rengaya. Will this noted motivational speaker help Kabapu’s employees face what could be the greatest challenge of their careers–namely, actually doing their supposed job…to face down ACROSS in mortal combat?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Excel Saga is still gearing up for it’s climax, at least, it had better be. We’re closing in on the end of this ongoing battle for the planet, er… city, and the players are finally taking a stand!

This volume sees not one, but two confrontations between ACROSS and the CESA employees. However, our stalwart protagonists on both sides of the battle are getting tired of being jerked around in a war they understand absolutely nothing about. The only thing that we can be sure of is Miwa is in control of everyone, and she can see their moves and predict their actions. Well, everyone’s actions except for the most chaotic factor, and that would be Excel herself.

At long last, we get the return of Watanabe as we originally knew him. He was once the straight man in the story, if you recall that far back. When his dreams of a happy normal life with Chihaya (or Hyatt as we know her) died, when ran off he became the creepy dude he’s been for the later half of the series, leaving Misaki as our straight woman and voice of reason. Watanabe’s personality reversion is entirely welcome, as the pervert persona was pretty unnerving. We already have Professor Shouji for maximum disturbing, and speaking of which, Rikdo-san really didn’t need to include the creeper-cam shot of nishiki. What a great way to make the audience feel uncomfortable.

It’s amusing to watch both groups attempt to work together, or at least pretend to, during various points in this volume. Misaki’s group wants ishiki back, and Excel just wants to get back in her Lord Il Palazzo’s good graces. Excel’s logic isn’t exactly logical, and Misaki is letting her emotions about Iwata get the better of her. When the inevitable showdown between both groups happen, it’s a fascinating and dysfunctional confrontation, drawing in all of the resources of both groups as they try to hide from the prying eyes of Miwa.

Guess what? Hiding from Miwa never works. Suddenly Excel is blessed, or cursed, with a robotic body. She was already nigh-invulnerable, and now she just may be unstoppable. Elgala, who has an amazing exchange with Misaki about what could happen to Excel without her real body, can’t talk sense into Excel, unsurprisingly. In Excel’s own words “I’ve got an immortal machine body now, and I didn’t have to board no Galaxy Express to get it!” It’s hard to beat that logic.

So, what is the truth about the war for the planet? Is Il Palazzo even a real person, and for that matter, was Excel even human to begin with? So many questions and no answers to be found yet. The only thing everyone seems to agree with is that Excel’s new found power is about to unleash hell.

It’s interesting to note that the progressively changing art style of the series appears to have completed its shift to digital toning in these recent volumes. With the ever increasing focus on strange technology, it seems fitting for the shading to be entirely computer generated now.

After the story there’s a brief comic where Rikdo-san attempts some self-deprecating humor about his bout with kidney stones. The volume concludes with the usual sound-fx guide (wherein Mr. Horn notes that over the course of the series the pages have lost their numbering, so good luck following along… I ignore them, personally.) The translation notes are still mind expanding reading, covering diverse topics like Cheetos and Isaac Asimov. Concluding the notes is an inclusion of english reader submitted fan-art.

In Summary
Fear not, gentle readers, Excel Saga has graced us with yet another volume of its english release. I must advise against blindly jumping to this volume, as a refresher on recent events would help tremendously in following the ongoing plot. We’re still waiting for answers to the many questions lingering in this series, and so are the main protagonists. Only Miwa seems to understand the game she’s playing, with everyone else simply her pawns. We do finally get another good confrontation between Excel and Misaki, and their hapless comrades. With more action than usual in this volume, it’s quite fast moving for a volume of Excel Saga. Unfortunately, it looks to be another year wait for volume 24.

Content Grade: B +
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A +

Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 10th, 2012
MSRP: $9.99

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