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Martian Successor Nadesico: Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

The Earth, its moon, and its Martian colonies are under alien attack, but the war against the “Jovian Lizards” has, so far, been nothing short of a series of disasters.

Disgusted by the incompetence of Earth’s military, the independent arms manufacturer Nergal builds its own space battleship and plans to launch a desperate offensive to save humanity. But due to a shortage of trained soldiers, they’ve assembled the most unorthodox crew to ever launch into orbit. With a pacifist cook-turned-unwilling mecha pilot and a ditsy admiral’s daughter in command, can this unprecedented gathering of geeks, misfits and anime fans prevail against the Jovian menace?

The Review:
Both the English and Japanese tracks come through just fine in Dolby Digital 2.0, and I didn’t hear any problems on either one.

The picture is largely bright with crisp colors and smooth backgrounds. The age of the material is a bit of a factor but not bad at all, all things considered. There’s some very nice visual remastering work done here compared to when the series was domestically released by AD Vision in the early 2000s.

The collection comes in a singularly decorated box with the main characters on the front and a removable stick-on sheet describing the contents of the set. The individual disc holders contain two DVDs each and have two art pieces front and back. All in all, the set has sturdy construction and is rather eye-pleasing.

These were definitely a labor a love as each individual episode has a separately designed menu with different pieces of artwork and individual options for openings, closings and episode starting points.

The extras are exhaustive and help this set earn an A-grade by themselves. Between all the trailers, featurettes, interviews with voice actors and other stuff listed in the features section, this box set feels as complete as anything you’re going to find anywhere.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the year 2196, humanity is losing a war with a mysterious alien race called the Jovian Lizards. A battle is taking place near Mars where the captain of the Earth fleet is all but certain of defeat. As one of the Jovians ships crashes near the human colony there, we see one last human settlement full of desperate people. A teen boy name Akito comes across a little girl whom he comforts a bit just as the Jovians’ insectoid machines break in. Akito drives a large vehicle to hold one off, and strangely, due to some sort of implant he possesses, the machine crumbles a bit and it seems he’s able to hold it off. Meanwhile, the little girl runs off with the other settlers toward a door at the opposite end … into another bunch of Jovians who begin killing everyone in sight. The odds become too much for Akito as suddenly everything vanishes for him in a white light…

One year later we’re introduced the corporation Nergal. They’ve built up a battleship with advanced technologies outside of the United Earth Forces, who’d love to have this vessel for their own use. Nergal hires Mr. Prospector who is given a large sum of money and the chance to recruit as many beautiful women as he wants for his crew. While the roster is taking shape, Akito is working as a cook at a restaurant, unable to remember anything after the Mars attack (including how he got to Earth), which repeatedly causes him to have seizures during flashbacks at work.

After he’s fired, Akito decides to follow the recruitment commercials and head to Nadesico, where he still just wants to be a cook. Eventually, eventually he learns that among the eccentric crew is a girl named Yurika, who is the ship’s captain. Yurika is super excited to see Akito since he helped her out very often when they were kids and she’s been in love with him the whole time. Akito on the other hand cares little about this and more about the fact she’s the only link to what may have happened at Mars since she left one day before the attack. Akito is also trying to find out who killed his parents some time back.

In the midst of this, we’re introduced to other interesting crew members such as Ruri, a 12 year old computer prodigy. Nicknamed ‘The Electronic Fairy,’ she communicates with the ship’s systems and makes certain it runs smoothly while remaining largely distant from her shipmates, often referring to them as idiots. However she tries to learn about them (and humanity in general) by interacting with the computer very often. There’s an anime voice actress-turned- communications officer named Megumi (who develops her own interest in Akito). We also meet Gai, the lead pilot of the Aestivalis (humanoid fighting mecha) team, who has a serious interest in the anime Gekiganger 3 (a 70s styled super robot show). He comes to enthusiastically share this interest with Akito, while becoming an inspiration and mentor of sorts for the teenager.

This starts to happen during the first episode during which Akito winds up taking an Aestivalis out to against the Jovians and wind up acting as a distraction (while running in fear) in order for the Nadesico to defeat them in her first battle (much to Yurika’s delight). Soon after, the independent Nadesico crew comes to face the machinations of the United Earth Forces (led by Yurika’s somewhat lecherous father) while dealing with the enemy. During the journey into space they acquire more (mostly female) Aestivalis pilots (who come to like Akito a bit too) as well as an enigmatic professor named Inez Fressange who holds many answers to Akito’s search for the truth of what’s happened to him, while searching for some answers of her own as the true nature of Earth’s war with the Jovian Lizards comes to light.

Watching the series, it feels like director Tatsuo Sato (Bodacious Space Pirates, Ninja Scroll TV) took every suggestion from his writing team including Hiroyuki Kawasaki (Irresponsible Captain Tylor), Miho Sakai (Legend of Galactic Heroes), and Satoru Akahori (Sorcerer Hunters) and merged together various anime concepts, from 80s war mecha and sci-fi stylings, to 90s harem comedies. As a result, Sato had managed to create an interesting show for its time. Does this make Nadesico a good show, though?

Mostly, the answer is yes, though it was a bit of a chore at times keeping up with all the new characters and situations that popped up. The comedic bits, comparable to Tenchi Muyo and Captain Tylor were fun, especially whenever they broke the fourth wall for the audience as it were. Likewise, the serious mech show elements were decently presented. The initial scenes on Mars are reminiscent of Blue Comet SPT Layzner, and there are a couple nods to the idol singer / robot anime combos such as Macross and Megazone 23. On the sci-fi front, it’s also interesting to see a new concept of warp travel called ‘boson jumps’ (which send objects from place to place unharmed but often have devastating effects on unprotected humans.)
The thing is though sometimes the pacing between these story aspects gets a little jumbled up and it’s hard to keep focus. Sometimes a little too much time is spent on comedy where character or situational development would’ve served better so that when the end came, there would be a bit more impact. Also it was a tad irritating to see every other female chase after Akino, though the resolution does help to deal with this as well.

However, there’s the theatrical movie included in this set entitled Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness, which takes the story in a somewhat odd direction. It’s a few years later and Ruri is now commander of the Nadesico since Akito and Yurika are both presumed dead. There’s been a tenuous peace for a while but an unusual number of Boson jumps near the space colony known as Almetarasu become cause for an investigation, as the United Earth Forces have something called The Hisalgo Plan taking place there. Nadesico arrives and soon after all the computers on the colony start to go haywire, with a simple word appearing ominously on the screens: ‘Otika.’ Ruri instantly understands that an attack is impending and that a familiar face may become involved.
Soon enough, Jovian ships appear and a battle takes place, with the colony being defended by Aestivalis pilots (a couple of whom are familiar) while the Nadesico crew evacuates the civilians and the wounded. However, a mysterious black mecha batters its way to the heart of the colony and the truth of The Hisalgo Plan is revealed, indicating the story has taken a very harsh turn.

Tatsuo Sato took total writing and directing duties for this one. The look of the film is pure beauty for late 90s work. Most of the battle scenes have good motion and decent detail. Also, once again with the remastering work here, the shininess of the artwork is very bold with crisp colors. The story though (while retaining some of the quirks from the TV series) is a bit of a downer and the last parts can leave the viewer with a feeling of ‘That’s it?” The ending has a bit of uncertainty to it that didn’t occur at the conclusion of the TV series and given the length of time since this movie was produced, it doesn’t look like we’ll get resolution any time soon.

It is nice to have the movie as part of a complete set though; almost as nice as having the special OAV Gekiganger 3 included as well. It was never included in the previous releases of Martian Successor Nadesico, so seeing it in the U.S. officially is a real treat, for both fans of this series and fans of 70s super robot shows by Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa. The OAV covers much of what the Nadesico characters were watching. It’s about as long as a TV episode, but captures the nuances of works like Mazinger Z, Getter Robo and (in one respect) Gatchaman so the running time doesn’t drag the jokes on. Writer Yuchiro Oguro and character designer Makoto Konoe retain every aspect which made this genre so much fun to watch as kids and parody as adults, with wild hairstyles, dramatic sketch lines and burning passion needed to get those shows on the air (and toy robots into kids’ hands.)

Although, there were none for the Gekiganger OAV, the American voices taken from the original ADV Films recordings were pretty decent to listen to, though there was a lot of yelling throughout the show and sometimes subtlety would’ve worked better. Then again, this was how the Japanese seiyuu did their performances so it’s more of a preference than any real complaint here. Spike Spencer and Jennifer K. Earhart play off each other well as Akito and Yurika respectively and Kira Vincent-Davis brings out Ruri’s subdued tendencies without making totally deadpan, so there’s no real issues here.

In Summary:
As a whole, this is one of the best collections I’ve come across in a good while and easily a candidate for purchase of the year. I personally hadn’t seen this series in full until now and was able to enjoy it for the most part. With this much effort put in for the money, it was obviously a labor of love by Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainent, and it’s one I’m happy to recommend. If you’re a collector of old school anime or just feel a need to upgrade from the ADV Films release, this new set of Martian Sucessor Nadesico DVDs is definitely the one to grab.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Several interviews with voice actors and staff, “Welcome to Belle Equipe” featurette (45-minute documentary on the TV series, its music, and its staff); “Nadesico Sorekara” special (25-minute special with footae from the Nadesico Roadshow, as well as voice actor interviews and promo clips for the film); clean opening and ending for the TV series; TV spots; movie promotional video; movie trailers; music video for the movie featuring Yumi Matsuzawa; and Nozomi Entertainment trailers.

Content Grade:
TV series: A-
Prince of Darkness movie: B-
Gekiganger 3 OAV: A

Overall content grade: A-

Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: A+

Released By: Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: September 04, 2012
MSRP: $59.99
Running Time: 740 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Review Equipment:
Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Marantz stereo receiver

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