Excel Saga Volume 2

By Rikdo Koshi. Released in Japan by Shonen Gahosha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young King OURS. Released in North America by Viz.

Volume 2 of Excel Saga starts to spin a bit more of its actual plot, though things are still in the beginning stages. (By the way, Viz and Rikdo Koshi have done original cover art for the first 4 volumes of the manga, ostensibly to help them sell. When presumably they didn’t sell, Viz reverted to simply using the original Japanese covers, starting with Volume 5.)


The good news is we meet two more of our main cast in this volume. Dr. Kabapu makes an immediate impression. He looks odd, and he is odd. But he’s also immediately shown to be morally bankrupt, and willing to be an utter jerk for his own ends. If you ask me, he’s more of a villain throughout the series than Il Palazzo is, even though he is ostensibly ‘protecting the city’. (Of course, once Miwa Rengaya shows up, you get the feeling she’ll soon overtake both of them).

And then there’s Misaki Matsuya, who plays the resident ‘sensible’ woman throughout the manga. Rikdo Koshi is not generally above letting anyone, at any time, play the boke or tsukkomi as events warrant, and indeed the liner notes for Volume 2 note that Excel and Hyatt alternate boke and tsukkomi depending on the situation. Likewise, while Watanabe (at first) and Sumiyoshi CAN be sensible and level-headed, it’s Misaki who carries the brunt of whacking idiots and pointing out stupid things. In a manga with as many weirdos and idiots as this one, it’s welcome.

A couple of other things to note about her introduction: we see her briefly with a cute keychain plushie. Misaki’s addiction to cute plushies, besides being a nice break in her otherwise ‘perfect independent and strong woman’ persona, will continue in future volumes. It’s generally a way for Rikdo to make references to other series that are running alongside Excel Saga in Young King OURS. The other thing is that it’s revealed that she and Iwata were classmates in college. He’s far too informal with her, and she beats him constantly for calling her Misaki, with no honorific. Stay tuned for a lot more on these two…

Meanwhile, our heroines are doing what they do best. Working odd jobs, hailing Il Palazzo, making pathetic attempts to take over the city for the glory of ACROSS, and occasionally sniping at each other. That last is somewhat of a surprise, and won’t last; in a volume or two, Hyatt and Excel will have warmed up to each other, and Hyatt will end up being utterly deferential. (Excel’s true sniping partner will arrive in Volume 8.) Amusing gags here include Hyatt’s inability to not steal medicine, couples with Excel’s inability to resist the word ‘conquer’; yet another insane appearance by the Black Jack-esque doctor and his nurse; and Hyatt’s mysterious ability to avoid setting off any mines while walking through a minefield.

This leads us to the two major plot points that will become important over the whole series. The first is Excel’s superhuman endurance and abilities. At first, you think that it might be merely manga exaggeration – this is a comedy, after all. But gradually, as Excel gets blown into the air by mines, drowned in the middle of oceans, and forced to lift unconscious robots, that she’s simply more than a mere insane human.

The other thing that is introduced here is Il Palazzo suffering from what appears to be multiple personalities. There’s voices talking to him in his head yelling at him about enemies, and he sends Excel and Hyatt on missions and then seems to be completely ignorant of what he’s done. This too will be important later on, and was in fact also used in the anime version (though it was taken in a different direction). This is probably a good thing, as Il Palazzo on his own tends to be fairly drab, spouting rhetoric and pulling ropes on trapdoors. An air of mystery adds to his character.

And of course there are endnotes by Carl Horn. I know fans who buy manga sight unseen just for Carl’s notes.

This is a fun, funny manga, with weird wacky situations, and you get the sense that a big confrontation is set up. To be continued!

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