Anime DVD Review: Martian Successor Nadesico Complete Collection

Martian Successor Nadesico Complete Collection is a seven-disc set released by Nozomi Entertainment that includes all 26 episodes of the television anime series, the Martian Successor Nadesico film, the Gekigangar III OVA, and bonus features. The episodes are available with both the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Martian Successor Nadesico Complete Collection
English Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 11, 2012

The series takes place in 2196, a year after a race of aliens known as the “Jovian Lizards” attacked Earth’s colonies on Mars. Earth is now at war with the aliens, and a company called Nergal designs a battleship known as the ND-001 Nadesico.

The main protagonist of the series is Akito Tenkawa, a young man who had once resided in Mars’ Utopia colony and escaped its destruction. When he escaped, he awakens on Earth with no memory of how he got there; however, he has a fear of the Jovian Lizards. He doesn’t want to fight and dreams of becoming a chef. After a chance encounter with his childhood friend, Yurika Misumaru, he ends up on the Nadesico. Yurika is the ship’s captain. After coming on board, Akito is constantly asked to act as a pilot for an Aestivalis, which is a humanoid combat robot.

While on board the Nadesico, Akito meets Gai Daigoji, who is a rabid otaku of an anime series called Gekigangar III. While Akito was also a fan of the series, he becomes very devoted to it over the course of Martian Successor Nadesico. And Akito also finds that he’s become popular with some of the females on board. Not only does Yurika have a crush on him, but so does communications officer Megumi Reinard and pilot Ryoko Subaru.

There are actually quite a few characters among the crew of the Nadesico, and they all add something important to the mix. Ruri Hoshino is the youngest member of the crew and is responsible for keeping the ship’s computer running. There’s also first officer Jun Aoi, helmswoman Minato Haruka, Mr. Prospector the accountant, mechanic Seiya Uribatake, head chef Howmei, and pilots Izumi Maki and Hikaru Amano. As the series progresses, other characters are added to the mix.

But even with all of these characters, the primary focus falls onto Akito. The series follows him as he changes from the frightened young man who’s forced to pilot a mecha and fight the enemy to someone who’s more decisive and realizes what it is that he needs to do. As part of this development, he meets and interacts with other characters who are introduced during the series. A couple of them even hold a key to the mystery of how Akito managed to escape from Mars. But the biggest shock, not just for Akito, but all of the crew, is the truth behind who the Jovian Lizards are. The Gekigangar III anime series that Akito is always seen watching also plays an important role in the series. I liked the whole “anime within an anime” concept, especially after it becomes clear that the anime within an anime is actually an important part of the main anime’s storyline.

Martian Successor Nadesico has a mix of comedy and drama, but the mixture works well for the story that’s being told in the series. While the characters either fall into character types or may be exaggerated at times, I still came to like them and to care about them. Ruri was one of my favorite characters, and I never got tired of her constantly referring to the rest of the crew as “fools.”

As I watched Martian Successor Nadesico, I found myself recognizing references from some earlier mecha and space opera anime series. I was primarily finding references to Space Battleship Yamato and Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and I believe I even found a couple of references to Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Suit Gundam in this series. When it comes to the Gekigangar III footage that’s seen throughout the series, there are definite references to Super Robot shows, such as Getter Robo, Beast King GoLion, and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. A couple of the names of the characters in Gekigangar III are the same as a couple of the protagonists in Gatchaman, so I wonder if those are supposed to be references as well. As someone who’s familiar with many of the titles that are being referenced, these references really added a lot to what I was seeing. For viewers watching this who may not know the references, they will probably still find some of these scenes to be humorous even without understanding that something particular is being referenced.

The film, Nadesico The Movie: The Prince of Darkness appears on Disc Six. The film is a direct sequel to a videogame titled, Nadesico: The Blank of Three Years. Unfortunately, the film was written in a way where it was assumed that the viewer had played the videogame, so nothing is explained to the viewer as to what happened between the end of the television series and the beginning of the film. Since I’ve never had exposure to the videogame, I found myself feeling very lost during the early part of the film. From reading, it appears that the videogame came out in Japan a month after the film hit theaters, so moviegoers at the time were probably just as confused as I was with the film.

The film is set two years after the end of the television series, and there’s an uneasy peace between the Earth and the Jovian Federation. Akito and Yurika have disappeared and are presumed dead, and an older Ruri is the new captain for the next version of the Nadesico. As part of the story, there ends up being a reunion of most of the characters from the original series because they are needed to help carry out a mission.

In addition to the confusion at the beginning of the movie, I have to say that another major flaw the film has is the fact that it seems to be too short in runtime for what was trying to be accomplished. A little over half the film is spent building up the story, and then during the last 20 minutes or so, the story is rushed through to its conclusion. For me, the movie was not a satisfying viewing experience, and I definitely prefer the television anime series over it. To be honest, I think the story for the movie was big enough that it probably should have been a second television season, except maybe with 12-13 episodes instead of 26. There’s an interesting story being presented, but the film doesn’t do it any justice.

The Gekigangar III OVA sees Akito, Yurika, and a couple of the other characters going to a movie theater to see a Gekigangar III movie. The first bit of the OVA puts together all the pieces of footage of the series that was shown as Akito watched them in Martian Successor Nadesico. The rest of the OVA shows one of the stories from the Gekigangar franchise. This OVA isn’t bad for what it is, but I would recommend watching this in between the Martian Successor Nadesico television series and the movie. Not only does it fit there for the series chronology, but the OVA was released in Japan before the movie was.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, there’s at least one bonus feature on each disc. The first disc contains the Textless Opening and a couple of Nozomi Entertainment trailers, while the second disc contains the Textless Closing and a couple of Nozomi Entertainment trailers. Discs Three through Five just have Nozomi Entertainment trailers on them.

Disc Six includes bonus features that are connected to the Martian Successor Nadesico movie. The first is the music video for “Dearest” by Yumi Matsuzawa, which was the theme song for the film. The song isn’t too bad, although it’s a little on the long side. Unfortunately, the music video is so uninteresting that it makes the song feel longer than it really is. There’s a promotional video for the “Dearest” single, a pre-release trailer for the film, other trailers for the film, and two trailers for Nozomi Entertainment releases.

The majority of the bonus features are on Disc Seven, along with the Gekigangar III OVA. First is a 45 minute extra titled, “Welcome to Belle Equipe,” which was made as a video that was sold in Japan to help promote Martian Successor Nadesico. Unfortunately, this feature ends up feeling very choppy. While it tries to cover a lot of different aspects in regards to the series, it simply jumps around without any real warning that it’s about to switch topics. All I know is that at least it came as part of this set and that I didn’t have to pay extra for it like Japanese fans would have back in the day when this promotional video was originally released on home video.

Next is “Nadesico Sorekara,” which runs for about 22 minutes. It appears that this video was put together to help promote the film some time before it came out in theaters. I say this, because everyone involved keeps mentioning that the film is still early on in production. This video ended up feeling just as choppy as “Welcome to Belle Equipe.” It didn’t help that a live stage event that’s included in here was so obviously edited to the point where it felt really jumpy.

There are also nine Nadesico TV spots included as a bonus feature. For the most part, they contained the exact same footage, but there was some differences in the narration. This feature may have only run for three-and-a-half minutes, but constantly seeing the same footage being shown over and over got tiresome rather quickly. “Other Nadesico Promotional Videos” ran four four minutes, and included ads for CDs, the “Welcome to Belle Equipe” promotional video, home video releases for the series, and CD-ROMs.

“Interviews with Nadesico Cast” wasn’t actually interviews. Instead, it’s a compilation of footage of several of the voice actors that was shot for the Japanese laserdisc releases. Unfortunately, there’s no “Play All” for this feature, so you have to constantly return to the menu if you want to watch more than one voice actor’s footage. There are also two trailers for Nozomi Entertainment properties included on the disc.

Even with some of the issues I had with the movie and with some of the bonus features, I’m still glad I have this box set and have been able to see all of Martian Successor Nadesico. If you’re a fan of the Nadesico franchise and haven’t added the series to your anime home video collection, then this box set from Nozomi Entertainment is worth picking up and adding to your collection.

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