Originally Aired: 1996
Length: 26 TV episodes, 1 Movie, 1 Spinoff OVA
Martian Successor Nadesico was a huge hit right off the bat. Its crew of misfits defy any normalacy to take place, and subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) poke fun at anime fandom. Let’s start off by explaining who’s who of the main cast:
There are more crew members, and while their roles are important, the above cast’s roles primarily define the series.
As you can tell from the character descriptions the Nadesico is staffed by a crew of misfits. Each character is well defined, and their characters are developed over the course of the series. While the crew may be a bunch of misfits, they are dedicated to their cause and hope to end the Earth/Jovian war.
One of the things that drives Nadesico to greatness is the fact that it is more than just the sum of its parts. While the crew make up alone leads to plenty of humorous situations, there are serious storylines entertwined into the plot. For example, at the beginning no one knows who the Jovians are, as they only send mechanized forces to attack Earth and its colonies. As the show progresses the crew of the Nadesico discover the startling secret as to who the Jovians really are. Another example is the crew’s obsession with Gekiganger 3. It starts out mainly with Gai and Akito, but as the series progresses more and more of the cast become obsessed with the show. Later on the ship actually throws a mini anime convention to celebrate Gekiganger 3. All of this sounds like the Gekiganger 3 stuff is there just for laughs, but it’s not. In fact the Jovians know about the show as well, and it plays a huge role in defining them and their actions. Through all of this Nadesico manages to show both the good and bad sides to anime fandom.
Nadesico has something for pretty much everyone. It fails (probably purposefully) to be pigeonholed easily into any genre type. While there are lots of girls chasing after Akito, it’s not a harem show. While there’s lots of mech battles, it’s not a giant robot show. Even though it pokes fun at anime and anime’s fans, it’s not a parody. Even the storytelling is creative, episode 21 takes place non-sequentially, with the story playing out in a series of flashbacks into the past. Along with that, the main crew are playing an illusionary “Memory Mahjongg” because their memories have been linked together. Even here small details are important. Events hinted at in this episode are finally shown for their true significance in the final episode.
In 1998 a movie was released, called “Prince of Darkness”. The movie’s story takes place 5 years after the end of the TV series, and stars a now 16yo Ruri as captain of the Nadesico-B. A lot has changed since the end of the TV series and the movie doesn’t delve into what happened very much. A game was released for the Sega Saturn that covers the events in that missing frame. A single OVA of the show within the show, Gekiganger was produced in 1996 as well.
If you’ve never seen Martian Successor Nadesico you really should try to see it sometime. A lot of in-jokes are commonly used both in the fan community and even other series that originated here. This is one of ADV’s earlier titles and has now been re-released in their value line, you can find the series for around $18 a DVD so it’s a cheap buy too.
Note: Mostly finished, will be adding links to some things later.