When the United Forces military proves incapable of protecting their settlements on Mars from assault by the Jovian Federation, Nergal Industries steps in with a state-of-the-art civilian battleship and takes the front lines in the war against the “Jovian Lizards.” The ship, they christen the Nadesico, and this anime tells the story of the Nadesico’s ragtag crew. A small fleet of mechs, or robotic battle armor to the uninitiated, feature prominently in the Nadesico’s battle against the Jovians. Numerous crew members aboard the Nadesico, including our protagonist, the chef-turned-mech pilot Akito, obsess over mecha anime not unlike the one in which they star.
That the characters are every bit the anime fanboys and girls many of us viewers are truly sets Nadesico apart from other series and provides for the most badass moments in the series. The 39-episode anime Gekiganger III quickly becomes the anime of choice aboard the Nadesico, and, for reasons I’d rather not say to avoid spoilers, Gekiganger becomes an inspiration to the Nadesico gang in battle, particularly Akito. Certain members of Nadesico’s crew are such big fanboys that they adopt catch-phrases from Gekignager into their communications repertoire when piloting their own mechs. Regardless of their mech’s official title, it’s not uncommon to hear one of the crew shout “Gekiga In!” as they rush into battle or “Gekigan Punch!” as they deliver a devastating uppercut to a foe. Although Gekiganger was created specifically for Nadesico, you can’t help but be inspired by the characters’ affinity for the series to become something of a Gekiganger fanboy yourself, shouting the catchphrases along with them.
Another element of the series that has always fascinated me is its presentation of events to the audience. It’s not uncommon for an episode to open in the middle of a battle after the Nadesico has traversed a vast distance or to pick up after some sort of decisive conflict, the events of which we, the audience, must piece together. As such, information comes to us in the way that it must for soldiers at war: piecemeal, if at all. In this way, I have always felt that the narrative, although assuredly high in fan service, achieves a realism in spite of itself. And this tendency to omit key information is never more apparent than in the transition from the series to the follow-up film, Prince of Darkness. Three years pass for the characters between the series and the film and we’re thrown into their current situation with virtually no exposition. It’s at once completely disorienting and yet totally natural.
On April 4, 2017, Nozomi Entertainment is set to re-release Martian Successor Nadesico: Complete Collection on Blu-ray, which includes high-definition transfers of the complete series along with the feature film, the Gekinganger III OVA, and a slew of special features. The visual presentation of the series in the 2012 remastered DVD set from Nozomi marked a significant improvement over the original DVD release of the series from ADV, yet even in the Nozomi DVDs the lines of the animation exhibited some slight pixellation. Nozomi’s Blu-ray release, while perhaps not as staggering an improvement over their own DVDs as their DVDs had been over ADV’s, offers yet another marked improvement in presentation of the series. The lines are distinctly sharper and cleaner on the Blu-ray release, which offers an overall far crisper image with a greater saturation of color. So if you care at all about image quality, the improved image here makes the upgrade from either of the previous DVD releases to Nozomi’s Blu-ray collection an absolute must for Nadesico fans, as I see it!
As for special features, the half-hour Gekiganger III OVA, stands out first and foremost among the others. The OVA finds Akito and a few other members of the Nadesico crew at a movie theater to see the Gekiganger III movie. The program begins by showcasing all the clips of Gekiganger seen throughout Nadesico and then proceeds with an all-new short movie. Having only ever watched the Nadesico crew watching Gekiganger, it’s an incredible treat to finally have a full Gekiganger narrative of our own! Other special features include a 45-minute documentary about the series, interviews with the voice actors, clean openings and closings, TV spots, trailers, promotional videos, and a music video.