The back cover of volume one of Martian Successor Nadesico proclaims in bold letters, "Love. War. Giant Robots.", which is refreshingly direct. We flipped a coin between this and Crest of the Stars last night.
I know that the traditional description for anime and manga is that it's on crack, but this is on speed, I think, or possibly on both crack and speed. It goes by very fast, so fast that I couldn't tell you most of the characters' names, and often couldn't tell you what they just said. Though it starts out seriously, with the invasion and conquest of Mars, it rapidly reveals itself to be a humorous take on the aforementioned love, war, and giant robots, with more than a bit of scary Japanese id thrown in. (For instance: the father who walks in on his twenty-year-old daughter changing, and thereafter refers to his daughter's giant boobs every time he speaks of her? This is apparently supposed to be funny. Go away, Japanese id, you are scary.)
Anyway, in the 22nd century, Mars and the Moon were overrun by Jovian lizards, and Earth is under siege. The military sucks, so a private company has comissioned the ship of the title and staffed it with a bunch of cute-to-Japanese-anime-fans girls, an overly-dramatic fanboy, and a survivor of the Martian invasion who has a mystery in his past and just wants to be a cook. That's the war and giant robots; for the love, there's an extremely unfortunate romantic subplot involving the ship's captain, who veers wildly between captain-y competence and abject and humiliating pursuit of the wannabe cook.
I do like that the show is commenting on anime tropes by having some of the characters be fans of a classic giant robot anime, though I'm unsure about the way it is commenting (more on that behind the cut). And I'm curious about the Jovians and the mysterious past of the wannabe cook. But the breathless pace, the scary Japanese id, and the really horrible romantic subplot may keep us from getting far in this—I don't know. Anyone who's seen all of it want to comment: no spoilers, please, but general comments on whether it's worth my time?
Oh, one other thing I like: one of the cute-to-Japanese-anime-fans girls can be counted on to say that the overly-dramatic characters are idiots. Chad: "They've written you into the show!"
The death of the fanboy. Either the emotional logic of the show is all wrong, or the show is a lot more subtle than I would expect from everything else about it.
He gets shot by escaping prisoners, who apparently then leave because they're never mentioned again. The wannabe cook identifies this with the moving self-sacrifice in battle of a character in the classic anime, and bursts out at one point that he gave his life to defend the ship and save others, so on and so forth.
Except, well, he didn't. He didn't prevent the escape, he didn't raise the alarm about the escape, he didn't even try to do any of those things. He was shot, he died, the end.
So either we're supposed to buy into the tragic purposeful self-sacrifice, which is stupid because it doesn't match the facts, or the show is deliberately contrasting the way anime portrays death with the "reality," to undercut the anime portrayal.
Which, as I said, would be a level of subtlety that I would not expect given the rest of the evidence.
That all said, I do thank yhlee for loaning us these. Even if we don't keep watching, apparently it's a very popular series and good to at least try.