When people think of what mecha anime defined the 90s, usually Neon Genesis Evangelion tops their list and maybe Mobile Suit Gundam WIng is second. In Japan though, while Eva does also reign triumphant, there was another 90s mecha show that any old school otaku worth their pocky remembers; Martian Successor Nadesico.
This show had it all! A charming cast of hot-blooded characters, a wild plot with crazy twists and turns, and even had a whole anime within an anime thing that made the show increasingly meta as it went on.
Martian Successor Nadesico is a delight and the idea of its new fans not getting to experience this gem hurts us. A remarkable work of science fiction that lightly satires the tropes while more than holding its own as a tv series. A favorite of the anime fans of yesteryear, Check it out if you haven’t seen it.
Why Was Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture – Prince of Darkness So Controversial?
Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture – Prince of Darkness flat out befuddled fans back when it came out. To this day, it’s a love it or hate it film for fans with no one thinking in between. Without giving too much away, the movie takes place a few years after the series ends and makes Ruri the main character.
You’re not really sure what’s happened but it’s clear a lot’s changed and you’re just thrown into this new normal. Plus, a lot of the more jovial, light hearted aspects of the series have been stripped out,with the creators instead opting for something more serious. In our opinion though? It works and is successfully a subversive take on the show, instead of just being darker for the hell of it.
A Season 2 That Never Was
You’d only have to watch Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture – Prince Of Darkness to know that the film probably was not intended to be the final piece in the Nadesico saga. It begins at a weird point well after the show you’d need to have played a Sega Saturn game to know that details about and ends with an armful of loose ends. Indeed, a season 2 of Nadesico was seemingly in discussion at one point but it wasn’t meant to be.
Years ago director Tatsuo Sato made a cryptic blogpost on his personal website after season 2 of a different show also animated at Xebec, Stellvia, was openly cancelled.
Without giving much details he talked about that show’s cancellation and added any potential season 2 of Nadesico would never materialize from then on. Lots of the actual details happened behind the scenes with Sato and Xebec, but needless to say we never got a second season of either show. He did work with Xebec again years later on the show Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne.
Our Favorite Characters Onboard The Nadesico
Both the show Martian Successor Nadesico and the titular ship The Nadesico share an incredible cast of characters that make for a ton of fun episode to episode.The cast’s rather large, and for added measure you have a good mix of young aspiring pilots and adults to keep them in check. Each character has their own quirks and charms, with the crew’s variety being one of the strongest aspects of the show. You’ll want to get to know all of them, but here are the biggest names.
With a shortage of trained soldiers out there, the earth military has resorted to employing some zany characters.
Our main protagonist and as an added bonus, if you watch the show’s decidedly better than average English dub, he shares the same (original) VA as Shinji Ikari in Spike Spencer.
Akito’s an earth boy who originally comes on board the Nadesico to be a simple cook, but due to a shortage of willing soldiers, he quickly becomes the ace pilot of his own Aestevalis mech. He’s not as whiney nor is he as edgy as some previously mentioned and voiced by the same actor mech pilots out there, but he has his moments.
Yurika’s rather young to be the captain of a space warship, but that just show’s how talented she is. You wouldn’t know it when she’s not doing her job though, as outside of work she’s something of an airhead and a loud personality. She grows fond of Akito a little too quickly, and you want to root for her because she’s nice but she comes on a little too strong, sometimes.
Often to the ire of the nefarious Admiral Munetake, she forces the Mobile Battleship Nadesico to engage with her every whim whether its one of military excellence or teenage rebellion.
The fan favorite, Ruri Hoshino’s the closest the series gets to having a Rei Ayanami.She’s quiet and she’s extremely talented,but unlike her Evangelion inspiration she excels at classic deadpan zingers. Also like Rei, she has something of an unconventional past that rears its head throughout the series. All these on paper comparisons stated, in execution she’s a completely different equally charming character who you could call the soul of the series.
Gai. If we had to compare him too, he’s a proto Kamima from Gurren Lagann. He embodies healthy masculinity and bonds with Akito over a shared love of the old Gekigengar anime. If Ruri’s the soul of the series, Gai’s the heart.
He leaves an incredible impression early on, one that sticks with you and Akito throughout the show’s entire run. Out of the entire crew of the Nadesico, Gai probably has the biggest heart and the purest desires.
The unofficial leader of a group of three mech pilot girls also working for the Nadesico, Ryoko’s an ace fighter with a fiery personality. A refuge from a colony destroyed by the enemy Jovians, she has a personal vendetta in this war and might be the most dependable single member of the battalion. That’s assuming, of course, her feelings for a certain new pilot don’t get in the way.
Martian Successor Nadesico is known for, among other things, its somewhat satirical and softly meta elements. Communications officer Megumi Reinard is emblematic of the show’s nature to have fun with itself when given the chance. Before joining the military she was an anime voice actress, and knowing that is the fact that she shares a name with two of the most prominent voice actresses of the 90s (Megumi Ogata and Megumi Hayashibara) a coincidence?
Fressange is something of a scientist working onboard the Nadesico, who knows a surprising amount about ‘Boson Jumping’ and its related technologies. A bit older than the main cast of characters, she’s one of the few people in the ship who comes across as an actual adult with a more nuanced perspective on war. WIthout getting too deep into spoiler territory, she has one of the most poignant backstories and characters arcs in the show.
An enemy race from Jupiter, the Jovians lizards are the group opposing humanity in this interstellar war. At the beginning of the season at least, nobody knows exactly what they look like or what their motives are but they definitely have some vendetta against the earth. As the show goes on though, and stop us if you’ve heard this one before, not everything is as it appears.
The Anime Within The Anime
Every so often, an anime series will play the meta angle by featuring an in universe anime with the real life anime we can watch with our eyes like Genshiken’s Kujibiki Unbalance which eventually got turned into a real show. Martian Successor Nadesico does this meta particularly well with its Mazinger, and other super robot anime of the 70s, parody called Gekiganger III.
While one OVA episode of Gekiganger was actually made, it’s the way the in show becomes incorporated into the overall plot of Nadesico and specifically in regards to the Jovian Lizards that makes it especially clever and novel.
Where can you watch Martian Successor Nadesico episodes?
Right now, you have two safe bets if you want to watch this incredible 90s classic. Of course, there’s the old fashioned ‘buying the darn thing’ with the series, complete with the movie and the Gekiganger OVA, available on Blu-Ray via Nozomi Entertainment.
Thankfully though you won’t have to go through the trouble of purchasing it to watch it, at least right now. If you’re curious, all 26 episodes of this classic anime series are currently streaming on Crunchyroll. That means if you have a Crunchyroll membership, you’re good to go.
We recommend firing this one up as soon as possible. Right now would be best if you could.