Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Excel Saga Volume 17

By Rikdo Koshi. Released in Japan by Shonen Gahosha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young King OURS. Released in North America by Viz.

It's another volume of Excel Saga, and Teriha still hasn't recovered her memories. She's clearly still influenced by them, though, as she tells Umi that she has to get a part-time job to help pay for expenses, as she feels a distressing need to work and get cash. She actually proves to be fairly good at waitressing, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise given that she no longer has the hyperactive destruction personality of old. The cafe she works at is not only more otaku mockery, but also features a character who's a lookee likee of Karin Kanzuki from Street Fighter.

We do get two chapters which feature her amnesia, and attempts to reverse it, prominently. In the first, she's kidnapped by goons, who mistake her for "President Excel" of ILL - a place, of course, currently being held by RopponExcel. There's no bounty coming from ILL, who look over at their own Excel and reason she hasn't been kidnapped. So it's Ropponmatsu II to the rescue! Yes, Shiouji has finally managed to activate her, though she's a lot more robot-like and less genki than she was before.

The second chapter, and one of the best parts of the book, is her dream sequence after reading about "President Excel" in a magazine. Teriha knows the name is important, but not why. She then has a dream where the sound and picture keeps flickering in and out of focus, featuring Elgala and Hyatt (whose names she doesn't remember); Shiouji, Umi, and her new life; Menchi (who is terrified of her, which makes Teriha sad); and finally a loud, obnoxious blonde with a long braid. "Who is she? So loud... and violent. She's intimidating... but... it feels like I've always known her." And then, finally, we see Il Palazzo, whose face is black with shadow, crying out "THIS WORLD IS CORRUPT!" and she wakes. Sadly, she still doesn't have her memories, but it's a terrific sequence, and I'd love to see it animated.

Meanwhile, back with our friends at the government, Kabapu is not doing well. In fact, he's pretty much dying. And he keeps getting arrested for fraud and tax evasion. Needless to say, things are looking bad, but then, a miracle! It's the gold bar! Remember the gold bar? For those who don't, this is the gold that Elgala retrieved from her adventure in order to pay back the money she's taken out of an ATM in a drunken stupor. Hyatt then wanted to use it to pay back Watanabe, but never did. When the apartment complex burned down, the bar got stored with other possessions, and they've found it now.

This allows Momochi to gain access to Kabapu's secret bank accounts, and restore his wealth. Now rich and (semi)-powerful again, Kabapu recovers, in a scene that is so awesomely silly and perverse I don't dare spoil it. Carl Horn notes in the Endnotes that it's the volume's finest moment, and he's right. Now the security force can once again fight as AGENTS OF JUSTICE! Yes, it's the return of the sentai suits, only now they come with a naked transformation scene, much to Misaki's horror and outrage. Though, with Kabapu having wealth but not power, and vowing to destroy Il Palazzo by any means necessary, it's quickly pointed out that they are in fact terrorists now.

And like all terrorists, they need a secret base! Of course, Kabapu has forgotten the security codes, meaning they will have to break in. This is easier said than done, especially when one of the people breaking in is Iwata, who's gotten increasingly goonier ever since he got his new robot body. Needless to say, they trigger the self-destruct, which is very difficult to countermand. We are briefly reminded of Misaki's feelings for Iwata when she seriously asks Shiouji if he can do anything, and he (equally serious) apologizes, noting he can't. Iwata demands that Misaki confess her love before he dies. Which she does! Granted, it's in a sort of deadpan monotone, but with Misaki, you take what you can get.

Of course, they don't die. A mysterious person (who is clearly Miwa) stops the self-destruct at the last second, and they now have their base. Because Miwa is no longer using it as her OWN base. I have to say that Miwa is really shaping up to be the true villain of this series, despite her large-breasted come-to-Mommy facade. At the end of this volume, she asks Teriha if she has regained her memories, and notes (staring right at the reader) that getting memories back might not be as pleasant as she thought. Is she talking about herself? Teriha? Excel? We know that the Excel we know and love ALSO has buried and repressed memories...

In any case, now that Kabapu is back in action, the story looks to step up again. Teriha is still Teriha, though, so I think we need a new chew toy for the manga to play with starting in Volume 18. Hrm... Miss Elgala? Are you free?

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