By Rikdo Koshi. Released in Japan by Shonen Gahosha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young King OURS. Released in North America by Viz.
So yes, it's been a few months. I got distracted by other things, and honestly the Teriha storyline is not filled with Excel goodness for obvious reasons. But even a non-Excel Excel Saga volume is still great, so let's look at what's going on here. We have four plot threads that run though this volume...
First, we have the continuing adventures of Kabapu trying to regain his power and prestige. He notes that Il Palazzo is running for Mayor of the prefecture, and immediately announces his own candidacy as well, despite the fact that only a volume ago he was arrested on about 147 fraud and conspiracy charges. Needless to say, the public has a short memory, and the resulting race is actually quite close. Best part of this chapter is the posters each candidate uses to promote themselves, all of which parody various anime movies. Kabapu tells Watanabe and Sumiyoshi to try to sabotage Il Palazzo's campaign somehow. Watanabe, still in his new 'evil' persona, decides the best way to do this is by a car bomb. Sadly, he only takes out Elgala (who's hospitalized) and Hyatt (who's absolutely fine).
Rewrite line of the volume, courtesy Carl Horn, regarding Elgala's opinion of Hyatt's recuperative powers: "What are you, Steel God Jeeg?"
Kabapu wins, surprisingly (possibly as Il Palazzo gives the impression of a 'foreigner'). We don't have time to pay attention to his antics, though, as Elgala, drugged up and with a broken arm and leg, is having fantastic dream sequences. This is the second long dream sequence in 2 volumes, and is far more cracked-out than Teriha's. Elgala is reimagining her own life while parodying The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and we can see that she enjoys making her past memories better in her head, as we see memories of her giving perfect snarky comebacks to Excel (she didn't), or dragging Excel naked through the streets (it was the other way around). Oh yes, and Hyatt hanging out at the forest just before the lands of death, noting that Elgala shouldn't be here as she isn't used to it. All this leads to Elgala coming to a stunning revelation - President Excel is a different person from the Excel she remembers!
Having come to that conclusion, and realizing that she can't pretend to make nice with President Excel due to her bad habit of saying her thoughts out loud, Elgala waits till Excel is away and then goes right to Il Palazzo himself. This is a mistake, naturally, as Il Palazzo is well aware of exactly who President Excel really is. Elgala quickly finds herself transferred to the 5th subbasement, where she does meaningless busywork that then gets shredded, and realizes that she has made a ghastly mistake.
This also contains the sweetest scene in the manga, which features Hyatt. Elgala has told Hyatt about her suspicions, and notes the main difference between the Excels - this impostor is perfect and superhuman. Hyatt is rather puzzled by this, and notes when talking with Menchi (who is terrified at the mere mention of Excel's name) that "Senior Excel has always been a hero since the old days." In a manga where people's allegiances tend to fall into the 'me-first' category, it's lovely to see Hyatt's simple admiration of her best friend.
Next up, Iwata and Misaki go on a date. Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are, and it takes Misaki a while to even realize that's what it is. I like the fact that Misaki has actually progressed to not minding that she's on a date with Iwata when she realizes it - in fact, her main concern is that she has no idea how to behave on a date. We're so used to Misaki being the normal one of the group that we forget that her social skills suck just as badly as the others. On the date they run into Umi and Teriha, and Misaki gets a strange feeling she's seen Teriha somewhere before... but with Teriha's shy, passive personality, Misaki is unable to place her. The date ends badly as Iwata runs out of power - he'd been ignoring all efforts to warn him about it as he was in love Misaki mode - and has to be rescued by Shiouji and Ropponmatsu 2, who is wearing a vaguely pornographic nurse costume.
Shiouji and company then go off to the baths, where we discover that Teriha can't stand being in hot water for more than a few seconds before she completely overheats (Umi notes she has an aversion to water in general), and that Shiouji is still a pedophile no matter how much backstory he's given to explain it. The main final plot, though, is that Ropponmatsu has broken out of Shiouji's base and attached herself to Sumiyoshi. And what's worse, she's accidentally downloaded Sumiyoshi's H-games into her system. So now she's trying to sexually assault him while calling him "big brother". Watanabe just laughs (Sumiyoshi asks what happened to the old, pure Watanabe, to which the response is "Oh, he's dead"), so it's Misaki who comes to help, despite finding Sumiyoshi and Ropponmatsu 2 in a very compromising position. Sadly, Ropponmatsu is SUPER STRONG, so they can't really do anything. Iwata to the rescue! After much breaking of robot neck, and trashing of Sumiyoshi's apartment, peace is restored once more.
I greatly enjoyed this volume while reading it, but can't help but be reminded that this series is still greatly missing its lead character. And we still have at least one more volume of amnesia to go. Still, any Excel Saga is good Excel Saga, and I definitely recommend this to any fans of comedy.