Martian Successor Nadesico (1996-1997)
Directed by Tatsuo Sato

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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In the last decade of the Twenty-Second Century, several years after hostile Jovians destroyed Earth's colonies on Mars, the powerful Nergal corporation sends a spaceship, the Nadesico, to Mars to fight against humanity's enemies. To accomplish such a goal, the executives of this company recruit a group of exceptional if eccentric individuals to serve as the crew of the Nadesico, including Yurika Misumaru, its twenty year old captain, Ruri Hoshino, its incredibly intelligent but very cynical eleven year old science officer, and Akito Tenkawa, a cook and back-up pilot of a giant fighting robot with whom the captain is in love.

Tatsuo Sato's twenty-six part animated television series Martian Successor Nadesico ranges from pleasantly fun to tedious. Although it can be juvenile and is never particularly impressive, it is, more often than not, humorous and exciting enough to keep the viewer engaged.


Many of the series' episodes are amusing, either because they parody other Japanese animated programs or because they contain thrilling adventures or emotive personal struggles. Unfortunately, there are other episodes that are poorly realized, wildly strident, painfully overdone, or even just dull. Few of the characters are especially intriguing. The loosely structured narrative that develops around them is sometimes so amorphous it loses its trajectory, and some of its recurring themes are allowed to wear thin. The romantic pursual of Akito by nearly every female member of the crew, for example, gets tiresome after a few episodes, as does the captain's apparent incompetence and bubbly ditsiness. Even the numerous battles fought between the heroes and the Jovians tend to be fairly repetitious. Most, sadly, are little different from countless other such sequences featuring giant human piloted robots that can be found in innumerable other anime series.

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The director's vision of the future also appears to have been inspired by other animated programs and is rarely indicative of any originality. He has included a few intriguing elements, such as the huge flower-like devices used by the Jovians to transport their ships instantly through space, the identity of the Jovians themselves, and the wonderfully silly basis on which they have built their society, but, more often than not, his future world is pretty forgettable.


Regrettably, the quality of the animation used to bring this universe to life is not consistent. The various technological items with which the program is filled are rendered in considerable detail, and some of the character designs do verge on being appealing. Most of the character designs, however, although not actually ugly, are not especially attractive either. What is more, much of the animation is dull and murky, and numerous scenes consist either of depictions of some unarticulated spaceship or robot moving across the screen or of completely still pictures of human characters.


Although I cannot say that many viewers are likely to be enthralled by Martian Successor Nadesico, there is enough in it that is appealing so that it can be entertaining to watch.

Review by Keith Allen

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