In addition to watching Figure 17, I am also re-watching Martian Successor Nadesico. Actually, I'm not even sure if that's an accurate title. I mean, the show refers to itself as Kidou Senkan Nadeshiko, which suggests High Mobility Battleship Nadesico is the more proper title. But is Martian Successor Nadesico a name ADV slapped on, or is it an official English title like how Gainax uses Neon Genesis Evangelion for Shin Seiki Evangelion instead of New Century Gospel?
But I digress.
I'm re-watching Nadesico because it smartly hits the space opera, harem comedy, and parody trifecta so well I'm dumbfounded I don't re-watch it more often. I'm also dumbfounded that I don't re-watch it more often because Nadesico is really good.
As a space opera, it posits the viability of fighting enemy aliens with a corporately-owned, civilian-crewed high mobility battleship. Nergal Heavy Industries has its own goals in offering the Nadesico to the military, but she is still successful in her purported tasks thanks to her advanced weaponry and talented crew. This is no small achievement since Nergal is more Mitsubishi than it is Mithril.
As a harem comedy, it features a reluctant male protagonist managing advances from a flock of eager girls, including his commanding officer nee childhood friend. Like most harem comedy leads, Akito doesn't know what to do with his suitors. He certainly does not take the obvious route (read: trophy-fucking them all), but at least he doesn't act like they all have terminal cooties.
As parody, Nadesico is masterful. Its use of parody is respectful to the source material while remaining clever and amusing. It treats anime idioms with affection while gently making fun of them. And God help me, I love parody in anime.
If you're unfamiliar with the series of screenshots chosen for this entry, they are taken from the end credits which are themselves a tribute to Yurika, just as the end credits of Macross 7 are a tribute to Mylene. Yurika is notable for being the debut role of the very accomplished Kuwashima Houko, who also sings the Nadesico ED. Yurika is also a genius, which we don't notice especially often, as her genius often manifest itself subtly, sometimes in the show's unexpectedly crueler moments.