In an underground shelter on Mars, a group of Martian civilians wonder if anything on the surface has been left standing. Akito Tenkawa kindly gives an orange to a little girl named Ai, when suddenly a four-legged Batta robot bursts through a nearby wall. The civilians rush to the exit, but are unable to open it. Akito jumps on a construction vehicle and rams it into the enemy robot to buy time. The civilians finally get the door open, only to find a legion of enemy robots waiting for them. Akito looks back in time to see the civilians engulfed by an explosion. Akito remembers the little girl, Ai, and screams. One year later, the war with the Jovian Lizards has not gone well. Mars is firmly in control of the enemy and the powers that be at Nergal Heavy Industries worries that Earth will fall as well if something is not done. As part of Project Schiaparelli, former military man, Goat Hoary and Nergal accountant, Mr. Prospector, are sent out to recruit crew members for Nergal’s new battleship. Unfortunately, Nergal has put priority on people with extraordinary ability, ignoring the odd quirks that sometimes comes with genius. Their first pick is Seiya, a brilliant mechanic/inventor who spends his time making illegal alterations to robots. He takes the job immediately in order to escape his wife and child. Minato Haruka, formally a presidential secretary takes the job as helmswoman because it sounded interesting. Megumi Reinard, formally an anime voice actress, is selected for the job of communications officer. Ruri Hoshino, a mysterious silver-haired 12-year old girl with extraordinary computational abilities is seemingly purchased from a research institute. Yurika Misumaru, a strategic genius and the daughter of a famous UESF admiral frets about her new uniform as her best friend Jun Aoi waits outside her room. Meanwhile, a battle rages overhead, and at a nearby ramen shop Akito freezes up while making a stir fry. The customers watch in amusement as the annoyed owner explains that Akito is terrified of battles. Akito flashes back to his time in the Martian shelter and screams–before realizing that he’s forgotten to turn off the burner. Later that day, the owner tells Akito that he can’t keep him on staff. There’s a war going on and he worries that his business won’t survive if word gets out that he’s sheltering a yellow pilot. Akito tries to explain that the Image Feedback controller grafted onto the back of his hand isn’t military in nature, but the owner remarks that nobody on Earth has them but pilots. Akito laments that being a cook is all he has. The owner is sympathetic, but tells him that if he keeps running away from his problems he’ll never be able to make anything of himself. Akito leaves on his bike, swearing about being unable to do anything about his fears because his body just freezes up on him. A car suddenly passes him and loses a suitcase, which Akito promptly runs into. The car stops and Yurika emerges, apologizing. Jun complains that she has brought too much luggage, but Yurika remarks that she spend three days picking all this stuff out and it’s all extremely important. Akito absentmindedly helps her repack the errant suitcase. Yurika wonders if they’ve met before, but Akito waves her off. Just as she pulls away, Akito finds a picture frame that she missed, and is shocked to discover that the picture is of himself and his old childhood friend on Mars. Realizing who she is, Akito tears off after the car knowing that she might be able to answer a very important question.
Akito is promptly arrested for making a scene at the front gate of Nergal while trying to find Yurika. Mr. Prospector comes to see him and assumes he is a pilot, based on his Image Feedback controller. Akito denies this, claiming to be a cook. Mr. Prospector checks his file and is shocked to discover that he was a resident of the Mars Utopia Colony. He asks how Akito managed to escape the colony’s destruction, and Akito dejectedly explains that he can’t remember–one moment he was on Mars, and then the next he was on Earth. Mr. Prospector asks him why he’s so desperate to see Yurika, and Akito explains that he knew her and her family on Mars and believes that she might know why his parents were killed. Mr. Prospector takes pity on Akito and offers him a job as assistant cook on the Nadesico–Nergal’s brand new battleship. It won’t be launching for a while, so Mr. Prospector suggests that he take a walk around and get to know the ship. Akito makes his way to the launch deck, where a very excited man has taken control of a giant robot called an Aestivalis Ground Battle Frame and is parading around calling it Gekiganger. Uribatake asks the man what he’s doing here, as their pilots aren’t due to arrive for another three days. The man explains that when he found out that they were going to get to pilot real robots, he simply could not hold himself back. He attempts to perform a special move he refers to as a Gai Super Upper, but crashes back down to the deck. Uribatake opens up the cockpit where a still absolutely thrilled man introduces himself as Gai Daigoji. Uribatake tells him that his file lists his name as Jiro Yamada, but Gai explains that while he may have been born Jiro Yamada, his soul’s name is Gai Daigoji. Gai quickly stands, proclaiming that the evil Jovians will feel his wrath, and suddenly realizes that he has broken his leg rather badly. As Gai is being carried away on a stretcher, he asks Akito to retrieve his precious possession, which he has left in the cockpit. Akito enters the cockpit and finds an action figure of an old super robot–the Gekiganger III. Suddenly, explosions rock the complex. On the bridge, the crew realizes that the Jovians seem to be targeting the Nadesico. A bowl-cutted military man, Admiral Munetake, suggests that they use the Nadesico‘s main cannon to wipe out the invaders, disregarding the fact that they would wipe out the human fighters defending the base. An older, bearded Admiral named Fukube asks Captain Yurika if she has any suggestions. Yurika immediately outlines a plan for the Nadesico to launch through the underwater dock, flanking the enemy. The only problem is that they need a decoy. Gai immediately chimes in, excitedly volunteering to use his robot to lure them inland. Uribatake breaks Gai’s gleeful spirit by reminding him of his badly broken leg. Ruri unenthusiastically informs everyone that a decoy has already taken off. Akito has taken Gai’s Aestivalis in an attempt to escape the battle. The bridge crew opens a channel to him, wondering who he is. Gai screeches that he’s stealing his Gekiganger. Akito identifies himself as the ship’s cook. Upon hearing his name, Yurika finally remembers him. She immediately squeals with delight, identifying Akito as her knight in shining armor, who would always help her out whenever she was in trouble as a kid. She tells him that there’s no way should could allow him to act as a decoy, but since he’s always been so stubborn she’ll have no choice but to allow him to do as he wishes. Akito attempts to protest, but is unable to get a word in edgewise. Yurika entrusts the fate of the ship and her crew to Akito and cuts communication. Ruri pops up to inform him that the elevator is almost at ground level, Megumi wishes him luck, and Gai yells at him to give back his Gekiganger. Akito’s Aestivalis emerges in the middle of a large group of spider-like Gengoro robots. He momentarily freezes before remembering that the Nadesico‘s crew was depending on him, causing him to grab the controls and plow off in the other direction cursing all the way with enemy robots in hot pursuit. Yurika prepares to launch the Nadesico as Akito finally tires of running and turns around, firing the Aestivalis’ fist at a pursuing robot. Akito is a bit excited at this, equating it to a Gekigan Punch. He launches himself at the enemy, enjoying a moment of heroism before remembering the little girl in the Martian bunker. He falls back toward the ocean, only to land on the emerging mobile battleship Nadesico. Yurika fires the Nadesico‘s gravity cannon, effectively wiping out all enemy resistance. Yurika excitedly congratulates Akito, and Akito tells her that he didn’t come her to help her out–but Yurika cuts him off, gushing about him coming all this way just to see her. Akito protests, explaining that he has a question he needs to ask her. Yurika immediately assumes he means to ask her to marry her, which Akito denies. Yurika continues to ignore him and begins to talk about how they’re going to have spend so much more time together before they can go that far. Elsewhere on the bridge, Megumi admits to being a bit worried about the future, but Haruka isn’t too worried, and hopes that it’ll be interesting. Gai continues to yell about getting his Gekiganger back, while Akito once again fails to get a word in edgewise. As far as Ruri is concerned, they’re all fools.
The first episode of Martian Successor Nadesico gets off to a pretty good start. There are a lot of characters to introduce, but the episode doesn’t feel too bogged down with introductions. Our main character, Akito Tenkawa, obviously has some growing to do, as well as some mysteries to uncover–how did he manage to get off Mars and what is this question that he thinks his childhood friend Yurika Misumaru can answer for him? Jiro Yamada (or rather, Gai Daigoji) winds up being the standout character, providing an amusing super robot fanboy foil to Akito’s obvious disinterest in piloting. Balancing comedy and drama can be quite a task, but so far it seems that Nadesico is up to it.