Hi there! Last Friday's movie was a bit of a downer. It was good, but it left me a little depressed. Luckily, today's review is a goofy, silly, happy, and slightly sexy flick. So, without further words, let's look at the oddball title, and old-school Otaku favorite, Project A-Ko.
Taken from the anidb/wikipedia webpage:
"The plot revolves around Magami Eiko (A-ko), a red-haired teenage girl who just happens to be stronger and faster than anyone else alive. However, A-ko considers herself to be perfectly normal, and worries mostly about getting to school on time. Her best friend is Kotobuki Shiiko (C-ko), a bubbly, carefree, optimistic blonde. The two girls transfer to Graviton High School and catch the attention of Daitokuji Biko (B-ko), a brilliant but spoiled-rotten (and possibly psychotic) classmate with a knack for building mecha in no time flat.
B-ko develops an unexpected crush on the innocent C-ko and is determined to get A-ko out of the picture at any cost. Her determination goes from being merely obsessive to homicidal when she realizes that she and A-ko were rivals back in kindergarten. B-ko creates a series of killer mecha to defeat A-ko before the morning bell rings. All of them are destroyed effortlessly by A-ko. In a final attempt at victory, B-ko makes the fight more personal by donning her infamous "Akagiyama-23" battlesuit and challenging A-ko to a duel, devastating the school and much of Graviton City in the process.
Meanwhile, Earth is being threatened by a massive spaceship piloted by a race of female aliens from the Lepton Kingdom of Alpha-Cygni, who have come to Earth to retrieve their long-lost princess. Oddly enough, the princess turns out to be none other than C-ko; she is kidnapped by an alien operative known as "D" in the middle of A-ko and B-ko's fight and taken aboard the spaceship.
A-ko and B-ko agree to put aside their differences long enough to rescue C-ko, and using the flight capabilities of the Akagiyama-23, they storm the ship."
Despite looking like a deep story, Project A-Ko is really just a highly goofy comedy. There's slapstick, puns, references to other anime titles, silly characters, and oddball humor. It's a story that gives you a background so you can understand what's going on, but it's not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest.
Graviton City is a dual-sided coin. On the one hand, much of the film takes place within a 80s style city. You find all of the typical things within this city, including the school where the girls go to. On the other hand, because of the alien tech that was recovered before the movie starts, there's more of a technological influence, as the military's gear is much more advanced than normal, and some of the places within the city are more modern than normal (For the time, at least). There's even a remnant of the alien ship in the city, in the form of a spire sticking out in the middle.
Project A-Ko has without a doubt, one of the greatest & wackiest cast of characters I've ever seen in a movie. Although the cast is small (There's really only 9 primary characters in the movie, and a tossable grabbag of secondary characters), they bring a lot of personality to the table. There's A-Ko, a girl that tries to lead a normal life, but has a fiery temper, and is incredibly speedy & strong (Due to the fact that her parents are Superman & Wonder Woman......I'll let that sink in). B-Ko is pretty & popular, but she's highly arrogant, and tries to defeat A-Ko at every turn so she can have C-Ko to herself. Meanwhile, C-Ko is hyper, adorable, annoying, and very attached to A-Ko.
We also have B-Ko's groupies/henchwomen (Ume, Ine, Asa and Mari), Captain Napolipolita, and the spy known as D. These characters don't have as much screentime as the ones above, but they're still weird, and they still bring something to the character table.
Project A-Ko's animation has managed to age surprisingly well. All of the characters look great, and considering that the cast is almost all girls/women (You might see a guy from time to time, but this rarely happens), they all range from cute to lovely. When things are slow-paced, they are slow-paced, but when things become faster, they move at a fast & fluid pace (Especially during the action scenes). There are a couple character models that lean heavily towards the hideous side of things, mostly sticking towards the girls that look like men (For anyone who's never seen this, I won't spoil it for you). As for the various backgrounds and locales, they've also aged well, but certain moments seems a little grainy or darker than the rest.
The voice acting in Project A-Ko, for the most part, is serviceable. For the most part at least, all of the characters have good voices behind them. In particular is A-Ko's voice actor Teryl Rothery, whom you might remember for her role as Dr. Janet Fraiser on Stargate SG1. She really brings out the character's cute yet tough aspect quite well. Some of the other voice actors have some pedigree as well: Venus Terzo (B-Ko) voiced Ranma's female form in Ranma, Cathy Weseluck (C-Ko) currently voices Spike the Dragon in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Scott McNeil is best known for his role as Piccolo in Dragonball Z. The voice actors within this movie do a great job with the role they're given, although there are side characters with voices that don't have as much effort put into them, but they're ignorable for the most part.
EPISODES & EPISODE LENGTH
Project A-Ko is another long OVA movie, but nowhere near as long as last Friday's review. This one comes in at an hour and 23 minutes, which is nowhere near as tedious as a near 2 hour movie. If this was going to be as dirty as it was originally intended, then I would say that you should watch this at night, but I'll talk about this more in a little bit. Suffice it to say, this is a nicely-sized movie.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
Although the older edition from the U.S. Manga Corps is tricky but not impossible to locate (You can still find them over on Amazon), it was re-released as recently as May of 2011. I haven't found it in stores, but it's readily available on Amazon, and the pricing is great as well. New copies start out at 11 dollars in price, while the used copies being at the still reasonable 10 dollars & 20 cents. There's also the older VHS release, and while they're cheaper, there's less of them.
Since I downloaded this, I don't know what the extras are.
General Impression & Rating
Project A-Ko is pure liquid fun. This movie is so out there, so funny, and so full of character, it's hard to not like. There is a small problem from time to time, but with the content in the film, the positives heavily outway the problems. If you need a laugh, then pick this up, and prepare to smile.
Project A-Ko gets a 8 to 9 out of 10.
See you all this Wednesday, when we'll look a dark yet intriguing title. Until then, stay Otaku!
* If you'd like to watch the whole series, then click on the link below: