Sixteen years have passed since a mysterious alien ship crashed on Earth. Graviton City, once leveled by the ship's crash, is now a bustling metropolis. Within the city's high school, superhuman high school student A-Ko Magami dukes it out with the diabolical genius B-Ko Daitokuji, who will stop at nothing to win the friendship of A-Ko's buddy C-Ko Kotobuki. Meanwhile, in outer space, another alien ship is on course towards Earth to find its planet's lost princess.
Time to review a true blast from the ancient past!
Project A-KO came out in 1986. It was originally supposed to be part of an early hentai anthology called "Cream Lemon" that started in 1984 with "Lolita: the anime". Wow! If you thought Alan Moore's response to Watchmen the movie was bad, Vladimir Nabokov's response to the first Loli anime would have been on a different league of anger. He might have even gone full Super Slav in sheer rage.
Anyways, A-KO was changed at the last moment to be a zany spoof of all the popular anime of the time. However, the nudity and lesbian
relationships were still left in...because why not? A-Ko spoofs Fist of the North Star, Space Battleship Yamato, Captain Harlock, and many others. Despite being a very goofy and frankly idiotic anime, it left a massive impact on comedy anime for years to come. The whole scene with the schoolgirl running with toast in her mouth has actually become a cliche at this point! That's how many anime ripped off A-KO!
Reception in the West:
Generation X: Loved it
Generation Y or "Millenials": indifferent
Generation Z: What the FUCK is this old piece of shit?!!
Story and characters:
The main characters are the energetic and super powered A-ko, the devious robot inventor B-ko, and the incredibly obnoxious C-ko. To get this out of the way, the suffix Ko is often attached to female characters. The names A-ko, B-ko, C-ko is animator shorthand for unnamed background characters. This was one of the first inside jokes in anime history aimed squarely at fellow anime workers.
The plot is that A-Ko and C-ko must constantly try get to school on time while fighting the robots that B-ko makes each morning. B-ko is the class bully, token rich kid, and also a lesbian who is after C-ko. One day, aliens invade the city to retrieve their long lost princess, who turns out to be C-ko. This means A-ko and B-ko must put aside their rivalry to defeat the aliens and rescue C-ko. The status quo is quickly restored and A-ko is revealed to be the daughter of Superman. The End.
Fairly decent for its time. Really nothing spectacular today although it helps if you are a nostalgic sucker for all hand drawn animation.
Music and sound:
The English dub I watched was representative of other Central Park Media titles, which is to say pretty bad. The music is ok, but nothing great.
Project A-ko was a monumentally influential anime in its day despite its odd beginnings. It set the standard for spoof anime and its influence can be seen in Excel Saga, Kill la Kill, FLCL, Gintama, and many more. Despite this, A-ko hasn't aged particularly well in my opinion. Most young anime fans wouldn't even understand what shows A-ko was trying to spoof. The comedy that worked for A-ko has been beaten to death by later anime. The random nudity isn't as titillating and awesome as it was in 1986, because nudity is FAR more common in anime these days. It is an interesting series from a historical perspective, but I really wouldn't rank it as one of the funniest anime I've ever seen. I recommend this one only to anime fans very interested in the history of the medium.
Ah Project A-ko! This was one of the first anime movies I ever rented on VHS from Blockbuster, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. (man I feel old) And while it may not have aged well at all, it may still be worth a peek for some, if nothing else to laugh at its content.
If you are unfamiliar with this old time franchise, it can best be described as very exaggerated and over the top! Well in this OVA movie earth is living a peaceful life after many years of war with an old alien race, until a mysterious "new" alien race threatens it!
Now earths only hope comes in the way of 16 year old A-ko, she is no ordinary girl though--for she has super human strength (literally). When the new alien force arrives it is up to her to save the city. This is where things really get weird too, the alien force consists of males that dress in female clothing! Now I would like to think they are simply cross dressers, but since one is overly muscular and the other is very scrawny looking--it would appear to simply be part of the humor. What follows is non-stop over the top action and comedy. The main plot is never really explained very well, for one thing we never even really know just why A-ko has these super powers to begin with. She just sort of...does! There are a few bits and piece of echhi style humor in the story, nothing really to over the top though, mostly consisting of a brief panty or cleave shot every now and then. Again, very brief though. You get some decent action scenes and explosions that come with it, but nothing is ever handled with any sort of fury in mind. As the main plot to this series is "action style comedy." So even the fight scenes themselves can be down right cheesy at times. Along with the alien force, A-ko must also handle her rival "B-ko, " who is trying to take her best friend "C-ko" away from here. (Again with the whole corny humor, only this time with the alphabet) When watching this show you simply have to know what to expect, and thus be in the mood for its content. If you like your action over the top and not taken seriously, then you’ll love this movie. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that all the action scenes are goofy, because you do get a few good action scenes here. Its just that a majority of them take a more comical style of approach, or do indeed end in one.
Depending if you get the edited version or not, there is a brief scene at the beginning that shows A-ko topless. It is very brief and never happens again, but just be aware of that fact.
Side Note: The project A-ko series comes in the form of 5 OVA style movies. However they don't always follow the same linear plot line. As some of the titles have the characters in different situations, some of which they are complete strangers to one another. Think of it as an alternate realty of sorts. (for the record, this is the first one)
Well 1986 was a pretty long time go, so don’t expect to see the most sharpest of special effects. This again is another one of those titles that you have to take its quality upon its production year. Meaning that this OVA looked great for its time. Nice explosion affects, somewhat unique style facial expressions and character design. Which I have to say was pretty popular in this era. The background can be pretty lifeless at times, but never really come off as bad.
Well you get quite a bit of 80’s style pop in this title, if you’re not a fan of that to begin with then you might want to put the sound low when viewing this. Its not really bad or anything, it just doesn’t give off any kind of distinctness to it. Sadly I have only watched the dub to this anime, since back then only dub VHS versions were available at video stores. I didn’t really like it at all, the English voice actors sounded too weak, and you could tell that they were simply saying lines from a script. I would like to think the the sub version is better, but it may be pretty weak in the audio clarity department, since this was made a long time ago. (other titles such as Sailor Moon suffered from the same thing back then)
They are by no means awful, just pretty shallow as a whole. They don’t really have a certain depth-ness to them, and are not really explained very well. We never really get to know just who A-ko really is, or any kind of history behind her. Most are simply thrown into the show in attempts to make you laugh. Which to the series credit, is what its really all about. Though in truth we do get a little bit more info on "B-ko" than anyone else, which explains who she is over all, and what she is after.
Bottom Line: 6/10
Project A-ko might be too cheesy and over the top for newer viewers out there. But if you’re interested in its content I mentioned then by all means you should take a look. The OVAs are only about and hours worth, and may draw some people into the older generation of anime. While its not really a solid watch compared to other titles in this era, its also not really a bad one either. So long as you can appreciate its whole campy style of content.
Among the Western fanbase of Japanese cartoons, there is apparently quite a lot of people who like the film Project A-ko. This is probably due to the fact that it was released at a time where most localized anime geared for adults was rather mature and gritty (think Evangelion or Cowboy Bebop,) while this was more immature and lighthearted. Regardless of why other people like it, I did not enjoy it; finding it to be rather boring and uninspiring.
There's nothing particularly good about the story or plot, but that's forgivable seeing how this is a comedy. It's about three highschool girls, A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko,
(literally “Girl A,” Girl B,” and “Girl C.”) A-Ko and C-ko are best friends–the former of which happens to have super strength and speed. B-ko is A-ko's rival from kindergarten, and has a crush on C-ko, and thus uses her mad scientists skills to constantly challenge A-ko in an attempt to win C-ko's heart. There's also an alien invasion later on.
The biggest problem with this film is that more often than not, it's unfunny and doesn't deliver as a comedy. Supposedly there is a fist full of references parodying various anime from the 1980s, and a large portion of the comedy relies on these references. If this is true, than that would explain why I didn't really find Project A-ko to be very enjoyable. As far as Japanese cartoons go, I'm not exactly well cultured when it comes to anything prior to the '90s, so most of these references were invisible to me. I did catch the jibe they made at Fist of the North Star, which I found pretty hilarious–so had I been able to understand all the other references, maybe I would have liked this more. I doubt it would have much of a difference however.
Perhaps it's not the best idea for me to criticize for not "understanding" it, but I can at least say this: comedies that rely on parodying other stories tend to not age well. As time passes, less and less people will be able to appreciate the work, until eventually only a niche group of people will be able to truly appreciate it. Some more time later and maybe no one will understand it–which is actually kind of depressing, but hey, that's how it is.
As I said, the story and plot is nothing special, and this in part due to the fact that all of the characters are rather shallow and uninteresting. B-ko is your typical one-dimensional villain/rival, who really wants nothing more but to kill A-ko and win the heart of C-ko–which was probably supposed to be funny, but wasn't. C-ko in particular is rather annoying and unlikable, as all she ever does is act like some sort of seven year old, and cries whenever someone calls her out for being a cloudcukoolander. Which again, was probably supposed to be funny, but wasn't. A-ko would be the best of the characters, but only because there's nothing particularly good or bad about her.
The only thing about Project-Ako that's consistently good would be the huge action sequence in the final thirty minutes of the film. It starts with A-ko and B-ko's final duel, and than sort of escalates once the city is attacked by aliens. It's ridiculous and exciting, and actually pretty enjoyable. One scene that stand outs is when A-ko ascends to the floating alien spaceship by hopping on and off missiles that are being shot in her direction.
Since Project A-ko is considered to be one of the classics, you might want to watch it anyways–just don't except anything to be enjoyable apart from the action sequences.
Stupid but somehow lovable. Space transvestites, great blink-and-you'll-miss-it animation, bad synthpop, and giant robots every 10 minutes FOR NO REASON. At a brisk 80 minutes, it just flies by and is a lot of fun. As a child of the 80s, everything about how this movie looks and sounds just resonates with me.
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