Project A-ko Collector’s Series (1986)
Review by Dindrane

Directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima
Original Story by Katsuhiko Nishijima and Kazumi Shirasaka
Screenplay by Katsuhiko Nishijima, Yuji Moriyama, and Tomoko Kawasaki


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Released by: U.S. Manga Corps/Central Park Media
Rating: 13+
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Skip it, unless you like the silliness or just need to see early anime shown respect by the production companies

In the near future, Graviton City has recovered from a meteor striking its center. In the crater, they have built a shining monument to progress and survival. Here lives A-ko, a superpowered teenager and her friend C-ko. At their first day of school, we meet the fantastically wealthy B-ko, who quickly becomes A-ko’s rival for C-ko’s friendship and will use her evil genius to win C-ko at any cost. But that’s not all! Soon a mysterious alien spacecraft arrives, with aliens looking for their lost princess C-ko and determined to recapture her. What will A-ko do?

The plot could be interesting, had they approached it either with more real comedy or alternately with seriousness. As it is, the unintentional lesbian overtones (according to the series creators) overpower any real character development or enjoyment of the coolness that is Graviton City’s look and feel. B-ko’s ridiculous plans to win over C-ko, as well as the goofy revelation of their forgotten, but inevitable shared past, is just silly without being very funny. There’s just plain not enough happening for the first half of this series, and with the jokes thin and few, the experience is pretty pointless overall.

The characters are a mixed bag. A-ko is pretty interesting; she has superpowers, a brain in her head, and a good heart without being too cute for words. Even B-ko, the evil genius, has her moments. C-ko on the other hand, is about the most irritating anime character I’ve ever seen. Her voice in both languages is screechy, high-pitched, and just about devoid of any emotion but whining. Her terminal perky blond cuteness is the only reason we are given why A-ko and B-ko want to fight over her, and frankly, that’s not enough. B-ko’s inept henchmen are just another detail that doesn’t quite work out as hysterically funny as the creators intended.

The extras, on the other hand, are an example of how a truly great DVD release should look. This disc is just packed: trailers, TV commercials, interviews, a comparison of comic to film, videos and more. I can’t tell you what it means to me to have the soundtrack packaged with the disc; if only more titles would do this, I’d die a happy woman. Basically, anything you could want is on here, from the cool fan art contest to the video restoration documentary for the geek in you. There are even a host of DVD-ROM features, including a script and a graphic novel! What a shame it’s all wasted on this mediocre title.

Basically, if you tend to like the films that other people think are silly, like Dude, Where’s My Car or Saved By the Bell, then you will probably like Project A-ko. If, on the other hand, you are easily irritated by screechy voice actors, otherwise intelligent characters fighting over a stupid and troublesome bubblehead, and just plain ridiculous plotting, then give this one a pass. This one became a “classic” in a time when it was almost all the anime we could get...not because it was actually good. Had C-ko been a little less irritating, the aliens a little more competent or at least interesting, B-ko less ridiculous, and the whole thing pitched an octave lower, it would have been a good story. Too bad instead it’s just silly and banal.

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