Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A++
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: F
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Bandai Visual
- MSRP: 6000¥
- Running time: 87
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Agent Aika
Aika Collection 1
August 25, 2000
Release Date: August 25, 2000
Aika Collection 1
What They Say
© Bandai Visual
A sexy kind of anime ''AlKa'' is out on DVD. Contains episodes 1-3. Only the first-pressing edition carries a pinup of AlKa, and comes in a clear sleeve. Carries an ''AlKa sexy chapter''(?). The Review!
(Note that this is more of a DVD content review than an attempt to summarize the story. There are numerous very informative websites on the 'net for those of you interested in the latter; my personal recommendation would be The AIKa Homepage.)
The AIKa OVA series, which was produced in 1997, has already been released in Japan as individual episodes on LD and VHS. This DVD Collection contains, on one dual-layered disc, the first three episodes at approximately 27 minutes apiece: "Trial 1: Beautiful Agent," "Trial 2: Naked Mission," and "Trial 3: Take Off Position." The entire series comprises 7 "Trial" episodes and one "Special" episode; at this writing, no DVD release date has been given by Bandai for the subsequent episodes. U.S. Manga Corps currently owns the U.S. distribution rights to this series, and has released subbed and dubbed VHS tapes of the first 4 episodes (which form the first story arc).
Being a Bandai disc, there are no surprises here. The video is clean and undistorted, with sharp lines and clear and vibrant colours. Viewers sensitive to the "white fuzz" problem seen in other releases like Evangelion and Battle Athletes will be pleased to know the scene transitions here are flawless. However, I did detect a very slight hint of graininess in the overall picture, but this is evident only upon very close examination of the video.
The audio format is plain vanilla Dolby Digital 2.0. It is clean and undistorted, with adequate directionality and surround effects evident during the more complex scenes. Despite the lack of a separate low frequency effects channel, the explosions and rumblings during the action sequences did give the subwoofer a fairly decent workout. A remixed DD5.1 soundtrack would have been a nice bonus for the DVD release, but I'm not complaining.
The background music struck me as being extremely similar to that in "You-Gen-Kai-Sya" (aka "Phantom Quest Corporation"). A quick trip to the LD cabinet confirmed that the same composer, Junichi Kanezaki, worked on the BGM for both series. While most of the action music is of your generic jazzy, horn-heavy variety, some of the quieter jazz quartet-style numbers are actually very good, and wouldn't sound out of place being played on a jazz radio station.
Special mention must be given to the physical packaging: the DVD and its printed extras are contained in a standard Amaray keepcase which slides into a transparent slipcase for storage. With the slipcase on, the cover art shows Aika and Rion both reasonably clothed. With the slipcase removed, both are revealed to be in just their undergarments. Their clothes are just printed on the slipcase. Very creative!
The liner on the rear of the keepcase has synopses of, and panty-laden screenshots from, each of the three episodes. Oddly enough, the title of the first episode is printed in Japanese while the second and third titles are in English.
The main menu is minimalist, straightforward and functional, with no music or animation. The clothed version of the cover art forms the "wallpaper" for the main menu, from where you can either choose to start the individual episodes immediately, or navigate to a chapter selection sub-menu for each of the episodes. There are between 14 and 16 chapter stops per episode, so finding your favourite panty shot on the disc should not be a problem. There are no language, subtitle or audio format choices; it's about as basic a menu as you can get.
One odd thing I did notice was that the main menu did not appear when I played the disc on my PC (equipped with a Toshiba SD-M1212 DVD-ROM drive and ATI DVD Player 3.1 software). The menu screen would remain black, but I could still "blindly" navigate with the mouse and select options within the menu.
Aside from the usual Bandai trailers tacked on after the last episode, there are absolutely no extras on the disc. No creditless opening/closing sequences, no image galleries, no interviews with cast and crew, no music videos, no outtakes? nothing! One can hope that this dearth of extras will be rectified in subsequent discs of the series.
Main Cast (family name first):
Sumeragi Aika Sakuma Rei
Aida Rion Konishi Hiroko
Aida Gozo Ohtsuka Akio
Gasuto Kosugi Juurouta
Bandora Kyouda Hisako
Meipia Tamagawa Sakiko
Hagen Shiozawa Kaneto
Neena Tanaka Atsuko
Bandai Logo Itself
It is the year 2036. 20 years have passed since a natural catastrophe of global proportions caused over 10% of the world's land masses (including most of Japan) to sink beneath the ocean. With much of world's valuable treasures, artifacts and documents now submerged, a new profession has arisen: The Salvager, who, for the right price, will descend to the sunken cities to retrieve whatever the client requests. Aika Sumeragi, an accomplished fighter pilot and martial arts expert, works as a Salvager (reputedly one of the best in the business) for the KK Corporation headed by Gozo Aida. While on assignment for a client to retrieve information about a mysterious power source known as Lagu, Aika and her perennially perky sidekick Rion (who is Gozo's daughter) are confronted by the lethal all-female Delmo army, led by a charismatic man named Hagen and his sadistic and insane sister Neena. Both of them will stop at nothing to acquire the power of Lagu for themselves in order to put into motion their nefarious plans.
The animation quality is actually rather decent for an OVA series. Action sequences are fluid and the mecha are rendered with a believable amount of detail. For example, the fighter jet that Aika pilots is recognizable as a two-seat trainer variant of the venerable Russian Mig-21 "Fishbed" fighter (albeit with VTOL capability!). I did not notice the use of CGI in the three episodes. The character designs by Yamauchi Noriyasu are very pleasing and easy on the eyes, with obvious attention given to anatomically correct proportions for the multitudinous female characters.
The Panty Shots
The most publicized aspect of AIKa is, without doubt, the fan service in the form of panty shots. While other animes might sneak in a panty shot or two, AIKa literally smothers the viewer with a visual barrage of panties at every conceivable opportunity. Very creative (and mostly low-slung) "camera" angles and a wardrobe of skirts ranging in size from "mini" to "why bother?" are used to ensure that the ubiquitous cotton undergarment is visible on the fannies of as many female characters in as many scenes as directorially possible.
Just for kicks (and to prove a point), I sat down and counted the number of panty shots in the first episode, using a calculator set in the "one-plus-plus" mode to act as a crude manual counter. After about an hour, and many pauses for the numerous scenes that contained multiple panty shots, the task was done. Including the 6 and 2 that were in the opening and closing credits respectively, I counted a total of 122 panty shots in the first episode.
That's right, 122 in a space of just under 27 minutes. And they were mostly white. If I have time, I might do a count for episodes 2 and 3, but I think you get the point.
At ¥6000 for 87 minutes of video, the AIKa DVD Collection Vol. 1 must rank as one of the better R2 anime DVD values. Add to that the clever packaging, intriguing story, gorgeous character designs and first-rate production values, and you have a product that's hard to resist. I was extremely tempted to get the AIKa LDs when they were released in Japan a few years back, but I'm glad I waited. Now I can hardly wait for the rest of the series to be released on DVD.
Did I mention you also get literally hundreds of panty shots for that one low price?
Japanese Language,Trailers,Transparent plastic slipcase,6-page insert with cast-and-crew information and cover and liner art from the LD and VHS versions of the first three individually released episodes,Mini-poster
Calibrated 27" Sony KV27V55 television monitor, Apex AD600A "region-free" DVD player, Toshiba SD-M1212 DVD-ROM drive with ATI DVD Player version 3.10, Casio non-scientific calculator