Aika Collection 1 (Mania.com)

Review Date: Friday, August 25, 2000
Release Date: Friday, August 25, 2000



What They Say
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!
Intro

OK, if you don't like fan service, stop reading here, because AIKa is easily the the reigning fan service champion of the world, always teetering on the edge of being H-anime, taunting the viewer, and enjoying it thoroughly! AIKa is best described as a hilarious spoof of the James Bond movies. Secret agents, guns, high tech, a madman supervillian, a plan to destroy the world, and of course, and endless onslaught of scantily clad women and camera angles to take full advantage of their every square inch! One odd note, there's also a hefty amount of tech fan service present as well. Detailed readings of oil pressure, engine RPMs, fuel flow, air mixture, etc. Anyway, on with the review.

Technical Review

The video is simply gorgeous. This is a dual-layered DVD with only 87 minutes of video. Most other DVDs of similar length fit everything into a single layer. Yet AIKa goes with a more costly dual layered DVD. The benefits, though, are worth it. The greater storage capacity allows for a much lower video compression rate, so there is absolutely no trace of any artifacting nor color shifting whatsoever. Colors are very sharp and bright. Bandai has been producing excellent quality DVDs, from Gundam Wing to Cowboy Bebop. And AIKa is no exception. The audio is only a 2 channel stereo track, not unexpected for a short OVA, but is clean and crisp. The menus, though, are nothing spectacular. Just an episode selection list, each followed by a "sexy chapter" option which contains nothing more than a chapter listing for each episode. There are trailers for other anime series following the ending credits on the final episode, but these are not directly selectable from the DVD menu. There are no extras included. The packaging, however, is simply gorgeous. The standard Amaray DVD keepcase comes in a transparent hard plastic sleeve much like the Fushigi Yuugi DVD collection. Aika and Rion's clothes are printed on the sleeve, which when slid off, leaves us with only the first of the great many gratuitous panty shots contained on the DVD within! Tacky, I suppose, but cute and appropriate for this series. The back cover contains brief synopses of the 3 included episodes. Inside is a 6 page booklet with some high quality artwork along with character bios of Aika, Rion, and Gusto as well as some background on the disaster that struck Earth prior to where we join the story. There's also an AIKa "giri giri pinup" photo included. You must tear off the perforated edge to open the card, though.

Content review

Well, well, well... what more can I say? Did I mention the fanservice? There are three episodes on this DVD. I will try to avoid any serious spoilers. As I said, AIKa is a send up of James Bond type spy movies. Don't look for any deep plot. Just sit back, enjoy the ride, and you'll find AIKa to be a hilarious action/comedy that's lots of fun. You will cringe, though, should anyone else walk into the room while you're watching AIKa. And no one will believe you that this is not H-anime. Nonetheless, AIKa is a guilty pleasure to watch.

"Utsukushii (beautiful) Agent" is the first episode and introduces us to most of the cast. After a natural disaster 20 years ago that sunk most of Japan, an entire freelance industry of "salvagers" has sprung up. The Salvagers are teams and individuals that recover important data and artifacts from the sunken cities at the bottom of the ocean... for a price. The matured Aika, the impatient young Rion, and Rion's level-headed father, Gouzo, compose one such salvager company that has recently fallen on hard times, partially as a result of preferring to play fair and only to take honest jobs. While the hotshot playboy, Gusto, and the elderly Bandra form a competing salvager team that has made a lot of quick money on the more questionable salvaging jobs out there. To avoid bankruptcy, and over the protests of her boss, Gouzo, Aika finally decides to take just such a job and, in competition with Gusto's team, to retrieve information about a mysterious substance known as "Lagu". Along the way the two teams get unknowingly caught up in a madman's plan to first destroy and then to rebuild the world in his own warped utopian vision. Our supervillian is an extremely effeminate looking man by the name of Hargen. He resides on board his ship, staffed by an all female crew. His sister Neena, who shares a physical relationship with her brother, is part right hand man to Hargen and part spoiled brat. Subject to mood swings, very dominant, often drunk, and physically tall and strong, she comes to despise Aika because of her brother's attraction toward her, not wanting anything to ever come between her and her brother.

"Naked Mission". Aika and Rion, captured by Hargen and taken aboard his ship, struggle to escape. We learn of Hargen's new secret weapon and his plan to destroy all civilization and then to rebuild the Earth anew. Meanwhile, Gusto attempts a jailbreak of Aika's team, and along the way, we also meet Maypia, a spy for the government aboard Hargen's ship who is also trying to discover what he is up to.

"Take off position". Lots of things all happening in parallel here. Hargen uses his new weapon to decimate several military forces which had set out to stop him. We gain some insight into Aika's past as well as her connection with Gouzo and to the mysterious Lagu. Aika and Neena face off in a showdown. Gusto manages to escape the ship with Maypia. All while Hargen begins to put his plan into action. The episode, of course, ends in somewhat of a cliffhanger, enticing us to buy the next DVD.

Features
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

Review Equipment
Pioneer DV-525 Code free player, Sony 27" TV, Yamaha 300W amp with Bose speaker system



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
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