Project A-ko: Love & Robots - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: D+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: D+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project A-Ko

Project A-ko: Love & Robots

By Chris Beveridge     May 08, 2001
Release Date: May 08, 2001


Project A-ko: Love & Robots
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Meet graviton High's super-powered schoolgirl, A-ko . She has to fight the evil girl genius, B-ko, for the friendship of the cute 'n cuddly C-ko, and make the world safe for after school activities! Isn't it tragic how space aliens, giant robots, and hostile occult takeovers get in the way of what's really important? Contains 3 hilarious movies: "Plot of the Daitokuji," "Cinderella Rhapsody," and "Final."

The Review!
I love the Project A-Ko movie. It was one of my first purchases when things became more available in the U.S. for anime. Every time I watch that movie more of the parodies shine through. And in anime just as in Hollywood movies, sequels never recreate the same experience. And so it is here as well.

Audio:
For our primary viewing, we listened to the show in its original language of Japanese. While we had no trouble with the disc, there were a few areas that sounded a bit more hollow than I recall but not in a really problematic way. With the shows being so old, the majority of the audio comes through the center channel and is clear throughout. There's little movement on the front soundstage other than a couple of effects.

Video:
What we have here appears to essentially be a laserdisc port to DVD. There's a ton of dot crawl, a decent amount of line noise and a ton of rainbows throughout the show. There's one sequence where the entire image is bathed in a red light/color, and every line is alive in how it shimmers and moves about. One episode has A-Ko in a nice red dress, but you can see the folds of the dress constantly turn jagged and move when she's standing still. On the shows title logo, the edges, which are in red, shimmer as well and look like it's crawling. There were so many instances of this throughout the show that it made it hard to concentrate on the show.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, the packaging looks pretty decent. The front cover has a nice meshing of various images from various episodes in nice clarity while the back goes for a more simple look, giving a summary of the show and one piece of animation. the reverse side has little artwork as well, focusing more on the creative staff listings. The disc itself has a bit of artwork on it that looks pretty decent.

Menus:
The menu system here is pretty straightforward looking, with a lot of selections angling down over the animation presented while the music plays. Access time between the menus is solid and the layout works much as most CPM releases do.

Extras:
There's a number of good extras included with this disc. The music videos are a definite plus to have and the various trailers are fun to watch as well. The deleted scene is interesting, since it shows footage from the movie and is basically a "hey, here's naked A-Ko!".

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the most part, Project A-Ko: Love & Robots is pretty disappointing. There's a definite lack of what made the movie great here. The parodies are less, instead focusing on a mishmash of plots, the secondary characters are bumped up to more regular players and detract from the basic essence of the triangle and the music is just poor in comparison to the movie.

The main new addition to the cast is B-Ko's father, who look suspiciously like the original Iron Man when not in his suit of armor. Throughout the episodes he has various roles to play, mostly in pushing to acquire the alien spacecraft's technology or pushing his own radical and powerful military weapons onto the government rubes who have no choice. He does have one inspired scene where he berates B-Ko for designing something that's just too costly and then proceeds to build it for himself and takes it into action. While not knowing what exactly the giant robot does.

The bump-up character is the teacher, Ayumi, who believes herself to be an alien princess and ends up getting between A-ko and B-ko's love triangle with Kei, the handsome motorcycle rogue who finds himself betrothed to Ayumi.

Each episode, which runs about 50 minutes each, is fairly self-contained but spills into the subsequent episode with events that continue to unfold. The romantic triangle that builds in the second episode between A-Ko, B-Ko and Kei gets made into even more of a mess in the third episode when Ayumi enters the picture. Never mind that Kei is just enamored with C-Ko. Man, that's just wrong on so many levels.

Even after finishing the three episodes, the actual plot has made so little impact on me that it's practically forgotten. Things take place after the movie and continue in a way that seems to be respective of the continuity set by the movie, but I have to wonder when the third episode brings the aliens back to bring back the princess and C-Ko's alien mother is there this time and things just don't feel like the original aliens at all.

The pacing for these episodes is more languid as well. There isn't the amount of energy that permeated the movie, that kept the flow moving and kept the characters going from one wacky situation to the next. What makes this even more painfully obvious is that poor score that accompanies these episodes. While I certainly say that the 80's provided the best music ever, the movie soundtrack provided some very fast paced and well orchestrated pieces of background music that kept the show alive and moving. The only time things even get close to the energy of the original is the one time that the original soundtrack is used. And the lack of the English songs makes these feel even less like an A-Ko project than anything else.

Die-hard A-Ko fans will likely enjoy this disc for the most part, and its value per minute is definitely nothing to shirk at. But if you've only seen the movie and want to see more A-Ko, I'd put this in a rental category first.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Music Videos,Deleted Scenes,Special Trailers,Meet the Cast,Graphic Novel

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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