Project A-Ko -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: D
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: F
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Image Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 87
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project A-Ko

Project A-Ko

By Chris Beveridge     July 06, 1999
Release Date: July 06, 1999

Project A-Ko
© Image Entertainment

What They Say
Earth – the not-too-distant future….A city is miraculously reborn just sixteen years after being completely destroyed by a giant meteor. Our story begins in the prestigious Graviton High School for Girls, nestled in the suburbs of the booming metropolis, as the English teacher, Miss Ayumi, introduces two new students – A-ko and her ditzy sidekick, C-ko.
A-ko is a lively seventeen-year-old, no different from any other... Except for the fact that within her diminutive frame lies a strength that can only be described as superhuman. The trouble begins when B-ko, the spoiled but brilliant daughter of a business tycoon, decides she wants C-ko for herself. And once B-ko decides she wants something, heaven help anyone who stands in her way. Unless that anyone is A-ko. B-ko becomes the irresistible force and A-ko the immovable object as action explodes across the unsuspecting city. B-ko goes up against the invincible A-ko with her arsenal of powered robot-suits, including the most powerful of all “Akagiyama 23.”

Meanwhile a monstrous alien spaceship plies its way toward Earth in search of…? What is the connection between the girls and the alien ship? Who is the mysterious “d”? What is the secret of A-ko’s power? What dark past fuels B-ko’s rage? Why is C-ko such a space-case?

Project A-ko is Japanese animation as you’ve never seen it before!

The Review!
You know, I really despise Image. This release really cemented this in my mind. I almost feel as if I could bump that up a notch to the "hate" level.

The audio on Project A-ko is a mixed bag, but not due to any encoding issues. The Japanese soundtrack is a great stereo mix with good directionality for a 1986 movie. The English dub, produced under Manga U.K. I believe, sounds very flat in comparison. This is one of the early dub releases by CPM/Manga U.K. so I'm not surprised. But try flipping back and forth between some fight/action sequences to see what I mean. Thankfully dubbing has come a long way since.

The video was close to just getting an F from me, but I don't know that I could give my second F just yet (the first being Harmageddon). Why the low rating? Line shimmering. This by far is the most annoying aspect of this disc. Buildings, guardrails, books, backgrounds, so much of it shimmers where there are a couple of lines. A year or two ago I would have said it was the fault of the format, in not being able to handle it. After seeing gorgeous release after release of so many other shows, even older shows, from different companies, it's definitely the encoding process. My enjoyment of this excellent movie is marred by watching the guardrails shimmer as A-Ko runs by, or from the building shimmering in the background while B-Ko stands patiently in front of it.

The brightness dropouts are nothing compared to this issue, as I only noticed it maybe two times if that. They were brief and only a "what was that" moment whereas the line shimmering was everywhere.

The packaging is the standard snapper case used by Image and is pretty much what they did for the laserdisc release. Same cover, same back side information with some DVD notes tossed in. There are thankfully several chapters on the disc so there's no complaints there.

The menu. I certainly hope the menu isn't what kept this disc held up for so long. I wouldn't have even said anything if it was just the cover used as the main page, but it's just the logo. Such minimal effort just shows how the rest of the disc may be.

The only other major issue is the subtitles. From the beginning of the third act (roughly 60 minutes in), the subtitles are very noticeably off. I admit to not noticing the problems in the Tokyo Babylon show, but these are just beyond below. 2-3 seconds if not more, causing characters conversations to be switched. Did A-Ko say that? Or was it the captain? Who can tell. The final act of this movie is just ruined by this. I'd demand a recall based on it, but I know Image doesn't really give a damn. It's unfortunate that I do. Poor quality control shines through here.

But the movie itself is still as much of a joy as it was when I first watched it back in the early 90's. A parody of so many genres and shows from the 1986 time of view, it still has a bit of bite left in it. The animation, while not as sparkling as today's, is still very vibrant and great to watch. The movie essentially has it all: Aliens, action, babes, lesbianism and panty shots. And it has a kick butt score.

Done by a couple of Americans, the soundtrack to A-Ko was my first import experience, as all the songs are in English. This ties in well with the parodies in the show (as there are hints that Superman and Wonder Woman are A-Ko's parents) and gives it a more universal feel.

A-Ko was one of the first anime shows I saw when I got into subtitled anime, and even though I hadn't seen much of anything they were parodying, it still made an impact due to its sheer energy and fun.

If you can get past the somewhat major shortcomings of this disc and focus on the show itself, you won't be disappointed.

English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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