Here's a checklist for you:
Do you like Panty Shots? __Yes __No
Do you enjoy watching women beat the snot out of each other? __Yes __No
Do you have an affinity for nonsensical things and anime that doesn't challenge you? __Yes __No
If you answered yes to two or more of those questions then stop reading this review. Go out and buy Agent Aika right now because this is your Holy Grail.
Originally produced back in 1997, Agent Aika is a seven episode mini series from the twisted direction of Katsuhiko Nishijima with production by Studio Fantasia. Now, you may be wondering why I put the checklist at the beginning of this review. The answer is quite simple really.
Every scene in this show features a panty shot (as well as two or maybe ten) and every outfit is designed to give you a glimpse at what's hiding beneath. The cast is almost entirely female and carries a certain Go Nagai feel to it with chick fights at every turn and pseudo-lesbian interactions. On top of all that the plot serves as a mere a backdrop for the panty shots and kung fu fighting girls with guns. In other words you're only going to enjoy this release if you happen to have a special place in your heart for fan service. Luckily for Agent Aika I fall into that category.
Set some years into the future 95% of the world's surface has sunk beneath the sea. Entire cities are now deep within the drink and only higher elevated locations can inhabit human life. Ironically there is still a load of technology and people remaining on the surface and adapting to life. Once again there's no timeline to compare between this show's and our own but considering there are tour groups boating over Tokyo with sightseers its safe to say that many years have passed (though survivors still remember the way life used to be).
In this new world a group of underwater salvagers has risen as a main section of the work force. These salvagers rummage through the watery tombs of cities to pick up rare belongings and valuables for certain clients. It is on the job that we meet Aika Sumeragi who is a buxom young blonde with more talent than should pertain to the job of a salvager. Aika works for a man named Aida and his daughter due to the fact that they saved her after the catastrophe that rocked the world. Business has been slow lately and Aika has decided to take a risky job in order to help Aida out.
Before Aika knows it she's locked in battle with a bunch of leather mini skirt wearing thugs who serve a ridiculously busty mistress. At first their goal isn't made clear but one thing is for sure; they're sexy, well financed, and armed to the teeth. Never one to be dissuaded, Aika still takes the job and goes off in a plane equipped with a golden bustier that seems to have a mind of its own. Before you can say magical transformation Aika finds herself in the middle of a dogfight with the mistress and her bustier takes control; literally. The garment rips off her other clothes (topless nudity here folks) and turns into hands that grope her breasts and crotch. Eventually they turn into a skin tight bikini and Aika takes on another personality as well as blue hair. This element is very reminiscent of Cutie Honey for those of your keeping track.
In addition to Aika comes a colorful cast of villains that include a genetically engineered brother and sister. Not only that, but Aika receives a rival in the form of Gust who spends as much time trying to scoop her on a job as he does hitting on her. In good fashion Aida's daughter also tags along on Aika's adventure as her sidekick.
Sadly, beyond the introduction to the series and the subsequent fighting and panty shots there's not a lot to sustain the backbone of Agent Aika. The seven episodes of the show are exercises in guilty pleasures that serve as ways to give you a cheap thrill and lots of action though not much else. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you're looking for something to fit that bill. If that's you then you'll undoubtedly have a blast with Agent Aika. Just don't come looking for the next big thing or a series that makes you stop to think and you'll appreciate it just fine enough.
Presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio Agent Aika receives a suitable transfer and looks better than you'd expect given the show's age. With vibrant colors and very little in the way of flaws this series absolutely pops, which definitely helps thanks to the artistic design. There are only sparse elements of grain and the occasional drop of compression to mar the picture. Overall this is a solid looking show with some fantastic animation and character design.
With English and Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital it's safe to say that Agent Aika doesn't sound as immersive as it should have. This is a fast paced action series that simply begs for surround sound. Unfortunately it suffers from a relatively flat 2.0 stereo presentation that offers virtually no channel separation. As far as the dubs are concerned the Japanese cast does a much better job than the English. The direction for the English crew was particularly bland and it didn't maintain the necessary spark for this kind of show.
This two disc set for Agent Aika comes with a slew of clean animations, trailers, and promotional material. In addition to all of that fluff there's a ten minute live action episode wedged into the extras menu that may provide some entertainment. It's outwardly cheesy like you'd expect but it does titillate the senses a bit and is worth watching for fans of the series.
Agent Aika is the epitome of guilty pleasure anime. It's reason for being is to provide a gratuitous amount of fan service and not much else. Fun characters, awesome animation, and a bunch of fight scenes take the place of a cohesive plot and structure. That's not necessarily a bad thing though because in the end Aika is irreverent and lighthearted enough to satisfy. This series comes recommended and if you check it out keep in mind that R-16 Virgin Mission is just around the corner!
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