A short while ago we had the opportunity to check out Bandai's collection of Agent Aika. This series proved to be quite entertaining with its ridiculous concept, gratuitous amount of fan service, and penchant for over the top action. It should be no surprises that the follow-up OVA entitled Aika R-16: Virgin Mission offers much the same.
Roughly ten years ago the original Aika series was released from Studio Fantasia and it featured a somewhat different world than we're used to. The planet's surface is mostly covered by water after some event and all of the old world's treasures are lost on the bottom of the ocean. Scavengers have emerged as a viable class of workers and in particular one girl named Aika is making a name for herself. In the midst of a job she becomes involved with some dangerous things and faces down many a female opponent with her powerful bustier. It's entirely silly but it had enough personality to prove itself entertaining; luckily Virgin Mission doesn't change that.
If you're an Aika fan then there are things you need to know when entering Virgin Mission. For starters the three episodes included in this release are a prequel to the original series. You're going to see a significantly younger Aika (though that doesn't stop the nudity and panty shots) and you're going to notice many trappings are completely different. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it certainly does throw you off at first if you're just coming from watching Bandai's recently released collection. The other important thing to know about this new series is that the gratuitous amount of fan service is still in place and quite honestly it seems as though it's even more over the top this time around.
At the beginning of Virgin Mission we meet a very different Aika who is merely sixteen years old and attending school. She has recently received her C-Class Salvager's license and is more than eager to take on whatever jobs come her way. If you're also joining this show from Agent Aika you'll recognize Aido Gozo whose daughter later becomes Aika's sidekick. At any rate, school is no fun place for Aika who is constantly berated for tardiness and is goaded by a clique of girls who eventually invite her into the ranks of their treasure hunting club.
Once she joins their club Aika quickly finds herself involved in some weird happenings as a girl named Karen appears with a butterfly tattoo on her left breast. This tattoo is actually a clue of sorts that ushers in the involvement of a sexy enemy with a trio of girls under her control. Some teens say that a teacher has it out for them but Aika can actually claim that since the enemy this time around is none other than the teacher in charge of the treasure hunting club.
The three episodes of this OVA take Aika from one ridiculous situation to the next and in between the content is kept light and the pacing is very fast. Like Agent Aika, Virgin Mission is the epitome of a guilty pleasure and you have to have a certain appreciation for perversity in order to enjoy it. Every scene of this show features liberal use of panties, bras, and topless nudity.
Fan service lovers will most assuredly enjoy the absurdity of it all but if you're looking for something a little more serious in nature then you're going to be left wanting. This is a release by perverts who love action for perverts who love action and some of the talking points will be lost on those that aren't interested. With that being said I had a lot of fun with this show and it was a nice diversion just like the original series was. Mindless humor with adult content mixed in is entertaining when done right and thankfully Virgin Mission rarely missteps.
Aika R-16: Virgin Mission is presented with an anamorphic widescreen display and it is unfortunately an unbalanced release in terms of quality. The image maintains a defined level of detail with some sharpness and an overall clean picture. With that being said there is some grain here as well as compression artifacts, aliasing, and cross-coloration. Some moments of this show look absolutely brilliant while others look a bit messy. It's hard to tell if this is due to the transfer or original source material. Overall the show is presented adequately but it's nothing to write home about.
Given the somewhat limited audience for this show I suppose it's not surprising that it's presented with Dolby Digital stereo for English and Japanese. Given the amount of action in this show a 5.1 selection would have gone a long way to improving the experience but as it stands the 2.0 is adequate enough, even though it's a tad flat. Technically speaking the quality is fine and both dubs actually turned out to be decent enough. Overall this is a good sounding disc.
The flaws found in the video of this show could probably be attributed to the staggering amount of bonus material packed onto the same disc. Included here are a pair of 23 minute making of videos, two 20 minute Japanese cast interviews, two English cast interviews, four textless animations, two promotional videos, a six and a half minute location hunting segment, and trailers for other Bandai releases. Considering this is a single disc release that already has three episodes of animation on it that's a daunting amount of bonus material to pack in. If you enjoyed the show then you'll definitely want to sit through each of those features as they proved to be interesting and entertaining (especially the making of videos).
Aika R-16: Virgin Mission is a fun trip back to a franchise that is all about having a good time. Full of fan service, action, and an outlandish plot it's safe to say that there's not a lot going on here that will make you think. Instead if you come expecting eye candy with loads of action and a light plot you'll be pleased in many ways. This new release is a fun accompaniment to the original Agent Aika series and it's a show that fans should definitely take the time to check out.