Sunday, December 26, 2010

Project A-ko

Project A-ko; Animated science-fiction comedy, Japan, 1986; D: Katsuhiko Nishijima, S: Miki Ito, Emi Shinohara, Michie Tomizawa, Shuichi Ikeda, Tessho Genda, Megumi Hayashibara

Two transfer students, teenage girls, red-haired A-ko and blond C-ko, are late for school. So A-ko starts running with super-human speed, holding C-ko, and they manage to get on time. However, the teacher is annoyed by them while their classmate, B-ko, has a crush on C-ko and thus challenges A-ko for a duel. It turns out A-ko also has super-human strength and destroys every robot she makes. Still, B-ko matches her with a strong suit and a battle erupts which destroys half of school and town. Just then, an alien spaceship shows up and kidnaps C-ko because she is their long lost princess. A-ko and B-ko rescue her and crash the spaceship on Earth.

"Project A-ko" is a fun and "cartoonish" parody of numerous anime shows and films from the 70s and 80s (the teacher, Mrs. Ayumi, looks like the title character of "Magical Angel Creamy Mami"; the Captain of the spaceship is a drunk version of Captain Harlock; characters from "Urusei Yatsura" appear in the cinema scene), some parts being executed with such audacity that it secured it a status of a cult classic and an anime institution in the 80s. As a whole, the film isn't so funny as some claim it is - some gags, like the one where Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders (!) appears in a horror film in the cinema scene or the last minute introduction of A-ko's parents (pay attention to the newspaper her dad is reading, or you might miss the joke!) are quietly hilarious, while others are rather sparse or thin or you simply won't recognize them if you are not familiar with the anime subculture - whereas the "loose" story seems to be written as we go. The best part of "Project A-ko", by far, is hidden in the last 30 minutes: the fight between the super strong A-ko and the super strong suit which is wearing B-ko quickly reaches epic levels and tops even budspenceresque fights when half of the school and the town get leveled to the ground. Actually, it seems as if the authors enjoyed wrecking everything there is to wreck, when they crammed even mecha and aliens in the finale, yet the sequence where A-ko is jumping from one flying fighter jet to another, and then even hops from a missile to missile to reach the spaceship above her, is a rare example of inspirational wackiness.


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