Agent AIKa: Final Battle Anime Review
Studio Fantasia, Bandai Visual
US Release By
Underwear Fetish Action
3 episodes, 30 min each
1998-08-25 - 1999-04-25
What's In It
- Catfights (with jets)
- Super Technology
- Superpowered Fighting
- Superpowered Undergarments
- Just Plain Stupid.
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 4 (heavy)
- Sex: 3 (significant)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
The story takes up six months after the first series ended. Things are going much better for KK Corp. They've moved into a new office building, and have even hired some attractive if dim-witted help. But the remnants of Hargen's miniskirted, color-coded organization are still lurking about and dead-set on revenge.
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This three-episode story arc takes up six months after the first series ended. It's largely similar in mood and quality, but it does make a few adjustments on the original. On the positive, Hargan is gone, the villains have just a bit more character than you'd expect, and the anything-goes brawling action is even more plentiful than before. Also good is that the realistically disorganized action is back, even if it is almost entirely an excuse for awkward camera angles. On the bad, the heroes have hired a dumb blonde himbo that is so annoying he makes C-ko look good, and the plot has gone from bad to somewhere between awful and non-existent. And of course the endless stream of exposed underwear is not only back, there's possibly even more of it now.
In all, more of the same--more quality brawls composed entirely of attractive women in miniskirts or less, more non-plot, and even more incredibly, shamelessly gratuitous panty exposure.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
This three-episode story arc (three and a half if you count the promo episode) takes up six months after the end of the first series. It's largely similar in mood and quality, but it does make a few adjustments on the original; some good, some bad, and some either good or bad depending on your taste.
The most obvious good is that Hargen is gone and stays gone. Not having to look at (or think about) him makes the whole affair more palatable. Also good is that the action has, if anything, been bumped up a notch--there aren't any more dogfights, but there are heaping helpings of hand-to-hand brawling, most of it well-animated.
On the potentially bad, the icky, periodically cross-dressing Hargen has been replaced by Michikusa, the less-icky, periodically cross-dressing new employee of KK Corp, who is young, good looking, and nominally male. He is also the ultimate dumb, ditzy blonde. Calling this uber-himbo dumber than a box of rocks is insulting to both boxes and rocks, and he tries his best to be the most irredeemably annoying anime character on two legs (obviously a talent of Nishijima's--he's like C-ko without the "cute"). At least the series takes time to insult the intelligence of males as well, and if you watch the bonus mini-episode (do--it's a pretty good set-up for the rest of the series) you get treated to Rion beating him to a bloody pulp several times.
On the definitely bad, the plot has gone from weird to flat-out awful. Instead of crazed plans for world domination, the remaining leadership of the villains (the women in white, in case you've forgotten) cook up a variety of absolutely nonsensical ways of getting revenge on Aika, ignoring countless opportunities to just kill her and leaving plenty of room for things to go haywire. In the first episode there's at least a reasonable excuse for the convoluted revenge plan. The second two, not so much. Actually, the third doesn't even have a plot.
One thing that hasn't changed--which is good--is that it still maintains that appealing level of "sloppy" in the action and scheming. Things don't always work out as the good guys or the bad guys were planning, even if it is mostly due to rank stupidity this time around. The fights may be borderline pro-wrestling, but they have a sort of "natural" flow to them. Yes, it's almost entirely an excuse for awkward camera angles, but still.
And that brings us to the third category, and the one fans were no doubt most curious about--what of the endless string of panty shots? Still here. In fact, even more than before. See, this time not only is the camera neatly positioned at knee height at all times, but in the copious fistfights the (100% female) participants bend over backwards (sometimes literally) to kick, punch, throw, headlock, and get knocked unconscious in the most incredibly awkward and inevitably revealing positions imaginable.
There is a definite positive to this--the action is certainly creative, and while the contortions are usually ridiculous, they are occasionally realistically disorganized. At one point, for example, a drugged Aika makes a desperate rescue leap off of a balcony, and instead of diving over properly, she just sort of clambers up on the railing and hurls herself off.
Essentially, the dirty mind of the production team produces some memorably interesting character animation. I'm not willing to give them credit for doing it on purpose, though--I'm guessing it's just a positive side effect of ever-more-creative methods of exposing underwear.
Oh, there is one other little interesting tidbit: If you remember those two bridge bunnies from the first series who had a weird little hint of a relationship, they're back (running the show, in fact) with a bit more than hints. There are a couple of other evil minions who get a dramatic moment to themselves as well. This is all rather odd given the total shlock the rest of the series is composed of, but the surprising dash of humanity in otherwise cookie-cutter villains reminded me of Go Nagai's ability to make you care for total caricatures. It also made me wish even more that the whole thing wasn't so full of stupid that the potential for quality had more room to itself.
That's pretty much the lot of it. The art and animation are nearly identical to the first series, meaning lots of attractive character designs, quality character art, mostly good if slightly inconsistent character animation, detailed mechanical designs, and bland backgrounds. Also, while the fights are generally spiffy and interesting, there are a couple of spots where the action loses all sense of space, something that annoys the heck out of me and is sad given how good it otherwise is.
I haven't listened to the English dub, but the acting in Japanese is fine. Aika again is the standout--Rei Sakuma gives her an appealing, pleasantly mature tone sprinkled with just enough life and cuteness to make the character surprisingly likable. There are a wide variety of villainous women, ranging from the impressively official leadership (even if what they're talking about is nonsense) to one overly cute evil agent. No particular standouts among them, but no weakness, either. Masaya Onosaka as the new-face himbo is... well, impressive in how pleasantly vapid he sounds in the face of absolutely everything. He also talks in a squeaky voice through a stuffed toy, which bordered on funny.
Junichi Kanezaki's background music is, as before, sparse and forgettable, except for the end and opening themes, which are rather good rock songs. The bonus promo episode also has its own full intro and outro, the latter of which is Aika and the boss singing an Enka duet--not something you hear every day.
In all, this sequel series is more of the same--more quality brawls composed entirely of attractive women in miniskirts or less, more non-plot, and even more incredibly, shamelessly gratuitous panty exposure.
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In a league of its own. Most similar is probably Nishijima's other sleazy (but marginally more parody-like) series, Labyrinth of Flames. In terms of the setting and action, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is very similar, but much funnier and drastically less sleazy despite also featuring very skimpy outfits. Also has something in common with Cutey Honey (but Aika is much sleazier). If it weren't for the nudity and skirts, it would bear some resemblance to Birdy the Mighty as well.
Notes and Trivia
Agent AIKa was created by Katsuhiko Nishijima, the creator of Project A-ko. This series was an almost immediate sequel to the previous four-episode OVA series, although they're often lumped together as a single 7 (or 8, if you count the promo) episode OVA series. In addition to the OVAs and their much more recent prequel, AIKa R16, and its sequel, AIKa ZERO, there is also a single manga prequel book, Trial 0, by Ayumi Konomichi (interestingly enough, a woman); the manga hasn't been translated into English as of this writing. It's funny to note that the manga is more or less what Aika would have been without all the nudity and underwear--there are a total of maybe a dozen upskirt shots in the entire 200 page length (well below par for a normal series), and no nudity at all. The intro even has a disclaimer (apology?) from the artist about the lack of underwear.
There is a sort-of fourth half-episode of this series. The three-part "downtime" promo episode takes place between the previous series and this one, while KK Corp. is moving into their new office space, and introduces their new employee. It's worth watching--in addition to a couple of decent jokes, it has a full-length opening and ending of its own.
US DVD Review
Bandai's Anime Legends complete collection 2-disc DVD set contains all seven episodes of the classic series with both subtitled and English dubbed audio, and claims for special features the three-part Special Trial bonus episode (subtitled-only), a live-action episode, and textless opening and endings.
USM's older "Final Battle" DVD includes the three episodes reviewed here, a lengthy music video, and the Special Trial bonus episode, plus USM's standard battalion of DVD-ROM features (cast, scripts, and an art gallery).
Easily qualifies for a 16-up rating; underwear galore, some mildly dirty jokes, plus mature themes and outright nudity.
Violence: 2 - Not overly graphic, but violent enough.
Nudity: 4 - Enough underwear to boggle the mind as well as more traditional nudity.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - Nothing explicit, but moderately mature themes.
Language: 2 - Not noteworthy.
Currently available in the US from Bandai on a 2-disc complete "Anime Legends" set of all 7 OVAs.
Was previously available in the US from US Manga Corps on two bilingual DVD volumes, three dubbed VHS volumes, or two subtitled VHS volumes (the third VHS volume was never released in subtitled form). All are out of print and relatively hard to find as of this writing; you might try eBay, but there are a lot of bootlegs there so buyer beware.