Project A-ko 2: Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group Anime Review
Project A-ko 2: Daitokuji Zaibatsu no Inbou
US Release By
Wacky Sci-fi Slapstick Comedy
What's In It
- Gunfights (just a bit)
- Catfights (again, a bit)
- Mecha vs. Schoolgirl Fistfights
- Cute Kids (of sorts)
- Beefy, 10-foot-tall Schoolgirls
- Super Technology
- Big, Immobile, Casino-style Spaceships
- Big Mecha
- Bikini-shaped Battlesuits
- Way Weird
- Just Plain Stupid.
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 1 (mild)
- Sex: 0 (none)
- Language: 1 (mild)
It's summer vacation in Graviton City, and some things have changed. The alien ship, unable to move, has been turned into a massive entertainment complex in an effort to earn some money off the Earthlings. B-ko's father and a whole lot of government figures haven't lost interest in the ship, but now rather than destroying it they're after all the alien technology it holds... and there is plotting afoot by both Earthlings and aliens. Then there's C-ko, still being a ditz, and A-ko and B-ko, still vying for her attention. Some things never change.
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Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group is the first of three Project A-ko sequels (Blue and Grey don't count), and although it tries to stay fresh by taking a different tack from the original, it doesn't quite hit the mark. Not all bad, but it's a little too successful at ratcheting up the comedy. There are certainly some worthwhile gags, and it manages to take several of the weird things of the first film and push them into "That's just wrong!" territory, but the overly cartoony style and less solid setting sap the impact from a lot of the craziness, and the hurried pacing ends up trampling on several of the better punch lines. Visually it's not that much worse than the theatrical-quality original, but there are a few notably crude scenes. At least the same voice cast is back (in both languages), with some hilarious material out of D and the Captain.
Worth a few good chuckles for Project A-ko fans, but come prepared to watch a random, plot-free, drama-free, and intelligence-free anime comedy, or you might just end up with an unintentional lobotomy. That, or you'll just be annoyed and wasting your time.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
I'm a major fan of the original Project A-ko, and in many ways that movie is the archetypal anime parody. Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group is the first of three sequels (Blue and Grey don't count), and although it tries to stay fresh by taking a different tack from the original, it doesn't quite hit the mark. Not all bad, but it's a little too successful at ratcheting up the comedy.
To start with, Project A-ko 2 is noticeably more cartoony in style than the original. Among the things that make the original movie work as well as it does are its almost-functional world and largely-solid mechanics. In this sequel, the more loosely-defined reality was a disappointment to me, and the overt silliness factor is turned up far enough to cross the line between funny and annoying several times.
The story is slapped together too haphazardly for my taste as well--there is little flow, the plot is rushed, and in the end the whole thing feels too random and chaotic. Random and chaotic bad in an anime comedy, you ask? Yes--I like a plot that goes from A to B to C (pun intended), and while a battlesuit shaped like a bikini and a 10-foot-tall schoolgirl with pecs of steel are funny on their own, they're much funnier when they abruptly show up in the middle of an otherwise "normal" setting. When the whole thing is a mess, the really silly stuff just sort of blends in. On top of that, although there are some very good moments, the comic timing in several spots isn't as sharp as it could have been--like the plot, a bit rushed.
That's the down side, but the picture isn't all bad. The good part is that it takes several of the gags in the first movie and pushes them one step farther (maybe two or three steps, actually). The aliens are all women? Funny. But now they're all trying to fit in with the Earthlings... and that's just not right. Better yet, nobody even hints that it's strange. How about Mari... at the pool. I won't give away the coup de grâce, but on the more standard parody front there's a flat-out stupid riff (including random Elvis reference) on all those Voltron-y robot combination scenes.
In short, it serves up a number of situations that are downright hilarious if you enjoy things that can only be summed up by "That's just wrong!" They would have been even funnier if they hadn't been diluted by the rest of the production, and a lot of it is basic and juvenile, but there are some darn good totally-whacked-out-anime moments.
The characters are the same cast Project A-ko fans have come to know and love (or hate--C-ko is just as annoying as ever). The Captain and D are slightly more down-to-Earth (pun again intended), which is amusing, and the one addition--B-ko's almost-cool but equally messed-up father--is a perfect, derranged fit. Getting to see more rivalry and some awkward cooperation between various members of the gang is also fun, albeit not as much fun as it should have been on account of the slightly-too-silly feel.
Visually, the style is very close to the original. The character designs are the same varied bunch, the animation is a little less expensive but still of fairly high quality, and the coloring is slightly richer. The one notable exception is a few of the more cartoony scenes, which are crude and cheap-looking. Although there's plenty of action, there's both much less variety and less of it, and only a few scenes manage to pack the same kind of punch. Still, we do get to see A-ko's massive strength and B-ko's mechanical prowess put to use in a couple of creative new ways.
The acting in Japanese is much like the characters--the same likable bunch, the same Annoying (yes, capital A) C-ko, and the Captain and D doing their darnedest to "blend in." Those last two are particularly hilarious because, thanks to some great(ly silly) acting, they still seem like the same likable villains despite some "adjustments." B-ko's minions have more to do this time around, and you might notice that one of the three, Ume, is voiced by the ever-popular Megumi Hayashibara (though it's not a particularly memorable performance).
USM's English dub also features the same cast as the original. And, again, it isn't bad, but just doesn't have as much force or fun and the original dialogue. B-ko's dad is also more annoying than cheesily studly, a disappointment.
The music may have less '80s cheese, but it's disappointingly anime-standard. Although there are a couple of catchy background tunes and a reasonably good end theme (in Japanese this time), none of it is at all memorable.
In all, depending on your preference, Project A-ko 2 may be the worst of the four Project A-ko movies or even the best (if your thing is goofy comedy), but it's at least worth watching if you really loved the original. If you've never seen the first movie, it's not that hard to follow, but you're going to completely miss out on a lot of the ongoing jokes.
Despite losing some solidity and being too rushed, it has a few hilariously silly moments and you get to spend more time with the wacky inhabitants of Graviton City. In any case, come prepared to watch a random, plot-free, drama-free, and intelligence-free (unless you count the CIA) anime comedy, or you might just end up with an unintentional lobotomy. That, or you'll just be annoyed and wasting your time.
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If you enjoyed the original Project A-ko, you'll probably still find this one fun, if not of the same quality. Don't give up, though--check out both of the other sequels. In a similar vein, if the style of humor in this is your thing, you might also have a look at Debutante Detective Corps, the Ultimate Teacher (very similar but much funnier), and Urusei Yatsura--the last one is very different and more clever, but many episodes have a similar feel. There's also the king of crazed comedy, Excel Saga.
Notes and Trivia
The original Project A-ko was a successful theatrical film, and was followed up a bit later by this movie-style direct-to-video OAV and its two sequels, about one every year.
US DVD Review
The Project A-ko: Love and Robots DVD is a nice deal for Project A-ko fans and actually one of US Manga Corps' better efforts for the era. It includes all three sequels (Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group, as well as 3 and 4) on one reasonably priced disc. The video transfer isn't impeccable, but is quite clean, and the stereo English and Japanese audio tracks are both nice enough. The way the three movies are packaged on the disc is a little abrupt--they just play one after the other--but there is a chapter index, albeit with only three chapters per movie. On the much more positive side, for the first time I can think of from USM... full Japanese voice actor credits! (Well, almost full, anyway.) They didn't individually credit the English dub actors (go figure), and they actually went a bit too far in that any words in the credits are transcribed rather than translated, but it's a huge step up from past productions.
The disc also includes the same bonus materials that were tagged onto the end of the Project A-ko 2, 3, and 4 VHS tapes: Some long and humorous (if rather random) Japanese theatrical teasers for the Project A-ko 2 and the other sequels, a couple of music videos (mostly live action), and a couple of seconds of alternate footage from the original movie. The extra goodies are poorly indexed, but at least its all there, and it's fun to watch if you're into the series. There is also some bonus info for people with DVD-ROM drives.
Sort of disturbing, but not a lot of technically objectionable material; I'd call it 10-up, though USM put 13-up on the box.
Violence: 2 - They blow a heckuva lot of stuff up, but it's all very cartoony.
Nudity: 1 - Several short underwear shots and a lot of swimsuits, but no actual skin.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Nada.
Language: 1 - Little of any note.
Formerly available in North America from the late US Manga Corps on hybrid DVD, titled "Love and Robots," which also includes the 3rd and 4th A-ko movies; there was also a box set that included all four films together. Was originally available on subtitled and dubbed VHS.