Project A-ko 4: Final Anime Review
Project A-ko: Kanketsuhen
US Release By
Sci-fi Action Parody
What's In It
- Evil Genius Schoolgirls
- Superpowered Schoolgirls
- Schoolgirl Commandos
- Gunfights (said commandos)
- Big Time Catfights
- Superpowered Fistfights
- Mass Combat
- Super Technology
- Alien Invasion
- The Greatest Wedding Crashing of All Time
- Giant Robots (stupid, but giant)
- The Akagiyama 23
- Wacky Chases
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 1 (mild)
Some time has passed since the whole Kei fiasco, but although things are almost back to normal, Miss Ayumi isn't doing so well. Just what is it she's so distracted by, and what might a pendant of hers have to do with a prophecy unearthed thousands of miles away in Iraqi ruins? No time to find out, since it turns out that Miss Ayumi is getting married! This only raises more questions: Who to, what does B-ko's dad have to do with it, and what are A-ko and B-ko going to do when they find out who it is? Graviton City will be lucky to survive this wedding!
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Project A-ko 4 takes what made the first movie fun, adds in some of the developments introduced in the previous two sequels, and mixes it up just enough that it doesn't feel like you're watching the same movie over again. It's also what Cinderella Rhapsody should have been; there's a fair amount of exaggerated drama, but thanks to an even blend of action, comedy, and military-grade catfighting, it works quite well. There are also a healthy number of in-jokes targeting both specific series and more general anime themes, and considering how short it is, it's quite well paced--lively, but not rushed. Yet again, it's "more of the same" technically: Same quality Japanese and passable English casts, same solid visuals, same colorful, wild action. This one also mixes up the generic J-pop of the previous two movies by re-casting the English theme songs from the original as J-pop and tossing in some decent overblown theatrical themes for background.
Project A-ko 4: Final isn't the sort of movie that sticks with you, but for some good dumb fun for fans of the Project A-ko series, a heap of classic anime nods and send-ups, and more time with a likable collection of slightly unhinged characters, I call it a success.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
The aptly titled Project A-ko 4: Final is indeed the fourth and final film in the Project A-ko series, and the best after the first. It has close to the same blend of schoolyard hijinks and military-scale bickering between A-ko and B-ko, plus a full-scale alien invasion thrown in for good measure.
Project A-ko 4 takes what made the first movie fun, adds in some of the developments introduced in the previous two sequels, and mixes it up just enough that it doesn't feel like you're watching the same movie over again. There is an appropriate blend of action, fun characters, "drama," and humor, including a healthy number of in-jokes targeting both specific series and more general anime themes (there's even a Rocky reference). Considering how short it is, it's also quite well paced--lively, but not rushed.
On the down side, as much fun as I had spending more time with the assorted residents of Graviton City, there isn't any noteworthy character development except for a scene with A-ko and B-ko at the very end. The climax, though it features one of the best wedding-crashings of all time and a weirdly touching finale, also isn't as spectacular as the first movie. Admittedly, that would be pretty hard to beat--I'm just sayin'.
This movie is essentially what Project A-ko 3 should have been; Kei makes an appearance, but this time A-ko and B-ko are at each other's throats (not to mention anyone else's who might get in their way) in full force from the beginning, there's at least one giant robot, and the pseudo-romance is lighter. There's a fair amount of exaggerated drama, but thanks to an even blend of action and comedy it works quite well. There's also an appropriately mysterious and absolutely pointless subplot thrown on top of it all for good measure.
The characterization is solid, and feels the most natural (in Graviton's weird way) of any of the movies. The captain and D are unfortunately only around briefly, but B-ko's minions are doing their thing in style as spies and commandos, and Miss Ayumi, who has more of a part this time, gets to have her personality filled out a bit.
Visually, Final is more of the same: Standard but cute character designs, nice art, good character animation, and appropriately exciting action. There is a bit more re-used animation in this one than other installments of the series, but it isn't that annoying. Otherwise, it's a technically solid production on par with the other two sequels.
The acting is also more of the same, with the same cast back in both languages. As before, the English dub isn't particularly good--not terrible, but not very natural, not as funny, and C-ko is even more annoying in English if that's even possible. The Japanese cast is as fun as always. Unfortunately, as with the other sequels, USM's subtitles are closer to the dubbed dialogue than the Japanese, and some of the humor is altered or just plain absent.
The music is a mix of overblown old-style movie themes and a few lively if unremarkable action pieces. Plus, in a nice merger of the song styles of the previous movies, there are Japanese versions of the English songs from the first movie (J-pop fans take note).
All in all, Project A-ko 4: Final isn't the sort of movie that sticks with you, but for some good dumb fun for fans of the Project A-ko series, a heap of classic anime nods and send-ups, and more time with a likable collection of slightly unhinged characters, I call it a success.
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Another Project A-ko movie, and unlike the other two sequels very much like the original movie. No more need be said.
Notes and Trivia
Look for many, many references throughout the movie ranging from the extended Kimagure Orange Road movie-within-a-movie parody to subtle ones like Lum and Ran running by C-ko (which is also a nod to past Project A-ko movies, in which a number of Urusei Yatsura characters show up in the background).
If you're wondering what the "HK-MP5K" on Miss Ayumi's nightshirt refers to, that is the model number for the Heckler and Koch MP5K submachine gun. There is an air-powered BB-firing replica made by the Japanese company Tokyo Marui for military simulation enthusiasts.
US DVD Review
The DVD is a triple-feature with the other two movies, and is a functional but basic production. See the review of Project A-ko 2 for the details, but as it pertains to this particular movie the DVD does include the two theatrical trailers (one for the Versus OAVs and one for this movie) that were included on the VHS version.
On the down side, they blew the credits again. The original credits (which scrolled on top of a pan over Graviton City) have been replaced by the same montage of scenes that went with the credits of Project A-ko 2, and in a particular disappointment a quick shot of B-ko giggling evilly after the credits rolled was left out.
Good clean fun for the most part, but there is a very short visual joke that made this deserving of USM's 13-up rating.
Violence: 2 - Lots of fighting, but it's all in good humor and mostly bloodless.
Nudity: 2 - One very brief joke scene.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Mostly clean, but implied by that same scene.
Language: 1 - Nothing of note.
Formerly available in North America from the late US Manga Corps on hybrid DVD, titled "Love and Robots," which also includes the 2nd and 3rd A-ko movies; there was also a box set that included all four films together. Was originally available on subtitled and dubbed VHS.