© 1997 Studio Fantasia / Bandai Visual
When it comes to fan service in anime, subtlety never seems to be much of an issue. Of course, when one thinks of fan service, it is usually isolated to the occasional up-skirt shot or shower scene. Even anime like Plastic Little, reknowned for little more than titillating female body shots, knows where to draw the line.
Enter Agent Aika, an anime series that is an entire exercise in cramming in as much fan service as seemingly possible. Skirt lengths are regulated to 12 inches or less, camera angles are luridly lower than one would expect, and fights scenes involve lots of kicking; high-kicking, at that. There is also plenty of nudity, should you tire of mere panty shots, and some dubiously sexual sight gags thrown in for good measure.
The story (and believe it or not, this series does have one) is set twenty years after a great disaster flooded 95% of the world's land mass. With so much of the world under water, the profession of choice has become a Salvager; high-tech scavengers that comb sunken cities for loot. Aika and Rion are two such Salvagers, and spend their days dunking in the ocean to retrieve various odds 'n ends for paying clients. The Salvager business is not completely lucrative, though, especially when one faces stiff competition from competing firms. So when given an opportunity to undertake a fairly dangerous, yet well-paying mission to investigate a mysterious substance called "Lagu", Aika doesn't hesitate for a second.
The mission turns to be more than meets the eye, for no sooner does Aika accept, than she is assaulted by female thugs acting on behalf of one megalomanic, Hargen. Hargen seems to have his own vested interest in the Lagu, a plan of such environmental proportions that it will wipe out the human race in the process. Naturally, this doesn't sit too well with Aika, so she blasts off by land, sea, and air to prevent Hargen from realizing his goal.
Given the rather formulaic plot, characterization is equally trivial. Aika is a tough and independent protagonist, and is quite likable, but rather two-dimensional. Rion, the "cute-girl-with-glasses", tags along as Aika's sidekick, which generally involves getting in trouble and losing her clothes. The villainy duo that Aika must face includes Hargen, poster boy for Revlon lipstick, and his sister, Nena, a hardy babe whose battle dress consists of magical panties that bestow her with super-powers. Particularly disturbing is Hargen and Nena's relationship, which tends to the far side of incestuous at times (didn't I see these two on Springer once?) Also showing up is Gusto, a love-struck goof with the hots for Aika; Bandra, the tough-as-nails punk pilot; and Meipia, a secret agent for the "International Crisis Management Treaty Authority Organization, World Secret Agent League, Special Expeditionary Affairs Division". Right.
While Agent Aika may seem at first to be little more than a one-dimensional panty-fest, there is plenty of action to keep things moving. The story is told at a brisk pace, with one action-packed encounter immediately followed by several more. Hargen seems to have a never-ending harem of disposable beauties who assault Aika and Rion in virtually every scene. The action oscillates between decent hand-to-hand martial arts, some fairly uninspired gun battles, and assorted vehicular combat. Aika also packs a secret weapon in the form of a bustier that turns her into a golden-skinned battle-babe with a living, metallic costume (and a rather, um, "interesting" transformation sequence).
Agent Aika is a rather colorful series with above-average animation and solid artwork. The characters are quite attractive, and the battle scenes are well choreographed and animated. The audio is generally average, with a catchy theme song, but given a choice between the subtitled and dubbed version, I'd avoid the dub at all costs. While not the worst dub to ever grace my ears, the acting quality and casting could use a fair bit of improvement.
Overall, Agent Aika isn't a bad series. It's merely an unexciting one, with a juvenile gimmick that wears thin by the third episode. Action fans will probably eat it up, especially those who never tire of a shot of the female posterior. I prefer substance over flash, however, and can only give it a marginal recommendation at best.
The Verdict: * * 1/2 (below average)
|last modified: 05-26-03||The Anime Critic and associated content © 1999-2003 Pete Harcoff. All rights reserved.|