Project A-ko [Image of A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko]

Project A-ko

The original Project A-ko is certainly one of the funniest titles in anime. Released in 1986, the action supposedly takes place in 2003 in Graviton City, Japan, the site where a massive meteor crashed seventeen years previous (after first destroying a Space Shuttle in orbit).

The main characters are A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko; A-ko (standing, left) is insanely strong and super-fast, B-ko (standing, right) is tremendously smart and uses her brains to design mecha, and C-ko (kneeling) is intensely stupid and highly impulsive. The relationship between the main characters is a bit fuzzy. On the surface, A-ko and C-ko are friends, and B-ko is jealous of their friendship. However, given that Project A-ko was originally intended to be a hentai (adult, sex-oriented anime) film, the intensity of B-ko's jealously and her many attempts to take C-ko, and the way that C-ko almost literally clings to A-ko all certainly allow for a lesbian-triangle reading of the film... which also adds more hilarity to the dialogue for those who are not offended by (psudo-)lesbianism.

However, the aliens cannot be forgotten... and never will be forgotten. Only an alien would stand in the middle of a road day after day to faithfully conduct research!!! Apparently, sake is available outside our solar system, and is relied upon quite heavily by a particular alien. And the aliens - who come to Earth with a spacecraft seemingly larger than Rhode Island - also have some dirty laundry which needs airing. Further, how did the aliens learn Japanese so well, having apparently never been on Earth before?

Project A-ko is an excellent film to watch when in need of mindless fun, combining sexual- and gender-based humor with general slapstick and a high content of fast-paced, often-explosive, sometimes-meaningless chaos and violence. The subtitled VHS version also includes original French and Japanese trailers for the film (I remember seeing Project A-ko on a movie theater marquee when living in Belgium in 1990), providing an unusual learning opportunity for French and Japanese language teachers and teaching assistants to use in class; these additions are unfortunately not included on the Project A-ko DVD. This is one of many anime titles for which normal laws of physics and biology are often neglected, but always in the name of humor; for example, A-ko could never realistically survive sitting on the cockpit of a jet fighter at high altitude, and B-ko's monokini-style hardsuit could never realistically hold that much (read, "unlimited") ammunition!!!

Unfortunately, the sequels in the Project A-ko series all pale considerably compared to the original :-( However, a "redeeming" point of Project A-ko 4 is the inclusion of a music video which is very much a throwback to mid-1980s American music videos, but featuring a Japanese all-girl group.