Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 16th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1986
Director: Katsuhiko Nishijima
Writers: Tomoko Kawasaki, Yûji Moriyama, Katsuhiko Nishijima
Cast: Miki Itô, Emi Shinohara, Michie Tomizawa, Hirofumi Banba, Tesshô Genda, Daisuke Gôri, Megumi Hayashibara, Shûichi Ikeda, Sayuri Ikemoto, Asami Mukaidono, Kenji Nagae, Yôko Ogai, Ippei Oogi, Yoshino Takamori, Shizuo Takeuchi, Ken Yamaguchi, Tamio Ôki
DVD Released: May 17th, 2011
Approximate Running Time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Eastern Star / Discotek
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Project A-ko was originally conceived as Hentai film, before the film’s producer’s decided that the film would be more profitable as a comedy. To be more precise a satire of the most popular Anime’s from this era. And while being familiar with the Anime’s that are being spoofed in this film helps drive home this film’s subversively laced humor. Not being that versed in the film’s that are being parody in Project A-ko is not a deal breaker. In fact the loin share of the humor in this film has a universal appeal to it.
Some of the Anime film’s / pop culture icon’s that are satirized in Project A-ko include Fist of the North Star, Macross and Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Even clones of Clark Kent (Superman), Wonder Woman and KFC’s the Colonel Sanders make an appearance in this film. A few of this film’s better in joke’s include a school girl who looks a lot of Kenshirô from Fist of the North Star and the various ways in which A-ko collides with an undercover spy on her way to school.
The plot revolves primarily around three high school girls, A-ko a fiery redhead with superhuman strength, B-ko a stuck up rich girl and C-ko the girl that is at the center of this most unusual love triangle. The film also features a substantial sub plot that involves cross gender aliens, who have come to the Earth looking for their princess.
To say that this plot keeps thing simple, would be an understatement. Outside of the film’s intergalactic finale, the bulk of the film is essentially just the A-ko and B-ko characters squaring off. With the A-ko character soundly defeating everyone of B-ko’s devious plot’s. It is also during these more action oriented moments that this film excels the most. With each new action sequence topping the previous one.
Since its arrival twenty five years ago, the cinematic landscape in the world of Anime has changed drastically. Making it far too easy to point of flaws in any given production from this era. And yet despite its shortcoming’s there is also no denying that Project A-ko’s everlasting appeal, lies within its simplicity and go for broke attitude.
Eastern Star presents Project A-ko in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Reportedly the original film elements have been lost and the only available master is a video source. Outside of the opening and closing credits which tend to look soft, the rest of this transfer looks very good. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate and details generally look crisp throughout. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Japanese and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes sound clear and balanced throughout. With the main difference between the audio mixes being that the Japanese audio mix sounds slightly more robust. Also included with this release are English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release includes trailers and T.V. spots (16 minutes 41 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame), a image gallery, 2 music videos (6 minutes 15 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame), a outtake (1 minute 26 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame), a ‘Making of’ segment titled ‘Secret File’ (29 minutes 29 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Japanese / English with English subtitles), a interview co-screenwriter / animation director Yûji Moriyama (3 minutes 46 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles) and a audio commentary with Yûji Moriyama, in Japanese with English subtitles). The ‘Making of’ segment is a fairly routine PR piece, while the audio commentary with Katsuhiko Nishijima is an insightful track that does a great job covering the various areas of this production. Overall Project A-Ko gets a strong DVD release from Eastern Star.