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"Final Battle" plays more like a 60's exploitation film, and not a tongue in cheek action flick.
Review by Anime Boy
7 Part OVA + 1 Special
Company: Central Park Media
Running Time: 90 minutes (3 episodes)
Rated: R (Violence, nudity, language and adult situations)
It has been a few months since Aika and her friends defeated Hagen and his Delmo army. Since that time, the members of K2 Salvage have been very busy. They have hired a new employee, the very strange Michiksua. They have leased a new office building, and are getting ready to take a vacation after they finish their current assignment.
The Delmo Army, angry at their defeat by Aika's hand, want to humiliate Aika and destroy K2 Salvage. When tricks and deception fail, they resort to an all out attack.
Now, Aika is missing, and the rest of K2 Salvage must stop the Delmo's before they too "disappear".
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: A great looking transfer. The colors are perfect, there are almost no pixels, no wrinkles, and only some slight edge enhancement. This looks a lot better than the VHS or Japanese laser disc release.
AUDIO: There is very little difference between the Japanese and English 2.0 audio tracks. It will depend on your equipment on which one sounds better.
EDITS: The addition of the word Agent, and the burned in lyrics on the first episode are the only changes made. Everything single panty shot is untouched!
EXTRAS: There are quite a few "extras" that are not really extras. Cutting up the "Special Trial" episode, we have a recap of Aika 1-4, Aika Special Trials 1-3, a promo for the Aika movie, original commercials, and the Silent City music video. For the DVD-ROM content, there is an extensive photo gallery of scenes from the episodes and laser disc covers, script, and reviews.
STORY: There's a plot? The "original story" by Studio Fantasia, is a bit more fragmented than the previous four episodes. While Katsuhiko Nishijima does keep the action going, "Final Battle" plays more like a 60's exploitation film, and not a tongue in cheek action flick.
ACTING: The Japanese cast is excellent. You don't get any sexier than Rei Sakuma's powerful voice for our lovely Aika. Hiroko Konishi is perfect as the cute and ditzy Rion. My favorite is the voice actor for Gust, Jurota Kosugi. His manly voice combined with his playful demeanor makes him one bad ass dude, even if he is a total dipstick. I also love the acting of Masaya Onosaka as the very strange Michiksua. His dry almost effete delivery makes for some funny moments.
The English cast on the other hand is absolutely horrible. Flat delivery, bad timing, and voice mismatches are just some of the many problems. Thankfully, we only have to endure Alvaro J. Gonzales queer "Dudley Do Right" voice for Gust. At least Jeffery Gimble is able to shoot off some good one liners as Michikusa.
FAN SERVICE: Well, Aika is nothing but fan service. While there are plenty of panty shots, they have toned down the nudity. Well, as toned down as you can get in Aika. There are plenty of references to the first four episodes, which is only natural.
Aika's back, panties and all. Well, not quite all. While still entertaining and loaded with fan service, it's just not as "unique" as the previous volume. It's like the writers felt that they had already pushed the envelope, and now was the time to scale things back.
I will admit that the first four episodes were not big on plot. Yet these episode have almost no plot at all. Each episode basically stands on it's own, and follows the same formula; The Delmo's want examine and humiliate Aika. They get the upper hand, right before she kicks their butts. While that idea is great for one episode, three episodes of this is repetitive. The only change up comes in episode 7, when the Delmo's blow up K2 Salvage instead of humiliating her first.
Also, we don't see Aika in full Ultranate mode until the very end. Part of what made Aika so interesting was her "Wonder Woman" type alternate persona. When evil strikes, she turns into a hot, battle ready, Amazon. It's not that Aika can't kick ass in her "normal" mode, but her Ultrante mode looks really cool. Plus, where is the little suitcase scooter they show her riding on in the opening?
Speaking of the end, the ending feels kind of rushed. In fact, the whole "second" series feels like it's part of a larger series that didn't get made. I will be curious to sit down and watch the similarly themed "Najica". Perhaps "Najica" will show what Aika could have gone on to be.
Now, it may seem like I didn't like this volume. On the contrary, I did enjoy it. I love the entire series, from it's great animation, to it's "panties in your face" attitude. The fact remains that there are some issues with the "second series". It's just not as strong as the first four episodes. I don't count the "Special Trial" as it's only purpose is to provide some comedic relief and introduce the new character of Michiksua.
Fortunately, the high action quotient from the first series is still there. It seems like every few minutes, there is some serious booty kicking going on. All this can be directly attributed to writer/director Katsuhiko Nishijima of "Project Ako" fame. With his penchant for over the top violence and frantic pacing, Nishijima truly knows what the audience wants.
While the first volume seemed to exaggerate the use of panty shots, this volume makes it seem more natural. While they do flash, it only natural when your skirt is just covering your thigh. I also like how they put Noriyasu Yamauchi character designs to good use. If you are not excited by watching Aika "pose" while playing a form of "Twister", then you must not like girls, or at least anime ones.
I was a little dismayed that in the first volume, there were not any lesbian scenes. I am sad to say this volume isn't much different. We do get two pairs of women kissing, but it's not what you are hoping for. One kiss between the two Delmo leaders is almost all off camera. The other is Aika kissing a woman she thinks is a man. I'm sorry, but that doesn't really count. Okay, it's not a hentai release, but at least they could have done the "Crying Game" gag a little better.
I have a new favorite character in this series, and it's the bizarre Michiksua. This guy is not your average anime character. First of all, he uses this little doll he uses to "council" Rion. Second, he has a penchant for cross dressing, especially the Delmo uniforms. Last, but not least, he is actually the voice of reason among the group. It's funny to watch Rion beat the crap out of him when he tells her why her hair brained idea won't work. He also gets some great one-liners, which endears him to us even more.
On the first volume, I totally love the original opening theme "Silent City". For this volume, my favorite is the "Dance With Me Tonight" song by the "Pink Fruties". They remind me a lot of 80's dance group "Bananarama" with their harmonies and retro sound. The new opening theme is rockin', but I still prefer "Silent City".
I'm not thrilled with CPM cutting up the Special Trail episodes to help pad the extras. I was also very annoyed with not having a "Play All" menu choice. They could have very easily left the "Special Trail" alone, and used chapter stops to mark the different areas. That way, they could make it look like they had more extras, and I could have watched the whole thing at one time.
My biggest compliant is the awful English dub. While I will admit, this isn't an "Akira" level anime, it doesn't mean that you have to make it sound like some crappy B-movie. The more I listen to it, the more I dislike it. Thankfully, there is the wonderful Japanese track to make me happy.
Agent Aika: Final Battle is a decent send off for one of the most entertaining T&A anime ever made. Seeing Aika again has peaked my interest in the other Studio Fantasia series, "Najica". While the second series has it's issues, you can not consider yourself a true anime fan if you don't get both volumes. Just make sure you have on a clean pair of panties on before you play the drinking game.
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