Here’s why, until recently, I had never seen Project A-ko. :-)
In the dawn of time, MTV was carrying extremely late night anime, (they were dubbed, and mostly old-school. This was long enough ago now that the current anime/manga boom could not have even been predicted as a possiblity,) and I was working three jobs: a full-time day job, teaching martial arts at night, and on the weekends, selling swords at a RenFaire. I’d get home Saturday night at about midnight and be completely fried. The wife was working two jobs (day job, and doing henna in Soho in NYC on the weekends) and while waiting for her to come home, I’d stare at TV.
I watched Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer, which was so screwed up it put me off the series for years, until I watched some of the TV series for review purposes years later, which put me off it forever.
And I saw one teeny, tiny, wee bit of Project A-ko. The dub voices sliced through my exhausted nerve endings, leaving me shaking. I turned off the TV and never again even tried to watch A-ko. I should have tried again, of course. I mean, history, and all that. But the dub left such an unpleasant impression, that I’ve just sort of skirted the issue all these years.
And that’s where it might have stayed, except for a recent barrage of cajoling and wheedling by members of the Yuricon Mailing List, which culminated in Jen hoisting me with a quote of my own, from my Kekkou Kamen anime review, praising the voice acting skills of Shinohara Emi. Well, Jen won. I caved. I watched.
It is an apparently well known fact that A-ko was originally supposed to be part of the Cream Lemon hentai series, but was not, in the end, included. It has much of the same kind of art, and a great deal of fanservice. It also has a strange edginess that I find hard to explain. It’s not desperation, it’s almost…like the voice actresses found the story so bizarre and laughable that they just decided to go ahead and do it as over-the-top as they could.
I’m kind of glad I watched it when I did, because I was sick and heavily medicated, which made it more enjoyable, I’m sure. ^_^ Seriously, it was…inexpressibly bad, in that totally kitschy funny way. The writers clearly knew what they were spoofing, and why, and did it in a way that *just* rode the line between being godawful and hysterically funny.
B-ko, voiced by Shinohara Emi is, as many people pointed out to me in their campaign to entice me to watch it, a very Evil, very Psychotic Lesbian. As EPLs go, B-ko provides an exquisite example for the young EPLs-in training of the world, like Miu from Ichigo Mashimaro – except for her excrable taste in women, as C-ko is quite possibly the most annoying creature to ever grace any anime ever.
A-ko, ironically, was voiced by a young Itou Miki. She and Shinohara Emi have recently been working together again as part of an anime you may have heard of – Maria-sama ga Miteru. Is there a less likely pairing for Youko and Sachiko’s voices than B-ko and A-ko? It’s almost surreal to imagine.
Which leads me to this comment I made on the YCML, “My last thought was that the dub must have been pretty good, since the level of nerve shredding in the voice acting was consistent with what I remembered from that aborted late-night attempt at watching it.” How’s *that* for a compliment? ^_^
The music is also quite excruciating, even surpassing the oh-so-80s music from the original Bubblegum Crisis for cringe making.
If you already are a fan and don’t already own it, the box set, pictured and linked above, is a genuinely good deal. The movie, OAVs, CD soundtrack all for less than $30. I might just have to give in…
Art – 4
Story – 4 realistically, but 7 for crackheadeness
Characters – B-ko – 8, everyone else – 6, C-ko owes me points
Yuri – 6
Service – 8
Overall – can you even do an overall for this kind of crap? Let’s say 6
You know, A-ko wrong in so many ways, that we had to show it at Yuricon’s 2007 “Yurisai” event. ^_^