Type: OVA (3 episodes)
Next in series:
Aika, age 16; recently received her class C salvager's license. At school she has a run in with a rich girl named Eri, who happens to be president of the Salvager's Club. One of her classmates Karen has a secret which reveals the coordinates of something under the ocean. What is it? That's exactly what Eri wants to find out, and she needs Aika's help to do it. Things aren't so easy once they get out to sea. There seems to be an organization trying to stop them, but why? What exactly will they uncover in the depths of the ocean?
This is the second series of the somewhat notorious Aika franchise. The original Agent Aika was an anime all about panty shots. No, seriously. It concentrated on that facet like no anime before or since. The story was also poor, and thus got a bad reception. After hearing they made a prequel I was interested. Not because I liked the first one, but because they must have had some idea to make this one decent, and I was curious if they could really do it. The DVD also had lots of interesting behind the scenes interviews with the director, producer and voice actors that provide some unusual insights into the series.
So first of all R16 manages to fix the biggest fault of the first: it has a story that isn't completely terrible. It won't go down as one of the great plots of all time no, but it's decent. The director noted that he had made the first one focused on nothing but panty shots, but this time he gave extra attention to the story. This means the panty shots are "scaled back", however you'll still see more panties than in a tornado rampaging through a Victoria's Secret. The characters worked better this time around too. Karen is the quiet spaced out girl with a secret, Eri is the rich girl who wants adventure, Aika is the down to earth one. Each of them provides a decent contrast, they aren't annoying and play well off one another. The designs are certainly in a more modern style, but also well done.
OK, that's fine and all, but what about the panties? They're all over, but not to the extreme volume in the first series. There are plenty of quirky conspicuous shots throughout the show, but each episode is basically holding out for the climax: the fight scene. It's embarrassing to admit, but I found the fights to be the highlight and enjoyed them more then I should have. Not because I find panties even remotely interesting, but because this title goes to such unusual lengths to show off underwear. Aika R16 gives an amusing touch in that each of the girls defeated end up sprawled out, with their butt in the air or draped over some object. For someone like me that is generally bored by most "action" fighting scenes, it does offer a lot of extra stuff to watch for, which is oddly kind of fun. I also have to give credit to this title in that the fights are very well choreographed and I even spotted some pro wrestling moves like pile drivers, elbow drops, and even a DDT.
So all things considered this title wasn't that bad. In fact, I'll go all out and say that yes, it's shameless fan service, but it's well utilized to give an unique spin to sequences that normally wouldn't be very compelling on their own. I suppose I should mention that this title doesn't just stop at panty shots, but also involves a fair amount of nudity as well. While I don't think this is an exceptional title, I have to admit this one got the balance of gimmicks right (considering that's still the true focus), and is probably worth watching for the novelty factor. The cast interviews on the DVD were also pretty cool, so make sure to check those out if you get the chance.
Eri: Socks become essential in the next episode.
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