Following the death and devastation caused by a gigantic spacecraft crash-landing, humanity has risen from dark times to a bright future. The wreckage of the ship has become a glittering new city, a city in which normal people live normal lives. Red-haired schoolgirl A-Ko tries to lead a normal life too, but this is not easy with cute but childish hanger-on C-Ko around, especially when the snooty B-Ko gets involved. B-Ko is jealous of A-Ko and C-Ko's friendship and will do anything to split them up, what makes it worse is that she is a genius inventor who seems able to produce an endless supply of robots and weapons to aid her scheme. On top of this the alien race whose ship crashed on Earth is coming back to find their lost princess and won't let anything get in their way. It's a good job A-Ko has super strength and speed or she could really be in trouble...
People spread the term 'classic' around a bit too freely sometimes, to the point where it is applied to anything not released in the last few years. It's meaning has been diluted so much that when you hear that Project A-Ko is a classic anime comedy, you wonder if this is simply because it was originally released in the UK back in the early '90's. Thankfully though, Project A-Ko deserves its reputation.
Simply put, they don't make them like this any more. Project A-Ko is a blend of old-fashioned sci-fi action, parody and slapstick comedy that just doesn't have a comparison in modern anime. The animation is very good for its age and the colours are bright and vibrant, whether depicting epic space battles or A-Ko running to school. The story is fun and in places laugh out loud funny, with the schoolgirl Mari - a female parody of Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro - a particular highlight, whilst there is plenty of action on display too in a series of space battles and fights between A-Ko and B-Ko.
In fact the only problem I really had with Project A-Ko is that it is a great slapstick parody on the one hand and a serious sci-fi drama on the other. The two aspects were very good in their own right, but didn't always sit very well together, in one scene you'll have A-Ko fighting whatever harebrained scheme B-Ko has come up with, and in the next an alien spacecraft will be blowing up a space station. It leaps from action to comedy frequently, and it isn't really until the end that the two really combine as well as they should. C-Ko's incessant whining does get a bit grating too.
This said, the pluses still outweigh the minuses. Even though the slapstick comedy and sci-fi action don't sit too well together there is enough of each to please fans of either genre, whilst fans of retro-anime will enjoy spotting a host of parodies. I also liked the way it points out flaws in several anime stereotypes - why would a villain fighting with an enemy against a bigger threat risk their lives to save their rival? Why does the pilot of a transforming robot never get caught in the moving parts? Project A-Ko gives common sense answers to these questions whilst piling up the running gags and - importantly - keeping the story moving.
Project A-Ko isn't perfect but it lives up to its classic status. There is action and comedy galore, fun characters and a mischievous streak that surreptitiously pokes fun into several anime standards. There is plenty to enjoy for pretty much everyone, and although the lack of a Japanese dub is a bit of a shame this is still a disc that UK anime fans should definitely look to pick up.
Unlike Animazing's previous releases there are a host of extras on offer here. There is an extremely cheesy music video, a trailer, a gallery of fan art images, a short featurette on the restoration of the anime, a comparison feature which puts the audio track of the anime to images from the comic and an interview with creator Yuji Moriyama. There is a huge amount to get through and it's great to see an interview with the creator on here, impressive stuff.