Project A-ko Perfect Edition is a remastered Blu-ray release for the Project A-ko anime film.
Project A-ko Perfect Edition
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Release Date: December 21, 2021
Project A-ko is an anime film that was released to Japanese theaters on June 21, 1986.
The film has three main characters: A-Ko, B-Ko and C-Ko. A-Ko is a friendly redhead who also has superhuman speed and strength, and she is basically the heroine of the story. She is friends with C-Ko, a blond who acts rather childlike for someone who is supposed to be in high school. She’s also rather hyperactive. B-Ko is a wealthy genius, and she has developed a crush on C-Ko. Throughout the film, B-Ko goes to great lengths to try to get A-Ko out of the picture so she can have C-Ko all to herself.
While this is happening on Earth, there’s a battle going on up in space, and the two storylines dovetail together by the end of the film. However, I don’t want to say how they come together, since that would end up spoiling a surprise about one of the characters.
Project A-ko is a comedy, and it parodies elements from its 1980’s anime contemporaries. There are obvious references to Fist of the North Star, Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Captain Harlock, and Creamy Mami. I also think that one of the spaceships kind of looks like a cross between the Yamato and the Andromeda, two ships from the Space Battleship Yamato franchise. But the film is definitely fun and zany, even if you don’t entirely pick up on all of the various references.
This was the second time that I’ve watched Project A-ko after not seeing it for several years. I have to say that with this second viewing, I found I appreciated the film more than I did the first time around. While I enjoyed Project A-ko the first time I saw it, I think I enjoyed it even more this time. It probably helped that I knew better what to expect this time around, so the story made more sense to me.
The film was remastered from the original film negatives and presented for the first time in high definition on this release. I was blown away by the remastered video, because it looked so much brighter and more vibrant on this release.
And if that wasn’t enough, Discotek Media made sure this release was chock full of bonus features. “Project A-ko Secret File,” which appeared on Central Park Media’s Collector’s Edition DVD release of the film, makes an appearance here. This includes footage from the production of the music in America, as well as interviews with the Japanese crew. Unfortunately, the narration of the special was on the cheesy side. Right at the end, there are magazine editors plugging their magazines and giving “endorsements” for Project A-ko. I thought this was kind of odd, but at least the last editor that shows up in this segment was amusing.
“The Music of Project A-ko” is a new documentary produced for this release. It includes interviews with Joey Carbone and Richie Zito, who produced the music, as well as two of three female singers on the vocal songs (Samantha Newark and Annie Livingstone). Unfortunately, the third singer, Valerie Stevenson, passed away in 2015. I thought it was interesting to hear the four of them looking back at that time and talking about their involvement with the project back then. They all still seem to regard their involvement with Project A-ko very favorably, which I appreciated seeing as a viewer.
There’s also a short interview with Yuji Moriyama, the director of the film, that was done during Big Apple Anime Fest in the early 2000’s. There’s also a feature about the lost CD-ROM Project A-ko game that had been in development in the mid-1990’s. I had never known about the CD-ROM game, so I found this to be quite fascinating. Unfortunately, what was shown from the game looked kind of bad to me. Yes, this was being made in the mid-1990’s, so the technology was a lot different than it is now, but even by mid-1990’s standards, I thought it looked kind of cheesy.
There are two commentaries included, as well as various trailers and television spots for Project A-ko. The archival material includes a full film storyboard to animatic, a phantom outtake, an event special digest film, a video magazine press package, vintage credit sequences, Project A-ko Motion Comics, and music videos for the three songs with vocals. I believe the motion comics also appeared on the Central Park Media Collector’s Edition as well. However, I can say with certainty that I wasn’t impressed by the motion comics, and I really didn’t understand the point of making them in the first place.
A second menu in the features section includes production art galleries, archival galleries, and liner notes. The liner notes included some of the most interesting features. The “Trivia and Notes” includes interesting bits of trivia and notes about Project A-ko. But even more interesting is the “Mischief Gallery,” which includes various “hidden” shots in the film (things that were animated in but are so brief that they aren’t easily seen while watching the film), as well as information about various random things written on walls, computers, etc. The “About the Restoration” section will hold the most interest to viewers who understand or have an interest in the tech behind the restoration. The other galleries are images that the viewer scrolls through at their own pace.
Overall, I think that Discotek Media did a fantastic job with this release, both with the restoration of the film and all the bonus features that were included. If you’re a fan of Project A-ko and have never added the film to your home video library but decide you now want to, this is the release that you want to get. If you already own an earlier pressing of Project A-ko, I would highly recommend upgrading to Project A-ko Perfect Edition. The film looks so much better on this release than on previous home media releases for Project A-ko, and the selection of bonus features is fantastic.
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