Project A-ko

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Ako.jpg
A-Ko, the depth of my vexation is beyond your comprehension!
B-Ko Daitokuji
Today I woke up early. This may never happen again! But you! You! Over a stupid, petty... B-Ko, YOU IDIOT!!!
A-Ko Magami

In Graviton City, Japan, sometime in the future, Eiko ("A-Ko") Magami -- a sailor-suited teenage girl endowed with absurdly high levels of superhuman strength and speed -- attends high school with her best friend, the blonde and bubbly Shiiko ("C-Ko") Kotobuki (who is both The Ditz and a Lethal Chef). Unfortunately, their incredibly intelligent (and gorgeous) Gadgeteer Genius classmate Biiko ("B-Ko") Daitokuji apparently has a lesbian crush on really, really wants a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with the blonde dimwit. She is determined to win C-Ko for her own, and attacks A-Ko at every opportunity with Humongous Mecha or her revealing battlesuit. Things get just a bit more complicated when an alien warship descends upon Graviton City with the goal of capturing one of the girls -- or rather, rescuing her, as she seems to be their long-lost princess...

A blend of over-the-top screwball comedy, action, and science fiction, Project A-Ko was one of the shows everyone saw during the prehistory of anime in America, especially because it was one of the first "non-arty" anime imported commercially back in The Eighties. The show's general level of goofiness can be seen in the girls' names -- quite simply, the three main characters are named "Girl A", "Girl B" and "Girl C". (There's even another character who simply goes by "D".) Despite over two decades passed since its release, A-Ko remains a persistently influential, respected, and well-loved film. As an example, in 2003 a group of independent filmmakers in the United States released Xtracurricular, a live-action film which the filmmakers admitted was directly inspired by Project A-Ko (for example: the three main characters' names start with A, B, and C).

The original film was followed by three OVAs which continue the story of the film -- Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group, Cinderella Rhapsody, and Final -- and a two-part Alternate Continuity OVA called A-Ko the VS.


Tropes used in Project A-ko include:
  • Action Dress Rip: A-Ko, per the page illustration; this actually happens in the film during her fight with D.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • After-School Cleaning Duty: At one point A-ko is assigned After-School Cleaning Duty for being habitually Late for School. While it went well at first, with A-ko using her super strength to easily stack up the desks, a run in with B-ko's gang left the classroom (and a good portion of the school itself) completely demolished, much to her teacher's chagrin.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Captain Napolipolita.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Alpha Cygnans speak Japanese.
  • The All-American Girl: A-Ko Magami
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Maruten laments this in The Vs., but considering he's not that nice of a guy himself, it's a bit hypocritical.
  • All Love Is Unrequited
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming
  • Alpha Bitch/The Ojou/Rich Bitch: B-Ko.
  • Alternate Continuity: A-Ko the VS.
  • Amazon Brigade
  • Anti-Villain: Gail, possibly. His methods are evil, his goal just. He just bet on the wrong horse.
  • Battle Bikini: B-Ko.
  • Battle Couple: Liza and Grash from The Vs., though Grash is kind of Oblivious to Love.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: C-ko, B-ko, and A-ko, respectively.
  • Berserk Button: A-ko - cutting her face, making her late when she made an effort to be early; B-ko - A-ko winning; Captain Napolipolita - Sobriety.
  • Bishonen: Gail of A-Ko the VS. Also a White-Haired Pretty Boy.
  • Bleached Underpants: The series began life as part of the Cream Lemon series of Hentai before becoming a full-fledged feature film; the hentai short that appears in Cinderella Rhapsody is actually recycled from the show's own initial storyboards. Which can be found on the web if you care to look.
  • BFS: Played with in the fight between D and A-ko. In D's hands, it's sized appropriately. When A-ko gets it, it's this trope. No problem, though, because A-ko has super strength.
  • Boobs of Steel: Liza from A-Ko the VS.; A-Ko refers to her as a "jiggling juggernaut" at one point. She's tough enough to give A-Ko a challenge in a hand-to-hand fight, and that's saying something.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: C-Ko.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: C-ko and Miss Ayumi.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the sub-tropes apply. (This is a parody series after all.)
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Subverted by D, Mari, and Captain Napolipolita.
    • Mari actually plays it straight and subverts it. When fighting, Mari sounds like a deep voiced male, but when actually talking, she speaks in a very high pitched girl's voice.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: "The Colonel!"
  • Cute Bruiser: A-Ko.
  • The Cutie: C-ko.
  • Daddy's Girl: C-ko in A-ko the VS.
  • Damsel in Distress: C-ko played this role in the beginning.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In Final, A-ko will not appeared until 34 minutes, she bursts out of the floor in her sailor-suited battle uniform during the wedding.
  • The Ditz: C-Ko (though she does seem to have moments of insight) and Miss Ayumi.
  • Doppelganger Spin: An Informed Ability of B-Ko's Max 5000 mecha.
  • DVD Commentary: Central Park Media's rerelease of the film included one by character designer and animation director Yuji Moriyama.
  • Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: A-Ko and B-Ko.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: C-ko.
  • Evil Knockoff
  • Eyes of Gold: A-ko's gold-amber eyes are a sign that she's not exactly a normal human.
  • Fan Disservice: D's battle bikini and Daitokuji Hikari's Akagiyama-23 battle suit.
  • Fiction 500: B-ko and her family can afford to make mecha, although her father draws the line at her making Humongous Mecha just for her rivalry. It has to be used for better purposes.
  • Fighting From the Inside: C-ko, when Xena takes over her body in The Vs..
  • Flying Brick: A-Ko, except the flying part save when B-Ko is carrying her through the air. She has:
  • Flung Clothing: B-Ko's reveal of her Akagiyama-23 battle suit.
  • Follow Your Heart: The theme song, "Follow Your Dreams".
  • Foreshadowing: Subverted in Final. The prophecy foretelling the end of the world was just a coincidence when the aliens arrived. And Ms. Ayumi wasn't possessed by her charm. She just did incantations because she was told it would bring her luck.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Including some very close Panty Shots and some fired missiles actually being soda pop cans (as a Shout-Out to the Super Dimension Fortress Macross film).
  • Funbag Airbag: Played as an Oh Crap moment in addition to a gag, as it's A-Ko running into Liza after having kicked her through a wall.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: B-Ko designs and builds a new Humongous Mecha every night to defeat A-Ko.
    • The VS: B-Ko builds a fast and heavily-armed sand skimmer from the wreckage of her & A-Ko's house after it gets destroyed by a sub-sand cruiser, again in only one night.
  • Genki Girl: C-ko.
  • Girl A: Practically the Trope Namer, given the main characters.
  • Girl Posse/Quirky Miniboss Squad: B-Ko's flunkies Ine, Ume, Asa, and Mari.
  • The Glomp: C-ko does this to A-ko sometimes.
  • Glory Hound: apparently, Maruten in the VS. After Xena is defeated, A-Ko, B-Ko, and C-Ko end up back on the sand planet. After meeting up with C-Ko's father, they discover that Maruten has taken all the credit for stopping Xena and the Dragon God. A-Ko & B-Ko are not amused and they vow to find him just before the credits roll.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The first movie starts off like this. Getting to school on time is also a Running Gag.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: A-Ko is quite good with them.
  • Gonk: Most of B-Ko's flunkies, especially Mari; also, D and Captain Napolipolita of the Leptons.
  • Grand Finale: At the end of Final, A-ko and B-ko are ready to go for the new journeys. While A-ko wearing her school uniform, B-ko holds A-ko's back, blasts off and flies up into the night sky. Two of them flies out of earth's atmosphere, higher, and higher, and into the exosphere, and finally into the outer space. Now, A-ko and B-ko are eventually stay in space as they became the defenders of the galaxy. See here
  • Hair Decorations: C-ko.
  • Hair of Gold: C-ko.
  • Hammerspace: A rare instance where a pair of males use hammers out of nowhere on another male in Final.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Lots of them.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: A-Ko and C-Ko; see Bleached Underpants.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Mari, who is basically Kenshiro in a sailor fuku.
  • Human Aliens: The Alpha Cygnans.
  • Humongous Mecha: B-Ko's Robots-of-the-day.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes/Stripperiffic: B-Ko's Akagiyama-23 battle suit; this was Lampshade Hung and parodied when everyone who first saw it was mostly embarrassed for her.
    • And made even worse when, in Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group, B-Ko's father wore one.
      • This bears some explaining. Her father wears an exact copy of her suit. Without altering it in any way from it's female bikini-esque design
    • D also wears a similar outfit when she fights A-ko, pretty much ending any doubt that she and all of the other aliens are all female in the process.
  • Jerkass: A-ko in A-ko the VS, as she was meaner and ruder than her original universe counterpart.
    • Justified, B-ko makes her carry that giant pack because of her strength, and C-ko ate her food. Plus whatever we're supposed to believe happened before this story.
  • Joshikousei
  • Kawaiiko: C-Ko.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: The female One-Gender Race of Human Aliens that look like guys
  • Late for School: A-Ko, constantly.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
  • Lethal Chef: C-Ko.
  • Leotard of Power: B-Ko's armor.
  • Love At First Sight: Kei when he sees C-Ko. She doesn't reciprocate.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: B-Ko's "Akagiyama Missiles", as well as several spaceships in the series.
  • Womanchild: Despite being under 20, C-ko fits this.
  • Megumi Hayashibara: B-Ko's flunkie Ume.
  • Memetic Outfit: A-ko's Transfer Student Uniform; when Central Park Media was publishing comic adaptations of the series, they changed her outfit in their version of A-ko the VS to the sailor-suited battle outfit to increase sales.
  • Moe Couplet: A-ko and C-ko.
  • Naive Everygirl: C-ko, to an extent.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise
  • Oblivious to Love: Grash in The Vs. doesn't seem to realize how much he means to Liza. When she thinks he is dead, Liza is ready to go berserk on A-ko and B-ko, but when Grash rises from the rubble she immediately breaks down in tears and embraces him, while his reaction on seeing her is "Oh, you're okay too! That sure is nice to see."
  • One-Gender Race: The Alpha Cygnans are an interesting variation of this trope. They're all female, but some of them--such as D and Captain Napolipolita--look, talk, and act male.
    • In the original, Napolipolita's cleavage is obvious if you're looking at her chest.
  • Otaku/Otaku Surrogate: C-ko displayed shades of this from time to time. Prominent examples include:
    • Her remark (in the Japanese version) about Miss Ayumi reminding her of someone.
    • On the Final Concert album, C-ko's solo song is basically a medley of old anime themes.
  • The Other Darrin: A-ko was originally voiced by Stacey Gregg. Teryl Rothery voiced her from the second movie onwards.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon God in The Vs. is gigantic (it seems to grow at least as large as a planet), with three heads, and it's so powerful that it wipes out a number of planets and their defensive fleets with little effort.
  • Papa Wolf: Attempted by C-ko's father in The Vs., but all he ends up accomplishing is bankrupting his company with his massive and fruitless search & rescue effort.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: In Vs, B-ko wears one as a disguise. A-ko comments on how odd that is, since they're trying to break into the villain's lair, not attend a party.
  • Playboy Bunny: The waitresses in Love and Robots, and B-ko in an alternate universe in vs.
  • Please Wake Up: A-ko to B-ko after Gail blasts her with his powers near the end of the first half of The Vs.
  • Powered Armor: B-ko's is more like a powered bikini. Also, her father has a similar one.
  • Power Incontinence: A-ko; every day, her run to school leaves disaster and ruin in her wake.
  • Power Limiter: A-Ko's bracers are revealed to be these in Cinderella Rhapsody.
  • Princess Curls: B-Ko.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: C-ko is seen wearing pink often.
  • Psycho Lesbian: B-Ko.
  • Rags to Royalty: C-Ko.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: A-Ko delivers one of these when B-Ko has Mecha-Mooks ready when she gets to school early for probably the only time in her life.
    • C-Ko calling Liza "granny" in A-Ko the VS. C-Ko wasn't trying to insult her, most likely Liza's over-sexualized appearance implies "older" to the childish C-Ko.
  • Redheaded Hero
  • Redshirt Army
  • Restraining Bolt: A-ko's wristbands reduce her powers to almost manageably safe levels.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Played with. A-ko is shown several times to be hurt by fairly mundane things. Then she can kick robots without hurting her leg. Her super endurance must only work when she's fighting. Rule of Funny fully applies.
    • Original movie: Hits her thumb with a hammer (she probably isn't using her super strength there) with full cartoonish reactions which are just as easily forgotten and she trips on an ordinary piece of flawed sidewalk.
    • Second movie: Tires after failing to get a piece of the Alpha Cygnian ship back in place. The pool incident doesn't count as "mundane".
    • Vs.: Cartoon injury from being bonked by B-ko's hammer.
  • Running Gag: A-Ko constantly running over D on her way to school.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Alpha Cygnans are all female, including D and Captain Napolipolita, both of whom look, sound, and act male.
  • Sand Is Water: The desert planet where A-Ko and B-Ko are living in the VS.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: B-Ko, sort of.
  • Schoolgirl Rival: A-Ko and B-Ko.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The anticlimactic introduction of the Max 5000.
  • She's All Grown Up: Non-romantic version (and possibly an inversion as she's a childhood enemy rather than a Forgotten Childhood Friend)- according to A-ko's flashback to their childhood, she and C-ko back then used to look more or less like chibi-versions of their present day forms. B-ko, on the other hand, was described (accurately) by A-ko as having a "basin haircut, piggy eyes and dumpy legs" but grew up into easily the most beautiful of the three girls (A-ko is a Hot Amazon and C-ko is The Cutie, but B-ko is just outright gorgeous). No wonder A-ko didn't recognise her at first.
  • Shout-Out: More than can easily be counted...
    • A-Ko's parents are apparently Superman and Wonder Woman.
    • B-Ko's father when he appears bears some resemblance to Tony Stark.
    • Captain Napolipolita is pretty obviously supposed to be a parody of Captain Harlock, in the same way that the bow of the Lepton mothership looks like the Arcadia.
    • The title itself is a reference to the Jackie Chan movie Project A.
    • The design of teacher Ms. Ayumi is a Shout Out/Homage to magical girl series Creamy Mami.
    • Mari, B-Ko's underling, looks like Kenshiro with pigtails.
    • The plot of the first movie is a rough re-hash of Super Dimension Fortress Macross
  • Shown Their Work: Alpha Cygni, more commonly known as Deneb, is a real star. Estimated distance from Earth is 1,550 light years, with a 10% margin of error.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: One interpretation of C-ko's affection for A-ko.
  • Space Police: The Space Patrol from The Vs. were presumably this. They were nearly wiped out by Xena and her followers, and Maruten is the only one left.
  • Superhero
  • Supporting Protagonist: A-ko, as C-ko is the reason that the series even has a plot.
  • Theme Naming: The three main characters; the gag is that such naming is indicative of extras, not main characters.
  • Third Person Person: C-ko in the Japanese version.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: C-ko is the innocent, childlike figure, A-ko is the "protective big sister") figure looking after C-ko, and B-ko is the seductress (one can tell by her curvy figure and penchant for wearing a revealing power suit).
  • Token Yuri Girl: B-ko Daitokuji. Possibly unintentional; the director admitted in an interview for the US DVD re-release of the film that he didn't think about how the scene featuring B-ko in a giant bath, thinking about C-ko, could be interpreted. Which is kind of confusing, because it looks to all the world like B-ko is touching herself while thinking about C-ko. Based on the differences between the dubbed and subtitled versions, if it was unintentional it can only be because it's so common in the genre that it got put in without being thought about. The dub takes this aspect of the complicated relationship between A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko out, and makes C-ko seem a bit weird and creepy as a result. Alternately, it isn't so much unintentional as it is a leftover from when the film was supposed to be part of the Cream Lemon series of erotic films, where indeed B-ko was infatuated with C-ko.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: A-ko (tomboy) and C-ko (girly girl); A-ko and B-ko (girly girl).
  • Transfer Student Uniforms: A-Ko and C-Ko wear these throughout the film; they switch over to the proper uniforms at the end of the film, then wear them regularly in the sequel OVAs, though A-Ko does switch back to her Memetic Outfit as her battle uniform for the climatic battle in Final, apparently just for the express purpose of irritating B-Ko (in which she succeeds.)
  • Transforming Mecha: But with poor planning on making the cockpit work in both forms.
  • Unknown Rival: B-Ko starts out as this to A-Ko.
  • Villainous Breakdown: B-Ko.
  • Waif Fu: A-ko.
  • Wave Motion Gun
  • Weirdness Magnet: Whenever C-ko is the Damsel in Distress, it's usually because she's this.
  • Whip It Good: "Black Jacovini Shooting Star Lash!"
  • White-Haired Pretty Girl: The Queen/C-ko's mother. She didn't look very old.
  • Witch Species: Gail and Xena in the Vs. continuity. Maybe C-ko.
  • Whole Costume Reference: B-ko's father dresses like Elvis when he pilots a mecha.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Very common, even a lot of the unnamed civilians have blue hair. For named characters: Miss Ayumi has light blue hair, D has dark blue hair, B-Ko has bluish-silver hair, and Grash in The Vs. has dark blue Shonen Hair.