Remember the Agent Aika OVA series first released by Studio Fantasia way back in 1997? You know, the show composed almost entirely of panty shots but which somehow managed to pack a half decent story with plenty of bona fide action sequences in it?
Well if you don’t, then it’s safe to say that you are probably not going to care about AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission all that much then I suppose. Released in 2007 by Studio Fantasia under the directorship of Katsuhiko Nishijima (who also directed Aika’s first outing), Virgin Mission celebrates the tenth anniversary of the original AIKa OVA by taking us 10 years back in time and showing us an Aika Sumeragi who is just starting to take the footsteps that will lead her to eventually becoming the women that we all know and love so well.
The story starts with us back in high school, where an athletic Aika has just managed to pass her C-class Salvager test and thus gain a valid Salvager license. Of course, advertising her fledgling business around the school doesn’t sit easy with her perennial adversary and classmate, the wealthy Eri Shinkai and as per usual when the two of them are together the sparks fly. However, as president of the school’s Treasure Hunting Club, Eri does have a proposition (and more importantly a need) for Aika, one that will take Aika and a number of her classmates aboard Eri’s luxury boat and deep into the sparkling ocean, all in search of a mysterious treasure hinted at by an enigmatic tattoo located on the silent mystery girl Karen’s breast.
However, they are not the only ones after the secrets that Karen seems to possess (even if it is rather unknowingly) and Aika soon finds herself in the middle some heart-pounding, sweat-inducing situations that will test her natural fighting abilities to their absolute limits!
Virgin Mission is three episodes long which of course translates into a fairly rushed story (or excuse for a story if you must) and happily manages to successfully hop along somewhere between the action, comedy, adventure line of things, though of course generously peppered with the most obscene amount of fan service that you could possibly wish for in a non-hentai title.
Despite titillation being of course the main name of the game, Virgin Mission does however produce some genuinely humorous moments as well as combining with some half decent action sequences (even if the ‘no kills’ switch is stuck firmly in the off position), though it does fail in its few and rather far between efforts of trying to inject some seriousness or menace into the story as a whole. That said, it is fairly fun to watch and you certainly won’t find yourself getting bored with what’s being told (though that might of course be aided somewhat by the fact that the whole mission is over and done in three 20-minute long episodes!)
In terms of animation, the visuals for Virgin Mission are crisp, vibrantly coloured and generally well animated, though you can just imagine how the animators must have giggled as they drew their umpteenth upskirt shot from that specific low lying angle that Nishijima seems to enjoy so much. The character models are all pretty nicely done and kitted out, and its actually quite fun to see all the characters from the original OVA re-imagined in their younger forms, particularly Gust who gets to play waiter boy this time around! There isn’t much in terms of special effects that’s worth mentioning, though there are a few CG shortcuts thrown in here and there and unfortunately as always, they simply don’t mesh in well with the 2D animation. However, looking past that, overall Virgin Mission comes across as a pretty polished and good looking product then.
They’ve got a talented selection of established voice actors taking part this time around, with Ami Koshimizu filling Aika’s shoes and Misato Fukuen taking on Eri’s part, and as a team the voice actors all really do deliver a good performance, complemented by a skillful music score produced by the team of Hiroyuki Nomura and Jun’ichi Kanezaki. Both the opening and closing theme songs are nice and capably delivered by Ami Koshimizu, who seems to be taking on quite the reputation for performing the actual tracks used for anime titles in which she has a voice role these days.
Overall, AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission is probably not anything to write home about, but if you’ve seen and enjoyed Aika’s first outing then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well, though be warned that the original is far superior (as is generally the case) to this particular outing. The production as a whole is slickly created and delivered and of course, if you are a fan of schoolgirl panties and just animated titillation in general, then you’ll probably get a good kick out of this as well. Not brilliant, but a fun watch worth a couple of laughs and guaranteed to pass the time, but not necessarily something you would want a jealous girlfriend or your mom to catch you sniggering at.
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIKa_R-16:_Virgin_Mission