Agent Aika begins with a leisurely boat tour along the flood waters now covering Saitama, Japan. Twenty years after a worldwide disaster submerged 95% of the world’s land, salvaging work to recover valuable goods and data from the abandoned cities below has become a booming profession.
An attractive fighter and submarine pilot, Aika Sumeragi, and her spunky megane partner, Rion Aida, pursue salvaging work at the K2 Corporation headed by Rion’s father, Gozo Aida. Rion is frustrated with her father’s overly generous business practices that have lost profits for the company. Aika intervenes and convinces them to agree to a shady business proposition to collect data on a new energy source called Lagu. Unbeknownst to them, Rudolf and Neena Hagen, siblings who were contracted by the military, also have a vested interest in this energy source, and they’re willing to kill to obtain it for themselves.
The fanservice, which—let’s be honest—is the whole point of this series, is brash by the more socially considerate standards of modern anime. I often see people today complaining about small bits of service that pale in comparison to what Agent Aika defiantly shovels into your face. Excess aside, I couldn’t help but appreciate the inventiveness of the choreography and shot compositions. The fight scenes are practically balletic in their staging, and consistently filled with service shots that aren’t confined to comedic or sexual situations. The camera itself turns the viewer into a dirty voyeur, giving you a sleazy first-person view of the “action.”
The non-service cinematography is noteworthy as well. By episode five, there’s an impressive play on perspective and depth of field akin to a live action crime thriller. For a series that likely started as an excuse to fill the screen with panty shots, the visuals are surprisingly detailed and thought out. With the support of superb artwork and an eccentric array of characters, my interest was sustained outside of the service.
Agent Aika was clearly a labor of love, something that the creators believed in, and likely wanted to see for themselves. This kind of passion is rare. Typically, studios play it safe, and paint by the numbers laid forth by focus groups, steering clear of anything that could be considered too weird, offensive, or unprofitable. Agent Aika on the other hand didn’t give any fucks. It did what it wanted to do, how it wanted to do it, and it did it with style.