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Anime: Project A-Ko
aka: Project Ako

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 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 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.

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.

Project A-Ko and its sequels provide examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • Amazonian Beauty: Liza from The Vs. She's noticeably taller and more heavily built than A-ko, beyond just having Boobs of Steel, and she wears skin-tight pants and a red bustier that shows copious decolletage, ramping up the Fetish Fuel.
  • Anti-Villain: Gail, possibly. His methods are evil, his goal ... understandable. He just bet on the wrong horse.
  • Battle Bikini: B-ko's Akagiyama 23 battle armor.
  • 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.
  • Bishōnen: Gail of A-Ko the VS. is a subversion, as when he's wearing his cape he looks quite bishie, but when he takes it off he's actually very muscular.
  • Blatant Lies: In the ending of the Vs., Maurten being the last survivor of the Space Patrol.
  • 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.
  • Broken Pedestal: A young Gail discovers his mentor, an unnamed nun, breaking her vow of chastity. He doesn't take it well, to say the least.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: C-Ko.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: C-ko and Miss Ayumi.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the sub-tropes apply. (This is a parody series after all.)
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: The "Love and Robots" DVD has a character listing giving brief character profiles for A-Ko, B-Ko and C-Ko. On C-Ko's, it lists that she hates B-ko and doesn't understand why she wants to get with her so badly. This is completely incorrect as C-Ko is shown to have a friendly relationship not only with B-Ko but her subordinates as well. She even wishes at the end of FINAL for her, A-Ko, B-Ko and all of B-Ko's gang to all be friends and not fight anymore. If anything, they were referring to Kei, who is the ONLY character C-Ko outright hates.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Subverted by D, Mari, and Captain Napolipolita. Mari also plays it straight: 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group the newspapers the spies use as their "disguises" are titled "Mainichi Daily News". Mainichi is Japanese for "everyday", making the paper the Daily Daily News. For a time, this was actually the name of the website of the English version of the Mainichi Shimbun.
  • Distressed Damsel: C-ko played this role in the beginning.
  • The Ditz: C-Ko (though she does seem to have moments of insight) and Miss Ayumi.
  • Doppelgänger 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.
    • The Japanese DVD features a commentary by the actresses that played the three leads.
  • Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit: Akagiyama 23 greatly enhances B-ko's reflexes, allowing her to match A-ko's. It also allows her to fly and breathe in outer space, thanks to the visor, and spam mini missiles. Problem is, it's also incredibly skimpy and causes the entire school, including A-ko and C-ko, to laugh at her, when they first see it.... until she started kicking A-ko's ass with it.
  • Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: A-Ko and B-Ko.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Liza in The Vs. is a brutal Space Pirate who loves unleashing violence on others, and doesn't hesitate to strike C-Ko when the kid gets on her nerves, but she really does love her partner in crime, Grash.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: C-ko.
  • Evil Knockoff
  • Fan Disservice: D's battle bikini and Daitokuji Hikari's Akagiyama-23 battle suit.
  • Fanservice: The first time we see A-ko, she's waking up wearing nothing but a pajama shirt and panties. The camera focuses rather prominently on her curves (and her drinking a glass of iced tea) throughout the sequence. The C-ko says it's time for school, she throws her shirt off (baring her breasts for the camera), puts on her uniform, and she quickly runs out the door.
  • Fashion Shop Fashion Show: A-ko trying on a number of outfits, and costumes, to try to attract a boy.
  • 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. and tries to kill A-Ko.
  • 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 ending theme song for the original movie, "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).
  • Freudian Excuse: Invoked in the first movie when A-Ko starts complaining about how B-Ko has made her late again.
    B-Ko: Is that the only thing you care about?! Being a "good girl?!" Charming the teachers?! Well naturally, it never occurred to you that there ARE some children who just aren't born with the same charm! But not you, no you get to be the heroine while I have to be the girl everyone says is spoiled! Okay! If they say I'M the bad girl, then that's what I'm gonna be!
  • 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 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 Is Not Nice: B-ko arguably qualifies. Apart from her obsessive rivalry with A-Ko, she's just spoiled and haughty and not bad in any way. She pays her subordinates for the work they do for her (though its not much), gives them breaks, oh, and she will go on a full-scale one-woman-army attack on a huge invading alien force if her friend is kidnapped and do a damn good job of it. She is even willing to put aside her war with A-Ko to make sure C-Ko gets back to Earth safely.
    • There are hints that their rivalry will give way to something resembling a friendship by FINAL and in VS., an alternate universe version of A-Ko and B-Ko, who really seem to be A-Ko and B-Ko in a parallel universe, are best friends and battle partners. Since the Graviton Universe is referenced a couple times, it does seem to imply that their rivalry is only skin-deep, if still ridiculously destructive and violent.
  • 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.
  • Graviton City is the Center of the Universe: In the Sub, the radio show calls it the high tech capital of the world, and where is the Earth Defense Force based? The desert planet is also the center of its universe.
  • Hair Decorations: C-ko.
  • Hammer Space: 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.
  • Iconic 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 VSnote  to the sailor suit to increase sales.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: A-ko's driving motivation in the OVAs.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In The VS., when A-Ko and B-Ko realize that C-Ko is Fighting from the Inside of Xena's Demonic Possession, they attempt this trope, only to descend into enthusiastic bickering. As C-Ko watches the two become Unstuck in Time shifting between alternate versions of themselves — including their classic incarnations — she awakens because of her Intrinsic Vow: she doesn't like it when A-Ko and B-Ko fight, at all.
  • 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, with very little alteration from the original 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.
  • In Their Own Image: Xena and Gail's plot in The Vs. is to use the Dragon God to destroy the current "degenerate" universe and make a new one.
  • Jerk Ass: A-ko in A-ko the VS, as she was meaner and ruder than her original universe counterpart. The movie glosses over this by giving her some reasons to lose her temper and later tells us other things that happened before the story.
  • Joshikousei
  • Kawaiiko: C-Ko.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: The female One-Gender Race of Human Aliens that look like guys
  • Large Ham: Xena in the VS, especially once She, A-ko, B-ko, and Maruten warp to the Talhoe Sector.
  • Late for School: A-Ko, constantly.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
  • Lethal Chef: C-Ko, even realizing it when she tries her own cooking.
  • Leotard of Power: B-Ko's armor. Both -A-ko and B-ko in The VS though A-ko's has a removable skirt.
  • 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. Even in The Vs., where she's actually just turning 10, her nanny tells her she's growing up and it's time to stop acting like a little kid. She doesn't.
  • Meaningful Name: Maruten literally means "ball head" in Japanese; Maruten's cranium is approximately the size and color of a tennis ball.
  • Megumi Hayashibara: B-Ko's flunkie Ume.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The initial shots of the aliens' ship are carefully blocked to make it appear to be about the size of Space Battleship Yamato. (Which it resembles quite a lot. Not by accident.) Later we get to see the whole thing. The "Yamato" part is its figurehead.
  • Moe Couplet: A-ko and C-ko.
  • Naïve 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."
  • Ojou Ringlets: B-ko.
  • 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. Looking carefully can reveal that they're female early into the first movie.
  • Only in It for the Money: In The Vs. B-ko has to bring up the possibility of profit in order to convince A-ko to help her rescue C-ko. C-ko is the heir to the Kotobuki fortune, and if they rescue her they're sure to get a massive reward. Unfortunately for them it doesn't quite work out that way...
  • 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.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: C-ko is seen wearing pink often.
  • Psychic Link: In The Vs., A-Ko and B-Ko seem to have one, as A-Ko knows something has happened to B-Ko after Gael shoots an energy beam through her chest.
  • 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
  • Reference Overdosed
  • 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.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The anticlimactic introduction of the Max 5000.
  • She Is 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 an Amazonian Beauty 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.
  • Spoiled Brat: C-Ko has shades of this in The Vs.
    C-Ko: I'M BORED, I WANNA PLAY A GAME NOW!!!
  • Subverted Trope: Played for Laughs. The climax of the fourth video shows that all the supposedly ominous signs, apparently connected by the hexagram symbols, were all just a bunch of coincidences.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: A-ko's gold-amber eyes are a sign that she's not exactly a normal human.
  • Super Hero
  • Supporting Protagonist: A-ko, as C-ko is the reason that the series even has a plot.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Liza's eyes are silver, indicating she's not a regular human, like A-ko's Supernatural Gold Eyes.
  • 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 "child" as the innocent and childlike figure, A-ko is the "wife" since she is the protective big sister figure looking after C-ko, and B-ko is the "seductress" since she has a curvy figure with penchant for wearing a revealing power suit and has a certain obsession with C-ko.
  • 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 Iconic Outfit 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.
  • Tron Lines: The elevator in the alien ship.
  • 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 Distressed Damsel, it's usually because she's this.
  • Whip It Good: "Black Jacovini Shooting Star Lash!"
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Gail from the Vs. fits this trope due to his callous disregard for the trillions that will die when he and Xena carry out their plan to create a universe by wiping out the current one with the Dragon God.
  • 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.
  • Wingding Eyes: When Maruten is trying to convince A-ko to help him defeat Gail, Xena, and the Dragon God, he's unable to sway her until he mentions the reward, whereupon A-ko gets dollar and yen signs for pupils, and says, quite deadpan, "It is my duty."
  • 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.

The Ping Pong ClubCreator/Central Park MediaRecord of Lodoss War
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Panda Go PandaCreator/Discotek MediaSaint Seiya
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alternative title(s): Project A-Ko; Project A Ko
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