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Akikan! Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

When soda cans transform into cute girls, we discover that you can scrape the bottom of the barrel.

What They Say:
Hobbies are often a great way of meeting new people, but how could Kakeru Diachi, who collects rare juice cans, have ever suspected that he’d meet a fascinating new girl when he attempted to DRINK her? Naming her Melon, because she’s got great melon… soda, Kakeru quickly learns that she’s an Akikan – a beautiful girl who’s also a special can created to fight other Akikans in a strange experiment to determine what kind of container is better: steel or aluminum!

Will becoming involved in this ridiculously twisted research project gone amuck complicate Kakeru’s life incredibly? Of course it will, but because Melon’s steel body needs carbon dioxide to breathe, he’s now stuck with her since she’s too CO2 dependent! And when his wealthy, attractive, best childhood friend Najimi gets HER own aluminum Akikan, the trouble really begins!

Contains episodes 1-12 and the OVA.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is standard fare as we get the Japanese language only with it and it’s in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The series doesn’t do much out of the ordinary when it comes to its audio design but it’s decent and capable as it’s largely dialogue driven with a lot of silliness mixed in and some mild action. The action does go a little bit bigger simply because it acts out more but it doesn’t go the distance overall. There’s not much in the way of directionality here nor depth but the forward soundstage covers the bases well. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series and single episode OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is spread across two discs with six on the first and seven on the second. The series is animated by Brain’s Base and they went with a soft approach here with the color palette and it works rather well, almost giving it a bit of a late 80’s feel in a way with the look of it. The show has a decent level of detail to it but it’s not one that stands out but it looks good outside of the bit of noise in the backgrounds. Cross coloration is non-existent and there’s only a bit of line noise during some of the busier movement segments.

Packaging:
This release is done up in a standard single sized keepcase with a hinge inside to hold the first of the two discs. The front cover puts together an interesting pairing with Melon along the left and the villain of the series, who only appears in the final couple of episodes, on the right side. Both are set against a white background but there’s little of the background to see since the character artwork pretty much dominates it. They look good and the colors are spot on and there’s a good level of detail as well that makes it an eye-catching piece. The logo through the lower half is simple but colorful and fits the cute nature that’s being promoted. The back cover uses a lot of light melon-like colors here with greens and whites and the bubbly nature that we see during the opening and closing parts of the show. The character artwork brings in pieces for Budoko and Yell while also having a good selection of small shots from the show itself. The summary is a bit more than needed but it covers things well and makes the show sound fun with the premise. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for the release is pretty nice as it has more of a feel of the designs coming from the light novels rather than the anime. The character artwork changes the Akikans for each disc with the two of them paired up in the center. The left has the episode numbers while the right of them has the episode titles. It’s got a good look to it even as the artwork has a certain softness to it that comes from the color design being in the soft greens and purples. It sets the mood well from a visual design perspective and the menus are quick and easy to use, especially as there’s no language submenus since it’s Japanese only.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series of the same name by Riku Ranjō which began in 2007 and has nine volumes out as of this writing – and still going – Akikan! is a twelve episode series with an additional OVA that deals with transforming soda cans. Yes, soda cans. There’s been a lot of things in the world of anime that transforms over the years and soda cans is definitely a first I think, at least for me. Akikan pretty much runs the formula well here for a series that uses romantic comedy and action with a mild dose of harem aspects but it also shakes things up a little bit since it lets the characters know more about who is really interested in who. But it also gives us a lead character who is generally pretty unlikable which makes it harder to get behind all the girls that are interested in him, even if it is only two. Two very cute and fun girls.

The series revolves around high school student Kakeru, a sixteen year old guy who doesn’t have a girlfriend but can generally be fairly crude and lewd when you get down to it. He acts out like a lot of young guys do and is pretty outgoing in his attempts to get close to people. While he’s not exactly the most loved student in the class, he’s got an alright gig going. One of the things that separates him from others though is his hobby, which doesn’t factor into his school life for the most part. He collects limited edition and collector soda cans. It’s a cute little quirk, especially when he talks to the soda machines when he buys his cans and basically tries to pick them up for a date. It’s the kind of dialogue that guys often think but don’t say out loud and some of it made me laugh.

Where Kakeru’s life goes off the rails is when he gets a can of melon soda and puts it to his lips only to have the can transform into a cute girl who calls him master. Kakeru of course figures this is the perfect opportunity to have fun, but like most leads he doesn’t really try to get far, instead having more of a platonic/flirty relationship with her that in turn has her giving him grief and beating him up when necessary. The two have a decent relationship over the course of the series as the two get to know each other and figure out how things work between them, but Kakeru has the advantage in that when she’s in human form, her pull tab is her earring and he can just tug on that and turn her back into a can. Of course, he also has to make sure she has enough carbonation in her so she has to be refilled from time to time. Which isn’t made as dirty as it could be.

What gets thrown into the mix that isn’t really well defined is that what Melon is, an Akikan, is part of a larger group of other Akikans that are out there and there’s some sort of quasi-strange organization that watches and monitors this but is pretty ineffective. The pair we see is a man named Otoya who just loves young men and his assisting Airin who suffers through his stupidity. They mention some bits about the whole Akikan Elect program that’s going on where the Akikan have to fight each other, but it’s such a small subplot that’s never really exploerd that it’s easy to ignore it all as it’s really a non-factor.

Other Akikan do show up in the series though only one of them gets any significant screen time. The lesser one is thankfully kept that way as Budoko is a can of grape soda and she’s a pint sized little girl who has little impact and is just sort of there, so it’s good that they keep her and her master minimal. The one that gets more attention though is Yell, who comes from a sports drink that a high school girl named Najimi drinks. Yell is pretty athletic and devoted to her master as well as being one that’s very aggressive as she intends to take down Melon. What does work though is her master, Najimi. With her being in the same class and having a definite interest in Kakeru, she pursues him pretty well and there isn’t that much waffling going on when you get down to it.

With a show like this that has the whole Akikan Elect gimmick to it, you expect more of the show to involve the battles and making things clearer as it goes on as to what the fighting will be about at the end of the season. Instead, it’s relegated to the last two episodes overall and is dealt with quickly and really has no main impact on the series as a whole. What the show spends its time doing is the usual romantic comedy/harem back and forth kind of stuff such as going to school, running around and other fluff. Najimi is what helps to make it work at times since she’s a fun character and does her best to make things connect since she’s the most normal. But she’s also caught up in the whole Akikan thing as well so there’s a vested interest and she just has a personality that made me laugh more than feel sad for her.

In Summary:
Akikan is the kind of series where you really have to wonder what they were thinking. I have to admit that I like the concept at its core because there’s something inherently silly and different about having soda cans transform. And I liked some of the characters, particularly Najimi, but the lead is fairly unlikable as a person though he has some good jokes and crude bits. The lack of proper use of the Akikan Elect angle really bothers and the kind of wandering nature of the show made it hard to get into. It does some fun stuff but it doesn’t come across as a cohesive and well plotted piece. The good bits are very much outweighed by the rest of it and I still can’t believe that they’ve managed as many light novels as there are. Akikan is a pretty forgettable show overall, though it’ll give you the opportunity to talk about soda cans that transform into girls and that’s a surprisingly awesome icebreaker.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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