Ten years after the first AIKa title was released in Japan, Aika Sumeragi has returned with a new mission chronicling her first mission when she was a teenager in AIKa R-16. Having just earned her C-class salvager license, Aika is ready for her first job underwater and has posted advertisements up around the school. However, Eri Shingai, the class 1A rep and Aika’s usual antagonizer in class, is not going to let Aika ruin the school’s rep with silly stunts like this. Yet, Eri does have a need for Aika’s newly-found license. Animated by Studio Fantasia and published by Bandai Visual, AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission 1 is the first of a three-volume OVA series on Region 2 Japan DVD.
MSRP: 5800 yen (6090 with Tax), 7000 yen (DVD1 with Box)
Audio: Japanese 2.0 DD
Extras: Making of AIKa R-16, Preview Trailers
Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.
Aika Sumeragi is a rather lazy girl when it comes to things like getting to school on time, despite living in the dorms across from the campus. Sensei Risako Nagisa scolds Aika for being late again, to which Aika responds by trying to play innocent. Of course, when it’s your 30th-day-in-a-row late, it’s kind of hard to get the teacher to go easy on you. Risako dismisses Aika with the punishment to shine all the windows in the building. In the hallway, Aika spots one of her new posters advertising Aika’s new salvaging business. However, class 1A rep Eri Shingai is not going to have the entire classroom’s honor soiled by a student trying to advertise her new business. Eri and her friends have gone around the entire school removing the posters. Naturally, Aika is going to get mad, leaving Aika and Eri in a shouting match as the class bell rings.
While cleaning the school windows later that day, Aika hears Eri calling her name from below. Eri wants to introduce Aika to a special club on campus. Eri Shingai is the daughter of an influential family and president of the school’s Treasure Hunting Club. With Aika having a license to drive a submarine, Eri offers Aika the chance to join an adventure Eri has been planning and drive a Beluga minisub. Naturally, Aika wants to join to get to drive the new submarine, but the mission is going to be a dangerous one. One of the members, Karen Minamino, carries an odd tattoo on her right breast in the shape of a purple butterfly. Their mission this weekend is to explore the mysteries surrounding the answer hidden within the butterfly.
Onboard Eri’s private crusier, the Regina Eri, the Treasure Hunting Club discusses in detail the area they are heading to. Karen has no memories of where the group is heading or how she received her secret butterfly marking, but Eri managed to solve at least one mystery already. By magnifing the butterfly, a series of numbers can be found which reveal the secret message “The gate of the truth will be opened by the sleeping butterfly” and coordinates on a map. Eri can’t help but be excited at the idea of all the mysteries they’ll get to solve at their destination. Eri takes Aika down below to look at the new submarine when the ship’s captain comes to Eri with a problem. The school advisor is causing a disturbance on the deck. Soaking in the sun in a tiny bikini is the school advisor as the ship’s crew drools from a safe distance. Risako Nagisa has joined the weekend adventure to watch over the Treasure Hunting Club’s activities. Yet the only thing Eri and Aika can do is get angry at the sight of their sensei seducing every man onboard.
That evening, Karen, Aika, and Eri meet with the captain to look over a map of where they are heading. The coordinates are for an island that sank during the Great Catastrophe and has become a modern-day Bermuda Triangle since then. Karen grips herself a little tighter when the captain mentions that an airport used to be on the island. Despite the captain’s sugestion, Eri will not be deterred from solving the mystery. Aika and Eri return to their cabin where Eri explains how she met Karen and started to get curious about the unanswered questions surrounding her past. Meanwhile, someone onboard the ship is starting to knock out the schoolgirls. A schoolgirl leaves the main hall to find out why some of her classmates are still in the restroom when she gets hit from behind. Risako Nagisa stands over the fallen girl with a cold stare. The mission is about to get a lot harder for Aika and Eri.
AIka R-16 brings back the Aika Sumeragi character for her 10th anniversary in Japan with a new mission to give some backstory to how she became the salvager we know today. The love and attention from Studio Fantasia is obvious as Aika slowly transforms from a fresh 16-year-old to a skilled woman of action as the first episode unfolds. The fanservice is a treat, from the traditional panty-shots of an AIKa title to the excuses to reveal the detailed breasts of Aika, Eri, Karen, and Risako in only twenty-four minutes. The Japanese cast nails down their characters in this OVA from the first moment. Ami Koshimizu’s Aika does a wonderful job mixing teenage-Aika’s enthusiasm with the cool head of the agent we eventually come to follow. Misato Fukuen does an equally exceptional job as Aika’s rival, throwing in a great show for antagonizing Aika and the serious face of a spoiled rich girl. And one ca not skip Naoko Suzuki’s seductive voice bringing Risako’s sexy visuals to life with her sultriness. AIKa R-16 is in very good hands for the three-episode OVA series.
AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission 1 brings back one of the best female action-characters in the late 90′s to a new generation of fans. Bandai Visual has put together a strong first title in single-DVD and DVD-with-Box flavors for fans to enjoy. The video is crisp and colorful with a large dose of fanservice on top. The DVD extra included with the first OVA episode is a twenty-three-minute “Making of AIKa R-16” featurette that interviews the cast and staff from the series. The DVD is Region 2 encoded, so you will need a DVD player or DVD-ROM that can play R2 DVD’s in order to view the short piece. AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission 1 is a strong start to a new adventure for the classic character and one that will only get better as volumes two and three are released.