Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Project A-ko

and other animated Japanese movies of the 1990s

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 3/20/92
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

I'm not sure what's going on here, but have you watched any of these Japaheeno guns-and-hooters cartoon movies?
Oh Mom, it's JUST cartoons from Japan "Annie Maes," they call em, and they used to be in the children's section of all the video stores, until CHILDREN started taking em home and Mom would come into the room and see nekkid women flying through space with rockets strapped to their back, lasering enemy aliens so they can travel through time to save their lesbo lovers, and she goes "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WATCHING! TURN THAT THING OFF!"

And the kids would whine, "Oh, Mom, it's JUST cartoons from Japan."
And pretty soon after that all the Annie Maes got taken off the children's shelves, and now they have big ole stickers that say "CONTAINS NUDITY" and "ADULT SUBJECT MATTER."
But I just finished watching about eight hours of these babies, and I have to say, I can understand WHY every 15-year-old boy has bought 30 of these in the last year and piled em up in his closet. All of these flicks--not just MOST of em, but every single one of em--are about beautiful teenage girls who wear a lot of French-cut bikinis and leather while they're blowing stuff up to save the world.

In fact, there's basically one plot for every Annie Mae flick:
The story takes place in the future, where some new city has been built on the ASHES of a city that was blown to smithereens by evil men.
Two girls with superhuman powers like to giggle a lot, go to school, and soak in the hot tub together.
A third girl, who wears too much leather, is jealous of their love and tries to steal one of them away.
The Earth is about to be blown up by aliens with enormous robot machines.
The only people who can defeat the robot machines are our two superhuman young girls, helped by the third girl, who decides it's more important to save the world than to get revenge on her rival.
So they all travel into space, or they travel through time, or they do some other "Star Trek"-type deal, or they get inside a giant robot--this part has a lot of variations--and they kill all the evil men that want to destroy the world.
Oh yeah, in the middle of the last crisis one of them decides to die for the other one, because they can't stand to be apart.
So basically the story here is that the world is destroyed by greed, and then it's saved by love.
It's a nineties thing. It's a Japaheeno thing. Mostly, though, it's a whole lot of women with poofy blonde hair flexing their thighs a lot. Sure, it's cartoons, but male hormones will respond to ANYTHING, right?

The latest hooters-and-twisted-metal cartoon from Yokohama is "Project A-ko," the story of a bubblehead 17-year-old at an all-girl high school who is so cute and giggly that two girls start fighting over her. One girl's name is A-ko, another B-ko, and another C-ko. A-ko is friends with C-ko. B-ko is jealous and wants C-ko for herself. So B-ko does what any red-blooded Japanese high school girl would do. She builds giant robots with heat-seeking missiles in their arms to DESTROY A-ko.

Meanwhile, an alien space ship is on its way to earth to kidnap C-ko and take her back to her proper place as princess of another planet. I think you can see what's developing here. Anybody could figure out the rest:
Giant mechanical spiders invade earth so that C-ko can be tied up and taken to a distant space station, bawling all the way. But A-ko sneaks into the space station through a stinky laundry room, fights a she-male samurai, and makes her way to the bridge where an alcoholic enemy commander is screaming "Booze! I need booze!"
Nine thousand explosions later, the girls go giggling down the street again, hand in hand, on their way to high school English class.
And we wonder why the Japanese are winning the economic battle.

Besides this one, I recommend a series called "Dominion: Tank Police" (violent cat sisters in bikinis, who escape from the cops by doing a strip-tease and attempt to infect the whole world with AIDS), "The Humanoid" (a buxom android named Antoinette falls in love and saves the world from the madman who unlocks the secrets of the ancient Mayan pyramids), and "GunBuster" (two Okinawa schoolgirls join the Imperial Earth Space Force, sail into space, activate something called a "black hole bomb" that destroys billions of enemy ships, and return to Earth 12,000 years after they left, having missed all their high school reunions). They kinda grow on you.

For "Project A-ko," those drive-in totals are:
Twenty-one dead bodies.
Two breasts.
Space explosion.
Giant robots turned into scrap metal with a pubescent girl's bare hands.
Giant robot dragster driven by a fat girl.
Five monsters the size of office buildings turned into fireballs.
Leather bikini martial arts.
Wrist missiles.
Sky spiders.
Kung Fu.
Robot Fu.
Dirty laundry Fu.
She-male samurai Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Katuhiko Nishijima, the director, for making absolutely no sense.
My kind of cartoon.
Four stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.


Republican Alert! A "For Sale" sign has gone up at the twin-screen Vue Dale Drive-In in Wenatchee, Wash., even though Mel Duvaul, the manager of the drive-in for 35 of the theater's 37 years, says they just had a banner season. David Jorgensen of Entiat reminds us that, without eternal vigilance, it can happen here. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and his world-famous "We Are the Weird" newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.

Dear Joe Bob,
I have been reading your stuff for a number of years and have always enjoyed it, but your judgmental character assassination of Anita Hill left me cold. If that was supposed to be satire, you withheld one main ingredient--humor! Any wordsmith with your low tolerance for bullstuff should understand the connotative subtlety between "cowardice" and "caution." But just in case you don't, let me put it to you in a more familiar mode: 1) You're male. 2) You're white.
Now I know what you're thinking. "Oh, no, here comes another politically correct a------ to try and ruin my day." Well, hold it right there, buster! Nobody has ever called ME politically correct. It's just that your argument stinks. For one thing, cowards don't come forward at ANY TIME to stand in front of the Senate (not to mention the media, and therefore the rest of the planet) and handle a barrage of questions from experienced interrogators, some of whom just happen to be friendly with the President of the United States. Anita Hill is not some naive "cub" law professor. The situation you describe with Ms. Sistrunk is a rather weak analogy. Editors and journalists regurgitate their opinions endlessly, right or wrong, and you do not, nor should you have to, reveal your sources. But we're talking about law here, Joe Bob! Personally, I like to see stuff like this checked into a little more thoroughly.
Anyhow, Joe Bob, just between you and me and the lamp post, why don't you admit it? The REAL reason that you could take such a cavalier attitude towards Ms. Sistrunk is because you didn't want that job anyway! You wanted the job you've got now, Joe Bob Briggs, Entity Unto Himself. Must be a mighty comfortable feeling. I mean, you're right up there with Hunter S. Thompson . . . well, maybe that was a poor example, but you get my drift, don't you?
If I were you, Mr. Briggs, I'd start feathering my nest now. You could begin by dropping the Republican Alert horse-hockey and getting on out there and stumping for David Duke.
Leo Muzzy
Eureka, Calif.

Dear Leo:
Here's my point about Anita Hill. Seriously. No satire. The proper way to deal with sexual harassment is:
File charges.
File charges.
File charges.
Waiting ten years and then talking about it in such a way that no man could possibly defend himself is NOT the American way.

Dear Mr. Joe Bob,
After reading your recent newsletter about TV schlock hosts, I have a question. While I was growing up in the hot spot of the great state of Ohio, Zanesville, I always enjoyed watching the Cleveland station that had "The Ghoul." This character had a bizarre wig, sunglasses with only one lens, and carried a stick with a skull on top to bash in plastic models that didn't quite explode from the firecrackers that he stuck into them. The skull on a stick was called "Oxnard," I believe. My question is, is this "The Ghoul" the same as "Ghoulardi?" I do seem to remember rumors of another host at the same station who firecrackered a frog and was fired, but I never heard the whole story. Please let me know if you have any further details, or ask Mr. Ghoulardi, if you haven't taped the show yet.
Stay sick, turn blue, ova-dae!
Nick Murray
Columbus, O.

Dear Nick:
After Ghoulardi was fired from his Cleveland station--for the second and last time--in 1966, his costume was appropriated by another station announcer who became "The Ghoul," and still occasionally makes appearances as "The Ghoul" in the Cleveland area today. The Ghoul used a much tamer version of Ghoulardi's act, so he never got fired.
Anyhow, I did ask Ghoulardi (real name Ernie Anderson) about The Ghoul, and he said, "Believe it or not, the guy is out there doing the same schtick. Can you believe that?"
It was hard to tell whether Ernie was flattered or hacked off.

Dear Joe,
As a 62-year-old woman I would like to tell you that it is scary enough growing old and worrying about every lump and bump without reading your column referring to courtroom spectators as "scary old ladies with fungus growing on their faces."
I ordinarily enjoy your satire, but this is too close to home.
You are a "real live jerk."
Lolita Murphy
Sonoma, Calif.

Dear Lolita:
You don't understand. I LOVE scary old ladies with fungus growing on their faces. Fungus is only skin deep. Most of us are ugly all the way to the bone.
I didn't mean it, hon.

Dear Joe Bob,
Wouldn't it be great if (after they thaw out his cryogenically frozen body and brain) Walt Disney returns with a warped-out, Frankenstein-like sense of humor, reclaims control of his empire, and hires you to lay down some new rules and edicts for the Magic Kingdom and film division? Don't know about others, Joe Bob, but when that day comes, I'd like to be the first in line to buy tickets to Disneyland and the all new (re-release) of "Snow White and the Seven Sons of Satan versus Dumbo"!
Jeff Mullins
San Jose, Calif.

Dear Jeff:
How about "Debbie Does Donald"?

© 1992 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

"Dominion: Tank Police" availability on video and on DVD, and books about Japanese animation from

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