Greetings! Welcome to the next anime review. We will be covering the wholly unique (read “strange”) anime Akikan! The idea to review this anime actually came from the WatchMojo list for strange anime. The review may contain very minor spoilers, as always, so do be warned.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: Akikan (”Empty Can”) is the unlikely story of high school boy Kakeru Daichi, whose can of melon soda magically transforms into a human girl. More “akikan” girls begin appearing, each of them needing to be infused with carbon dioxide from their respective drink types to survive. The akikans were created as part of the ‘Akikan Elect’ to determine whether steel cans or aluminium cans are superior. The akikans must battle each other until only the strongest type is left standing. -Wikipedia
If there was one word to describe the premise of Akikan, it would be bizarre. When people say anime is often about strange topics, this is one anime you could point to in agreement. Strangeness aside, the plot of Akikan is rather generic overall. The idea of a battle royale driving the plot is not anything especially new, even though using living cans is. There is definitely an interesting dynamic for the first half of the anime that makes the story at least interesting and feel like it is going somewhere. The pacing is not bad, and there is a fair bit of tension. This is especially present in the relationships between the cans and their owners, and what kind of things those entail. There is a plot with comedy inserted. However, after the midway mark, the plot completely drops off. It goes lacks any actual plot or subplot development, leaving it floundering and with no aim. This is incredibly frustrating, since the first half of the show is not bad at all. The whole battle royale basically falls into the background and the remaining episodes are mostly a jumble of random daily occurrences, almost feeling comedic slice of life. The show itself is largely existent as a comedy and parody for the general ecchi, so in many ways, the gags end up overtaking the plot in priority, killing the momentum of the anime. The bottom half largely a collection of gags and jokes, and lacks any substance in the plot to encourage watching further.
The characters for the anime are cliche overall, but do have some interesting quirks that make them feel less generic. The main protagonist, Kakeru, is basically the pervert that is actually a good and caring person. While his jokes can be a bit annoying, he stands out from the host of similar characters from other anime by actually being his own character rather than an “everyman.” His Akikan, named Melon, is the typically tsundere, but she is still interesting with her nativity and curiosity built into her character. Any character or relationship development is restrained to the first half of the show, much like the plot. There are actually some interesting and genuine concerns/conflicts among the characters, but these are either forgotten or worked into a “status quo” type scenario for the latter half. Again, this is because the gags become of more importance than the everything else.
Probably the least appealing aspect of the show is the animation, which is jagged and not the nicest to look at. One can get over it with some work, and at least the character designs are not too bad. The Akikans (the can girls) are actually pretty creatively designed, essentially being gijinkas of their drinks.
Akikan has a surprisingly decent soundtrack. While it is certainly not the best, it works really well with the tone of the show. The closing is pretty creative, switching styles between the episodes to help match the contents and keep it feeling fresh. The opening changes midway through the series, and reflects the stark differences between the halves, but both openings are pretty good for what they are.
Akikan is actually really clever thematically, or rather, with its humor. While most of the humor is rather sexual in nature, the outlandish way it is portrayed reflects the true type of humor. The anime is very self-referential and over the top to make fun of itself, and by extent, other ecchi anime. In this way, the anime is a parody, and does it in such a subtle way it is actually rather good. The anime points out the ridiculousness of its whole premise. It could even a be subtle commentary on the Japanese trend of flashy presentations and concern about aesthetics over perhaps value or usefulness. In doing this, the anime suggests themes of substance over style. Other minor themes that the anime manifests include relationship (both friendly and romantic) and anti-violence. These themes are not of importance however, as the show really pushes the humor on the viewer. This forcefulness of its satirical nature is unfortunately the cause for its failings in other categories, making the anime almost ironic as it falls into the same trap of many other ecchi anime.
Final Score: 7.0/10
Final Grade: C
Oh Akikan. I enjoyed this show way more than I should have. Akikan falls under this special category where the concept is so crazy and over the top, it simultaneously made me love it and set my expectations very low. I had a feeling that this wouldn’t be a super well crafted story with high production values, and I was right. The plot was specifically strange in that it felt like the main story ended after episode 6, and then just sort of meandered for the second half. However, I feel that a high quality story and production was not what Akikan was going for. What Akikan does have is enjoyment. A lot of enjoyment. It wasn’t an all out laugh fest, but there were so many hilarious, over the top, and jaw dropping moments, and I was at least consistently entertained. The show also goes into deep philosophical themes, asking just what a Can’s true purpose is in life, something the great minds and scholars have yet to truly dive into. There’s probably also some underlying consumerist theme somewhere in there too I guess… Okay, so it’s not that deep of a show, but as a side note, I nearly lost it when the steel and aluminum cans trash talked each other by dissing their respective properties and economic usefulness. The show also isn’t afraid to make fun of itself and romance anime tropes. Just look at the respective introductions of “best friend” type Najimi, or “ultimately unimportant friend” type Gigolo. Kakeru was so rediculous as a main character, that I was actually unannoyed by his arrogance, and considered it as more of a joke. Because I had low expectations, these little things left me pleasantly surprised, and really upped my enjoyment. I was also surprised at how relatively tame the show’s visuals were. It certainly isn’t a show like Monster Musume, with constant ecchi moments that make me feel slightly guilty watching. Dialogue-wise however, Akikan CAN get pretty raunchy, and often hilariously so. The music isn’t stellar, but it gets the job done. I did really love the opening and closing themes though. The way the style of the closer changes with each episode was so cool to me. It kept things fresh while allowing the same catchy tune to get stuck in my head. One certainly CAN consider Akikan to be a poor quality show, but I say that if you CAN excuse major issues in story telling and take it as a slightly off-beat show with some parody, Akikan is definitely worth it, and maybe you’ll find the little things I mentioned endearing as well. It also really makes me want to try melon soda, so there’s that.
Final Comments: Akikan! takes its strange premise to interesting places to create a satirical anime thats decently compelling in the first half, but bad animation and onslaught of gags kill off its potential.
Thank you for reading our review! I wanted to start making these reviews a little more interactive, so feel free to answer the following questions in the comments. We here at RishRaff Reviews would love to hear your opinions! Our next review will be us returning to the Rozen Maidens franchise as we review Rozen Maiden: Ouverture.
1. Are a strange premise and/or poor animation too major of issues to warrant watching an anime, as could be the case with Akikan?
2. Do you think Akikan! could be viewed as satirical or as parody? Why or why not?
Thanks again! We are curious to see what you think. Hope to see you for the next post.