I’m sure at some point in time, each and every one of us has stumbled into an Anime series that was just “alright”. It’s neither amazing nor flat out terrible. It’s fine. It’s decent. It’s right in the middle.
If I had to use a single word to describe Akikan it would be “average”. It’s far from the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t quite do anything special enough to soar above the realms of mediocrity either.
And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by that. The show has one of the most absurd premises I’ve ever seen from an Anime series, and that says a lot given how many bizarre stories I’ve consumed from this medium over the years. It’s a show about juice cans that transform into Anime girls, referred to as “Akikans”, who then must do battle against one another to prove which type of can, steel or aluminium, is superior. On paper, it’s basically cute girls being cute juice cans in a team-based battle royale tournament, and despite how insanely stupid that sounds I was really looking forward to seeing how it would play out.
But unfortunately the series actually does very little to deliver on that premise. There are very few moments where the primary conflict of the series, Anime girls fighting each other, is actually the focus. Instead, the majority of the episodes tend to focus more on gags and comedic moments between the cast. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if said moments were actually entertaining or funny, but they’re often not. And as a result, the whole premise just feels kind of wasted.
A lot of the gags are funny the first time, but they’re also repetitive and while I can appreciate a running joke, it has to be done really well done for it to not overstay it’s welcome. Which isn’t really the case with Akikan.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. There are some genuinely funny moments too, even if they are few and far between. And while the jokes themselves often fall flat, there are plenty of lines of dialogue that I can only best describe as being “quotes for the ages”. Classic lines such as “Damn! That stupid vending machine… It treated me like a fool because I’m a virgin!”, “My penis has awakened!” and “You perverted, perverted, perverted desk!” are only a few examples.
Speaking of, the shows biggest strength is it’s cast of characters. They’re not the most unique bunch out there, and they’re all pretty standard in terms of personality and development, but just watching them interact with another is pretty entertaining, even in the most mundane situations. I’m especially a big fan of Najimi, who’s relationship with the protagonist Kakeru was probably the best part of the entire show for me. Just seeing these two interact, and watching her hopelessly fall head over heels for him and always fail to properly communicate her feelings was just really entertaining.
As for the Akikan’s themselves, they’re also pretty fun. Melon is by far the most fleshed out and interesting of the bunch and has a genuinely compelling arc that, while a little slow and drawn out, is one the shows biggest highlights. Watching her slowly integrate herself into human society and grow close to Kakeru was pretty heartwarming, even if it was in amongst a bunch of repetitive Ecchi gags that got old way too fast. Yell is also pretty fun, but is unfortunately nowhere near as fleshed out and sadly just doesn’t have much of an arc once the conflict between her and Melon is resolved. And Budoko, while really adorable, just doesn’t contribute much of anything to plot at all. It feels like she was just made to check off the “cute little girl” archetype.
But then that leads me to one of my biggest problem with the characters: The protagonist, Kakeru. He’s the source of a lot of the show’s hilarious dialogue, but outside of that he’s just not all that likeable. And not in a good way, but in an insufferably annoying way. He has his moments, particularly later on in the series where he is genuinely saddened by the Akikan’s getting absorbed by the villain in the final arc and disappearing, but most of his good qualities are unfortunately overshadowed by his childish and perverted antics. And unlike those of Issei from High School DxD, they just aren’t all that funny nor are they really cancelled out by the few moments he decides to take things seriously because said moments are so few.
And I get that’s probably the joke here, but it’s just a joke that doesn’t appeal to me and it puts a downer on the few moments where the show tries to take itself seriously. Towards the end of the series, there’s a final arc involving a “mixed juice” Akikan, who’s essentially the strongest of them all and who ends up being the final antagonist. And she’s genuinely threatening and systematically starts taking out all of the main characters one by one in some pretty entertaining fights.
It’s a pretty serious story arc and it’s one of the few times the show actually delivered on its premise. I even got a bit emotional when Melon was defeated and disappeared. Kakeru was devastated and was left all alone. It felt like he was finally going to shape and do something.
And then in the next episode, while it initially appears he’s going to cut the bullshit and start taking things seriously, he quickly makes an unfunny joke that felt really out of place and unnecessary. And sure, he does eventually step up and save the day, but the damage was already done for me.
But despite that, the final arc is definitely the strongest part of the series, and I’d honestly recommend watching Akikan solely because of it. The fight scenes are genuinely entertaining and the emotional stakes are really great. I just wish the show had more moments like this instead of choosing to completely ignore its initial set up.
As for the art and animation, they’re also a mixed bag. The animation is far from the best work I’ve seen from Brains Base, but at the same time Akikan is the kind of show that doesn’t really need good animation to successfully achieve its goals. And during the few action sequences that the show has, the quality of the animation greatly increases to meet the standard you’d expect of a show from 2009.
But the character designs are where Akikan really shines with its presentation. Outside of Kakeru himself who’s pretty generic in his design, the rest of the cast are super memorable in their appearance, particularly Melon who is incredibly striking. She’s also a top tier waifu which definitely clouds my judgement here. They all stand out from one another and funnily enough perfectly fit the aesthetic that you’d associate with each of their respective juice cans. Yell for example is dressed like an athlete and is supposed to be a sports drink and Budoko has grape coloured hair and is a grape flavoured fruit juice. They’re all very cleverly designed and I really appreciated these little details!
And the fan-service with said designs are pretty top tier, I must admit.
Overall, Akikan is just really average. It unfortunately fails to deliver on it’s wacky premise for the most part, until the final arc suddenly decides to shift everything into full gear and start doing interesting things. But unfortunately getting to that point requires sitting through a slog episodes that are very hit or miss. There’s some really funny dialogue in here, and the characters are pretty entertaining to watch for the most part. It’s just a shame that much of the show’s humour just wasn’t for me. I’d imagine that my final thoughts would have been much more positive had the jokes just landed more often for me.
It’s not a bad show by any means, it’s just not a great show either, and in many ways that can sometimes feel like a bigger waste of time than watching something that’s irredeemably awful.
But at least it has Najimi.
So yeah, I still haven’t found anything that’s completely awful yet, but perhaps the next show will prove me wrong.
Speaking of, next up is Tsui no Sora which is apparently a hentai OVA with only one episode. I had no idea a hentai series would be on the list, but I guess that’s what I get for not checking what each show on the list actually was before I posted it.
I’m scared already.
Until then folks!
If you want to follow the action more closely as I journey through each of these shows, you can find the live reaction Twitter thread here. You can also find a description of this challenge, and a list of all the shows, here.
And you can find my final score for Akikan! and every other Anime I’ve watched on my horrendously incomplete MyAnimeList page.