Najica Blitz Tactics (Japan 2001)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/9/06

Twelve episodes

Finally, a woman who can give Agent Aika a run for her money in the panty flashing department. Najica is a young woman who masquerades as the CEO of a perfume company, but her real job is as a gun-toting secret agent. Her latest assignment involves the tracking down and apprehension of a group of runaway Humaritts, which are artificial humans. It's not clear whether they're cyborgs or androids, but they have super-human strength and reflexes, the innocence and naiveté of children, and they rely on having a master to give them orders. Having them run amuck is just asking for trouble. Against Najica's wishes, a Humaritt named Lila is assigned as her partner, and she spends equal time being a nuisance and a help. While the series starts out as exploitive trash, it becomes quite dramatically engaging in the last four episodes. As a whole, it plays out as a cautionary tale about the treatment of robots, their relationships with humans, and the dangers in letting them think for themselves. And white cotton panties. LOTS of white cotton panties.

Within five seconds of watching this show, it's clear who the target demographic is, and the series goes to extreme lengths to view a woman's undergarments from every possible vantage point. Not that it's difficult, as Najica wears a skirt that's so short it can't even cover her ass. Very similar to "Agent Aika," all of the enemies in the series are also women in very short skirts, so there's no shortage of girl-on-girl tussling. The first episode is particularly ludicrous, as Najica has to infiltrate a mansion guarded by heavily armed french maids. It's amazing how their skirts can't cover their cute little behinds, and yet are capable of concealing an AK-47.

However, unlike "Agent Aika," there's a solid undercurrent of sexism and misogyny. (I know that may come as a shock to some of you) While all of the main characters are women and all of the action takes place between women, it's the men behind the scenes who are calling all of the shots. Instead of being a female empowerment film, it gives the impression that women are just disposable tools for doing men's dirty work. This is rather distasteful to me, but I can overlook it due to the fact that Najica and Lila are such strong and compelling characters. They are also excellent fighters, and the plentiful action scenes are exciting and quite enjoyable.

Production wise, the show is solidly average. Character designs are decent, but not great, and the animation incorporates a lot of still frames and shortcuts. The jazzy music score is a high point and the voice acting is excellent. Lila's emotionless delivery can be downright creepy, and the deadness of when she says "okay" is chilling. Overall, if you can get past the endless fan service and the first few episodes, "Najica Blitz Tactics" delivers a hearty helping of girls 'n' guns action as well as some intriguing science fiction themes.