Akiballion (Japan 2008)

Rating: *
Review Date: 7/14/19
Cast: Asami

Contains five episodes

Ugh. That's three hours of my life that was not well-spent. A group of cyber-fairies break out of the Internet with the intention to destroy humankind and take over the world. They are the product of everyone's bad online behavior, and they enslave weak-minded nerds to carry out their nefarious plans. To counter this, the god of the cyber-world imbues three young women with the power of Akiballion, which transforms them into short-skirted costumed warriors. Maki is a hostess at a maid cafe in Akihabara, Moe is a nurse who wants to become an illustrator, and Ruka is a model who wants to become a pop idol. The general of the cyber-fairies is Troll, played by a young and shockingly sexy Asami. The first three episodes focus on each of the women being stalked by some creepy guy who turns into a cyber-monster with Troll's help. After being thoroughly beaten and humiliated, the other Akiballions show up and send the monsters packing. The last two episodes cover the final showdown between the Akiballions and the queen of the cyber-fairies.

This show is utterly dreadful and practically unwatchable. The production quality is terrible, the sets are cheap, the cinematography is weak, the action is lame, the sound is poor, and the visual effects are embarrassingly awful. It's clear that the filmmakers had very little budget to work with. The acting is mediocre, but Asami's performance is a standout that's worth mentioning. Her tantalizing presence is undeniable and her delivery is exceptional. She devours her villainous role with ravenous glee, and is the only actor who doesn't seem to be embarrassed by the whole production. Maki, Moe, and Ruka are cute and it's clear that they're making a genuine effort, but they're not particularly engaging.

The biggest problem with the show is pacing. Scenes go on WAY longer than they need to, and the editing is crude and amateurish. I admittedly watched most of the show in fast-forward scan, and it still dragged. The opening credits for each episode are a whopping 4.5 minutes long (!!!), and while the travelogue footage of Akihabara is fascinating, it gets old after the first couple of minutes. The pacing and editing also expose a more serious problem regarding the overall tone and presentation. On the surface it's a story about pure and innocent heroic girls fighting monsters that are the embodiment of all the nasty stuff that lurks in the darkest corners of men's minds. It's clearly a fetish film and makes ample use of up-skirt angles when the women are fighting. This would be fine if the tone were more campy and lighthearted, but what the film really fetishizes is violence against women. The Akiballions are definitely empowered women and strong fighters, but an uncomfortable amount of time is spent beating, torturing, and humiliating them. The amount of mean-spirited nastiness is surprising, especially for a show that features no sex or nudity (implied or otherwise). The filmmaker's favorite move is having the bad guys step on the women's bellies while they writhe around on the ground and scream in pain for minutes on end. This happens multiple times per episode and goes on far too long, which leaves a strong and distasteful mark of adolescent misogynistic rage. It's REALLY unpleasant to watch, which makes you wonder who the target audience is supposed to be.