The Sexy Sentai cyber-maidens of Akihabara, defender of justice and dignity!
For fans of Japanese sentai/tokusatsu shows such as "Power Rangers" or the many Japanese superhero "ranger" based shows that have aired in Japan, Japan has begun exploring the concept of using gravure models donning these superhero uniforms.
In this case, "Akiballion Battlemaids of Akihabara!" was released in Japan back in 2008 as a DVD Pay-Per-View series from Zen Pictures (a company that specializes in bringing gravure bikini models and have them in Power Ranger-esque outfits or as some super heroine or anti-hero). In Japan, this DVD/PPV was only available where Japanese consumers had to pay for a DVD and get the first episode for free (plus the making of the episode) and then pay about $5 extra to access one of the next four episodes and unlock the episode on the DVD for two weeks. Fortunately, in the US, for those interested in the series can watch all episodes on a DVD courtesy of Switchblade Pictures.
"Akiballion Battlemaids of Akihabara!" takes Japan's hottest gravure idols (bikini/lingerie models) and put them in a traditional sentai story with their battlemaid outfits, have them fight monsters and a little fan service (via upskirt pantie shots) for their fans.
The story of "Akiballion Battlemaids of Akihabara!" revolve around three young women who have been chosen by the Cyber God to take on monsters from the Cyber World. The three are given power to become "Akiballion" and granted fighting powers and a sword to take on the Cyber Fairies. Meanwhile, the Fairy Queen has her warrior known as Troll, look for creepy people to become Cyber Fairies and destroy Akiballion.
The main characters of the series are:
Maki/Red Battle Maid - Athena (played by Arisa Taki) - Maki works at Plumeria, a maid cafe. Typically when the maids are accosted by bad otaku's, Maki is the person who deals with them. She is also the fighter of the group.
Ruka/Blue Battle Maid - Artemis (played by Yuko Shoji) - Ruka works as a bikini model and sometimes feels that she can do better than Maki/Athena.
Moe/Yellow Battle Maid - Aphrodite (played by Mai Yamaguchi) - Moe works as an nurse who hopes to one day have her manga published.
"Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" consists of five episodes on one DVD.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" is presented in 16:9 and shot via digital. Because all five episodes are on one DVD, there is compression artifacts that can be seen.
Audio is in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 and for the most part is front channel driven. If you have a home theater receiver capable of stereo on all channels, it makes for a better soundscape when watching these shows.
Subtitles are in English.
"Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" comes with no special features but trailers from Switchblade Pictures.
"Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" is one of those titles that is strictly made for fans of Arisa Taki, Yuko Shoji and Mai Yamaguchi and I suppose, are hardcore fans of sentai/tokusatsu shows.
I grew up with the genre throughout the '90s and watching all that came out from Japan and so, the concept of using gravure models was quite intriguing. And the fact that Zen Pictures in Japan has been doing this for several years and the fact that they are cranking out these movies and have a loyal fanbase shows you how popular these videos are in Japan. And knowing that there is a strong sentai/tokusatsu fanbase in America, is literally an untapped demographic who have been wanting these films to come over stateside.
But for those curious about "Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!", do not expect a solid storyline, great fighting choreography or great acting. In fact, it seems that in order to keep the length long, the editors didn't trim certain scenes, so little things such as a character looking at another character, instead of quick cuts...you'll see the actresses just pausing and staring at each other. In fact, the opening theme is quite long at nearly four minutes. Editing should have been tightened up but it looks like they tried to meet a certain time for episode length duration.
Acting is wooden at times but granted, these are gravure models, so I was not expecting anything significant. I have to give credit to casting for finding creepy looking guys to play the otaku antagonists. As for the fighting choreography, it is a bit sluggish but at least Arisa Taki can pull off some fighting moves.
A positive about this release is that Japanophiles who enjoy maid cafe's and Akihabara will enjoy the otaku culture shown in the series. Also, the episodes are shot in various locations around the city and it was really cool to see that featured in "Akiballion". Also, I found the costume design for the three heroines to be rather cool.
Overall, people who are interested in "Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" are more than likely interested in watching these five episodes because of the ladies. May it be seeing Arisa Taki in a maid uniform or Yuko Shoji in her bikini or to seeing a sentai show with fan service, this is for their fans.
But you can definitely find this DVD for a good price and knowing that in Japan, this was a DVD-PPV release, at least no one in the US has to pay extra just to watch a single episode. If you are into any of these three gravure models, then "Akiballion: Battlemaids of Akihabara!" may be for you.