Najica Blitz Tactics - Volume 1 (DVD)
I often go out of my way to look for meaningful anime, shows that break stereotypes and offer something new. I like thoughtful stories, intelligent characterisations, something that takes the Pokemon/cartoon fetishist label and spits on it from a great height. But on occasion I just want to join the lowest common denominator and watch something cheap, trashy and fun. There's a reason why Carry On films are so popular in the land that gave us Shakespeare, and it's no less true for anime. My friends, I crave fan service. I want ridiculous over the top action, I want boobies, and I want panty shots. I want the ludicrous stereotypes that let me just switch my brain off and marvel at the psychological issues of the animators. The thing is that there is a fine line between cheeky and prurient, the line between Carry On Camping and Carry On Emmanuelle so to speak, and if you cross it in anime you get self-important smut like Ikki Tousen. Stay on the right side of the line and you get Love Hina. Then along comes a show that crosses the line and goes so far to the other side that it renders previous definitions meaningless. Enter Najica Blitz Tactics, which opens with a shot of boobies, and then switches to a gratuitous panty shot. It goes on from there in a teen male gratifying vein that makes you think that these discs should be stored in a brown paper bag, not an Amaray case. What's important is if it has fun with it. If a show is fun, then you can forgive it a multitude of sins.
Najica Hiragi works for cosmetics firm CRI by day, where she puts her highly trained nose to work creating some of the world's most exclusive perfumes. Her real job is far more interesting though, a secret agent, she gets sent on the toughest missions, armed with the latest gadgets, to battle criminals and terrorists, and save the world when necessary. But in this future world where earthquakes have submerged much of the Earth's surface, and megalomaniacal villains can be manufactured, Najica's going to need help, whether she wants it or not.
Volume 1 of 3 contains the first four episodes.
Mission 1. A Magnificent Secret Agent With A Rose In Her Hands
We join Najica on a training exercise (which would blind the average cameraman). It's a prelude to a dangerous mission to an isolated island to retrieve an item. The castle complex is home to a rich socialite who surrounds herself with petite French maids. She has a hold of this item and is intent on unwrapping and playing with it while her husband is away. Najica has to sneak in and retrieve the item. It's just that the item is a young girl named Lila, and the French maids have Uzis.
Mission 2. A Pretty Partner With A Gun In Her Hands
Lila isn't a young girl, she's actually an experimental cyborg android clone called a Humaritt. She's also going to be Najica's new partner, whether she wants one or not. The trouble is that Lila is a little naïve when it comes to humanity, and she's going to need a lot of training if she can even function among people, let alone serve as a secret agent. The training will have to be on the job though, as the mafia has threatened a judge, and a sniper is after his daughter.
Mission 3. Ugly Relics in the Jet-Black Darkness
A beam from the heavens destroys the Maraluge military base, but all satellite weaponry has been decommissioned for decades. An arms dealer and collector named Todd McCormick has reactivated a weapon and the attack was just a sales pitch. He's now trying to sell the weapon to the highest bidder. Najica and Lila have to go undercover as billionaire heiresses to get close to the seller. But greater danger lies in his assistant Nyula.
Mission 4. The Fictitious Star with a Sweet Trap-Like Perfume
The 4 C'zNs are the latest girl group to hit the big time, and they are storming up the charts. Only one of them is a Humaritt, and the company that creates the artificial life forms wants her back. The trouble is that they don't know which one is the droid. Najica and Lila are disguised as a pop idol and her manager to find out which one is which. Humaritts have underdeveloped emotional responses, and a verbal test could confirm the suspect's identity. Failing that, they have serial numbers tattooed on their butts.
Made in 2001, Najica is beginning to look a little long in the tooth. It's a show that came about on the cusp of the digital revolution in anime production. The animation is exceedingly crisp, sharp and full of bright primary colours and strong shading. There's none of the nuance and depth of recent animations, but it works well enough for the purpose. The 4:3 transfer is clear and sharp, with no significant problems with compression artefacts or banding. There is the occasional bout of aliasing, but nothing fatal.
You have a choice between DD 5.1 English and DD 2.0 Stereo, with optional signs or translated subtitles. The dialogue is clear and the show's themes have a cross between sixties spy glamour and seventies funk to them. Choose the English dub for some extra surround goodness, but as usual I preferred the original language track, and found the stereo to be effective enough for my purposes.
Your usual anime extras to be found here include animated menus, jacket picture, the clean credit sequences, and trailers for King Of Bandit Jing, Martian Successor Nadesico: Prince of Darkness, Zaion and Colorful.
You'll also find the original Japanese promo spot, and a Production Sketch Gallery containing 14 images.
The main feature is the commentary with Kira Vincent Davis (Najica) and Monica Rial (Lila) It's a gigglefest yak track that accompanies the third episode, and while there is a little bit of worthy info to be gleaned, it's better to just listen to the actresses crack up at the various panty scenes.
Incidentally, if you had originally bought the Region 1 boxset of Najica, you would have got a pair of panties thrown in. I lack the data as to whether they were used or unused.
Pudenda! I've learned a new word. You know that phenomenon where if a word is hammered into you often enough, it loses all meaning and just becomes a collection of sounds. It happened to me with the words 'book of condolence' in September 1997. Oddly enough, it takes longer for that numbing effect to take place with panties. But eventually, you stop being blinded by the show's more obvious attributes, and discover the story beneath.
It's a simple enough story though, with Najica the secret agent defending the world against various evils, while wearing skimpy clothes, usually battling female villainy in equally skimpy clothes. The animators have apparently employed Dobby the House Elf as virtual cameraman, as the viewpoint rarely strays above knee height. And the most repeated direction is "Legs Akimbo!" Things immediately get complicated when Najica's first mission is to retrieve a Humaritt, who turns out to be Lila. Lila is young looking, emotionally underdeveloped, and utterly naïve, inexperienced as she is with the real world. So it's practically guaranteed that she becomes Najica's partner, and Najica spends a good deal of time teaching Lila how to live in society without committing too many faux pas. It's a good thing she has superhuman strength and speed then.
There is an ongoing thread quickly established, with more and more Humaritts apparently having escaped or been stolen from the factory that created them, and practically all of them are up to something villainous. There's something of a conspiracy behind all this, and it will be fun to watch it unfold over the next two volumes. There's some variety in the episodes too, with the pair of agents going up against a deadly mafia sniper, a malicious arms dealer, and infiltrating a girl group. But the general formula stays the same. There will be an objective to accomplish for our heroes, which will invariably involve some action sequences, in as few garments as possible, leaving as little to the imagination as possible without becoming grossly indecent. Whether it's battling a mansion full of French Maids, or tackling a girl group member and shining a UV light on her naked butt to check for serial numbers, it's all done tongue in cheek looking to squeeze as much fun as possible out of every situation.
Najica Blitz Tactics operates very much in 007 territory, but is actually less misogynistic than the original superspy. Sexual politics are less of an issue in a story where the heroes and villains are invariably female, and the men play second fiddle. The only objectification going on here is on the part of the animators who have the gynaecological camera angles in mind. It would be different if any of the storylines or male characters espoused archaic opinions on women, but that never happens here. Najica is a show aimed at the teenaged male who is yet to discover the perils of the Interweb, which makes the 15 rating a little excessive in my view. That leaves us viewers of the Carry On and Benny Hill generations, who appreciate a decent helping of sauce, and can appreciate Najica for the sheer fun factor.
Now I set myself a mission of my own, finding screen caps that are suitably chaste for a family friendly site.
Update: Mission failed!