BS reviews is a series where Edy and I look for the unseen genius in anime that have not been widely recognized by the public. Today, we will be talking about the deep hidden meanings and excellence of Akikan, a widely unknown anime from 2009, based on a light novel.
We are living in an age where the Majority of us have forgotten Akikan. Today, we are back to shine light upon this forgotten masterpiece. Akikan is about (non-aluminum) cans. Unique already right? It gets even better. In the first episode, our main characters, naked guy, meets melon girl — a can who is able to turn into a beautiful human girl once she is kissed by her owner in the can opening — by buying a can in a vending store. From here, our adventures with melon girl and naked man’s adventures begin.
There is only one word that I can think of that truly represents what Akikan is all about. And that is ‘deep.’ So many things are deep in Akikan, like the can that the melon girl is in.
It’s only the first episode, but there is just so much deep storytelling. There’s just many things that are deep. Like the guy, he has so many phases of depression and grief that he goes through in the episode, just in the first encounter with Melon.
This show is about the human psyche and how we are always multi-faced. Humans are never at a standstill, we are always changing and we are always moving. We are always evolving as a species. Sometimes he is screaming, sometimes he is philosophically pondering about the sixth sense of his crotch, and sometimes he is in a crab position naked on the floor. These perfectly capture the essence of Akikan. Very deep and really makes you think, just as the creators of Akikan intended.
Talking about making you think, Akikan teaches us a lot about biology. At the end of the episode, Naked man kisses melon girl and breathes into her mouth to recarbonate her to bring her back alive. In this situation, Melon girl was lacking CO2, making her decarbonated. Understanding this, naked guy breathes into her mouth, knowing that the cellular respiration in the human body would provide the CO2 needed. It is clear that the mitochondria (the site of cellular respiration) in naked man’s body was fully functional enough to provide ATP by going through glycolysis and kreb cycle (some of the most important steps to produce CO2 in our body) from the oxygen in the air. To have this much going on in one scene, we can easily call Akikan a well thought out, deeply considered, scientifically proving show.
Yes. And biology is used in many other ways in the show too. An example is the relationship between the melon girl and the protagonist. As Edy stated, the protagonist goes through cellular respiration to provide carbon dioxide for the melon girl. And the melon girl is green, just like a plant. Yes, that’s right. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now. The melon girl is conducting photosynthesis, by using water from the drinks that she is being provided, and also uses carbon dioxide from the main character to synthesize carbohydrates. This is also why we see the transformation sequence/animation being so bright.
This symbolizes the light that is energizing the girl– light energy is being converted into kinetic energy by the chlorophyll(which is green like melon).
Like this, Akikan is always thinking of creative ways to draw parallels between the character relationships with other branches of knowledge.
The show also does a very unique job at portraying the characters. Usually in a romance, harem show like this, we would have a tsundere who always yells “baka!” and furiously hits the main character’s accidental perverted action. If you are tired of these types of boring repetition you see in anime, you are in the right place. By having naked guy act actually like an extreme pervert who doesn’t seem to have much in his mind, we are given the perfect justification for why she would yell “baka!” and hit the guy. In Akikan, there is none of that stupid anime scenes of accident perverted actions. No. Our character purposely does perverted actions.
Truly, Akikan is the perfect deconstruction of the harem romance genre.
We also see a lot of other great writing techniques in full use. The most prominent one is the foreshadowing and the first scene is an amazing example of this. We get a full screen of green with carbonated bubbles. This matches up with the theme of carbonated drinks perfectly, telling the viewers subtly that what we are about to see will involve green liquids.
Yes. The foreshadowing present in Akikan is really, really, deep. There was also a scene with a man with glasses, and there was a banner behind him that read, “I LOVE MEN.” It’s a really subtle touch that you may not notice on your first, perhaps even second rewatching, however it actually is a hint to the fact that the character is homosexual. If you look deeper into the directing and cinematography of Akikan, you are able to see that there is lots and lots of foreshadowing for events that will happen.
There’s also lots of really excellent music. Like there’s romantic music which is really romantic. And it’s like giving a feel that makes you really go like wow, this is romantic. And then we have comedy scenes which make you laugh because it’s comedy.
Another auditory factor is the sound effects. Throughout episode one, there is a frequent use of generic sound effects that is used to support scenes like kissing. However, unlike what you may think, this sound effect is geniously used to contrast the supernatural events in the show. One of the fundamental psychological knowledge is schema theory which posits that schemas, a mental representation of certain aspects of the world influenced by our past experiences, culture, knowledge, or beliefs, can influence the way we think. And usually, if certain information does not match our schemas, it will create confabulations to make the information fit with the schema.
Here, the director understood that because of how many supernatural factors are going on with in the show that doesn’t match with our past experiences or schema, he purposefully made the sound effects more generic with what we normally see to lessen that disconnect between our perception of the world and the events in the show. If this wasn’t here, we would have a hard time taking in information properly and enjoying the show. Thank you director!
The only strange thing about this anime is the voice actors. They are very expensive, like Yuuki Aoi, Toyosaki Aki, and the main character is voiced by Fukuyama Jun. Maybe it will be a pattern that the shows on BS reviews always have good voice actors for some odd reason. However, if there is one thing that we want to teach you through BS reviews, it is that always, if you look deeper, there is a meaning. In the case of Akikan, it is for marketing.
This is actually a genius choice because Akikan understands what will sell and what won’t. We see throughout the first episode that scenes are getting reused over and over again. I saw at least 3 scenes repeated at the end. This is a smart business management strategy to allocate resources to more necessary bits. See, Akikan knows that a show isn’t defined by how good it is but rather how well it sells. This great touch makes Akikan seem even more smarter than it seems.
There is a very obvious theme in Akikan that we have yet to discuss. And that, obviously, is global warming. The clear message that Akikan wants to deliver is that usage of aluminum will lead to world destruction, as aluminum that is not recycled will go to the trash places and then will be melted, causing climate change. This is directly pointed out and communicated to the audience by Melon girl saying that ‘she hates aluminum.’ This is because it causes global warming.
There are also many economic theories that are connected to the theme of global warming. Not only does Akikan show the impacts of the negative externalities of consumption of aluminum cans, it also proposes further dangers of such externalities due to the price inelasticity of demand of aluminum cans. Price elasticity of demand is calculated by dividing change in quantity demanded by change in price. It is percentage/ratio based instead of flat numbers based, contrasting to how the melon girl has a flat chest. In the room of the main character, we see that the aluminum cans in the shelf have been there for a long time, and have had a long shelf life despite being in storage and not being touched. On the other hand, Melon girl almost dies in like a day. This contrast emphasizes the inelastic PED of aluminum cans, which will mean that even when the economy is down, people such as the main character will continue to pursue purchases of aluminum cans due to the fact that the demand of aluminum cans does not respond much to changes in price caused from inflation in the Japanese economy. This contrasts to the elastic PED of melon soda, as shown on the diagram below.
Akikan foresees this impending doom in the future, and tries to prevent this by showing the beauty of other, more sustainable can alternatives. This is done through a beautiful portrayal of melon girl, and the constant usage of romantic music when there are kissing scenes.
As a whole, Akikan is a breathtaking experience. It is like really good.