Now that we’re done with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, let’s move on to Akane Maniax. Akane Maniax started out as a special 5-part mini-game that was included in 5 issues of adult game magazine Tech Gian. It’s set after KimiNozo, and its purpose was to introduce players who had just finished KimiNozo to the world of Muv-Luv (which they had originally intended to release later that year). Eventually the 5 parts were collected into a single game, and released as Age’s first fanclub-exclusive game, now with full voice-acting (the original Tech Gian releases were unvoiced).
If you’ve only seen the AkaMani anime, you might be surprised to learn that the original game version is even more wacky and wild. That’s because the game, much like the KimiNozo game, strictly follows the first-person perspective of its main character, in this case the completely nutso Jouji Gouda. By contrast, the KimiNozo anime introduced the concept of Mitsuki as a POV character to great effect, and here, it does the same thing for Akane. The game version of Akane is simply a MacGuffin for Gouda to pine over – the anime, by introducing Akane’s perspective, can dig much more deeply into her own issues. The end result is that the AkaMani anime is much more sentimental than the game ever attempts to be.
As I mentioned in the KimiNozo posts, the AkaMani anime takes the time to more properly depict aspects of Akane that the KimiNozo anime kind of glossed over. The game doesn’t really bother, in large part because Akane’s true feelings are properly addressed in the KimiNozo game, both in Mitsuki’s route and in Akane’s own route. So there isn’t really anything left ambiguous for the game player. But because the anime stopped short of going into Akane’s issues in full, there’s room here to explore that space. In that sense, AkaMani actually becomes something of an epilogue to KimiNozo, with some material that is well worth experiencing, whereas the game version of AkaMani is pretty much completely throwaway material.
Even on Gouda’s side, the anime radically changes up the kind of crazy stuff that he actually gets into. The game leans heavily into a parody of Tatsunoko’s old Tekkaman anime. He still relies heavily on Yuuko for advice and direction, just like in the anime, but he also takes advice from a PE teacher named Andorou Umeda, a parody of a Tekkaman character named Andro Umeda. He also clashes with another student, the improbably-named Takeo Takeo, who serves as the school festival committee member for Class 3-D alongside Akane. In what the game has the cheek to declare its “true end”, the parody comes full circle as Umeda reveals that aliens are invading and that Gouda must fight them off. Takeo then transforms into the robot Takes, a parody of the Tekkaman robot Pegas, and Gouda then climbs inside and transforms into the superhero Tekkumen and flies off while a parody of the Tekkaman theme song plays in the background. In the anime, Takeo does not appear directly, but Akane briefly mentions him in episode 1 as the person who will likely serve on the committee with her. Umeda does not appear in the anime at all, although he does appear in the special trailer for the anime (itself a shot-for-shot parody of the Char’s Counterattack trailer).
Gouda does look up to one other person in the game, and that is Mikoto from Muv-Luv. Mikoto saves him from drowning in the ocean while Gouda was trying to practice swimming. In return, Gouda practically worships him as the Emissary of Gaia, while Mikoto, in typical Mikoto fashion, neither knows nor cares what exactly Gouda is doing with him. His interactions with Mikoto are completely cut from the anime, but you can still catch glimpses of it in dialogue in Muv-Luv Extra.
The anime does away with all of this, particularly the Tekkaman stuff, and depicts the insanity surrounding Gouda as a delusion of a generic super robot story. As Gouda gets to learn more about Akane, his opponent begins to take shape as a parody of Takayuki himself. This, surprisingly, helps establish some structure to his delusions in the anime, whereas in the game he could be all over the place. As I said, even though the anime looks silly and random, the anime staff have actually put in quite a lot of effort to forge the original game into something more coherent.
Let’s talk a little about the casting. Gouda is voiced by Tomokazu Seki, and while they only appear in the game, Umeda is voiced by Yuuji Ueda and Takeo is voiced by Hiroyuki Yoshino. These are really big, mainstream names, considering this is a pretty disposable fanclub-exclusive game. At the time, voiced adult games were just getting started, and did not feature recognizable names (none of the KimiNozo voices were very well-known at the time that game originally came out). Even though Akane Maniax was not an adult game, it was still made by an adult game maker, was set in the same world as other adult games, and was originally serialized in an adult game magazine. I remember it was considered a very big deal at the time to land names as big as this, especially because all of them used their real names on the project rather than pseudonyms.
Did you know where Gouda’s name came from? His given name, Jouji, is the same as the lead character in Tekkaman, continuing the Tekkaman parody, so nothing surprising there. But his family name, Gouda, actually comes from Tech Gian itself. Tech Gian is commonly nicknamed “Gouda” by Japanese fans, as a reference to the Doraemon character Gian, whose real name is Takeshi Gouda. So Gouda’s name is actually a reference to the magazine that originally serialized the game.
Seeing the final Ayu-Mayu section of the OVA is a little bittersweet. Age has basically confirmed that there were indeed plans to follow up Akane Maniax with a full Muv-Luv adaptation, just as the Ayu-Mayu section implies, but the project fell through. Seeing this section again after all this time, just a few weeks before an actual Alternative anime is about to premiere, brings back a lot of emotion for me. I’m sad that many of the people who should have been a part of this, like director Tetsuya Watanabe and the old cast, won’t be there. But I wish the actual cast and staff of the Alternative anime the best, and hope they’re making something amazing.