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Aki is a fictional character created for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. In it, Aki, played by Akiko Wakabayashi, is a young ninja agent with the fictional Japanese Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) aiding James Bond against the SPECTRE in Japan. Critical recepion of the character was generally very positive.

Creation

Aki does not appear in Ian Fleming's 1964 novel. She was originally named Suki in Roald Dahl's screenplay. According to The James Bond Films, the character was "Dahl's tribute to the Japanese woman of the Sixties".[1]

Suki was cast to be played by Mie Hama, but she had trouble learning English; to solve the problem, she and Wakabayashi, originally cast to play the part of almost-silent Kissy Suzuki, decided to swap their respective roles. Akiko Wakabayashi then convinced director Lewis Gilbert to change the name of her character to Aki.[2][3]

In the film

By the time of the events of You Only Live Twice, Aki is already experienced enough to fulfill her mission correctly and is one of the top agents in the SIS, displayed by the fact that she was entrusted to participate in what was to be her most important and ultimately her last mission. Aside from this, not much is known about her background before the mission, or about her family or personal life.

A roadster with headlights retracted and a smooth, moulded design.

Aki's Toyota 2000GT Open-Top on display in Toyota museum. It was ranked as the seventh best best car in the James Bond series by Complex in 2011.[4]

Like all the other operatives, Aki is an accomplished ninja and an expert driver who often uses her skills at driving her white Toyota 2000GT sports car equipped with several high-tech communication devices.[4] Through the film Aki displayed an affinity for wearing traditional Japanese garments and is seen in several different kimono clothes with her hair arranged in traditional Japanese styles. She is, however, occasionally seen in more practical western-style outfits when her mission requires. Despite her seemingly genteel manner, Aki can be professional when she needs to be and maintains a high standard of physical fitness, diplayed by her ability to survive her missions and avoid capture. She also showed immense courage, risking death several times during the mission and maintains a feeling of loyalty towards others in her missions, particularly James Bond, with whom she spends at least two passionate nights.[5]

Aki is first seen when 007 meets her at a sumo wrestling show. Bond is there to meet a contact who will take him to Mr. Henderson, M's recommended contact in Japan. He confirms that Aki is his contact by saying the code words "I love you" to her. Aki takes Bond to meet Henderson in her car. After Henderson is killed during their meeting, Bond attacks and kills one of Henderson's killers. Taking the man's place, he is driven to the Osato Chemical Works HQ, where he is discovered by the villains. Aki rescues him, using her skill a driver, then takes him to meet her boss, Tiger Tanaka. It is after this that a bikini-clad Aki invites Bond to spend the night with her, famously[6][7] saying "I think I will enjoy very much serving under you", before Bond carries her to bed.

The next morning, Bond returns to the Osato Chemical Works and meets Blofeld's henchman Mr. Osato. Leaving after the meeting, he is pursued by SPECTRE gunmen, from whom Aki rescues him again. The gunmen chase Aki's car and she leads them out into the countryside, where a SIS helicopter lifts their car off the road with a giant magnet and drops it into the sea (in 2012, Complex ranked it as the sixth best James Bond chase scene[8]). She then takes him to a quayside to investigate a ship he suspects is being used by the villains. When investigating the ship Bond and Aki are attacked by SPECTRE henchmen. Bond tells her to leave and report to Tanaka; Aki refuses to leave Bond at first, but eventually complies.

Aki next appears after Bond is captured and almost killed by Helga Brandt, when she meets with him back at Tanaka's headquarters, when Bond is about to go on another mission that she cannot accompany him on. By the time Bond returned to the base in Kyoto, Aki was already fully briefed on the plan to disrupt SPECTRE's plot and she too would be part of Tanaka's ninja force, although (much to her disappointment) she could not play the part of Bond's "wife" in the cover operation.

Shortly after Bond's arrival at the ninja academy an assassin stealthily enters the bedroom where Bond and Aki are sleeping together and lowers a thin cord to Bond's mouth, dripping poison down this.[3] The writer Roald Dahl took inspiration for this by watching a similar scene in the first film in the Shinobi no Mono ninja film series. At the last moment, Bond turns in his sleep and Aki moves to his position and the poison falls on her lips which she inadvertently swallows while asleep. The poison then acts quickly causing Aki great pain and affecting her breathing, causing a desperate struggle for breath in which her agonised gasping wakes Bond up, causing him to notice and then kill the assassin. Aki has by this point woken up as well, however the poison is by now affecting her badly and she dies after desperately trying to speak while fighting to breath. The scene was accompanied by the musical track "The Death of Aki" by John Barry.

Reception

According to UGO Networks, "although Akiko Wakabayashi is charming in the role, her chemistry with Bond is disappointing, and she lacks both the look and the attitude to make her a good Bond girl."[9] However, in another article UGO praised her as "Bond's super-hot guardian angel".[3] Various lists frequently ranked Aki among the best Bond girls ever, including as tenth by Zimbio in 2008 ("So beautiful you almost forget that Sean Connery has been ridiculously made up to look Japanese. Almost"),[10] ninth by Postmedia News the same year ("Kissy Suzuki is considered the 'main' Bond girl in this film, but Aki has a bigger role and is more memorable"),[11] and eight by WagerWeb in 2009 ("Hot Japanese agent, she kicks ass and look damn fine doing it. Besides, she dies to save James Bond, you have to give her some extra credit for that").[12] Den of Geek included her in their 2008 list of ten James Bond characters who deserve their own spin-off.[13]

References

External links

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