Aki (James Bond)
Aki is a fictional character created for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. In the film, Aki, played by Akiko Wakabayashi, is a female ninja agent with the fictional Japanese government agency Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). She aids James Bond against the SPECTRE in Japan until she is killed by an assassin during an attempt on Bond's life upon which she is replaced by her fellow agent Kissy Suzuki. Critical reception of the character was generally very positive.
|James Bond character|
Aki, meeting Bond for the first time
|Portrayed by||Akiko Wakabayashi|
|Affiliation||Japanese Secret Service|
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". Mie Hama was cast to play Suki, but she had trouble learning English; to solve the problem, she and Akiko Wakabayashi, originally cast to play the part of almost-silent Kissy Suzuki, decided to swap their respective roles. Wakabayashi then convinced director Lewis Gilbert to change the name of her character to Aki.
By the time of the film Aki is a trusted and acomplished Japanese SIS agent. She is a skilled 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.. She speaks English fluently with a strong Japanese accent.
Aki is someting of a Japanese counterpart to Bond. An attractive woman, in most of her scenes she is dressed in stylish kimonos with her hair ornately styled. This belies a somewhat demur, softly spoken personality, however Aki quickly forms a strong attachment to Bond.
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 skills as a driver, then takes him to meet her boss, Tiger Tanaka. It is after this meeting that a bikini-clad Aki invites Bond to spend the night with her, famously 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 the gunmen's 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). 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 and 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. Aki had by now become Bond's lover and hoped to play the part of his wife" in the cover operation, however this was vetoed as she was not a native of the Ama island. Nevertheless, she continued her relationship with Bond and helped with his ninja training and in his process of "becoming Japanese". Aki also presumably intended to act as part of the ninja force that was to invade the island.
Once Aki has helped Bond to assume his Japanese disguise, the two spend the night together. While they are sleeping an assassin stealthily enters the bedroom via the roof and lowers a thin cord to Bond's mouth, slowly trickling down poison. (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 so that the poison falls on her lips instead. Aki's ensuing struggle to breath wakes Bond who kills the assassin. Aki gasps "I'm... I'm..." but dies before she can say anymore. When Tanaka arrives to investigate Bond simply explains that; "she's dead, poisoned", closes Aki's eyes tells Tanaka "we must get to that island". The scene was accompanied by the musical track "The Death of Aki" by John Barry.
Aki had been Bond's primary contact in Japan and had formed a strong relationship with him. However Bond seems unaffected by her death and simply switches his attention to Kissy Suzuki instead. Aki is not mentioned again.
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"), 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"), 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"). According to UGO, "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," but in another article UGO praised her as "Bond's super-hot guardian angel". Den of Geek included her in their 2008 list of ten James Bond characters who deserve their own spin-off.
- Steven Jay Rubin, The James Bond Films: A Behind the Scenes History (p.75)
- Paul Simpson, The Rough Guide to James Bond (p.11)
- Cornelius, Ted (15 October 2008). "Aki – Best Bond Girls". UGO.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "7. The "Modern" Car – The Complete Guide To James Bond's Cars (Video)". Complex. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "James Bond girls are feminist icons says Cubby Broccoli's daughter". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
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- "6. You Only Live Twice (1967) — The 10 Best James Bond Chase Scenes". Complex. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Top 20 Hottest Bond Babes, Zimbio, 23 September 2008. Archived 6 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- From Octopussy to Jinx: The Best of the Bond Girls, Canada.com, 14 November 2008
- "We rank the top 25 Bond Girls of all time". Entertainment.wagerweb.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Akiko Wakabayashi – Aki | Bond Girls | UGO's World of James Bond". Jamesbond.ugo.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "10 James Bond Characters who deserve their own spin-off – Den of Geek". Denofgeek.com. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2013.