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 events of You Only Live Twice, Aki is already 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. 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. Aside from this, not much is known about her background before the mission, or about her family or personal life.
Appearance and characterEdit
Aki is portrayed as a beautiful woman who, despite her reserved nature, favours a stylish dress sense, mainly opting for traditional Japanese garments. She is seen in several different kimono clothes of varying colours with her long, dark hair arranged in various ornate traditional Japanese styles. She is, however, briefly seen with her hair down and dressed in a more practical western-style outfit of sweatshirt and jeans when rescuing Bond from Osato Chemical Works.
Aki is shown to be athletic and highly physically fit. Throughout her mission she maintains a high degree of professionalism. She also shows 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.
Aki speaks English fluently with a strong Japanese accent. Despite this, for most of the time Aki appears demure and softly spoken. During mission briefings she remains quietly in the background, her attraction to Bond becoming more noticeable when they are alone.
In the filmEdit
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.
Death and aftermathEdit
Once Aki has helped Bond to assume his Japanese disguise, the two spend the following 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. Before the assassin can react the poison falls on Aki's lips and instantly takes effect. The poison attacks Aki's respiratory system and she begins to massage her throat whilst struggling to breath. This wakes Bond who kills the assassin. Bond's attention then turns to Aki herself. She is now fully awake and painfully gasping "I'm... I'm..." before chocking to death. 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 was the most significant character to be killed in the course of You Only Live Twice. She had been Bond's primary contact up until this point, saving his life twice and apparently becoming his main love interest. Up until this point she has survived numerous dangerous situations and demonstrated her skills and experience. Her sudden death, coming purely by chance shortly before the mission's climax then comes as a shock.
Despite this Aki's death has little impact on her colleagues. Aki's role had been slowly decreasing despite her ongoing relationship with Bond. After her active earlier role, in her last few scenes she simply assisted Tanaka at the ninja training school. By the time she was killed Aki had played her part and Kissy Suzuki is briefed to replace her. The mission could thus continue without the loss of Aki impacting upon it.
Bond is unsentimental about the death of the woman who had become his partner in Japan and who he originally wished to play the part of his wife. The day after Aki's death he simply continues with his training and switches his attention to Kissy Suzuki. Bond then pursues a relationship with Kissy for the remainder of his mission without referring to Aki again.
Tanaka is similarly untroubled by the loss of his key agent. On first finding Aki's lying dead he simply tells Bond of his need to complete his training. Like Bond he then continues the mission without referring to Aki 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.
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- Paul Simpson, The Rough Guide to James Bond (p.11)
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