Bond Girl: Aki

Aki is a fictional agent of the Japanese Secret Service who appeared in the 1967 James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, portrayed by actress Akiko Wakabayashi.

When the movie got dubbed in Japanese, Aki was voiced by Kazue Komiya and Mayuno Yasokawa in the TBS and DVD/Blu-Ray versions, respectively.


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 Aki is his contact by saying the code words “I love you” to her. Aki takes Bond to meet Henderson in her Toyota 2000GT. 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 the villains discover him. Aki rescues him, using her skills as a driver, then takes him to meet her boss, Tiger Tanaka. After this, 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.

At Tanaka’s house, the shapely and scantily-dressed Aki unnoticeably swaps with Bond’s masseuse and kisses him. As he carries her away, she remarks that nobody will disturb them tonight and that she “will enjoy serving under him.”

The following day, 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 an SIS helicopter lifts the shooters’ car off the road with a giant magnet and drops it into the sea. She then takes him to a quayside to investigate a ship he suspects is being used by the villains. When examining the vessel, Bond and SPECTRE henchmen attack Aki. 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 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. She, too, would be part of Tanaka’s ninja force, although (much to her disappointment) she could not play the role of Bond’s “wife” in the cover operation. She did, however, help with Bond’s ninja training and in his process of “becoming Japanese.”

Shortly after Bond arrives 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, intending to poison him. The poison acts quickly, causing Aki significant trouble breathing. After a few agonized seconds of gasping for breath, she dies in his sleep, Aki moves to his position, and the poison falls on her lips which she inadvertently swallows.

Behind the scenes

The original name of the character was Suki. It was changed out of gratitude to actress Akiko Wakabayashi, who had originally been cast as the film’s other Bond girl, Kissy Suzuki. It was discovered that Mie Hama, who had originally been cast in the Suki/Aki role, spoke poor English and the producers were concerned that she would not be able to cope with the part. They were, however, fearful that if they fired her, she would consider that by being fired, she had disgraced her family and might commit suicide.

As a result, they built up the role of Suki/Aki, decreased the number of lines Kissy had, and asked Wakabayashi if she would agree to switch parts. She decided, and they renamed the character to thank her. In the finished film, Kissy plays a far smaller portion than Aki (and is billed after her in the credits), even though she is generally regarded as the lead Bond girl.

Certainly, Bond builds far more of a relationship with Aki and maybe falls in love with her, as manifested by a scene where Tanaka tells him that when he goes undercover as a Japanese fisherman, the role will require him; to have a “wife.” Bond immediately looks to Aki, and her pleased reaction clearly shows that the idea appeals to both of them (although Tanaka vetoes it, as the “wife” – Kissy – needs to be an operative who is a native of the region Bond is staking out).

Indeed, Aki is among the more proactive female characters in the 1960s Bond films. Her character is similar to that of Tracy Bond, who Bond would marry for real in the series’ next film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Both are depicted as intelligent women who can take care of themselves and save Bond from the villains during the story, and both are excellent drivers, taking the wheel during the film’s main car chase. Bond’s reaction to Aki’s death is stronger than similar characters such as Jill Masterson.