During Japan's Taisho Era (1912-1926), a scientist named Ayanokoji developed the Steel Angel - an artificial humanoid with superhuman physical abilities. While the Imperial Army wanted to use the Steel Angel as a new means of modern warfare, Ayanokoji wanted his creation to be a new step in the future of mankind. Thus, he defied orders from the Army and secretly made the Steel Angel codenamed "Kurumi". Then one day, a young boy named Nakahito Kagura snuck into Ayanokoji's house as a dare by his friends and stumbled upon Kurumi's lifeless body. A sudden attack by the Imperial Army shook the house, causing Kurumi to fall on Nakahito. At that moment, their lips met, and Kurumi woke up from "the kiss that started a miracle".
A demure, down on his luck character mysteriously activates a beautiful female cyborg and she becomes his faithful servant, but not without a few dark secrets for excess baggage. Sound familiar? I wouldn't doubt it. But is Steel Angel Kurumi just like all of the other robot maid comedies out there? Not quite. You see, Steel Angel Kurumi is actually a story about time travel, and the Steel Angels are much more than just super strong, super fast, super ditsy house maids--they're the only ones who can save the world from mass destruction. This interesting plot arc doesn't come until later in the series, and
is probably meant to be some kind of huge story twist, but it's not too shocking if you're able to put 2 and 2 together. Hmm, let's see'it's the Taisho Era and there are super advanced female cyborgs running around. Yeah, I don't think they're from the same century, let alone the same era. I've always been a fan of time travel stories, but sadly Steel Angel Kurumi doesn't go into it in much depth. I didn't watch Steel Angel Kurumi expecting a time travel story in the first place though, so I took it as just an extra bonus. So, what did I expect from Steel Angel Kurumi? A mild romantic comedy with a dab of action sprinkled on top, and Steel Angel Kurumi delivered just that. At first it's hard to tell where this series is planning to go, or if it's planning to go anywhere at all. After a few episodes I got used to the idea that it would stick to being about a young boy and his misadventures with his Steel Angel companions. Thankfully (and somewhat unthankfully) the story evolved as it progressed.
The first half of Steel Angel Kurumi is mostly sugary cuteness oozing out onto the screen in every other frame. You're either going to love it or hate it, and if you hate it chances are you're not sticking around for when things shift into a more serious tone. On the flipside, if you enjoyed everything in the first half of the series you might not be too thrilled with the sudden mood change that happens in the second half. Things don't get extremely dramatic to the point that tears are forced out of your eyes, but it's definitely a noticeable change in content matter, which includes two main characters deciding to sacrifice their lives to save the world. A lot of animes go from funny to sad in the latter episodes, so it's nothing new, but Steel Angel Kurumi seemed to be in a real hurry to shock the audience--I'll assume that the fifteen minute short episodes had something to do with this. Towards the end of the series our two leads are separated from each other, and one of them go into a ridiculous transformation that gave me Dragon Ball Z flashbacks. All of this goes down in a matter of about two or three episodes. The conclusion felt a bit over the top in my opinion, but I can't blame an anime for trying to wrap itself up with what it has to work with. Steel Angel Kurumi's charm is in the sum of its parts, which doesn't even piece together fully until about halfway into the series. Saki, another Steel Angel just like Kurumi, is one of the first to join the cast. She's calm, collected, and has an obsession with her master (and sister) Kurumi. Her obsession isn't exactly a sisterly love kind of obsession, either. Saki lusts after Kurumi on a regular basis, and it's right around that time when Steel Angel Kurumi will probably lose a few viewers and gain a few perverts. Then there is Karinka, the final member of the Steel Angel threesome. Karinka is the brat of the bunch, who doesn't answer to no one. She basically acts as the comedic relief of the show, swearing like a sailor and getting under everyone's skin. There are also two very entertaining female agents who spy on Nakahito and gang throughout the series, one of which has an inappropriate crush on the much younger Nakahito. These two colorful characters compliment the series well, and it's always nice to see side characters that entertain you rather than distract you--something that I don't see too often in most of the anime that I watch.
Bouncing back to the whole time travel plot arc, it's slightly annoying that the anime didn't have enough time to explain it in a bit more detail. All we learn is that some kind of life form known as The Demonkind practically destroyed the Earth in the distant future, and Steel Angels were built to combat it. However, scientists needed to go back in time to harness the power of a Mystic in order to give the Steel Angels enough power to defeat The Demonkind. It's simple enough, but with so little time for it to all be crammed into the last few episodes it felt forced, and managed to leave a lot of questions unanswered. Where did this Demonkind come from? How far in the future did this take place? Since you can obviously travel through time easily enough, why is this infinitely superior futuristic human race struggling to survive on their own? But I digress. Steel Angel Kurumi's biggest flaw, in my opinion, is that every episode is wrapped up in fifteen minutes--twelve if you cut out the OP and ED. Even though the series isn't exactly dialogue heavy or story driven, fifteen minutes per episode isn't really enough to establish the kind of character development that Steel Angel Kurumi seems to aim for. I still managed to grow somewhat attached to Nakahito, Kurumi, Saki, and Karinka, but the rest of the cast was barely memorable, which is a shame since some of them came off as quite interesting. Dr. Ayanokoji, for instance, is someone I would have liked to get to know a little better throughout the series, especially since he's the man behind it all. In the end though, I think Steel Angel Kurumi carries itself surprisingly well with all of the time restraints it has.
The audio in Steel Angel Kurumi is quite nice. The opening theme (Kiss Kara Hajimaru Miracle) is as sugary as expected, full of pink hearts and bright colors. It is a bit of a mood killer though, since when an episode begins with a serious mood and this song comes up you'll no longer be able to take the anime seriously. Regardless, I enjoy it. The ending theme (Eien no Kotetsu Tenshi) works great, and had me wanting to jump to the next episode immediately, but not until the credits were done. Okay, so it's not THAT good, but it's strangely catchy. The voiceovers are also pretty good, but I opted to stick with the English dub. I just love the way the English voice actors play their roles in Steel Angel Kurumi. ADV Films has done another fine job of casting, which I have to admit isn't always the case with them. The Japanese audio is good as well, but when it comes to characters like Kurumi there is only so much I can take of their Japanese voice actor before my ears turn into pudding. Animation in Steel Angel Kurumi is also pretty nice. I'm a big fan of bright colors, where the greens are really green, and the blues are really blue, etc; and Steel Angel Kurumi is about as colorful as they come. All of the scenery and character designs help enforce the early 1900's setting this series takes place in. The fight sequences are done nicely as well, with smooth animation and detail. Steel Angel Kurumi isn't exactly eye candy heaven, but it's not hard to look at, that's for sure.
Ultimately, I enjoyed Steel Angel Kurumi much more than I thought I would. I originally imagined that it would be along the lines of something like Love Hina meets Chobits, and while it does share similar traits of these two animes, it's totally different and able to stand alone on its own two feet. I could confidently recommend this anime to pretty much anyone who enjoys anime like Chobits, not just because it's a series about a robotic girl serving a male master, but because it's a romantic comedy with a lot of heart. Some people will undoubtedly be turned off by its oddly short episodes, and by Saki's lesbian crush on Kurumi, but that is little reason to stray away from such a cute series. Unless, of course, you don't like cute--in which case, you may want to drop my final score by about five and then run for the hills. Steel Angel Kurumi tries its best to come off as cute as it does funny, and for the most part it pulls it off. With only minor blemishes here and there, Steel Angel Kurumi should make for a nice addition to your anime collection.
"Everyone here on MAL says how they are going to stop the spread of Moe, they are going to return anime to the GAR days! Let's be honest, you aint gonna do a God Damn thing! However, I'll tell you exactly what I'M going to do. I'm going to buy more Moe and give Japanese studios more of my money. Get the FUCK outta my way its MOE TIME MOTHERFUCKERS!" -average anime fan.
Now that I'm done blatantly ripping off movie quotes, it's time to look at one of the popular late 1990s titles that helped usher in the era of Echii Moe shows! This is
Steel Angel Kurumi!
What are all the things that anime critics hate the most? I think the prime candidates would be: Echii anime with pointless nudity, Moe art style, bland male MCs that get hot chicks for no reason, catering to random fetishes, and forced comedy. Steel Angel Kurumi not only does ALL of the aforementioned crimes, but that is basically the entirety of the show! You may ask, "why am I choosing to pick on just Kurumi?" Kurumi was by no means the first to do these things and plenty of other titles around this time and even before committed many of these crimes. Obvious examples would include Tenchi Muyo and Love Hina. The difference in my opinion is that Tenchi and Love Hina (at least the manga) actually did SOME things right. Both of those titles actually had memorable characters, actually tried to put some romance in, and didn't just try give boners to adolescents 100 percent of the time! Steel Angel Kurumi on the other hand is just pure, unadulterated schlock. However, this piece of shit was HUGELY popular in Japan and after 24 episodes managed to get THREE more seasons! WHY?!
The most interesting thing this story does is the bizarre decision to set the story in the early 20th century despite the plot involving advanced humanoid robots. Apparently Japan was REALLY ahead in robotics in this timeline. The story begins with our bland male protagonist entering a mansion supposedly belonging to a mad scientist on a dare from his jackass friends. Inside the mansion he finds a sexy robot girl and accidentally ends up kissing her. That makes her come to life and want to be his girlfriend...of course. However, the robot girl Kurumi was actually built as a top secret project by the Imperial Japanese military. The scientist who created her didn't wish to see his project used for mass destruction and Japanese imperialism, so he fled with the robot and has been hiding out in the mansion basement. Of course it was such common knowledge that the mansion is where the mad scientist lives that even the jerkass friends knew it, and unsurprisingly so does the Japanese military. The military attack the mansion with a mech suit because...why not? However, Kurumi defeats the mech and saves her new boyfriend from certain doom. This is the start of a very cheesy adventure with LOTS of goofy shenanigans and not a lot of substance.
The character art looks mediocre even for a late 1990s title and the animation is absolutely atrocious! Who the Hell made this anyways?! The same guys that made the original Berserk anime and Pokemon of course! As much as we all love Berserk, we all know the animation was complete shit! Remember that damn cannon scene?
Oh my GOD does the English dub suck! ADV is always a mixed bag, but this is easily one of the worst performances I've ever heard those guys do. The background music may as well not exist, but at least the opening is so bad it kind of has a cheesy charm to it. I DEFY you to listen to the opening theme and frown the entire time. I don't think it's possible!
Kurumi was one of the anime that showed studios that you can be popular and sell lots of copies and merchandise with VERY minimal effort. All you have to do is use a cookie cutter formula, have plenty of tits, have a blank slate male MC that male audiences can project on to, and have a cutesy art style and BAM, you will make enough money to get 4-5 seasons of shit! We are now flooded with titles like Ikki Tousen, Green Green, Rail Wars, etc. largely due to the massive financial success in Japan of Steel Angel Kurumi and other series like it during the turn of the millennium. This is a piece of shit anime that left behind a massive legacy of shame for the entire medium of anime. Thanks Steel Angel Kurumi!
Steel Angel Kurumi is a show I expected to absolutely hate, and now that I'm done with it, I've got some very mixed feelings about the thing.
The story is pretty nonsensical and loose. In short, a prepubescent boy accidentally kisses a robot girl, and he travels around with a scientist and some other robot girls on a quest to do...something? It's all very unclear. There's also some secret science/military group out to get them. None of this is particularly exciting or done well. After the show takes itself too seriously for the last few episodes, the ending is a total cop-out.
This show is
from the turn of the century and also pretty low-budget, and it shows. The backgrounds are bland, the characters look uninspired, and the animation suffers, especially during fight scenes.
I'm going to say it right now: if you plan to watch this show, you absolutely need to watch the dub. It falls under the "so-bad-it's-good" category. The titular Steel Angel Kurumi's voice actor seldom uses punctuation and speaks in almost entirely run-on sentences. Another character swears as much as Holden Caulfield, and it's just as hilarious. The lines are pretty bad, but the execution is fantastic. I also just really liked the OP and ED.
There are 3 Steel Angels, and they're all pretty much restricted to one personality trait apiece. We've got Obsessive, Potty-Mouth, and Lesbian. That's pretty much it for their characters. The main character is an annoying brat, so that doesn't help. Most of the other characters are pretty bland, but the lesbian/pedo detective duo sticks out as the characters that I appreciated. I wish they got more resolution/an entire spinoff show.
I absolutely despised the first half of this show. It was too slice-of-lifey, and I couldn't bring myself to care about the conflicts in the show. For whatever reason, around the episode 14 mark, I started appreciating the show a lot more (it was probably because those lesbian/pedo detectives started showing up more). Like I said earlier, the ending was pretty lame. So this is that weird enjoyment graph where it's highest in the middle but low on both ends.
Kurumi isn't a terrible show, just not really one worth watching. The episodes are 15 minutes each, so you could get through it pretty quickly if you really wanted to, but while I was watching it I just kept feeling like I could be spending my time better. And if you REALLY want to watch this show, I'll say it again: make sure it's the dub.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Steel Angel Kurumi. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not a good show by far but it has a real sense of fun around it that still managed to entertain me even after all these years.
The art is bright and colourful, but the designs were what I'd call typically anime. Though I must admit that the costumes for each of the Angels was quite distinct and memorable. The animation was not so hot. Most of it was acceptable, but the fight scenes (where it really counted) were often animated very cheaply. A punch or kick was
often done with a still, and a succession of punches was done with repeated cells much of the time. The fights overall were rather poorly choreographed overall, which made them actually rather dull. I was always waiting for the fighting to end so we could get to the funny bits. Each episode is 15 minutes, which is perfect for this show. If it had been the usual 25, then things would have had to been drawn out and it would have been far too long.
The story is pretty silly and on occasion pushes your sense of disbelief but it was adequate and is followable. The show does humour the best, I found Kurumi to be a fun character to watch. It takes a turn for the better when Karinka shows up, the chemistry between her and Kurumi made for some good laughs. There is a dramatic element to the show, but it has all the subtlety of an ancient Egyptian building block. The out comes of the villains actions and the big 'OH NO!' moment is telegraphed so early on you act shocked when it happens more out of obligation more than anything else, and its solution is so predictable that it doesn't have much of an impact.
The music was pretty bland overall and normally it wouldn't have even rated a mention if it wasn't for that goddamn OP. It's so cheery and poppy, grabs your cheeks and stretches them into a smile. It bores into your skull and it never goes away. Even 4 or 5 years after I last watched it, I could still sing along......love it or hate it, that OPs catchiness is an achievement in itself.
Now onto the dub. This was more of an eye opener for me. The dub itself had some very good individual performances, but it still didn't quite sit right overall. Now I say eye opener because in the past I would have described this dub with terms like 'worst ever' and 'bleeding ears', but honestly that's not the case. I think I can put that down to being a 'subs superior' prick when I was new to the hobby. Anyway Kelli Cousins Kurumi captures her every squee, giggle and other mannerisms so well it's scary. The Japanese genki girl does have a certain pitch of voice that Cousins doesn't quite reach, but the rest of her portrayal of Kurumi is so good it doesn't matter. Hillary Haag's trash talking, short tempered Karinka is quite enjoyable to listen to, and I think she matches the original voice in tone.
Though Shelly Calene-Blacks deadpan delivery worked well for Mirielle in Noir, it doesn't quite work for Dr. Amagi here, she needed to be a bit more animated. There is something not quite right about Saki, but I can't put my finger on it. The rest of the cast do an adequate job, there isn't one that does their role badly. But still, there still was something wrong. I think it comes down to the script itself. For a show set in 1920s, the script sounds very 21st century, and doesn't quite fit with the rest of the show. If some mannerisms and slang from the period had been written in, it would have sounded much more appropriate.
Overall, Steel Angel Kurumi, it's a fairly average show. It's silly and predictable and it doesn't do anything standout, but by the same token it doesn't particularly bad either. Actually I'd say it's probably decent enough show to introduce people interested in the whole robot maid thing, but at 15 minutes an episode I reckon it's an overall good time waster when you need to switch your brain off and have few laughs.
The ultimate fantasy for any anime fan is the anime crossover. How cool would it be if one of your favorite anime characters teamed up with another one of your favorite characters to make animated magic? Very, indeed. Let's explore some of the most creative anime crossovers of all time.