Sometime in the distant future, Kurumi, Saki and Karinka share an apartment with another girl named Excelia. One day, after school, Kurumi tells everyone that she is in love with a man she met named Michihito Kagura, but she doesn't know when she will see him again.
I found out about Steel Angel Kurumi Zero after having seen the entire US DVD release of the anime, and after having read a significant portion of the manga. Needless to say, I was excited to find out that Zero contained my favorite character from the manga, Excelia. I eagerly downloaded the fansubs, hoping I'd get to see her in action.
What did I get? Well, definitely not what I expected. First and foremost, the point of view never leaves the apartment that they live in. That rather disappointed me.
Second, no action whatsoever. It's just a straight up drama.
This could be enjoyable to some, and the original did have some drama in it, but it contained so much more comedy and action to balance it out that Zero simply lacks.
Third, Excelia isn't at all like she is in the manga. She's basically in Zero in name only. Not much of a point, but given that she's my favorite Steel Angel from the manga, it's kind of a letdown.
Actually, that sums it up perfectly. Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is kind of a letdown.
Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is the final installment of the Kurumi story. Kurumi season 1 is in the Past, Kurumi 2 is in the Present, and Kurumi Zero is in the (distant) future.
It's got something very unique that sets it apart from the rest of the Kurumi series: Subtlety.
Zero takes place far, far in the future, where humans' ability to adapt to a increasingly harsh climate is getting worse at a rapid rate. Various people become "Holders", where their body completely gives up on being conscious, and eventually dies. The sweet little Kurumi happens to fall in love with a guy, who then becomes
a Holder shortly after the two start dating.
The story seems overly simple at first. The artwork is very simple, outfits and backdrop as well. The plot is essentially dialogue-driven. There is very simple music, and a cute little ending theme sung by Rie Tanaka (but no opening theme, sigh). The mood is a little bleak (acid rain can do that...), dramatic, and a calm-before-the-storm feel to it. It lacks the comedy, fighting, sci-fi, and yuri elements of the other series.
What's fascinating about this is its role in the complete Kurumi story. It is chronologically at the very end, far in the future, at mankind's last days of survival. This is "Zero", though, the actual beginning of the story. The three characters, Kurumi, Saki, and Karinka, are not yet Steel Angels; this is where they begin, as human girls. Kurumi's hope is smiled upon by an angel, and her Angel Heart blooms.
The unseen happenings after this OVA are the girls' transformation to Steel Angels and subsequent trip back in time, to the time period of the first Steel Angel Kurumi series. This is why it's "Zero", it's the backstory of where Kurumi's hope and power came from, why, and what kind of bleak situation they came from (though demons hadn't appeared yet). As a testament to this eventual time travel, the end of Zero is a short picture of Kurumi hugging Nakahito from season 1.
I found it interesting to see the girls in their "natural habitat". It appears that Karinka was originally not as crazy or violent as she is in seasons 1 and 2, once she's become a Steel Angel. Saki is proper as always, and seems to care a great deal for Kurumi, but she doesn't seem to be in love with her quite yet. It would have been nice to have this be 6 episodes rather than 3, to see more of the connection between Zero and 1, and maybe see some Saki/Kurumi romance begin.
I give this a 8 of 10 because I loved it, the story was just the right depth, it completed the Kurumi story to a good extent (not perfect), but, it was majorly simple, short, and could have had more content.
Wha?? That was pretty much how I felt throughout the entirety of Steel Angel Kurumi Zero. Having watched all of the Steel Angel Kurumi series up until this point, I was expecting yet another nonsensical romantic comedy that may or may not be about girl on girl action, but instead I was treated to something much different. Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is a flat out romantic drama. Yes, that�s right, Steel Angel Kurumi Zero isn�t a comedy at all. Shocked? I know I was. Once it set in that Zero was a dramatic anime I was able to somewhat enjoy it, but when it was
all said and done I couldn�t find much reason to praise it. This isn�t saying Zero is a bad installment to an enjoyable series, but I just found Zero to be so unique and different from the rest of the series that it felt entirely out of place, and maybe that�s exactly what they were aiming for. All of the Steel Angel gang is back, but this time they have matured quite a bit. Saki is basically the mother figure of the household, giving Kurumi advice and taking care of everyone. Karinka is still bratty, but a lot more tolerable. Kurumi received the biggest personality change though, turning her into a down to earth (albeit emotional) young girl, which consequently made her a lot less interesting to watch. Kurumi was always portrayed as this fun eccentric robot maid girl who didn�t love anyone except for her master, but now it�s as though she�s a normal everyday girl who can fall in love with whoever she wants. And that spunky attitude? Gone. This puts an interesting twist on the Steel Angel Kurumi universe, and has me wondering if there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is a tale about love and how much of a struggle it can sometimes be, but there is clearly a bigger plot swirling around underneath it all. What it is, exactly, isn�t something I can put my finger on. Steel Angel Kurumi Zero seems to have some fairly strong philosophical undertones, and the extremely strange--almost biblical--ending supports this theory. One problem I had with Steel Angel Kurumi Zero was that its short length made it hard for me to understand the potentially interesting storyline to the fullest. The anime didn�t make many things clear, and simply used visual markers and character expressions to help emphasize some of the bigger plot points. This doesn�t work too well in my opinion, and once it�s all done and over with you�ll probably be left with a lot of questions that seemingly have no answer. For instance, what is a �Holder� and what do Angels have to do with it? I have made plenty assumptions as to what a Holder might be, but I can�t be sure if any of them are right because the anime doesn�t take the time to explain it. From the way Zero describes it, I think a Holder sounds like nothing more than a person suffering from clinical depression, but it�s obviously a much bigger deal than that. The term Gamma is also used without explanation, and is only said to be the one thing that can cure a Holder. So, does that make Kurumi a Gamma? I don�t know, so don�t ask.
Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is about as short in length as they come. Sticking to the old ways, each episode is only fifteen minutes long. This makes it one of the shortest animes I�ve ever seen, and easy to squeeze into your schedule. One thing I should mention though is that Steel Angel Kurumi Zero takes place in the same room for the entire running time. This could bug the hell out of Kurumi fans and sci-fi fans alike who want to see more of the futuristic outside world. The only thing that bugged me though, was how little the new girl�s character got developed. Excelia seemed like a rather interesting female computer nerd that I wouldn�t mind getting to know more about, but sadly there wasn�t enough time to even give her a proper introduction.
If there is one thing I loved about Steel Angel Kurumi Zero it was the music. I�ve always been a big fan of piano melodies, and Zero is full of them. The music throughout the series can only be described as beautiful. The ending theme (Miracle's Start) is strangely uplifting, and at times I found myself helplessly humming along to it. Since Zero is currently unlicensed outside of Japan I had to settle for the Japanese audio, and mostly due to Kurumi�s new attitude I preferred it this way. The animation in Steel Angel Kurumi Zero is also pretty good, but doesn�t take much advantage of the futuristic setting. Since the entire anime takes place in the apartment during cloudy skies, you can forget all about the colorful palettes that Steel Angel Kurumi is famous for. This works perfectly for the kind of anime Zero is though, so you can�t very well knock it down because of it. Character designs are essentially the same as before, but with the trademark costumes gone it�s easy to feel like you�re looking at a totally new cast of characters.
While watching Steel Angel Kurumi Zero I was reminded of the movie Bicentennial Man. When watching a series like Steel Angel Kurumi and seeing time progress hundreds of years with the Steel Angels being the only cast members to remain, you have to wonder how much loss Kurumi, Saki and Karinka have had to deal with over the span of their lives. By the time of Zero, everyone that they�ve encountered previously is dead. Nakahito, Nako, and everyone that had a significant role in their lives are nothing more than memories. These three girls will be forced to walk the Earth practically forever as everyone they love or come close to dies over and over again. Depressing? I�d say so, and maybe that�s why I had no choice but to respect the new dramatic tone that Steel Angel Kurumi Zero was sporting, even if the anime itself wasn�t nearly as good as its predecessors. After the first episode I had chills. After the second episode I had goose bumps. After the third episode, however, I had a headache. Steel Angel Kurumi Zero works well as an atmospheric anime that gives you a feeling that�s hard to duplicate, but when it comes to storytelling and answering questions it fails miserably. As a stand-alone anime, Zero isn�t even worth watching on your lunch break. Unless you�re a huge fan of Steel Angel Kurumi, I see little reason to check out Steel Angel Kurumi Zero. It�s not a horrible anime, but it serves little purpose by itself and to the Kurumi series.
I love Steel Angel Kurumi, so of course I wanted to watch all the rest of the anime series that went with it. This was definitely one that could be skipped. SAK Zero is a prequel, but it feels more like an AU series. I'm glad this was only 3 episodes because I don't think I could have handled any more.