I remember a friend of mine back in the fall of 2004 lent me his boxed set of Steel Angel Kurumi, promising that I'd love it for all the nudity and fanservice in it (I had some misplaced priorities back then). I was a little skeptical of it since the cover art for the boxed set of DVDs looked more sugary than I would have liked it to be, but I still gave it a whirl. I'm glad that I didn't sink any money into this series, though I'll never get the hours I lost back on this sugary gunk. I recently had to go back into the deepest crevices in my brain to remember enough information to review this anime, and let's just say I'm not happy.
Steel Angel Kurumi is about a young boy named Nakahito, who one day stumbles into an abandoned science laboratory and accidentally kisses an inanimate combat cyborg (known as a Steel Angel), in which the kiss awakens the cyborg. The Steel Angel that gets awaken in named Kurumi, and because of the kiss, Nakahito becomes Kurumi's master. Soon, the military is chasing Kurumi and two other Steel Angels named Saki and Karinka start chasing Kurumi as well.
The characters in Steel Angel Kurumi show that the people who wrote this anime either don't know the definition of creativity or worse, know what creativity is but absolutely refuse to utilize any of it. All the characters in this anime are among the most base cliches in the anime genre. Nakahito is the typical mousy teenage male who soon finds himself with great responsibilities involving other women. Of course, most of the other women (especially Kurumi) blindly gawk over the mousy male lead. Karinka kinda breaks the mold for her being more defiant, but her character isn't any better than the rest. The rest of the cast is totally forgettable to the point where I don't remember what any of them were like.
Like so many terrible anime titles, Steel Angel Kurumi commits the ultimate sin, it mashes tones, genres, and content that don't mesh at all. The people that wrote this anime couldn't decide if they wanted a romantic comedy or a fanservice-heavy action series, so they just mashed the two together. This really annoyed me because I don't know about you, but when I want something with action in it, the last thing I want to see is painfully unfunny comedy revolving around a bunch of annoying girls fawning over a mousy boy. There's some scenes that can be pretty dark (such as Karinka pummeling Saki, which got kinda messy) and there's others that are beyond sugary and annoying, such as the plentiful chibi deformations that take place in the series and dumb facial expressions. Not to mention there's plenty of scenes for nerdy teenagers to blush over, such as this absurd scene with Kurumi and Karinka naked, behind a curtain, where you see their silhouettes, and you see Kurumi grabbing Karinka's mammary glands and going on about “how small they are.”
While the animation and artwork had a lot of effort put into it, this won't save the anime itself. Also, given that this is supposed to be an anime geared for red-blooded teenage males, I thought the choice to add chibi character deformations and a color scheme heavy with the use of pink, purple, and blue was really odd, since these aesthetics are supposed to be more appealing for girls. The appearance of some of the attire doesn't make any sense, either. Why would Kurumi, who's made for combat, wear a maid outfit? I also personally don't think a combat cyborg in a maid outfit is all that appealing, I would have liked it much more if the combat cyborgs had kinky S&M leather and latex gear on them. It also doesn't help that the character designs are really “cutesy,” which at least to me, isn't appealing, even when I was a teenager.
LACK OF LOGIC
Judging from the way everything in this anime looks, it looks like it's supposed to take place in the late 1930's/40's due to the appearance of vintage cars and Type 95 tanks (for any military buffs reading this, you know that these tanks were chintzy soda cans compared to the tanks from America, Germany, and the Soviet Union, but that's a totally different topic), but the technology for the Steel Angels looks like something from the distant future, and I don't remember any explanation for why this is.
The soundtrack for this anime is atrocious. The opening consists of the worst type of J-pop in existence, as this is the type of J-pop that sounds like there's a ten year-old girl singing and the instrumentation will make anyone's pancreas do flip-flops over how sugary it sounds. The background music doesn't fare much better, as it still retains the saccharine atmosphere of the opening music.
While not THAT graphic, I wouldn't recommend this one for the kids. There's plenty of cleavage, underwear shots, and bare female upper torsos in this one. There's some blood in it, but the blood content itself probably wouldn't have gone past a 13 or 14+ rating, but the light nudity and fanservice would probably push this into a 16+ rating.
If you're looking for a light-hearted anime with a butt-kicking female lead, just watch Devil Hunter Yohko instead. If you're looking to get your jollies from any female fantasies in the Japanese animated realm, man up and skip this tepid series and watch the Seek OVAs from Cool Devices Vol. 2 instead. Steel Angel Kurumi is an extremely confused, unengaging, annoying, and forgettable anime. It's been out-of-print for a few years now, and let's hope it stays that way.
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