Haruto Bouida is a work-from-home programmer- but mostly a MAJOR otaku- who is shocked when a figurine of Nona, the heroine of an anime called Planetary Explorer Girl, comes to life- and she's the first, but not the ONLY one of the female figurines he's bought that's about to do the same thing; AND a few more just like them will come into his life as well. Nona's not very pleased about those later ladies' arrivals, though; after all, she and Haruto are "married". (I wouldn't DARE to spoil here!)
"This is exactly why I fell in love with anime in the first place. It showed me a dream where, if I spread the wings of my heart, I could go anywhere." - Haruto
This show is saddled with a banal English title (the Japanese title translates as Over Drive Girl 1/6, which is how the show is referenced on Wiki, and which definitely would have been better); the character art is crude (some decent 3D CG toward the end, though); the show's opening sequence is ultra-cheesy and cloying; some of the "battle" scenes disintegrate into random chaos (though in fairness so did the endings of some OTHER great comedies such as Blazing Saddles and Monty Python and the Holy Grail); and the story stumbles a bit when it's first getting started.
But once it DOES get going, I found the show charming, and frequently absolutely hilarious.
Amazing Stranger (again, THAT TITLE, UGH!) belongs to the same class of show as Nurse Witch Komugi R: a show that's both a lampoon of, AND an homage to, a genre. While Komugi focused on "magical girl" shows (and Sailor Moon in particular), Amazing Stranger takes a much broader approach, toward ALL Things Otaku- anime, games, AND otaku behavior itself-but with as much love as laughter. As evidence of the show's affection for fandom, besides the quote from Haruto at the beginning of the review, Haruto's "friend" Seijiro Kanmuri has a marvelous little speech about the joy of otaku-hood as well. "Friend" is in quotation marks because Haruto REALLY needs to find some better human friends than Kanmuri, who we'll say has his own agenda. So let's consider the rest of the cast:
HARUTO himself is good-natured (relatively), though with the usual habits of thought of the otaku; in other words, he often WOULD like to see these girls- the heroines of his favorite shows and games- more, uh, unclothed; but at ANOTHER time he turns down a chance to really see them nude because he'd rather experience a hoary anime cliché in real life (he's in heaven, because he can do that "large", now, albeit with rather small girls); and when he actually has the girls in his apartment, he mostly just wants to play computer games with them. (Well, yes, they ARE only at 1/6 scale, so they're less than a foot tall, which might limit the possibilities.) (Sure, it's a "harem" show, and yes, there's some nudity, but it's usually either in the service of a jab at the genre (or at Haruto), or to make a point; and the girls are so damned endearing. This is the first "harem" show I've ever seen that I've THOROUGHLY enjoyed.)
NONA, nevertheless, is NOT pleased with the attention Haruto gives the other animated female figurines. (Kanmuri calls them Super Mobile Girls, so I guess I'll use that term.) In particular she's bothered by his affection for Bellnoa and Subaru, who we'll meet shortly, and who probably gravitate more to computer games than Nona does because they were game characters THEMSELVES. (Nona seems to have just been in an anime.) Nona's a bit of an ingenue/airhead (and blonde haired; the show doesn't avoid certain stereotypes), so she's got an alternate, DEFENSIVE personality within her called ShadowNona, that's much more cynical and no-nonsense, especially with Haruto (and black-haired), but as you might expect with a name like hers ShadowNona has a darker side as well. (In fairness to Haruto, while he might be very affectionate toward all the Super Mobile Girls, he is a BIT more so to Nona, who's been his favorite for a long time.) Nona's got a sidekick, also Super Mobile (though probably NOT female) named Ozma; supposedly a data analysis robot, Ozma's a one-eyed blue blob with tentacle feet/hands (which it apparently grossly misuses on Nona in some "slim volumes" (doujinshi) that Haruto had around the apartment and which Nona finds of course.) Ozma's actually pretty sensible, despite being dismissed as a "bonus character" at first.
BELLNOA'S next. She's the heroine in a sword-and-sorcery game called Dragulious Saga. She's got the "noble warrior" personality, and the process that gave the figurines "life" also seems to give them whatever abilities the anime/game versions had, which for Bellnoa includes magic. (The show shocked me, in a way, because it actually DOES provide an explanation for how the figurines came to life- which even references Western Classical literature! But ALL is still NOT explained- for example, I'm not too clear how what Haruto does to Bellnoa's game character can influence her Super Mobile incarnation, though it DID lead to some absolutely glorious super-dogpiling on Haruto, with even Haruto's little sister declaring him "the worst.") I thought Bellnoa really shone in Episode 10. (Episodes 9 and 10 are my personal favorites, and I particularly recommend them to anyone who's casually interested in the show and wants to get an idea of what it's like.)
Next is SUBARU AMANOHARA. She's a character in a game called Striking Fist 3, which is, as you'd expect, a martial arts game. She's also an otaku herself, which already gives her something in common with Haruto.
Finally there's RUE HITOMA. (Actually NOT finally-there may be a couple more, before it's all over.) Rue's introduced later in the show (in Episode 10), and is a character in a cellphone game. (Her Super Mobile form responds to some of the same things her cellphone version did; I can't say more.) A while ago I watched a bit of a show called Frame Arms Girl- with some of the same general ideas as this one (i.e., miniature girls fighting in an apartment), though Amazing Stranger is a LOT more fun- and I kept wondering if Rue's amusing visual design might have been a sly jab at that series.
I'd like to finish with a couple of other thoughts. First, I was in ABSOLUTE SYMPATHY with Haruto in that last episode; I've felt that way about many series myself.
The second is that Wataru Hatano, who voices Haruto, has one of the most extensive lists of anime credits I've ever seen- 180 shows, if I counted them right in his Wiki article. I can't think of a more fitting person to play someone who loves anime than someone who's appeared in SO MANY of them.
I've not seen many series that blend wit with sweetness quite as well as this one does. A "short" series that's nevertheless full of delights, and which loves otakus every bit as much as it ribs them. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: As I said there's some nudity (mostly bath scenes), though it's not too graphic. (Nona's outfit is sort of continuing fanservice. I also couldn't help noticing (GIVEN that outfit) that, even though we're told she's supposed to be an "android", she's got a navel. But we may never REALLY know if the Super Mobile Girls are completely "anatomically correct.") There's no real sex and only mild (comic) violence. Honestly,the jokes would be better appreciated by an older audience. We'll rec for 16+ just to be safe.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Amazing Stranger © 2019 Seven.
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