All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH
This is a story set in an alternate universe from the original OAV series. In this version, Higuchi Atsuko ("Nuku-Nuku") is a Mishima Corporation military "androbot" (note I didn't say anything about cats ... read on!) who is reprogrammed by persons unknown to protect living things. Undercover as a nineteen-year-old accident victim with amnesia, she comes to stay with the (mostly) unsuspecting Natsume family - Kyuusaku, a slightly mad scientist; Akiko, a research supervisor for the Mishima Corporation (and also a slightly mad scientist); and Ryunosuke, their hormonal fourteen-year-old son. Ryunosuke immediately falls head-over-heels for the beautiful "Nuku-Nuku-san" ... but what can you do when even your own mother is caught up in events that threaten your budding "relationship"?
And here, kiddies, is the latest installment of the Anime Generic Sequel! Remember your formula - take a famous anime heroine, remove her personality, give her a fan service transform sequence, and put her in stock fighting scenes. Don't forget to make your villains as stupid as possible. Enjoy!
As you can see, we're feeling let down by this series. I loved the original, and DASH has little of what made it work - when it comes to the been-there, done-that, so-last-century action sequences. What cheapens them even further is that this series has so much potential.
How so? Note that I wrote romantic comedy as the first half of this anime's genre. That wasn't a typo. Our little Ryunosuke's grown into a 14-year-old Golden Boy, and he's fallen hard for the now not-quite-sisterly Nuku Nuku, and it's actually very cute to watch as he tries to act his very best around the slightly oblivious "Atsuko". Not to mention the very in-love squabbling parents, the street-smart kindergarten Dear Abby, Noriko (Non-chan) ... this is where the series actually shines. It's inventive, entertaining, and fun ... unlike the second half of each episode, where random villains (including Arisa and Kyouko) self-destruct their own machines in the name of humor. Is this supposed to be slapstick? Really.
It doesn't help that this series looks way too much like Burn Up W and Debutante Detective Corps in style. No Nuku Nuku series should ever have this much fan service ... or bounce. Yes, you expect maybe a little with the title character ... but there's loads of near-naked to naked shots of Nuku Nuku, Akiko, Arisa and Kyouko, the next-door neighbor, panty shot background extras ... heck, a spread of the eight-year-old android flower girl (what the heck?!?!). It's tiring, stupid, and offensive, and detracts heavily from the quality of the series. You expect this stuff from Iczelion or Golden Boy, but that's where it should stay - in cheese fests.
And this *isn't* a cheese fest, flower girl and her priest-scientist father notwithstanding. It's a sweet, sincere romantic comedy that has forced bits of stock footage "action sequences" that are absurd and mind numbing. The sequences of Ryunosuke trying not to fall all over Nuku Nuku are far more fun than anything that follows her "Yes, Master, I will protect all living things" spiel, or anything at all dealing with Genom- I mean, Mishima. They should have left all the "Dashing" to Nuku Nuku's previous incarnations. Hopefully, later on the series, they abandon the action sequences and focus on the romance aspect, because that has so much more potential than anything else this series has to offer.
One final, and MAJOR quibble - the only thing catlike that is even hinted at in regards to Nuku Nuku is her slightly catlike behavior that is attributed to Miya-chan, the kitty she saves multiple times from missiles, gunfire, et cetera. Maybe later on, they can tie this in, but as of the first four episodes, Nuku Nuku DASH has very little to do with the original Nuku Nuku concept. Even Megumi seems forced ... it seems more Ayanami Rei than our usual cutesy cat girl, and I didn't particularly like that role on her either. In fact, all the characters seem pigeonholed into roles they really don't belong in. Why?
Still, this may be a series worth seeing more of ... if we can just fast forward to the next episode during the lame action bits. I doubt it, though.
Ishiyama "Non-chan" Noriko is practically the only thing keeping this one from the bottom rung. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: This is a toughie. The fan service (there's almost as much bounce here as Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer) and innuendoes render it unsafe for most under-twelves ... but older viewers would be insulted by the idiocy of the plot and action sequences, especially the flower girl episode. "Target-samaaaa!!!!" (You don't want to know.) Die-hard Nuku Nuku fans would be sorely disappointed due to lack of anything remotely familiar about Nuku Nuku except a strained Hayashibara Megumi. The extremely patient and mature viewer might be able to appreciate what's best about this series (and it's not the fan service, unlike what some twelve-to-nineteen-year-olds would like to tell you).
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (3/12)
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH © 1999 Takada Yuzo / Banneko DASH! Production Committee
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