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AKA: Koutetsu Tenshi Kurumi
Genre: Maid comedy / action drama
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 15 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films; Currently Available Streaming On Crunchyroll.com
Content Rating: 13+ (fan service, adult situations, violence, language)
Related Series: Steel Angel Kurumi 2
Also Recommended: Mahoromatic, Hand Maid May
Notes: Based on the manga by Kaishaku, which was at one point licensed in North America by ADV Films' manga division.

There is also a live action version of Steel Angel Kurumi that has not been released in North America.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Steel Angel Kurumi

Synopsis

After being forced to explore an abandoned building by some bullies, Kagura Nakahito accidentally awakens a maid robot called Kurumi, who immediately calls him her master and proceeds to follow his every order. However, the military also wants to capture and use Steel Angels like her for reasons yet unknown. With the companionship of the Steel Angels and various other characters, Nakahito travels to uncover the mystery behind them and save ... the universe from disaster? No, that's not it ...


Review

Break out the toothbrushes, people. This anime is bursting with sugary cuteness all the way - from the (incredibly) cute intro to the SD characters popping up all over the place. The main character, Kurumi, oozes cuteness to the bone and begs you to make frequent trips to the dentist.

There - I've said it. If you're not turned away by cute anime then read on. This anime basically starts off like any other maid show - some loser guy (in this case, Nakahito) finds and activates a maid robot who becomes his slave ... I mean helper. However, the similarity ends there. Much to my surprise, Kurumi actually has a serious plot woven between its cotton candy and Mars bars - as the story progresses, you will find out the true purpose of the maid robots (called Steel Angels) and what they are capable of. This certainly sets it apart from titles like Hand Maid May, which focus mainly on the romance. Towards the later part of the anime, the plot becomes a lot darker and serious - but more on that later.

The art is bright and colorful, which suits our main characters (the three Steel Angels). The animation is also consistent throughout the series and smoothly done. It's not all the time that you will see maid robots fighting with fluid moves and the occasional special effects. Backgrounds are also rather detailed when compared to the level of the art and this is also maintained throughout the series.

But what are these Steel Angels, you may ask. Kurumi is a maid robot with extreme strength and is extremely protective of her master (Nakahito) but also lacking in brain matter. In fact, the combined thinking power of all the Steel Angels is barely enough to challenge a cabbage, much less a single digit IQ. Then of course Saki, who is Kurumi's sister, has a major crush on her and has...um...fantasies of being with her. Okay, that's enough.

As with all maid anime, it is rather absurd that the maid character wears the same costume throughout. And this is even more absurd when you put these cute characters in a serious plot. The maid costumes really make it hard to visualize the seriousness of the situations when they happen and tend to be a little distracting.

Then of course there's the fan service part. It's not much, but a maid anime won't be one without fan service. A few times it does end up using the standard "accidental" situations to get some comedy done.

The final blow for me was a two-hit combo. In the original Japanese audio, Kurumi's voice is shrill and high pitched - every time she uttered her trademark "Kyuuuuuu!", I could feel razor blades scraping against my eardrums. Secondly is the fact that our main male lead Nakahito is barely old enough to pass for a teenager, much less fall in love. Kurumi is taller and looks much older than him, and yet she always get these fantasies of being in romantic situations with him, while poor Nakahito doesn't seem all that interested at all. Picture Ikari Shinji when he was younger and you'll get the general idea.

There is one thing, though - this anime might not even qualify to be a maid anime at all. It's true that the main characters wear maid-like clothing, but unlike most maids, Kurumi might probably blow her top if Nakahito asked her to clean stuff. Most potential buyers, however, might not expect this because of the way the characters are presented. It's all up to you how you want to define it.

I must state that I am rather biased against this title, but for reasons I have already given. I also think that it would be much more believable without the maid costumes, but then it wouldn't be a maid anime anyway. If anything, the commendable animation and plot raised the rating for me as I watched it, but having blood pour out of your ears each time isn't going to make you very generous with your stars...

If you detest cute anime, subtract 2 stars then go buy an ice-cream instead - the sugar content will be lower. If you think that a little romantic comedy with a serious plot would be interesting then go for it. Otherwise, rental will be fine.Enoch Lau

Recommended Audience: No full frontal nudity, but there's some bath scenes and some err ... fantasies. Saki also has a romantic crush on her sister so that might raise a few eyebrows. There's also the required fan service here and there.

The maids are also involved in some rather violent battle scenes and these may be a bit graphic at times (you know, blood and all that).

Apparently, the English dub also contains some small amount of foul language. View at your discretion.



Version(s) Viewed: DVD, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Steel Angel Kurumi © 1999 OLM / Kashaku / Kadokawa Shoten / Pony Canyon
 
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