Kaishaku is an interesting duet. Not just because their work tends to have a lot of yuri elements, although that certainly helps, but because they tend to repeat characters throughout their work. For obvious reasons, they’re worth bringing up in yuri anime month, but I’m not going to look at one of the several anime featuring Chikane and Himeko in some form. Instead I’m going to look at Steel Angel Kurumi 2, aka the good one. Now, I’m not going to talk about the first one, aside from the obvious inference you can make from the previous sentence, because the two have roughly as much to do with each other as DBZ has to do with DBGT. Since the stories, and characters to a major degree, are separate there’s really no need to talk about one before getting into the other.
There’s not much in terms of story here. A young girl named Nako finds a statue in her shrine’s storage area (why are shrine maidens homo-erotic in every anime I’ve seen them in?) anyway the statue chases her and her friend Uruka. Then it breaks open to reveal a pink-haired girl in a maid’s outfit who wakes up after being kissed by Nako and introduces herself as Kurumi, the titular steel angel. Fortunately, Nako’s mother has an old manual about the steel angels that she’s been using as a coaster. Yeah, this anime is really silly. That being said, it’s silly in a fun way. Rather like the All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku OVA I reviewed last year. The situation is strange and most of the characters are interesting and quirky leading to a show that could be accurately described as absolutely insane, but in a good way. What can I say, I find it hard to not have fun with a show that has something as epically ridiculous as a robot Corgi jet-pack. One thing that I do adore about this series is that it’s not just about quirky craziness. It largely is, but it also has quite a bit of heart. The last few episodes actually do have a more serious conflict in which it’s revealed that the first prize of the cello contest that Nako entered is entrance into a music school in Vienna. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this leads to a crisis for Kurumi in particular as she struggles between the repercussions of losing the girl she loves versus supporting Nako’s dream. This whole conflict leads to a very heartwarming moment and the reason Kurumi and Nako are one of my favourite anime couples. All while maintaining a largely light-hearted and goofy dynamic and that, my friends, takes skill.
Initially, it looks like the characters are going to be pretty one-dimensional. Which honestly works fine for the sake of comedy. The characters in Galaxy Angel are pretty one dimensional and they’re hilarious. But they do actually develop to a respectable degree. Kurumi and Nako especially which eventually leads them to the crowning moment of heartwarming that I mentioned earlier. The major characters all have facets to their personalities that make them interesting and there are some really strong interactions and I’m trying not to mention the heartwarming scene again, but I’m kind of fixated on it because it is really good. There are some really funny scenes that are derived just from a group of characters talking to each other. In fact, a lot of the humour works because of the characters quirks. There are also some touching scenes between Kurumi and Nako, and not just the major one. There are some strong smaller moments that lead up to it.
The art is pretty well done. There are some good details, the character designs are unique and they use stylistic changes strategically for comedic effect. That being said, I do have one complaint about it, and yes it’s the one you’re all thinking of. There’s too much fan-service in this. This is an anime that likes scenes with their characters half or entirely nude. They’re occasionally lamp-shaded for the sake of humour, but they ultimately add very little if anything. They’re just there for T&A, or to remind the audience what breasts look like. You know, in case you forgot or need to draw a woman’s bosom for anatomy class but can’t find anyone to model for you.
The vocal cast is mostly good. Kurata Masayo, Kuwashima Houko, Tanaka Rie and Enomoto Atsuko all do well. I really only have one issue and that’s that there’s quite a bit of exaggeration. To be fair, it does kind of work in context, but it can be kind of grating. The music is incredibly catchy, even more-so then Yuru Yuri’s. I think part of it is that the music in this isn’t excessively auto-tuned, it’s actually really well sung while maintaining an extraordinarily catchy tune that will never leave your head. This is the type of song that you can go years without hearing and then find yourself singing it at random. Trust me, I’ve done it a few times between the last time I saw it and this one. The cello music is beautifully played, maybe not as well as the orchestral music in Nodame Cantabile, but it is really well done.
And now we look at the yuri factor… in a yuri anime. Unsurprisingly, it’s really high. I suspect that that might be a common motif this month. The relationship between Nako and Kurumi is beautifully handled. Of course, that isn’t the only source of les-yay. There’s also Saki, just Saki in general. Saki even uses the yuri trope of referring to a girl she likes as “onee-sama.” You also have Uruka and Karinka who both have a thing for Nako. The yuri factor is a 10/10.
So, how does Steel Angel Kurumi 2 rate? Well, the humour is by and large funny. In fact, I can’t think of a single joke that doesn’t work. It also blends in some really well written tender moments that really add to the series. The relationship between Kurumi and Nako is splendid. My biggest issue is with the excessive fan-service, but honestly, I can mostly forgive that given how much the series does well. So my final rating is going to be… a 9/10. Check it out if the phrase “robot Corgi jet-pack” brings a smile to your face or if the romance sounds interesting or if you’re a fan of the type of goofy humour employed in Nuku Nuku. Next week I’m going to move a bit away from these comedic anime and take a look at something a bit more serious. Prepare your handkerchiefs, next week we’re looking at Blue Drop.