I’ve talked about Nuku Nuku twice. The first time being the OVA, which was really good. The second time being the twelve episode series, which was still good stuff. This one is also by Ashi Productions, now called Production Reed, and was released the same year as the other TV series, 1998. So, does it hold up as well as the other two? Let’s start Dash and see.
One day Ryuunosuke, fourteen years old, arrives at home to find his parents fighting in another room while an attractive young lady waits awkwardly. She introduces herself as Higuchi Atsuko, but prefers to be called Nuku Nuku. Due to family circumstances, she’ll be staying with his family for a while. At roughly the same time, Ryuunosuke’s mother, Akiko, is sent by Mishima Industries to find and recover an escaped weapon. Unbeknownst to her, that escaped weapon has just moved into her home. It’s a good thing that cameras don’t exist in this universe, otherwise Mishima might have a picture to show her and this would end in five minutes. But this is supposedly a comedy, right? So, we can excuse the narrative being a transparent excuse plot, right?
Well, that’s the biggest problem with this series. It wants to be a comedy, but it also wants to tell a more serious story that deals with death and loss and has tragic moments. As such, the comedy is frequently downplayed in favour of story. Except that the story is a complete and utter mess. It’s full of plot points that make no sense and the attempts at more serious scenes fall apart based on how ridiculous the underlying premise of a cat-brained android is. The premise works fine for the OVA and Nuku Nuku TV because they’re over the top, zany comedies. It doesn’t work when you try to be semi-serious with it. So, those moments fail, what about the comedy? I’m sorry to say it, but the comedy in this is really weak. A lot of the characters have one or two rather generic gags that they’re used for. Not only that, but the comedic moments themselves frequently lack any kind of actual pay off. Take Ryuunosuke’s big joke, he’s an awkward teenager who has a crush and doesn’t know how to handle it. He’ll get into situations where he’ll do something embarrassing that could potentially lead to a funny reaction, someone will catch him and then they just won’t react, thereby killing any chance at an actual joke. The attempts at romance in this are just wretched. It’s like they took elements from the world’s blandest romantic comedy, beat them with the proverbial idiot stick, used them to fill in gaps with no care for structure or context and called it good. At best it’s slightly cringe-worthy. At worst it’s downright painful.
To the series’ credit, there are some comedic scenes that do partially work. The stuff with the Red Riding Hood inspired character is actually pretty entertaining for the most part. I also have to give them credit for trying to do something different, even if they didn’t do it remotely well.
The characters in this are pretty bad. Ryuunosuke is an annoyance. Nuku Nuku’s gone from a vivacious, high-energy and always entertaining character to an insipid one. Akiko and Kyusaku spend most of their time bickering, and not in a funny way. In a more uncomfortable and awkward way. The other parts of the franchise may not have had strong developed characters but at least they were entertaining and played off of each other well for comedic purposes. This series doesn’t even have that.
The art in this one, like the other two, is really dated but, generally fine. It’s a bit odd that they give Nuku Nuku green hair in this instead of her usual red, but there’s nothing wrong with that change. The biggest problems are the gratuitous fan-service and the action sequences. In the other two instalments, the action sequences are lively, eye-catching and have a strong level of controlled chaos. They’re pretty well done. In this series, the action sequences are slow and boring. They involve a lot of standing still and talking. Because that’s what makes for a dynamic action sequence.
To Dash’s credit, they did get a strong vocal cast. Hayashibara Megumi, Kamiya Akira, Ikura Kazue and the other actors all do fine. You won’t hear their best performances in this, given the material, but they’re fine. The music is the strongest part of the series. The themes in particular are really good, musically.
There’s a little bit. There’s a scene where Nuku Nuku treats one of Akiko’s wounds and the “joke” is that it looks like a yuri scene. The way the Red Riding Hood character talks about chasing her target, Nuku Nuku, sounds like she’s referring to a romantic interest. Of course, neither scene ultimately goes anywhere.
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash is a disappointment. The comedy is weak, rarely getting so much as a chuckle. The attempts at being more serious really hurt it and the romance elements are terrible. The characters are boring. The art is weak and the voice acting is just passable. So, if you want to watch a series about a cat-brained android, watch one of the others. My final rating for this one is a 3/10. It’s just bad. Next week, to tie into the year I had yuri anime month in January, I’ll look at Yuru Yuri San Hai.