Review

by Zac Bertschy, Jan 30th 2004

Nuku Nuku Dash: Mode One

DVD Vol. 1

Description:
Nuku Nuku Dash: Mode One
Fourteen-year-old Ryunosuke Natsume sees the woman of his dreams rescue a cat from an oncoming freight truck; it's a chance encounter he may never repeat. The next day, the girl shows up at his door, with no memory of where she came from! Her name is Atsuko, otherwise known as Nuku-Nuku, and she's hyperactive, extremely talented and superbly curvaceous! She's reassigned to Mishima Industries, tasked with a series of impossible missions. Can Nuku-Nuku handle Ryunosuke, the relentless Kyusaku, AND a dangerous foe named Akiko?
Review:
Taking several cues from the madcap original OVA, Nuku Nuku Dash isn't so much a new story as it is a remake. The original OVA, a now-forgotten cult classic among anime fans, made big waves in the mid-90s as must-see viewing for new anime fans. That, along with the recently released Nuku Nuku TV series and this twelve-episode OVA series, makes up a legacy of science fiction fluff that's totally forgettable but mostly inoffensive. Nuku Nuku Dash is the most sober and serious of the three Nuku shows. Basically, they sucked a lot of the fun out of the original story, added in a few too many characters, aged Ryunosuke a few years and pumped out twelve OVA episodes. The result is a passable though somewhat mediocre and unexciting series.

The most striking thing about Nuku Nuku Dash is that while it was produced in 1998, it looks like it could have been made around 1992. The animation is unrefined and pretty cheap looking for an OVA series. The colors, even on this DVD release, are really washed-out and pale; there's a lot of dirt and grain. Either the original masters for this series weren't taken care of or preserved very well, or the show was made on the cheap. ADV can't be expected to do a restoration job on every show they pick up, so what we have here is presumably as good as this show is ever going to look. It shouldn't be enough to stop you from buying the series if you're a pre-established Nuku fan, but bear in mind, this isn't exactly reference-quality video.

The story is serviceable. There isn't much to get excited about; the screenwriters haven't gone out of their way to create memorable or interesting characters, so we get a lot of anime archetypes. Ryunosuke is your average fourteen-year-old shounen kid, lusting after Nuku Nuku who's living in his house. Her arrival and subsequent shacking up comes as a fairly contrived and pointless plot development, but this isn't Shakespeare. Wacky antics usually ensue when a big-breasted girl moves in with an oversexed teenager, and the screenwriters milk it for every possible joke (pun intended). Nuku Nuku leads sort of a double life, but isn't very engaging or interesting in either of them. It's as if we're expected to care about her simply because she's attractive and female, which I suppose is enough for some viewers but will leave anyone with higher standards a little unenthused. There's a lot of Three's Company-esque misunderstandings in this series, and it punctuates the relatively routine action. Are we having fun yet?

One of the problems with this series is that it tries to blend too many genres at once. It's romantic comedy, sci-fi action, and family comedy all sort of thrown together and put on 'puree.' The result is something that's either going to appeal to you or not; most people will either find the romantic shenanigans gut-bustingly hilarious or totally dull. From a design standpoint, Nuku Nuku Dash is sort of an anachronism. Most of the show looks like it was designed in the 1980s. Nuku's battle wardrobe seems stolen wholesale from Bubblegum Crisis, complete with fashion-victim leotards and giant BlueBlocker sunglasses that appear from nowhere. There are lots of pointless buttons on things, and the robots all have a distinctly toyetic feel to them. Ryunosuke looks like a reject from Bandai's aesthetically unique Betterman series, complete with an inexplicable red flare in the front of his otherwise brown hair. Those of you pining for the good ol' days where everything was colored in earthtones, everyone had the same pointy haircut and all the girls had ridiculous outfits will have fits of happiness over Nuku Nuku Dash. It's retro, but it isn't old enough to be cool yet.

The dub does its job. You can't blame actors for turning in uninspired performances when they're dealing with uninspired dialogue, so really, the problem is the source material. Most of the principal characters deliver their lines with reasonable middleweight acting. There isn't a lot of overwrought emotion or feeling; it's all a little sedate, but at least it isn't overdone, which is arguably much, much worse. Ryunosuke's voice is a little too ‘spunky’ for its own good at times, but for the bulk of these four episodes, he does a pretty decent job. There's not a lot to complain about, really; there just isn't much here.

Overall, if you're a huge Nuku Nuku fan, you probably already owned the original VHS release of this series from Japan in 1998 and, failing that, you preordered this disc and ate it up like caviar. For a twelve-episode OVA series (a relic in this day and age and a rare length for an OVA), Nuku Nuku Dash isn't particularly inspiring or exciting, but if you're a science-fiction fan and have a Sunday afternoon to throw away, you may want to give it a rental.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : C

+ Routine but kinda-fun OVA series based on a classic.
Almost mind-numbingly mediocre.

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