Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Dec 16th 2003
Steel Angel Kurumi Type 2
DVD 2: Earth's Guardian Angels
The 21st Century hasn't been kind to the Steel Angels, Kurumi and Saki. Kurumi keeps an ever-present eye on Nako, her demure new master, but she has to fight off the relentless affections of the jealous and scheming Uruka. Just when things seem to settle down, Kurumi's second little sister Karinka shows up with something to prove: the old family believes that Steel Angels are far too important to just protect one human, so it's up to her to drag Kurumi back home, kicking and screaming if necessary!
In the robot maid panty fetish genre (a genre thankfully unique to anime that hasn't spilled into other forms of mass entertainment), there are a few venerable old standbys that have zero pretension about what they're supposed to be. Steel Angel Kurumi is one of those series, a show that doesn't take itself seriously and wallows in every salacious minute of fan service it has to offer. Therefore, it's hard to fault Steel Angel Kurumi 2 for being what it is: a series specifically designed to please people who really like to see busty robot maid girls flip up their skirts and punch eachother.
With robot maid shows, they typically try and pile on a few more sex fetishes to capture as many Japanese otaku as possible. The original Steel Angel Kurumi paired the titular (pun intended) heroine up with a milquetoast little boy, allowing the assumed adolescent audience to imagine themselves in his place while drawing countless piles of hentai doujinshi. This time, they've upped the ante and made Kurumi's new ‘master’ a demure, cello-playing high school girl with glasses named Nako, adding more than a hint of lesbian innuendo to the affair. In fact, the series is now virtually male-free, excepting spoiled brat Uruka's rich father who hardly appears at all. It's all girls, all the time, and I'd imagine that makes this sequel even more popular than the original.
The storyline is mostly forgettable. Karinka, the blonde one with coquettish curls, shows up and beats Kurumi's titanium tush into the ground, trying to convince her that she's headed for the scrap heap if she remains in Nako's service. This happens after about 8 installments of episodic 'fluff” (although even the episodes that have an arching plot are light as a feather) in which Uruka uses whatever means necessary to get a kiss from her beloved Nako. Clearly, no further explanation is necessary to get across just how silly and depraved this show is. You'll know by looking at the cover (which of course has a special plastic sheet that allows you to strip the clothing from female characters featured on the insert) if you're going to like it or not. Discussing the merits of the storyline seems like a waste of time and would miss the point of the show completely. Everything kinda wraps up at the end, Kurumi and her friends are happy, and overall the plot is far less dramatic than it could have been, which is something of a blessing.
For your fan service dollar, there's little else out there that fits the bill better than Steel Angel Kurumi 2. The animation is smooth and polished, moreso than other series in this vein. The music, especially the catchy opening theme song, is surprisingly well-done and pleasant to listen to. M.O.E. spent plenty of cash making this show look and sound great, and the results are showcased nicely on ADV's flawless digital transfer. There are several instances of re-used animation, but find an anime series that doesn't do that.
The dub is a treat, as well. ADV seems to have figured out how to effectively cast a show made up entirely of female characters. Normally, this kind of series would be a total train wreck, cursed with ‘generic anime girl voice’ and rife with miserable acting. Instead, ADV has cast women with disparate and unique voices. Kurumi flops back and forth between airheaded and determined with admirable aplomb, and her sisters are pulled off with expert panache. Even the bratty Uruka is perfectly acted; the English dub sounds a bit more respectable than the Japanese version, which ages the characters a bit young and grates on the nerves. The dialogue in the English version is also changed for the better, with a couple of funny lines thrown in that clearly aren't in the original Japanese (special mention goes to Karinka, whose line “Now shut your pie hole, bitch!” to Nako had me in stitches).
Basically, you already know if you're going to like this show or not. If you already own shows like Mahoromatic, Saber Marionette J, and have your pre-order down for Hanaukyo Maid Tai and Sister Princess, chances are you've got a small Kurumi shrine in pre-production now. If by some odd chance you fit the above bill but haven't already decided to pick this series up, go get it, now, you won't regret it. In terms of production values, one has to admire the effort that clearly went in to making Kurumi shine, but beyond that, this is a niche show for a niche audience.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Great animation, decent music.
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