All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku has been a very popular commodity among the anime and manga crowd over the years. The show may have been directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto but it found its roots in an original short manga by Yuzo Takada (creator of 3x3 Eyes and Blue Seed), and had a short six episode OVA back in 1992. In 1998 the concept was brought back in the form of a fourteen episode television series with another twelve episode series being created shortly thereafter.
Each incarnation has followed the same basic idea, though each time around there was something a little different. It's not the first time that we've seen a franchise try to reinvent itself with a new production, but it's always an interesting beast (think Tenchi). While Dash presented the same characters as the original All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku series there are many noticeable differences. Before I get into what's been changed over the years, let me fill you in with the basic premise behind the anime.
Invented by Kyusaku Natsume, Nuku Nuku is an androbot with the brain of a cat. She looks like a normal teenager, goes to school and is trying her best to fit in as part of the Natsume family. She also is trying to do her best to behave like a human and befriends Ryunosuke, who is Kyusaku's son. Things get difficult for everyone when her cat side often works its way into her actions. She'll eat cans of cat food, rub her face, take cat naps and make cute noises; you know, that normal teenage girl stuff.
Oh, and did I mention that Nuku Nuku also has superhuman strength and borderline unstoppable powers? Every good hero needs a villain, so it should go as no surprise that someone is often wreaking havoc upon the citizens of her town. This menacing evil is known as Mishima Heavy Industries (IE: Maytag with an attitude).
Mishima is constantly trying to take over the world with one insane invention after another. Everything from an evil robotic washing machine to other crazed household appliances and even a book filled with subliminal messages. Yes, Mishima isn't your typical evil empire, but it's certainly one with a great fashion sense. You see, each member of the board walks around in supervillain costumes and takes orders from a masked man named Hell Mishima. The kicker is that Ryunoske's mother Akiko is a member of Mishima Industries and a constant part in the plans for world domination.
If you can't tell by now, this isn't a series to be taken too seriously. It proves to be a relatively faithful retelling of the original OVA from 1992, but certainly different in tone when compared to the following Dash series. In the remake TV show Ryunosuke was older, Kuysaku was more of a caretaker instead of inventor and Mishima wasn't a bunch of costumed nincompoops. The overall tone in Dash was much more serious in nature while this version is more lighthearted and aimed towards a younger audience. Kids will get the most appreciation out of what happens here, though anyone with an open mind and a place in their heart for a butt-kicking android with the brain of a cat will get into it as well.
Much like the Dash series, the original All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku TV show offers up a new monster of the week in every episode. It carries a little bit of continuity along with it as the show continues, but for the most part Mishima unleashes a mechanical nightmare on the city and Nuku Nuku comes along to stop it. The main difference here is that instead of centering just on our heroine we also get introduced to some of the students that she goes to school with.
In many ways the series winds up being a high school comedy thanks to the weird roster of characters that play secondary roles. You've got a nerdy girl with glasses, a girl that acts like a fortune teller, a guy who plays guitar and sings as well as a few other stereotypical students. It's not quite Azumanga Daioh or Doki Doki, but it is definitely a different experience when combined with the Dash series.
I had a good time watching the show, though I have to admit that many episodes in this set were annoying. This is the perfect example of a series that has its ups and downs but constantly stays focused on the target audience. If you're just looking for something fun that you don't really have to think about or try to understand then you'll have a good time. However, if you prefer an anime that's more serious or one that contains more continuity you may not get into it that much. It's all a matter of personal preference, but I for one enjoy the concept and execution of this series nearly as much as I did All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash.
Originally released in 1998 the show is presented with its broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. I have to say that judging the anime strictly from the state of its visual quality it certainly appears to be much older than it actually is. The colors were faded, the image shuddered from time to time and there is a fair amount of grain. I found the same type of issues with the Dash series, so it leads me to believe that the show either had a low budget (which I doubt) or was attempting to be reminiscent of the original OVA. Either way the picture is dated well beyond the time of production.
Relatively equally unimpressive; but acceptable, was the audio presentation for the show. The set comes with two 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks; one for English and one for the original Japanese. Whichever style you prefer both offer roughly the same overall quality with minimal directionality and an unimpressive soundboard. The voices for the dubbing were handled fine and the Japanese language track proved to be just as robust and enjoyable. I found the quality to be slightly better with the newer English selection, though the differences were minor.
There is nothing on this set apart from some ADV previews to constitute a score for extra content. That's basically what the thinpak is all about folks, so why should we be surprised at this point? Then again it's not like the individual releases included any bonus material apart from some clean opening and ending animations.
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is one of those series that you have to be in the right frame of mind to watch. The off-the-wall characters and concept provide a lot of humorous material and many crazy situations, but the entire show comes across as being aimed to a younger audience. It's a lot more lighthearted than the Dash series was and is pretty much on par with the original OVA release. The monster of the week mentality hurts the series more than it helps and the image quality gives the impression of an earlier production date. In the end I'm going to suggest a rental for the show since it has plenty of character development and a sense of humor that carries a certain charm with it, but may not be entirely rewatchable or universally appealing.