Synopsis: The story begins when Ao opens a package that arrives at her doorstep. Inside the package is Gourai, a Frame Arms Girl: a small robot capable of independent movement. Gourai is a newly-developed prototype: a Frame Arms Girl equipped with an “Artificial Self,” an advanced AI that gives her a personality. Ao is the only one that has activated her. Gourai begins to gather both battle data and emotions, starting a day-to-day life with Ao, who knows nothing about Frame Arms Girls.
Back when it began airing in 2017, I picked up Frame Arms Girl, but after a single episode, it seemed to me that this was an anime that I probably wasn’t going to enjoy. This is an anime adaptation stemming from a line of model kits that were originally released in 2015, so this anime can be viewed as pretty much one super long commercial for those model kits. As such, I expected the story to be pretty bad, and while I don’t know if I’d necessarily call it bad, it is most definitely underwhelming.
You can read MAL’s synopsis up above to get the gist of the story. After receiving the packages in the mail containing these prototype robots, Ao is essentially getting paid in exchange for the data collected from these robots, so while suckers like us have our data collected by corporations in exchange for “personalized services” (and then those corporations sell our data to anyone and everyone), Ao is actually getting some coin for it. Pretty nice gig she has going on there.
What follows is a combination of the bots making themselves at home in their new digs, and the occasional battle between these tiny combat robots. Early on, I found this anime to be pretty boring. I was unamused by the hijinks of the bots, and I thought the battles weren’t as entertaining as I was hoping for. However, once more robots arrived on the scene, I felt like things opened up a bit, and this anime became a lot less boring.
There’s practically no story progresssion, so a majority of the episodes are merely the mecha girls making things tough on Ao and at other times just bickering amongst each other. The fighting doesn’t happen for any important reason, and afterwards, the loser just assimilates into the group and takes up residence at Ao’s place. In other words, this is all inconsequential, and there’s very little drama to be found here. As for the comedy, I wouldn’t call this anime particularly funny, yet there are some amusing moments here and there.
Most of the episodes feature two different segments, and I think I tend to like it when various anime do that. It assures a brisk pace and allows for more story variety from the short segments. The slice of life moments definitely make up the heart of this show, so anyone hoping for some serious mecha girl action might be disappointed and have to make do with the mediocre battles.
I didn’t have high hopes for the story, but for a slice of life anime, I don’t think it’s as bad as I feared it would be. However, there is plenty of product placement, as the producers are shilling pretty hard for particular model weapon kits, nippers from the Frame Arms line’s parent company, and other random products. Forgettable as the story may be, just expect yet another slice of life anime and you might find a tiny bit of amusement from the story.
As for the characters, several of them grew on me a little bit over the course of the season, but since I initially found many of them to be utterly generic, that’s not saying too much. Ao seemed like practically every other slice of life protagonist, yet I eventually took a liking to her, and she became my favorite character in the show. Part of that was due to her playful personality, but I’ll admit that a bigger part of it was because of the trouble that the bots make for her.
Gourai, Stylet, Baselard, Jinrai, Architect, and both Materias didn’t strike me as having very strong personalities, and in some instances, I thought they sometimes even seemed to be too similar to each other. Gourai was rather bland, but her status as the Frame Arms Girl to beat kept her from becoming too bland, in my book. Stylet didn’t have that luxury, and out of all of the characters, she was the one who got lost in the shuffle the most, despite her being a tsundere. Baselard seemed to try pretty hard to be entertaining, yet she did nothing for me, and I just wasn’t a fan of hers. Jinrai’s military-loving attitude was a little more enjoyable to me, but she too was rather mediocre. Architect was like Alexa in mecha girl form, and if she wasn’t providing knowledge to the others, she might as well not even have been there. There are two more characters that I need to get to, so let’s do that.
This blog is named YuriReviews, and the yuri in this anime comes from Materia. Two Frame Arms Girls call themselves Materia, but they later become known as Kuro and Shiro, and perhaps out of everyone in this anime, they make the strongest impression. They’re literally always super close to each other, whether they’re embracing, face-to-face with their hands interlocked, or any other action that can’t help but make you think that theirs colors should be rainbow instead of black and white. They don’t actually kiss or do anything like that, but they have that lesbian aura about them, so they’re easy to like.
In addition to seeming very gay, they both appear to be a little sadistic, and their openness about it makes them stand out even more. At one point, they want to shove a leek up Ao’s ass in order to help cure her cold, so they’re definitely some colorful characters. Frame Arms Girl does include a couple of yuri kiss, however, only one of them involve Materia. It happens during their magical girl-like transformation sequence, but given how close they were, it’s disappointing there was only one kiss between them.
The kiss comes as a form of shock therapy, when Gourai tries to help Stylet get over the trauma resulting from Stylet’s defeat at the hands of Gourai. It’s not done for romantic reasons, and nothing becomes of it, though Gourai later kisses Architect on the cheek as another attempt at shock therapy. A couple of years ago, someone in the comments mentioned that this anime had a yuri kiss like every episode, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. I’m definitely disappointed, and I feel like this show could’ve used more kisses. The mecha girls are still shippable, but that alone won’t cut it for some people.
For a slice of life anime, I think this cast of characters is mediocre at best, and while there are a couple of yuri kisses, there was potential for a lot more yuri.
Probably the first thing you really notice about this anime is how the Frame Arms Girls are CG models, and my first impression was that I hated it. I think hand-drawn characters display a lot more emotion and personality than CG models do, and this anime further confirmed my beliefs. That said, I thought that the characters didn’t actually look that bad during the slice of life moments. I’ve definitely seen more awkward use of CG in other anime, yet during the battles, I think the CG is more noticeable and not quite as easy to overlook. I don’t think the use of CG here was terrible, but it definitely seems out of place at times.
Every once in a while, the girls traded in the CG for some hand-drawn models, and I feel like they definitely looked better and more lively at these junctures. Aside from Ao and maybe her best friend Bukiko, I wouldn’t call the girls cute, but there were some hand-drawn chibi moments that fall in that category. On a less positive note, I thought the backgrounds during the battles were completely uninspired and looked like they were ripped straight out of the pre-rendered cutscenes from 1994’s Tekken. Kind of harsh, but they weren’t a joy to look at. I should also mention the moderate level of fanservice in this anime. There’s the usual assortment of panty shots, as well as the obligatory bath house/hot springs scenes. I wouldn’t call this anime ecchi, yet some fanservice is present.
For the most part, the music was decent, but I was surprised at the inclusion of a few insert songs, and the final episode even had some musical performances from the different Frame Arms Girls (complete with the worst CG seen in the show). The music itself was forgettable, yet I’ll give this anime props for even trying something like that.
Early on, I was prepared to give Frame Arms Girl a really low score, but I didn’t end up disliking it as much as I thought I would. Despite some bland characters, the slice of life moments were sometimes fun, and though decidedly less fun, the battle scenes weren’t numerous enough to totally turn me off to this. I expected more yuri, and for most people, I don’t think this is worth watching just for the modest level of subtext. So after everything, I don’t think Frame Arms Girl is bad per se, but it’s not that good either.
+ The CG isn’t quite as jarring as I thought it would be
+ Ao is a fairly entertaining protagonist
+ Contains a couple of yuri kisses
– The CG character models don’t express personality as well as hand-drawn art
– Needed more yuri
– Characters aren’t very memorable
Total Enjoyment: 5