Anime Review: Steel Angel Kurumi

steel angel kurumi anime

Year: 1999 – 2000
Length: 24 (15-minute) Episodes
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Historical, Mecha, Military, Romance
Studio: OLM / Production Reed

Synopsis: During Japan’s Taisho Era (1912-1926), a scientist named Ayanokoji developed the Steel Angel – an artificial humanoid with superhuman physical abilities. While the Imperial Army wanted to use the Steel Angel as a new means of modern warfare, Ayanokoji wanted his creation to be a new step in the future of mankind. Thus, he defied orders from the Army and secretly made the Steel Angel codenamed “Kurumi”. Then one day, a young boy named Nakahito Kagura snuck into Ayanokoji’s house as a dare by his friends and stumbled upon Kurumi’s lifeless body. A sudden attack by the Imperial Army shook the house, causing Kurumi to fall on Nakahito. At that moment, their lips met, and Kurumi woke up from “the kiss that started a miracle”.


STORY

Another anime from the turn of the century, a quick skim of Steel Angel Kurumi‘s synopsis and a glance at a girl in maid uniform were more than enough to let me know that I should probably keep my expectations for the story in check. Turns out, that was a good decision, because this was the quintessential generic anime story that was unoriginal, cliched, and only mildly entertaining.

Because of how this anime was structured (twenty-four episodes of fifteen minutes each), it felt like episodes were over almost as soon as they began. For many episodes, it seemed like nothing of consequence happened, so I was more bored than I thought I was going to be. This was still roughly the equivalent of a standard twelve-episode anime season, yet it didn’t feel the same.

For the most part, the tone of the story was semi-serious, even if some of the characters weren’t. The fight over Kurumi stretched for the entire season, but aside from some nice battles that briefly captured my interest, the story was a slog that felt overly bland. A lot of genres are attached to this anime, yet as I look down the list, I don’t feel like this anime did any of those genres justice. Although there were some attempts at comedy, I wouldn’t call this anime funny. Likewise, I thought the drama was pretty mediocre and the romance was anything but romantic, so what we ended up with was an anime that was subpar in most ways.

The story takes a turn for the dramatic in the final handful of episodes, and while I liked this respite from the more slice of life-y moments involving Kurumi and Nakahito, the story played out in a very predictable manner, and I wasn’t enthralled by what I was watching. It sort of felt like I was watching a straight-to-DVD B-movie, so I’d say that the story is not this anime’s strong suit.


CHARACTERS & YURI

Moving on to the characters, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I didn’t really like Nakahito or Kurumi. For the entire duration of the season, Nakahito is pretty much useless, and the only purpose he serves is to just stand there and be the damsel in distress. He’s more or less a total bystander, and if it wasn’t for the inclusion of a generic love story between him and Kurumi, he probably shouldn’t even have been in this show. And when you factor in the other girl that likes Nakahito, I eventually got some brief mini harem vibes from this. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan. 😛

As for Kurumi, all of the ass-kicking she did couldn’t overcome the fact that I found her to be really annoying. It seemed like every other line out of her mouth was “Master!”, and she said it in a high-pitched voice that felt like nails on a chalkboard to me. I could have tolerated it if I thought she was funny, but I didn’t, so her ditzy act grew old very fast.

Besides those two, I found the rest of the cast to be rather forgettable, but at least I wasn’t as put-off as I was with the main pair. Karinka was fun, but someone more worth mentioning is Saki, who turned out to be this anime’s yuri character, but as you’d expect, unrequited love is the name of the game. Despite a kiss and a love confession, Saki’s love for Kurumi goes nowhere but down the drain, so this is probably not worth watching if you’re only interested in some yuri. At least Saki wasn’t made into the comic relief character, so her affection was handled with some respect, and Saki got to keep her dignity. It’s a small victory, but in 2020, I’ll take them wherever I can get them. 😛

All in all, Kurumi and Nakahito both made this anime a lot less enjoyable for me, and with nothing more than a one-sided yuri relationship to fall back on, I came away from this feeling disappointed with the characters and yuri.Moving on to the characters, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I didn’t really like Nakahito or Kurumi. For the entire duration of the season, Nakahito is pretty much useless, and the only purpose he serves is to just stand there and be the damsel in distress. He’s more or less a total bystander, and if it wasn’t for the inclusion of a generic love story between him and Kurumi, he probably shouldn’t even have been in this show. And when you factor in the other girl that likes Nakahito, I eventually got some brief mini harem vibes from this. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan. 😛

As for Kurumi, all of the ass-kicking she did couldn’t overcome the fact that I found her to be really annoying. It seemed like every other line out of her mouth was “Master!”, and she said it in a high-pitched voice that felt like nails on a chalkboard to me. I could have tolerated it if I thought she was funny, but I didn’t, so her ditzy act grew old very fast.

Besides those two, I found the rest of the cast to be rather forgettable, but at least I wasn’t as put-off as I was with the main pair. Someone worth mentioning is Saki, who turned out to be this anime’s yuri character, but as you’d expect, unrequited love is the name of the game. Despite a kiss and a love confession, Saki’s love for Kurumi goes nowhere but down the drain, so this is probably not worth watching if you’re only interested in some yuri. At least Saki wasn’t made into the comic relief character, so her affection was handled with some respect, and Saki got to keep her dignity. It’s a small victory, but in 2020, I’ll take them wherever I can get them. 😛

All in all, Kurumi and Nakahito both made this anime a lot less enjoyable for me, and with nothing more than a one-sided yuri relationship to fall back on, I came away from this feeling disappointed with the characters and yuri.


ANIMATION & SOUND

On a more positive note, for a twenty-one year old anime, I think Steel Angel Kurumi did a nice job with the art and animation. I didn’t really check the year on this show before watching, so if it weren’t for the old-school art style, I probably would’ve thought that this was from around 2007 or so. The addition of some cute chibi scenes were a nice touch, but who am I kidding, it’s all about the fights. The battles were well choreographed, nicely animated, and exciting, and even though I wouldn’t quite laud the music as much as the animation, I still thought the music was one of the best things about this anime.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, Steel Angel Kurumi did a few things well, but there were some major drawbacks that really made this anime hard for me to enjoy. Above all else, Kurumi and Nakahito torpedoed most of the fun, the story did nothing to salvage the mess, and as a result, part of me doesn’t even want to watch the second season. I’m sure there are some people that really liked this anime, but I though it was average at best.


POSITIVES

+ Surprisingly solid animation and music
+ The fight scenes were nice
+ Still a better love story than Twilight


NEGATIVES

– Generic and cliched story
– Annoying main couple
– Another yuri character experiences unrequited love


Story: 5
Characters: 3
Animation: 8
Sound: 7
Yuri: 3
Total Enjoyment: 4


6 thoughts on “Anime Review: Steel Angel Kurumi

  1. I remember seeing only the yuri bits of this online in the early 2000s. Figured it was just a generic het anime with side yuri that went nowhere. Luckily the sequel series went the full yuri route. Hope season 2 gets a re-release someday would like to own that one just for the heck of it! 😛

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  2. I jumped onto this series for one reason and one reason alone. Claudia Black was part of the English cast! But yes, I agree with everything mentioned here.

    Oh! Did you watch the final bonus episodes with the English cast commentary? It’s the one where Karumi and another robot race for Nakahito’s affection. The actress who voiced Nakahito does a nice overdub joke in the last moments of the episode that made the whole thing worth it. I miss ADV.

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    • Nah. Once it was over, I was eager to move on from it, so I didn’t watch any more than I had to. 😀

      From the sound of it, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed that episode that much, but we may never know… 😛

      Like

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