a.k.a. Bannou Bunka Neko-Musume DASH!
On his way home, 14-year-old Ryunosuke Natsume witnesses a mysterious girl save a cat from a speeding truck with super-human agility and grace. He returns home to tell his parents of the event not only to find the same girl from before sitting in his living room, but he also discovers that she’ll be living with them! Her name is Atsuko Higuchi, or rather Nuku Nuku, and she has Ryunosuke smitten for her. Meanwhile, darker forces at Mishima Industries are on the hunt for an escaped prototype Androbot fighter. The company will do anything it has to do in order to find their target, even if it means using explosive force. In each of these dangerous attempts, an unknown fighter appears and saves the populous from certain danger. The question is…who is she?
summary by L-Sama
Highs: Occasionally funny; the second part tries to redeem itself
Lows: Sub-par animation; atypical Nuku Nuku; useless fan service; cop-out ending
In 1998, the Nuku Nuku franchise received a bit of a revival in the form of a TV and OVA series. Released as a sister project to the Nuku Nuku TV series, DASH! is a stark departure from its roots. Unfortunately, it ends up being too different, which in turns does more harm than good.
DASH! still keeps one thing in its arsenal: comedy. Several moments made me chuckle, with many of them involving Ryunosuke’s pining over Nuku Nuku. Overall, though, the comedy that Nuku Nuku fans know and love just isn’t there. The main culprit for this lack of humor is Nuku Nuku herself. Her bubbly, care-free nature is virtually non-existent in DASH!. She’s much more soft spoken (not to mention sporting a totally different hair color), and with the exception of a few instances, she shows none of the cat-like traits that made her so funny in the past. With this lack of comedic power, most of the remaining comedy is replaced with attempts at drama, which fall well short of their marks and appear very cliché. Fan service levels are also alarmingly high by Nuku Nuku standards, especially after watching the TV series. After the first four episodes alone, I almost decided not to finish the series due to the barrage of breasts that did nothing for an already shallow plot.
By action anime standards, fights are on the brief side, but they are still at least present in quantity. Originality in these fights, however, is hard to be found. Things quickly fall under the “Villain of the Week” routine as each episode becomes very predictable: someone tries to capture Nuku Nuku, the city gets threatened, Nuku Nuku transforms and attacks, roll credits. Several opportunities arise to develop a new twist and break from the monotony, but alas, they are thrown to the wayside. Recycled animation sequences, as a result, become an all too common occurrence in a hurry. The rest of the animation does not fair any better, and when it’s combined with the muted color spectrum, the entire series looks like it was made in the early 90s rather than 1998.
In spite of it all, the second part of this series, starting at Episode 8, begins to show some promise. A main villain appears with real motives other than capturing Nuku Nuku, and some answers finally make themselves known in Nuku Nuku’s past. Even some of the dramatic moments hit their marks towards the finish line. Again, some of the devices used are cliché in nature, but it’s at least an attempt at something different. Everything continues to gain steam, as we are seemingly headed for a monumental final clash between Nuku Nuku and the evil forces of Mishima Industries. Sadly, the ball is dropped yet again, and the final scenes turn into one of the biggest cop-outs I’ve ever witnessed.
Fans of the first OVA and the TV series should steer clear away from DASH!, while newcomers might want to pick this up for a weekend rental just to kill some time. Perhaps I set my hopes too high. Perhaps I expected too much from this anime. Regardless, DASH! is still a disappointment and an ill-fitting final installment of the Nuku Nuku franchise.
All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH! can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.