This is a three-part review I wrote while watching the TV series, plus a final look now that I have seen the entire series. You may wonder why I created a webpage for the series if I'm so critical of it; well, I kinda wonder about that too... read on.
Why I Don't Like Nuku Nuku TV
A few people have asked about this, so here's my review of the first three episodes of the Bannou Bunka Neko Musume TV series.
First, let me say that I understand very little Japanese, so I can't give you a completely comprehensive review. However, based on what I can understand, I don't think this is a big problem. It seems to me that the dialogue is pretty simple, so I do not think I am missing a lot of witty remarks or subtle humor.
The main problem I have with the show is the characters. I really liked the characters from the Nuku Nuku OAVs, since they were genuinely interesting and had depth. Nearly all of the OAV characters appear in the television show, but they seem to be shallow characterizations of their old selves. In fact all of the characters, and there are at least a dozen regulars, seem to be well-worn anime stereotypes. I don't mind this for Nuku Nuku's classmates, since it is interesting to have a class made entirely of weirdos (an acoustic guitar-strumming musician, a young mad scientist, a drill-instructor-like class leader, a bookworm girl with thick glasses who has yet to say a single word, and so on). However, these characters should serve as a backdrop for the main characters to play off of, but in this case the main characters are no different. With a TV series, there is plenty of time for character development, but in this case all the characters were introduced and their roles established in the first two episodes, and it doesn't look like these roles will change.
It seems to me that, rather than trying to think up an original storyline for the show to follow, they decided to pull out all the old anime cliches of giant robots, costumed characters, secret identities, and hapless underlings. The fact that all the main characters (the bad guys at least) have secret identities seems not only silly, but entirely unnecessary. Part of the fun of the OAVs was the conflict between Nuku Nuku's family, but the secret identities eliminate all that. The only plot device seems to be to prevent Mishima Industries' haywire giant home appliances from wrecking Nuku Nuku's school, while keeping the fact that Nuku Nuku is an android a secret from the rest of her class. However, Nuku Nuku really doesn't have much of a part, since they have to fit two lines by every other character into the story.
I have some other minor complaints, like the fact that they insist on showing everyone's name (twice for characters with alternate identities) in each episode. In the first episode it was cute, and it does help explain some visual jokes. For example, the names of the two followers constantly flanking one of Nuku Nuku's classmates are Migiko and Hidariko, which literally means "right child" and "left child". If they keep showing the names much longer, though, it will get very tedious.
I could go on, but this is getting long. There are some things I like. The animation and voice acting are high quality for a TV show, the songs by Megumi H. are good, and several of the new characters have potential. I am just afraid that this potential will never be realized, and the show will go on like is has so far. Hopefully I can report back later that I have changed my mind, but for now I'll be enjoying the new Vampire Miyu TV series, which is a great example of the right way to bring an OAV series to television.
Why I Like Nuku Nuku TV ^_^;;
OK, my rant last time helped get my disappointment about the new TV series out of my system, so I was able to kick back this week and enjoy the show for what it is, rather than what I hoped it would be. The fourth episode is probably the best episode I've seen so far, since it featured lots of Nuku², her father/creator (I'll learn the names eventually), songs galore, and not a single giant household appliance. I counted the character introductions, and there are 19 regular characters, 4 of whom also have secret identities (actually 5, but I've never seen the one guy without his costume). So far at the beginning of each episode a character has been singing a song, and most of the songs are pretty catchy, so I sincerely hope they put them on the soundtrack. I haven't heard any soundtrack announcement yet (they have to sell a ton of singles first), but I'll keep you posted. Anyway, I'm still bummed that this TV show isn't as good as the Nuku Nuku OAVs, but it looks like it may be improving.
Nuku Nuku TV Revisited
I have returned to my original opinion of the new Bannou Bunka Neko Musume TV series (Banneko for short), that it is little more than a silly musical parody of the original Nuku Nuku OAV series. The slapstick humor and cultural references would be mildly amusing in an original show, but I'm really disappointed that the producers chose to reduce the Nuku Nuku series to this level of mindlessness. For example, yesterday's episode (#9) featured a fight over yakisoba-pan (if you don't know, don't ask), a Giant Robo look-alike, and the third appearance of (oh, how it pains me to write this next part) the singing group Speedy, from Okinawa's Mishima Actors School. Next week Ryunosuke turns into a pink alligator. I am not making this up.
OK, so you know by now I don't like the show that much. I'll shut up from now on. However, the music is pretty good (thanks to Megumi Hayashibara), so I'll try to find the soundtrack tonight and post a review tomorrow.
Now that I know that the show only planned to run for 12 episodes, I cannot criticize it too much for lack of character development. The annoying character name signs disappeared after episode four, and even some of the characters showed up very infrequently later in the series (such as the next-door neighbor girl that had a crush on Ryunosuke, and the girl's teary-eyed mother). And now that the three vocal soundtracks have been announced, I know why the characters were always singing. The music was fairly good for an anime series, and for a 12-episode filler show it did fairly well.
However, I still am not impressed with the show as a whole. I think part of the problem is the direction of Yoshitaka Fujimoto. He is now directing a new TV series, Akihabara Dennougumi (Cyber Team in Akihabara), and in my opinion it has the same problems as Nuku Nuku. The attempts at humor are trite, the sight gags quickly become tiresome, and the overall story seems to underestimate the intelligence of the audience. I've seen stimulating anime targeted at 6-year-olds, yet Fujimoto's shows seem to take stale concepts and make them seem even more stale. Banneko actually had an advantage over the new show, in that I already liked Nuku Nuku and the other characters before I started watching. My only hope for the OAV series is that he will stop trying to make the kiddies laugh and concentrate on plot, action, and maybe even character development.
Bannou Bunka Neko Musume is a mildly entertaining TV series, but Yuzo Takada's popular characters and star voice talent are unable to make up for weak storylines and poor direction. The show is not bad for what it is, but it seems a waste that it was not much better.Bannou Bunka Neko Musume is Copyright © Yuzo Takada / Banneko Production Committee - TV Tokyo