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All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku: The Whole Kitten-Kaboodle Collection Anime DVD Review

10 min read

All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku NukuContaining all three Nuku Nuku anime adaptations, this collection is a must for any fan of comedy and action.

What They Say:
To stop president “Hell” Mishima from conquering the world home applicance market, scientist Kyusaku Natsume creates the androbot Nuku Nuku. Sweet as a kitten and strong as a tiger, teenaged Nuku Nuku has no problem dispatching Mishima’s stream of appliances.

The Review:
For all three series, I took in the English dub. Both the English and Japanese dubs are offered in 2.0. The mix is fairly nice, and more than adequate for the subject matter. The dialogue, music, and sound effects are all clear, with no drop out present. DASH! might have benefitted from a 5.1 mix, as it has a bit more emphasis on action, but it is not major issue.

The video for all three series look about as nice as they could, however they do all show their age, as the OVA Collection came out in 1992, and the other two are both from 1998. All three are presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio. The OVA Collection and the TV Series are both bright, colorful series. The colors are clean and separate, while the lining is solid. DASH! is a darker series in color, which matches the plot tone, and it does suffer from a small amount of cross coloring, but nothing major and might not even be noticeable if not looking for it. The only problems here are hazy and indistinct moments that seem related to the age of the show. Again, it is nothing major, especially since these are older titles.

I love the design for the packaging for this thinpak, in particular the box. The main box Is designed to look like a bag of IAMS cat/dog food, but where IAMS is printed in big, bold letters with the phrase “Life’s Better” in smaller letters above, this box says NUKU in the big letters with “All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku” in the smaller letters. Also, instead of the paw print at the end, there is now an outline of a cat’s head. To the left where there would be a picture of the target animal with the species and characteristics listed underneath, there is now a picture of Nuku Nuku, listed as the species “Android” with such abilities as “Metal Hairball Control with Armor Piercing Missile Defense.” I just think this is very creative.

The interior thinpaks are a little more conventional. The seven discs are contained in five thinpaks, with the first case for the TV Series and DASH! each being double sided. Each thinpak has some original art of Nuku Nuku on the front with the IAMS inspired logo on the bottom, while the back has a listing of all the episodes

Each series has its own menu, but the OVA Collection has the best. The menus for the OVA Collection are designed to look like a classic version of the Mac OS, one that would have been current at the original release (probably OS 7). This is the OS that is running on Kyusaku’s research computer. Upon starting up, there is an animatic depicting the mouse moving around and opening up a menu showing the disc selections. Making a selection opens up a window with the submenu inside.

The menus for the other two series are fairly standard. Each has a picture of Nuku Nuku, with the selections in the middle. The only real difference between the two is that the TV Series menus are bright in color, while the DASH! menus are fairly dark. This works well as a symbol since the TV Series is very comical, while DASH! is a little more serious. Overall, the menus are nice, in particular for the OVA Collection.

The OVA Collection, is the only disc to have extras, and what is here is fairly basic. There is a small image gallery, a clean version of the closing animation, and the original English trailer. All three are neat to check out, but will take roughly two minutes to watch. The TV Series and DASH! have no extras at all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I had heard about All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku way back in 1992 right after it had aired for the first time in Japan. Having only just begun my fascination with anime, I thought the whole concept—what with its androids and cats and stuff—was strange, and yet oddly compelling at the same time. As such, it has been on my list of titles to check out for the last sixteen years. Yet for some reason, I completely missed every single previous release of any of the titles. So I jumped at the chance to check this set out.

The Whole Kitten Kaboodle Collection contains all three anime series of APCCG Nuku Nuku: the original six episode OVA Collection from 1992, the long awaited TV Series from early 1998, and APCCG Nuku Nuku DASH! from later in 1998. Each of these is completely independent from the others. While all three have the same basic concept, each takes a somewhat different approach to the subject matter, especially in the case of DASH!

The OVA Collection begins with a brief origin story of Nuku Nuku. Kyusaku Natsume and his young son, Ryunosuke, are on the run from Mishima Industries due to Kyusaku’s theft of an attack android that he had designed while employed there. During a brief respite, Ryunosuke finds a starving and shivering stray cat and decides to take it with him. Soon, however, Mishima catches up to Kyusaku and his son, and in the ensuing fight, the cat is shot and killed. Upon finding his son crushed about this, Kyusaku manages to transfer the cat’s personalities and memory into the android, and Atsuko Natsume—nicknamed Nuku Nuku—is born.

Nuku Nuku has all the abilities of a top flight attack robot: she possesses super speed, a high tech weapons system, a virtually impenetrable chassis, and every instinct necessary to succeed in combat. However, Nuku Nuku is also a cat, through and through. She understands little about humanity and is forced to learn on the fly. She also still has some cat tendencies such as bathing herself with her tongue or freaking out in the presence of catnip that constantly brings about more than a little embarrassment or trouble, causing Kyusaku and Ryunosuke to continually have to cover for her.

As if that is not enough, Kyusaku has a little more to worry about than just illegally owning a combat robot: his estranged wife—the spoiled, bratty Akiko—is also the head of Mishima Industries and has taken exception to Ryunosuke living with her vagrant husband. Therefore, aside from attempting to capture Nuku Nuku, Akiko’s underlings, Arisa and Kyouko, are charged with returning Ryunosuke, by force if need be. But with Nuku Nuku programmed to defend Ryunosuke, the Mishima trio have their work cut out for them.

The TV Series skips the origin story for Nuku Nuku, though flashbacks and new character dynamics suggest that it is a bit different. In this version, Akiko is now living with her family, and maintains a fair amount of domestic tranquility with them. She is also no longer the head of Mishima Industries, but is instead a high executive. In this version, Kyusaku is still a bitter ex-employee of Mishima, and he seems to have no clue that Mishima is where Akiko works.

Nuku Nuku’s primary function is to save humanity from the evil machinations of Mishima. The head of Mishima, known to his underlings as Hell Mishima, has plans to use Mishima’s influence to take over the world. With the help of his right hand woman, Bloody Akiko, Hell Mishima concocts ridiculous plans for world domination with the help of giant robots such as a washing machine robot and a microwave robot. Despite these rather lame ideas, Kyusaku is convinced that Mishima’s products are nothing short of demon spawn, and Nuku Nuku is continually sent in to save the day.

DASH! takes the series in yet another direction. For starters, Ryunosuke is no longer an elementary student, but rather in junior high, and Nuku Nuku is a strange and sudden addition to the family. Though he is no longer her creator, Kyusaku is the only person in DASH! that knows Nuku Nuku to be what she is. The role of Nuku Nuku is a bit more simplified in DASH!: she is now programmed to save life whenever it is threatened, no matter who it is or what is causing the threat.

DASH! makes the biggest leap, though, because it completely changes the tone of the series. The OVA Collection and the first TV Series are completely dependent on random wacky comedy. There are not a whole lot of series themes that can come out of concepts such as having a cat based android fighting a giant washing machine or wrecking an entire restaurant just because she got in the catnip. The fact that Kyusaku can consider Mishima’s Robots to be any sort of threat, not to mention the over-the-top way he tends to react to them, makes these concepts sillier.

Even Nuku Nuku’s classmates in high school have eclectic personalities that just reinforce the nonsensical nature of the series, whether it be the Singer Ikenami who cannot speak without singing, the Nihilistic Pretty Boy Shimazaki whose introverted cynicism makes the girls swoon, or even the Snobby Rich Girl Chieko who views Nuku Nuku’s naïve cuteness as an attempt to steal the spotlight. Each character is given a stereotype that they work within in humorous ways.

The first two series also have no real flow in terms of an overall plot. The six episodes of the OVA Collection are completely independent of one another, as only minor details get carried over from one episode to the next. The TV Series has a bit more of an overarching plot but still only deals in episode-to-episode terms with little regard to what came before. With both, it is the random nature of the characters and the comedy that drive them, to excellent results.

DASH! takes a bit more of a serious turn. While still lighthearted at times, it never delves into the random insanity that the earlier series routinely exist in, and it does have a cohesive plot. The comedy in DASH! is a bit more standard fare, with it mainly focusing on the relationship between Ryunosuke and Nuku Nuku. In the first two titles, Ryunosuke is an elementary aged student, while Nuku Nuku is in high school, and their relationship is one of brother and sister. However, with Ryunosuke now at the age where boys start to notice that girls have different parts, his brotherly emotions are tainted with a fairly large crush that he develops for Nuku Nuku. Throw in the fact that he does not know she is an android, and her inexperience with human emotions, and many misunderstandings are bound to happen.

The shift in tone in DASH! is reflected in the art style too. The first two titles are bright and colorful, with the character designs reflecting the wacky nature of the pacing. While the characters in DASH! are certainly recognizable from their earlier counterparts, the art style shifts to be a bit more straightforward and serious. Gone are many of the outlandish outfits and silly expressions, replaced instead by more normal fare.

Upon release, DASH! received a fair amount of criticism, and it is certainly easy to see why. The type of comedy that is attempted in the first two series is something that can be hard to do correctly; there is a fine line to balance between being too silly and not silly enough, and yet both the OVA Collection and the TV Series walk this line expertly. As such, they are an absolute joy to behold.

DASH!, on the other hand, does not even attempt to walk this line. In an attempt to tell a new version of the Nuku Nuku story in a more frank manner, DASH! loses much of the charm of the two earlier series. While DASH! is certainly a fine series in its own right, and may be more accessible to some people than the other two, I found it to be more a disappointment than anything else. The first two anime set me up for certain expectations heading into DASH! that were not met, and I was upset considering how much I loved the first two efforts. I would not call DASH! bad—in fact, it was still pretty good—but the departure from what made the OVA Collection and the TV Series great is an unwelcome puzzle.

In Summary:
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is one of the legends of anime, and the reasons why become apparent within minutes into the first episode. The humor and concept are both top notch, and they lend a charm to the series to which other titles only aspire. DASH! is a bit of a let down after the brilliance of the OVA Collection and the TV Series, but it is still decent in its own right. If you like great comedy and good action and you have not seen this, then you need to. Highly recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Image Gallery, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: C-

Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: October 14th, 2008
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 800 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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