Anime Meta-Review


Super Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku


By Date



This Page


Title Info

  • alias: All-purpose cross-cultural super cat girl Nuku-Nuku
  • alias: Bannou Bunka Nekomusume
  • seen: 1-6 of 6
  • type: OAV
  • grade: worthy
  • genre: other
  • people: Hayashibara
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title is a personal favourite.
  • form: sub
  • dur: 120
  • made: 1992
  • Review created: Thu May 3 10:29:20 EST 2001
  • mod: none

This is one of the first series that made me realize just how wonderful and weird anime can be. Start with a stupid, but terribly entertaining idea and end up with one of the most fun and memorable series there is. Mind you, Megumi Hayashibara being the voice for a playful nekojin (cat-girl) is also an awful good reason just in itself.


It is a snowy Christmas eve in Tokyo, but not a happy one for everyone. A brilliant cybernetic scientist is fleeing the huge company that would use his creations as war machines. He's stolen the inert prototype and fled with his son, pursued by the trigger happy and reckless forces of the company. In a moment of freedom they stop, seeking food, and along the way the young boy spots a stray cat. As much an outsider on this Christmas as himself. But even while his father remonstrates with him they are surprised by a helicopter gun-ship, and during the escape the cat is mortally wounded by gunfire. The boy, feeling responsible, is shattered by this.

But, while the start is serious the show is not. The opening scene sets up two things, a powerful android body without a brain and a cat in a dying body. Add the two together and you've got all-purpose cross cultural cat girl Nuku-nuku. The power of a military android with the mind of a cat. Although somewhere along the way the cat becomes not only intelligent, but also cute beyond words. And it also looks like the inventors done a little, ahem, bodywork as well. At the same time she's retained all sorts of positive aspects, sure she's easily distracted by mice, but she's got the playful and affectionate nature of a cat.

In fact the story skips forward a couple of years to where Nuku-Nuku has adapted to her new form and is now a happy member of the household. Indeed it's her first day at high school, where she can begin to become even more like a true human being. Although this also exposes her to the influence of the company which has a personal interest in her. Well, not so much her, it seems that the scientists ex-wife happens to be the director of the company, and she wants both revenge and her son back. So the cyborg cat-girl actually find herself in the middle of a rather strange and complex custody battle between a semi-crazed scientist and a semi-crazed woman with a professional interest in mecha and heavy weapons.


It's undeniably silly, but it works. It's never really explained how a cats brain and a cyborg body manages to create something as cute and human as Nuku-nuku. It's obvious that the creators just wanted it to be that way and have made it so. However the combination of cat-girl and mecha is fairly addictive. That said there are two other facts that must be accounted for. And while I normally mention production elements last I simply can't imagine this role being done by anyone other than Megumi Hayashibara who does a simply fantastic job. Nuku-Nuku simply radiates personality, good nature and extreme cute as well as, somehow, `cat'-ness.

The other element is that the writing is actually well done. The other characters, the aggressive `female executive' mother, with her two loyal hench-woman are not simply villains. They're interesting, entertaining and humorous people with reasons for doing what they do. Meanwhile the stable kid, and the somewhat less stable but undeniably clever father, are also strong characters. And the conflict between the two sides is very well represented. It's as much about conflicting personalities as it is about power. It's sufficiently clever and entertaining that it actually means the show would probably be watchable without Nuku-nuku. In fact Nuku-nuku's role is largely to balance out the two sides, because while she has lots of power she has no malice in her character.

It's got good writing, strong characters and lots of humorous situations. And this is even before you consider the fun of Nuku-nuku's exploration of humanity. It's no deep classic, but it's skillful and its really enjoyable. In addition the three stories follow a nice story arc. The first episode has a bit of action but mostly sets up the characters. The second episode has action, but the action is more on the `fun' side and there's some nice character insights. And the third starts as a character piece and devolves toward action, concluding the series while explaining why things are the way they are. It has structure and it has meaning that make this a touch deeper than simply a `comedy' or action anime.

But why did I mention three episodes when this is a six episode OAV? Well, here's the bad part. The first three episodes are clearly different from the last three. And it's not just a new opening and, sadly, the change is not for the better. The next set of three have reduced animation, much less subtlety and structure in the writing and compensate for this with more action, fan-service and over the top humor. They're still quite fun, there's some lovely scenes, but it's a bit more self-indulgent and not nearly as good. Even sadder is the fact that later sequels to these OAV's have been even worse. Clearly the Nuku-nuku magic couldn't be sustained for that long.

Still, if you haven't seen Nuku-nuku yet, and get the opportunity, give it a try. The writing is still good, the characters entertaining and Nuku Nuku simply the cutest cat-girl in anime. And the animation, in general, is also quite good. While there's way too much semi-deformed stuff in the second set the animation is very watchable. Nice bright colors which are still used with some subtlety, interesting environments, lovely motion animation and excellent character designs. It's still quite strong and attractive animation despite the age of this title. As mentioned the voices are excellent with Hayashibara being largely irreplaceable. While there is an English (as in U.K.) dub (that I've never seen) I can't imagine it challenging the sub. The opening music is very catchy pop stuff and the background and ambient sound, while quite subtle, is also good.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review The review from THEM is a very impressive piece of work, short but concise and managing to give a feel for the story and atmosphere. They agree that the idea is silly, and the focus entertainment rather than `art' but applaud the result (4/5).
  • Anime Critic review The review from the critic is a touch less positive. While he applauds it as fun and entertaining he found the varying levels of humor somewhat distracting. Stating that at times it is simply too silly, and at others so serious it breaks the mood. I thought that was its strength, but both perceptions are valid (3.5/5).
  • Lord Carnage review The review mentions that the `cat girl' protector idea has been done many times before, but also adds that it has rarely been done this well. He also mentions that it stands up well to repeat viewings and thus is worth considering for purchase. The page also has reviews of some of the attempted, and woefully unsuccessful, sequels...although Nuku-Nuku TV actually outscores the original here (3.5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:22 WST 2009