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"Steel Angel Kurumi Complete Collection" Kickin' Android Maids

Kurumi, Karinka, and Saki. These three girls are Steel Angels, cybernetically created superpowered beings. When an accidental kiss from a young boy named Nakahito awakens Kurumi in early 20th century Japan, life changes for the Onmyo Mystic. With the military on their trail, Nakahito must attempt to live a simple temple life, while Kurumi and her sisters must fight off giant robots and rogue Angels to protect the future for their descendents. Is this Complete Collection a powerful miracle, or have the Angels fallen from grace?

ImageEpisodes Included in this Set
Steel Angel Kurumi Minisodes 1-24 (The Complete Series)
Steel Angel Kurumi Encore Minisodes 25-28 (The Complete Series)
Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Minisodes 1-12 (The Complete Series)

ADV decided to package all of Steel Angel Kurumi into one seven disc set. Discs 1-5 comprise the adventures of Nakahito and the Steel Angels, while the last two discs feature their future incarnations (Nako and the Steel Angel Mark IIs). That’s all well and good, but just how good is the series?

In the early 1900’s, Steel Angel Kurumi is found in a laboratory by Nakahito, our male lead and Onmyo Mystic in training, who has been pushed into checking out. When he accidentally kisses her, she awakens with a burning desire to protect her master. Turns out whoever awakens a Steel Angel with a kiss will become her master, and the Steel Angels were sent back in time to be awoken by an Onmyo Mystic. Funny how fate works out that way. The military wants the might of the Steel Angels, who are able to take out tanks and mechs with their bare hands.

Kurumi’s sister Saki is activated and sent to track down her sister. Saki is a formidable fighter in her own right, and the fighting stops only when Kurumi kisses her. Naturally, this turns Saki good, but it also awakens in her a disturbing, incestuous desire for Kurumi. Rounding out the trio of Steel Angels is the youngest, Karinka, an Angel with a chip on her shoulder and a desire to be kissed by Nakahito.

There’s a lot of fighting and comedy, and it’s pretty fun, but when you get down to it, the problem is that everyone, including the characters who are not Steel Angels, are pretty dang robotic. Nakahito may be the most forgettable main guy in any series; Saki is distinguished only by her incestuous desire for her sister; Kurumi is disturbingly, continuously cheerful. Karinka is the most enjoyable of the Angels, given that she’s self-conscious and constantly ticked off at everything.

The Steel Angel Kurumi series is followed up by Steel Angel Kurumi 2, the Dragonball GT of the franchise. Only 12 minisodes long, the lesbianism is kicked up to disturbing levels. Nakahito is replaced by a female doppelganger, Nako. Nako’s friend Uruka is a rich girl who initially blows her off in the series, but later falls madly in love with her cello-playing best friend. The Steel Angel Mark IIs (twins to the originals, for the most part) are awakened, and by the end of the series Kurumi, Karinka, and Uruka are in love with Nako, Saki is in love with Kurumi and Uruka, and Nako goes on being oblivious to the whole thing.

Extras are spread out over all seven discs. Creditless intros and endings are par for the course, along with the ADV previews. “Extended Episode Previews” are just that. Also standard are the character bios and the teasers and trailers for the show. For art, you get preliminary design sketches, production sketches, cover artwork galleries (for the DVDs and mangas), and character galleries. Two discs include a behind-the-scenes “Conversations with Angels” that includes interviews with the voice actors for the Steel Angels. Apparently, one should be well known to Farscape fans. There is also a two-part Photo Shoot that features the voice actresses in a photo shoot. None of these are terribly informative, but they are interesting if you like behind-the-scenes stuff or actually can point out voice actors. Also, the actresses get a few commentaries, but they’re nowhere near as plentiful as on a, say, Simpsons box set.

There are a few essays on the discs. “Historical Background: Taisho Era Japan (1912-1926)” explains why the world is the way it is in the era Steel Angel Kurumi is set in. “The Onmyou Tradition” explains all the mystical and religious backgrounds of Nakahito and his brother. Translator notes cover why the Japanese language version (and subs) characters have certain speech quirks and other things that, for the most part, did not survive the dub. A “Kurumi Travelogue” gives historical information on the cities the cast visits throughout the first storyline. We also get lists of selected works of both the Japanese and American voice actresses. Two other items cover the background of the manga and interviews with those behind them, but via text only. For fun, you can put some of the discs in your PC to get Fortune Teller print-outs featuring the four main characters. Menus are standard, playing the annoyingly catchy theme song. The only irksome thing is an Onmyuo prayer (on the first few discs) that you can’t chapter skip.

As this is the series box, I feel the need to point out the packaging. While it advertises a mini-manga insert, this is really is nothing more than a half-dozen-page ad for the manga. Likewise, the box is one of those big, Amaray bricks made for seven discs, and it’s frail. I’ve already lost a chunk of plastic by closing one of the sections wrong. I would have much preferred a box with thin pack Amarays, but hey, I feel more comfortable with this box than with some of Bandai’s Complete Collections.

Is this God’s gift to animé? Not exactly, but it’s seven discs packed with episodes and extras for a really low price (I got it for around thirty at Best Buy). If you’ve ever shown an inkling of interest in this series, grab it. Steel Angel Kurumi is a fun little series that’s more than it seems, both in quantity and quality. It won’t enter my top ten of animé, but it holds a nice little spot amidst my box sets.

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