The heartwarming story of a Boy and his cat...
...and a major Military Equipment Manufacturer.
Nuku-Nuku: Dried mackerel and horsemeat.
Boy #2: What's your favorite hobby?
Nuku-Nuku: Sitting in the sun.
Combine a state-of-the-art combat android with the brain of a stray cat, wrap it all in the appearance of an enthusiastic teenage girl, and what do you get? Nuku-Nuku, aka Atsuko Natsume, "daughter" of engineer/roboticist/high school teacher Kyusaku Natsume and "sister" of ten-year-old Ryunosuke Natsume. Busty, bouncy and absolutely innocent in the way a kitten is, Nuku-Nuku is also a powerful combat cyborg who is fiercely protective of her family and friends. Since her "father" is the estranged husband of the CEO of Mishima Heavy Industries, Japan's number one military contractor, and she herself is a stolen prototype he created, that means she sees a lot of action. From a pair of trigger-happy goonettes to a psychotic android that wants to steal her body to the task of trying to reunite Kyusaku and his wife so her little brother is happy, Nuku-Nuku approaches every challenge with a smile, a laugh, and a grip that can bend steel I-beams.
Originally released as a manga written by Yuzo Takada, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is a fun, light-hearted romp with one of the more endearing anime heroines of the early 1990s. It's proven popular enough to spawn several Alternate Universe Spin-Offs. The anime franchise as a whole consists of three entries:
- All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku / Bannou Bunka Nekomusume (All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl) - Two three-episode OVA series based on the original manga. The entry most find to be the best, and the only one non-fans have likely heard of. Follows the basic premise as outlined above.
- All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku TV / Bannou Bunka Nekomusume - A fourteen-episode TV series which features a Lighter and Softer tone, focusing more on slapstick comedy than action. TV famously changed the character dynamic, focusing less on the Natsume family and more on Nuku Nuku's misadventures as she attempts to adjust to the life of a high school girl while battling regular robot attacks instigated by Hell Mishima, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who takes over Akiko (downgraded to Punch-Clock Villain)'s position as the major antagonist.
- All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash / Bannou Bunka Nekomusume Dash - A twelve-episode OVA series which serves as TV's antithesis, being a (slightly) Darker and Edgier reimagining of the basic premise wherein Nuku Nuku is an escaped Mishima Industries android with Laser-Guided Amnesia who battles MHI robots while maintaining a second life as the older sister figure/crush of Ryunosuke, who in this series is an Ordinary High-School Student as opposed to a child.
- Alternate Continuity: None of the different series take place in the same universe, allowing for them all to have a different plot with the same basic premise.
- Cat Girl: Despite "Cat Girl" being in the title, Nuku Nuku doesn't have the typical cat ears and tail of this trope. However, each version of her is a cyborg with some kind of cat biology implanted in her that makes her act very catlike. In the OVA and fourteen ep TV series, she has a cat's brain. In Dash, it's implied she, as well as her sister Rei Rei, each have a cat's brain and its entire nervous system.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Megumi Hayashibara, who provides Nuku-Nuku's voice, performs all of the theme music for every incarnation.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Inverted. Nuku-Nuku, having a cat's brain, interprets the sight of a mouse as "YAY!" and starts chasing after it, regardless of any destruction said chasing may incur due to her gynoid body.
- Enemy Mine: The last episode of the original OVA series has Nuku-Nuku and Eimi and Akiko's Office Lady warriors all team up to go into space and destroy the rogue satellite that will kill Akiko at midnight. The final episode of TV sees Kyusaku and Hell Mishima team up to prevent a giant cat-shaped planet from crashing into the Earth.
- No Water Proofing In The Future:
- Nuku-Nuku can handle water just fine, but she can't swim because her robot body is too heavy to float and she sinks in any large body of water. She is eventually upgraded to get around this.
- Surprisingly one of the tropes played straight in TV. The very first Monster of the Week is a Humongous Mecha washing machine whose waterproofing failed and caused it to go on a rampage after it shorted out.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Kyusaku's. They cover both eyes in OVA, and one eye in TV and Dash.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Akiko is downgraded to one of these in TV, as she is seen to still be Happily Married to Kyusaku and acting as a doting mother to Ryunosuke when off the clock. When on the clock, she becomes "Bloody Akiko", completely devoted to fulfilling whatever inane plot her boss has in store that week.
- Completely averted by Akiko, Arisa, and Kyouko in Dash. They simply work at the company and none of them are in any way depicted as villainous, though all three do at one point or another cross paths with Nuku Nuku in her alternate identity without ever putting it together that she and the 'androbot' they're trying to find are the same person despite having the exact same body type and hair style as well as hair color. Hell, Akiko lives with her!
- Punny Name: Nuku-Nuku's name is a both a pun related to her serial number (NK-1124) and her "civillain" name Atsuko. "Nukunuku" means something similar to "Warm and Cozy", while "Atsuko" is "Hot Girl". Also rather ironic considering that Nuku-Nuku, being a gynoid, doesn't even register excessive temperatures and has to have the fact that something is hot pointed out to her by Kyusaku.
- Accent Adaptation: The Crusader Video release uses regional British accents for the dub.
- Author Appeal: In-Universe; Akiko notes that Kyusaku built a gynoid outer appearance for the NK-1124 chassis to match his ideal in female beauty.
- Car Fu: Kyusaku and Shinji (Yoshimi's uncle) slam a Land Rover into Arisa's Armor Tako to allow Nuku Nuku to escape from it during the Beach Episode.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: This is Mishima Heavy Industries' entire shtick, using their vast technology to create weapons of mass destruction up to and including Humongous Mecha and Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids, while at the same time using the exact same resources to expand their reach into the private sector.
- Groin Attack: Nuku-Nuku breifly pressing Eimi's groin with her foot during their "Rematch" in the fourth episode.
- Instant Fan Club: Nuku-Nuku gains one when she starts working at a family restaurant.
- The Masochism Tango: Mr. Natsume and Ms. Mishima. You'd think they're still married by how happy they seem to be when they are actually together... Except that just that scenario takes place for an entire episode and proves that neither of them are really happy unless they're trying to kill each other.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Arisa and Kyouko become exasperated at how a "bimbo" like Nuku-Nuku catches so much attention and they, being "strong and intelligent" are ignored.
- The Nose Bleed: Happens to a young man who overhears Eimi's Skinship Grope of Nuku-Nuku during the Furo Scene the fourth episode.
- Serial Escalation: Nuku-Nuku's bike rides. At least one series review has referred to them as "BMX-Tours-Are-For-Wimps" rides. The gets to the point where OVA episode 5's plot is kicked off by her having destroyed Ryunosuke's bicycle during one.
- Sleeping Single: Akiko sleeps in a bed that wouldn't be wide enough for him even if Kyusaku wasn't usually up all night.
- Stab the Salad: One episode opens on darkness, a pounding heartbeat, a flash of light across a knife blade followed by a gush of blood and Akiko screaming... only to reveal it's Akiko grossed out by a fish on her chopping board as she tries to prepare dinner.
- Taking the Kids: Kyusaku takes Ryunosuke with him when he bails on MHI, not wanting Akiko's Overprotectiveness compromising the boy's childhood.
- Tempting Fate: Arisa and Kyouko are injured when Eimi escapes MHI at the beginning of the fourth episode. Later on we see them using this rare chance to take time off from work. Arisa then utters "I only wish we injured a bit more!" Cue Eimi and Nuku-Nuku rocketing into their apartment, wrecking it and leaving them under the remains.Kyouko (Just before passing out): Are you happy now?
- The Tokyo Fireball: Quite literally in the fourth episode, which sees Nuku and Eimi destroy a sizable portion of Nerima by exploding the large natural gas tank field which is a landmark of the district.
- Artificial Riverbank: Kyusaku goes to one to angst in episode 4, only to be subjected to several of Nuku's classmates practicing their karaoke.
- Beyond the Impossible: In TV, Nuku rides her bike so fast that she winds up 15 years in the past when she finally stops. Not even her Mad Scientist creator can explain how it works.
- Boss Subtitles: Used for just about every single character in most early episodes.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Kyusaku and Akiko met as children at a Tokusatsu stage show, were together their whole lives, and eventually wound up getting married.
- Class Representative: Nuku-Nuku's best friend Futaba. We later find out that she also has a number of sisters, each of whom is also a Class Representative. Every last one of them is extremely controlling and obsessed with organization and order. They actually carry out arguments with one another using their whistles.
- Discontinuity Nod: The first episode opens with Kyusaku expositing dramatically about the new backstory. Then, Ryunosuke pops up holding tapes from the series' two previous incarnations, sighing "That's not the way I remember it happening... but, whatever." Even more funny... The design she uses and concept that she's describing are for Nuku Nuku DASH!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted. Nuku-Nuku manually directs a missile to prevent the Colony Drop in the final episode, but later turns up no worse for wear.
- Living Prop: Miyuki Miyuzawa, who mostly just stands around reading books and not saying or doing much of anything until the second Musical Episode, where she's revealed to have been the one playing the main character in the film being made by everyone.
- Mars Needs Women: Spoofed. An alien mouse-woman comes down to Earth to profess her love for Yamagata-sensei. She eventually ditches him when she (eventually) realizes that he doesn't have a tail.
- Musical Episode: Two. The first centers around a Mishima-sponsored singing contest, while the latter uses Nuku-Nuku's class working on a student film as a Framing Device.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Kyusaku has several, where he shows up attempting to be Nuku-Nuku's Mysterious Protector.
- Psychic Powers: The Speedy Girls display some form of telekinesis.
- Running Gag: Pretty much 50% of what happens in any given episode.
- Chieko says something haughty, followed up by Migiko and Hidariko exclaiming "That's right! That's right! Miss Chieko is exactly right!"
- Eiichi breaks out into a Filk Song. "Lalalala...~"
- Rintarou says something cool and aloof; with or without a "Hmph".
- Futaba goes into full-on Class Representative mode, insisting that everybody follow her orders and panic in an organized manner.
- Yakumo Oizumi says something to the effect of "FOR SCIENCE!" or "How Unscientific!".
- Ryunosuke refers to his father as "Mr. Kyusaku" and is corrected.
- Yamagata-sensei is hilariously injured by something, followed by any given person who saw what happened commenting that "Yamagata-sensei has been in another unfortunate accident".
- Nuku-Nuku mispronouncing Chieko's family name each time she sees her.
- Shout-Out: This series spoofs several popular anime, such as when Harmless Villain Hell Mishima decides to hold a singing contest after seeing a rather transparent knockoff of Basara Nekki on TV and being inspired. Nuku-Nuku takes off to school every morning on her bike while yelling "SCRAMBLE DASH!". Another instance is Kyusaku's high school invention, the Geta Robo (which forms from his geta, japanese sandals).
- He then later upgrades to Geta Robo G, and fifteen years later, Shin Geta Robo.
- Theme Twin Naming: Hidariko and Migiko. Their names literally mean "Left Girl" and "Right Girl". The valentine's day episode gives us a second set (who also look like the first, but without moles) named Ueko ("Above Girl") and Shitako ("Below Girl").
- This Is Unforgivable!: Nuku-Nuku tends to say this whenever dispatching a Monster of the Week.
- Troubled, but Cute: Spoofed with Rintarou Shimazaki, whose Character Subtitle is "Nihilistic Pretty Boy". He's almost never taken seriously.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The opening scene of some episodes show the episode taking place in 2013 or 2014.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Hell Mishima and Kyusaku seem to think that they're in a dramatic toku show when they're really in a slapstick comedy. Made doubly hilarious when you see Dash, where their ideas about Nuku Nuku, at least, ARE SPOT ON!
- Call-Back: To one of Nuku Nuku TV's jokes. The supposed design for Nuku Nuku in the Fake-Out Opening IS Nuku Nuku in Dash!
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The character identified in the other versions as "Arisa" is known as "Kyouko" in here, and vice versa. The two share personality quirks.