Steel Angel Kurumi is a manga created by the artist duo Kaishaku (who also created UFO Princess Valkyrie and Destiny of the Shrine Maiden note ) for Kadokawa's Ace Dash note , which ran from 1997 to 2003. It was later adapted into an anime by OLM Incorporated in 1999 for WOWOW's Anime Complex anthology series.
It's Japan in the 1920s, only not the one we know — the politics are familiar, but steam-powered mechanisms are everywhere. When 12-year-old Nakahito Kagura allows himself to be talked into trespassing in an allegedly "haunted" house, he accidentally activates Kurumi, a busty pink-haired battle android of incredibly advanced design. Because he awoke her, the innocent (and powerful) Kurumi regards Nakahito as her undisputed master, fawning over him and hanging on his every word. And defending him from harm — such as the bullies who sent him into the haunted house, or the steam-powered mecha of the Imperial Japanese Army...
When her creator Dr. Ayanokoji shows up, he is promptly kidnapped by an agent of an even more dangerous force than the Army: the mysterious scientists responsible for the anachronistic technology flooding Japan. With the help of Ayanokoji's former assistant, Dr. Amagi, and a second steel angel named Saki, Nakahito and Kurumi begin a pursuit of her kidnapped creator. In the process, they acquire more allies, battle the forces of their enemies, and learn the secret origin and purpose of the steel angels — and the dangerous secret hidden within Kurumi herself.
As mentioned above, Steel Angel Kurumi was originally part of an anthology series in Japan, so each individual episode is not quite 15 minutes in length. The North American dub by ADV Films includes an extensive set of interviews with the English voice actresses; especially noteworthy is the presence of Claudia "Aeryn Sun" Black of Farscape fame in a surprise role.
Steel Angel Kurumi has proven to be quite popular. Four extra "epilogue" episodes were made for the original series. A sequel series (Steel Angel Kurumi 2, which is also available in North America) set in the 1990s and featuring Mark II models of all the android characters followed it. A prequel series (Steel Angel Kurumi Zero) is also available; it is set in the future and features the human girls on whom the androids apparently were based, but unlike the previous two series, it is a low-key romance-oriented Shōjo story.
This program provides examples of:
- Accidental Kiss:
- This is how the title character is brought to life, when an explosion-induced earthquake drops her onto the lips of the male protagonist.
- And it is also how her second appearance is activated when the female protagonist of the second season drops onto her lips.
- Adaptation Distillation: The story went a completely different direction in the anime and the manga. The anime's direct continuation Encore and its sequels 2 and Zero stay with the show's version and the only things brought over from the manga were the main Angel trio's outfits used in 2.
- Anime Hair: Many characters have odd hair, but Mikhail's hair takes the cake◊. Note that it's not wind that makes strands just float out there; they stay that way indoors, too, with absolutely nothing to move them.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: There's a bath scene in the first manga volume where everyone is drawn with nipples, though still no explicit hair "down there." We do see a man's hairy legs, though. It has the side effect of making the prepubescent, generically cute young male hero look like a flat-chested girl.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Karinka is the blonde, Saki's the brunette, and and Kurumi, the redhead (pink hair could count as red in this context).
- Cipher Scything: In the OAV Zero, Kurumi gets to moon over a male character who we only hear about from her secondhand account.
- Dark Action Girl: Karinka toes the line. She beats another main character, and lives primarily so she can destroy the main character and steal her boyfriend. Oh, yeah, she curses like a sailor, too.
- Dirty Old Man: The general. Consider the following dialogue, after the general finds out that Saki is incapable of disobeying orders after she is partially activated (Ep. 3):General: Then, would she do things like... And things like...
[Dr. Akagi gives him a level, unamused gaze]
Dr. Akagi: [completely deadpan] If I order her to do so.
- First Girl Wins: Both Kurumi and Karinka like Kagura Nakahito, but Kurumi is introduced first (and has the extra advantage of being the title character). Nakahito eventually returns Kurumi's feelings.
- Happiness in Slavery: Kurumi tells Nakahito that he's her Master and she'll happily do anything he wants.
- A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: In most versions of Steel Angel Kurumi, the Steel Angels are awakened/activated with a kiss, which causes them to immediately fall in love with the kisser and attach themselves to him/her as protectors. And stalkers.
- Marshmallow Hell: Kurumi hugs Nakahito on a regular basis.
- Ms. Fanservice: Pretty much every Steel Angel, who make up more than half the cast.
- One-Book Author: In the English dub, Mikhail was Claudia Black's only major anime role.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Well-Intentioned Extremist antagonists wanted to deactivate Kurumi because of the demon inside the Angel Heart Mark II. Due to all the fighting that they needlessly caused, that demon awakens and it nearly destroyed the world without Nakahito's intervention and a needed "miracle".
- Stealth Pun: The opening ends with the phrase "Mi ra Kurumi." This doesn't mean anything, until you realize "Mirakuru" is the Japanese pronunciation of "miracle." Considering miracles are a big theme throughout the show...
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Koganei is instantly aware that Karinka has targeted Nakahito's lips, and can predict all the moves she is going to make (because she wants to make them herself).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Nako Kagura acts very much like her great grandfather Nakahito Kagura.
- Sweetheart Sipping: Appears in one of Kurumi's fantasies.
- Unwanted Harem: Nakahito has Kurumi, Karinka and Koganei. The last borders on Squick, since she's an adult and he's only 12.
- Verbal Tic: Kurumi puts "desu" behind every sentence (including one word sentences and even one sound sentences), which is seemingly cute enough to be imitated.
- Waxing Lyrical/Title Drop: When asked about the source of her power in episode 15, Kurumi cites the theme song title ("A Miracle that Starts with a Kiss")"It all started with that kiss from you, Master. If Kurumi's powers are a miracle, the the thing that created it is your kiss, Master."
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Nadeshiko. If the name wasn't a big enough clue, Kamihito expounds at length.