I try to go into any series with an open mind, but I have to admit I was not really doing that with Frame Arms Girl. The series, based on the model kit figure series of the same name, had already failed to impress me with its PV and just seemed to be a lifeless commercial with bad 3DCG and embarrassing character designs. When I queued up the first episode it was purely to take the edge off my day and snark on Twitter for a bit about a bad anime.
I actually really like Frame Arms Girl.
So the basic premise of the series is as follows. A girl named Gennai Ao who is currently attending high school finds a mysterious package on her doorstep one morning. Assuming it’s something her father sent her, since he apparently likes to send her random surprise gifts, she opens it and finds the Gourai, a Frame Arms Girl. A Frame Arms Girl is a small robot with a learning AI with the knowledge comparable to a ten-year-old human at activation.
Ao takes the facts surrounding her strange little robot friend rather well, and at the request of Gourai start to assemble her armor. Gourai mentions that she can learn emotions, and is eager to do so. Because of this she’s very interested in Ao and having her as an influence. But when more packages start showing up to Ao’s door things take an even stranger turn as Ao’s home becomes a battle royale to these living action figures.
The most obvious comparisons made with the show are Gundam Build Fighters and Busou Shinki: Armored War Goddess, the former literally following the same model-kit “build and fight” style commercial for real life merchandise and the latter being about action figure-sized robot women fighting each other. But while these comparison do hold water, Frame Arms Girl shines the most in how it differs from the two.
Frame Arms Girl clearly knows how silly the premise is and is out to have fun with it, with Ao being a great human character to provide the little robots with opportunities for comedy. The added element of wanting to learn more about how to be human and feel emotions and seeing scenes suggesting the girls will be going out into the world later on and discover things outside of Ao’s apartment made me think of Bottle Fairy, which is a sound compliment in my book.
I suppose it’s only fair that I talk about the series lead character designer, Shimada Humikane, as it puts a clearer context onto why the characters look the way they do. Shimada is mainly known as the creator of Strike Witches and its World Witches Series spinoffs. So my questions as to why none of the robots wear pants or skirts were quickly answered, Shimada basically created a pants-less universe already. That’s not to say I don’t find the needless panty-shots of the characters, in particular Gourai, distracting. But had I gone in knowing who was in charge of the designs it would probably have been less surprising at least.
Series director Kawaguchi Keiichirou have always been hit and miss for me. Last year he directed a series that I dubbed the very worst of that year, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a strong series from his angle either. With that said, my distrust was seemingly misplaced. From the pacing to the way the series handles its tone so far, there seems to be a strong cohesion to Kawaguchi‘s direction this time around. The action is also a step up from his previous work, despite the rather shoddy 3DCG.
By no means is Frame Arms Girl a superb first episode, but it was a surprisingly fun surprise that I’ll gladly check out more of. I’m actually looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast and it seems the people behind the series understands its strengths and weaknesses well enough to deliver a charming series going forward.
Frame Arms Girl is licensed by Sentai Filmworks and is currently being streamed on The Anime Network.
Click here for more Spring Season 2017 impressions!