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The heartwarming story of a Boy and his cat...
...and a major Military Equipment Manufacturer.
Boy #1: What's your favorite food?
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 Kyousuke Natsume and "sister" of ten-year-old Ryuunosuke 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 Kyousuke 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.
A light-hearted, comedic miniseries despite its darkish opening and the vast amount of firepower deployed throughout its six episodes, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is a fun 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 Ryuunosuke, who in this series is an Ordinary High School Student as opposed to a child. Generally considered to be the weakest of the three due to its straight-playing of multiple tropes which were, at the time, considered overused, leading to it being labeled a Cliché Storm by critics.
Tropes associated with two or more versions:
- 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.
- Amusing Injuries
- Beach Episode: Once per series, at least.
- Biting the Handkerchief
- Butt Monkey: Arisa and Kyouko in most incarnations. TV adds in badly battered teacher Yamagata-sensei.
- Calling Your Attacks: "MOTHER'S LOVE MISSILE!" "NUKU-NUKU PUNCH!" "NUKU-NUKU KICK!"
- Cyborg Catgirl: Each version of her is a cyborg. 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....
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Cute Bruiser: Nuku-Nuku in each and every version. The original also has fellow Robot Girl Eimi Yoshikawa. In Dash, Nuku Nuku goes from cute to outright boob-loaded, in addition to the change in hair and eye color.
- Cute Little Fangs: Nuku-Nuku
- Determinator: Nuku Nuku. Semi-lampshaded by Kyouko in the very first episode of the OVA.
* Nuku Nuku emerges from a pile of wreckage*
Kyouko: What are you, The Terminator?!
Nuku Nuku: No, I'm Natsume Nuku-Nuku! The fruit of Papa-san and Ryuunosuke's love!
- Dumb Muscle: Nuku-Nuku and Eimi again.
- Eek! a Mouse!: Subverted. 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 Kyuusaku and Hell Mishima team up to prevent a giant cat-shaped planet from crashing into the Earth.
- Gainaxing: Especially in Dash.
- Genki Girl: Nuku-Nuku in all versions except Dash.
- Heavy Sleeper: Kyusaku and Ryuunosuke. Nuku Nuku at some points.
- Hot-Blooded: Kyusaku drifts in and out of this.
- Hot Mom: Akiko.
- Humongous Mecha: It would appear that Mishima Industries produces nothing but these.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy / A-Team Firing
- It Only Works Once
- Megaton Punch
- My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Megumi Hayashibara provides Nuku-Nuku's voice and performs all of the theme music for every incarnation. Akira Kamiya is Kyusaku. Aya Hisakawa is Arisa (Kyouko in Dash.) Saeko Shimazu (Yuri, Kodachi Kunou) is Akiko.
- Noblewoman's Laugh: Akiko (All versions), Chieko (TV)
- No Waterproofing in the Future: Subverted - 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.
- The Ojou: Akiko in all incarnations except TV. Said series instead gives this role to Rich Bitch Chieko.
- 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 Ryuunosuke 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.
- Arisa and Kyouko are this in every incarnation.
- 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.
- Robot Girl: Eimi in the OVA, the other NK-series Androids in Dash aside from Nuku Nuku herself and Her Sister Rei Rei, who are cyborgs, instead.
- Roof Hopping
- Rule of Cool
- Rule of Funny
- Small Girl, Big Gun: Arisa lives for this trope, but Eimi tops her at it by dragging a minigun around in order to give Nuku-Nuku a special "Christmas Present" in the final OVA episode.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Arisa and Kyouko.
- The Sweat Drop: Used in all series, but called attention to Lampshaded in the TV series when Nuku-Nuku asks Kyusaku why she can do this, but is unable to sweat in the "normal" way.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Arisa and Kyouko.
- Word Salad Title
Tropes associated with the original manga and OVAs:
- 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.
- Big Fancy House: Akiko lives in one of these, and so does the rest of the clan in the one episode that Akiko tries to go straight.
- 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.
- Cross Counter: What eventually ends Nuku-Nuku and Eimi's brawl during episode 4... Until they get right back up and start going at it again.
- 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.
- Demon Head: Akiko and Kyusaku pull a minor variant on this while discussing potential ways to get Akiko out of a major fix in the final episode.
- Exact Time to Failure: See Enemy Mine.
- Grand Theft Me: "Eimi wants your body, Nuku Nuku"... and not in the fun way, either.
- Groin Attack: Nuku-Nuku breifly pressing Eimi's groin with her foot during their "Rematch" in the fourth episode.
- Instant Fanclub: Nuku-Nuku gains one when she starts working at a family restaurant.
- Kill Sat: In the last episode. An almost impossibly accurate one at that. Oh, and it's also a Transforming Mecha.
- Lolicon: Kyusaku is accused of being one, first by Akiko due to having designed Nuku-Nuku as a Joshikousei, and later by Nuku-Nuku's Instant Fanclub due to them misinterpreting his relationship with their "Angel".
- 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.
- Quirky Household: The Mishima mansion when Nuku, Kyusaku, and Ryuunosuke go to live there for a short period in the third episode.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Eimi's.
- The Rival: Eimi.
- 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 Ryuunosuke's bicycle during one.
- Skinship Grope: Eimi while sizing up Nuku-Nuku for her Grand Theft Me.
- Sleeping Single: Akiko sleeps in a bed that wouldn't be wide enough for him even if Kyusaku wasn't usually up all night.
- In the third OAV episode, mind. She's normally too busy fighting Kyusaku to worry about sleeping with him.
- Smoking Is Cool: Kyusaku's rarely seen without a drag in his mouth.
- Taking The Kid: Kyusaku takes Ryuunosuke 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.
Tropes associated with Nuku-Nuku TV:
- Actor Allusion: There's a lot of these for Akira Kamiya here, thanks to Kyuusaku's re-imagining as a bumbling ally of justice.
- Alertness Blink
- Artificial Riverbank: Kyousuke goes to one to angst in episode 4, only to be subjected to several of Ryuunosuke's classmates practicing their karaoke.
- Attention Whore, Rich Bitch: Chieko Shirakaba.
- Beyond the Impossible:In TV, Nuku rides her bike so fast that she winds up 15 years in the past when she finally stops.
- Boss Subtitles: Used for just about every single character in most early episodes.
- 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."
- Filk Song: Pretty much anything thought up by Eiichi Ikenami. Though the words are always different, it's always the same tune.
- Girl Posse: Hidariko and Migiko are this for Chieko. The posse is expanded during the valentine's episode, where the one-off characters Ueko and Shitako make an appearance to help them steal all the chocolate in town.
- Festival Episode: Doubles as a Time Travel episode.
- 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.
- Idol Singer: Spoofed with the "Speedy Girls Squad".
- Justice Will Prevail: Kyuusaku.
- 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.
- Lord Error-Prone: Kyusaku tends to misinterpret mostly harmless Mishima projects as intentionally evil ventures.
- 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.
- Monster of the Week: At least for the first half.
- 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.
- Nerd Glasses: Miyuki's.
- Occult Detective: Rie Shibata is an amateur version. Her character subtitle is "Occult Maniac".
- 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".
- Ryuunosuke 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 last name wrong each time she see 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, you guessed it, his geta sandals).
- He then later upgrades to Geta Robo G, and fifteen years later, Shin Geta Robo.
- Spikes of Villainy: "Combat Arisa".
- This Is Unforgivable!: Nuku-Nuku tends to say this whenever dispatching a Monster of the Week.
- 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").
- Troubled but Cute: Spoofed with Rintarou Shimazaki, whose Character Subtitle is "Nihilistic Pretty Boy". He's almost never taken seriously.
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The opening scene of some episodes show the episode taking place in 2013 or 2014.
- Unknown Rival: Chieko to Nuku-Nuku.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Kyuusaku and Akiko met as children at a Tokusatsu stage show, were together their whole lives, and eventually wound up getting married.
- 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.
- Yes-Man: Well, women: Hidariko and Migiko.
Tropes used in Nuku-Nuku Dash:
- Date Crepe: In episode 3.
- Melodrama: Heaps of it.
- Name's the Same: A really weird version cropped up here, where the character identified in the other versions as "Arisa" became known as "Kyouko" and vice versa. They even inherited some of each other's personality quirks.