Gennai Ao’s parents both live and work overseas, so she lives by herself. One day she receives a package via delivery drone, and assumes that it’s from her father. Inside the package is what looks like an anime figure called Gourai, a ‘Frame Arms Girl’, but turns out to be a little more than that. When she tries to handle the figure, Gourai comes to life and asks Ao to help assemble her armour.
After a lot of lengthy tutorials and Kotobukiya advertising, the two bond over looking through Ao’s old photobook. As Gourai apparently has the intelligence of a 10 year old child (…a weirdly intelligent and serious 10 year old child) she explains that she will be able to learn and grow the more time she spends with Ao, and tries to use the emotions she can see in the photos as a learning tool.
However soon two more packages arrive, also both Frame Arms Girls, except these girls are already ‘alive’ without Ao’s help. One of them challenges Gourai to a duel, and the two have a battle while Ao watches. Eventually Ao starts to give commands to Gourai, which causes her to win. The other Frame Arts Girls explain that they have been sent to collect data on Gourai, and that she is one of the many Gourais who have been sent to many different people – but for some reason only Ao’s was ‘activated’. They also tell her that they would like to continue collecting data on Gourai, and that Ao will be paid for her troubles.
When we divide up who reviews what for First Impressions, a lot of it is done via lottery but we do sometimes choose a few on our own. Frame Arms Girl was one I specifically chose, because when I read the synopsis it reminded me a lot of Angelic Layer. Angelic Layer is still a very treasured series for me so I was curious to see how this compared. Well, it is kind of similar to Angelic Layer…if the angels in Angelic Layer were products you could actually buy, and the show didn’t even try to not be blatant advertising. I mean holy hell I expected advertising, but I didn’t expect it to this extent.
Frame Arm Girls are action figures from Kotobukiya that blend your standard otaku obsession with cute girls whose underwear are visible and mecha. And boy does this show want you to buy them. In fact, it’s so sure that you’re going to buy them that it includes a tutorial on how to assemble Gourai’s armour, told in this hilariously mechanical way of where to put each part. Gourai also has to explain to Ao all kinds of basics of figures and model-kitting, and there is one segment where she at length goes into a speil about the virtues of Kotobukiya brand hobby nippers. I get it, show. You want me to buy a Frame Arms Girl. But your advertising is also promising me that the girls are going to move and talk and be my friend, and I am 100% sure they don’t actually do that, so nice try.
I found Gourai to be pretty cute, and I liked watching the way she and Ao interact. But Ao herself is really not a very good character. Her entire personality is ‘lol whatever’. She gets bored of everything very quickly – she couldnt be bothered to assemble Gourai’s armour without being begged to, she even remarks that the Frame Arm Girls battles are probably going to get really boring to watch after a while, and she also couldnt be bothered to participate in whatever experiment is being conducted until she was offered money compensation. I guess that’s meant to be funny, but I just found her kind of annoying.
As for the animation, it employs the kind of interesting idea of having all the Frame Arms Girls and everything related to them (like the charger ports and armour pieces) be CGI, while all the human characters like Ao are traditionally animated. It’s an idea that works in theory in separating the human and ‘robot’ characters (I assume they’re robots) but in practice it only really works some of the time because the CGI is incredibly blatant and clashes kind of clunkily, and the battles are not very impressive at all.
I wouldn’t really call it bad, and the whole ‘tiny fighting girls’ thing is pretty adorable, especially how they interact with household objects. I like dolls a lot, and photos of the smaller types with regular human-sized things are really cute so that’s what it reminded me of and that probably contributed to the parts I did enjoy. I would just enjoy it a lot more if I didn’t feel like I had Kotobukiya standing behind me and yelling to buy their products through a megaphone in my ear the entire time. Or if, y’know, the show didn’t go out of its way to tell us Gourai has the mind of a 10 year old while implying that plugging her in to charge her turns her on in the figurative sense and showing us her underwear every five seconds.