What’s it about? Ao opens a package that arrives at her doorstep. Inside the package is Gourai, a Frame Arms Girl: a small robot capable of independent movement. Gourai is a newly-developed prototype: a Frame Arms Girl equipped with an “Artificial Self,” an advanced AI that gives her a personality. Ao is the only one that has activated her. Gourai begins to gather both battle data and emotions, starting a day-to-day life with Ao, who knows nothing about Frame Arms Girls.
Source: Anime News Network
Out of context, the opening shot of Frame Arms Girls looks pretty bad.
In context though, this first shot of the opening credits is actually the lovingly sculpted, panty-clad butt of a tiny robot girl who says she has the intelligence of a 10-year-old and calls the viewer self-insert protagonist ‘Master’. Not so bad at all, then.
This review would be entirely about how vaguely creepy this anime is, if it weren’t so boring that I need to comment on that first.
I knew nothing about Frame Arms Girl before watching it, but this show doesn’t bother trying to hide the fact that everything in it is for sale. The tiny robot spends full minutes instructing the clueless, unwilling Ao on how to construct her tiny armour, then performs an entire monologue dedicated to the quality of the protagonist’s branded modelling tools. I have no objection to anime made for toy sales, but this is a sales pitch so blatant that Japanese salespeople would be too embarrassed to delivter it in person. In a world where toy-focused franchises like Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and more have managed to develop anime which entire generations feel sentimentally attached to, there’s just no excuse for this ham-fisted laziness. They don’t care about their own anime, so why should we?
Well, because Ao and Gourai are surprisingly well-rounded characters. Ao is sweet but not saccharine, at first avoiding doing anything with the many bits of Gourai’s armour because she didn’t think it would be fun, placating Gourai with “You’re cute just as you are!”. Gourai is respectful but not submissive, later pressing Ao to cut out and fit the armour after all as it’s an important part of her identity. Ao grudgingly concedes, for Gourai’s sake. They are fleshed out individuals with a genuinely endearing dynamic, which may well become more more satisfying as Gourai goes on to battle other Frame Arms Girls with various levels of costume creepiness.
Looks like it’s time to move on to the “vaguely creepy” elements I mentioned earlier, not least because that’s probably everything positive I can say about this show.
The fact that exposed panties are a part of this fighting robot’s uniform is lampshaded in the episode two preview voiceover, in which Gōrai insists she is not wearing underwear but a bodysuit – as if that changes the fact that robot underbutt is a front-and-centre part of this anime’s appeal. That sums up this anime’s approach to sexualisation though: everything is calculated for plausible deniability.
The viewer self-insert protagonist is a schoolgirl, yet the tiny robot calls her ‘Master’ rather than ‘Miss’ or ‘Mistress’ – all the better for a certain demographic to imagine themselves in the role without actually having to see another guy on screen. The robot looks young and says that she has the intelligence of a 10-year-old – but that’s not creepy because, you see, she’s not actually 10 years old, she just starts at that level of intelligence then learns appropriate emotional responses from her owner, and that’s not creepy because anyone who reads shades of romanticised child grooming into their anime is drastically overthinking a harmless bit of fun. (Just pre-empting some of my commenters there.)
There’s nothing remotely sexualised about this adorable little robot! Except when Ao plugs the charger into her lower back and she lets out an orgasmic moan, given a porny echo effect to ensure it really stands out… but it’s a joke, see? Because Ao looks surprised! And that’s the totally worthwhile, on-brand and hilarious joke!
AniFem readers: this is probably not one for you.