Otaku USA Magazine

Frame Arms Girl is a unique series that explores tiny little robot girls based on real-life model kits.

Frame Arms Girl

Ever wondered what your favorite action figures and toys do while on their own? What if they could come to life and go to battle with one another, not for your amusement, but because that’s what they’re created to do? Frame Arms Girl is a unique series that explores just that, centering on tiny little robot girls based on real-life model kits of the same name by Kotobukiya.

It’s unlike any anime you’ve seen before and should speak to anyone who loves spending time on Gunpla, model figures, or collecting things. Most of all, it’s a story about a young girl who ends up caring deeply for a set of autonomous dolls who not only become her allies, but her dear friends.

Frame Arms Girl

Robot Rock

One morning, heroine Ao Gennai wakes to receive a package at her door, delivered via drone. She immediately assumes it’s from her father, but what she finds is something quite different. A tiny robot action figure named “Gourai” awaits, which activates upon being unpackaged. She can move around on her own, speak, and even refer to Ao as her “master,” which is a little unsettling at first. She introduces herself as an “Artificial Self,” though she and the rest of the models in the world like her are called Frame Arms Girls, or “F.A. Girls” for short.

The girls have been created and assigned the task of gathering data on both battles and human emotions, but Ao didn’t count on being sent yet another one. She receives several other packages with various other F.A. Girls in them, like the aerial combat specialist Stylet and laser-centric Baselard. To what end? That’s something you’ll have to watch the series for, but it’s a puzzle worth solving, especially as you watch Ao struggling hilariously to make the small figures’ plights a part of her daily life, no matter the costs.

Gourai is the main focus of the series, a ground-based fighter with decent speed, but falls short against F.A. Girls who can move around in the air. That’s unfortunately exactly what Stylet and Baselard excel in. Then you have the strange Materia Sisters, White and Black, seemingly a pair of sadists who love to torture others. Architect is the basis, or “frame,” on which all other F.A. Girls were built, and Jinrai is something of a ninja. All the F.A. Girls have their own special abilities and quirks, and Ao learns to live with every single one of them, even though the apartment does get pretty crowded here and there. How could it not?

Frame Arms Girl

Human After All

Ao finds herself saddled with several small robot girls and plenty of knock-down, drag-out battles between them all. But despite the focus on robot girls who come to life on their own, Frame Arms Girl is, above all else, a slice-of-life story. It could have gone down a road that confused viewers or got far too technical or deep within the hobby, but instead it was happy to weave an adorable tale of Ao and her newfound friends that mainly takes place in Ao’s apartment for a more intimate setting.

The girls have little knowledge of the world outside of their purposes and battles, so watching them scramble to help take care of Ao when she has a cold or trying to figure out what kind of hot pot to dine on is heartwarming and entertaining. One night, all the girls head out on a mission to Ao’s school to grab an important notebook she needs so she can complete all of her summer homework. They quickly become good friends during this time—despite all the bickering and battling between them—which is adorable to watch.

Frame Arms Girl

It’s not all sunshine all the time, however. As you might imagine, Having the Frame Arms Girls in her apartment quickly turns into a huge inconvenience for Ao, and she thinks about returning the figures. However, she’s offered compensation for her time and for allowing them to remain with her, goaded on at first by the promise of quick cash, then quickly befriending the little figures with their dramatic battles and quirky personalities.

Looking for something a little different from harem series and clueless guys finding themselves awash with adorable girls? Frame Arms Girl is a cure for the common series, averting that common trope in lots of different ways. It’s silly at times, dramatic at others, but also manages to include a heaping helping of action as well. If you decide to take the plunge and watch the entire series, just don’t be surprised if you start wondering what all those anime figures you have neatly arranged are doing when you turn your back. They could be doing their own research, you know …

Frame Arms Girl is available from Sentai Filmworks.

This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Otaku USA Magazine. Click here to get a print copy.