Image source: 「フレームアームズ・ガール」アニメ公式 on Twitter
Frame Arms Girl is not a series that takes itself very seriously. It’s about tiny robot girls that battle each other in skimpy outfits with tons of armor on top of it. But when it comes to traditional gender roles in anime, it’s done something interesting.
It “frames” (I’m not sorry for that pun) a female character in the role of the typical “average teen male” archetype. This is an intriguing choice in light of the episode’s first half.
For the uninitiated, Frame Arms Girl is based on a model kit line of the same name. So it’s silly to expect anything more than Heroine Ao wakes up one morning to receive a package delivered via drone, assuming it’s something sent to her by her father. When she opens it up, she finds a box labeled “Gourai,” hiding a female action figure that activates and begins moving and walking around on its own. Upon meeting Ao, its first reaction is to call her “Master,” which Ao quickly asks her not to do. She does it again and again anyway.
Gourai is a scantily-clad figure, or a robot, as she states that she actually is. She’s an Artificial Self, with the knowledge of a ten-year-old. This is a little awkward, as is usually the case when younger characters are scantily-clad, and Gourai’s panty-clad behind is on display the entire episode. Even when she’s wearing everything meant for her battle mode (all the pieces snapped out of the model kit) you’ve got a front row seat to her butt.
She needs to be charged periodically, too, and the place where you plug her in is conveniently located in her lower back. When it’s time to juice up, plugging her in makes Gourai elicit a weirdly sexual moan. Does it feel good for her? Who knows.
Now, this could be weird. It could be uncomfortable for some viewers. But Frame Arms Girl takes things and turns them around on their head to make it feel as normal as is possible. Instead of placing a teenage guy in the main role who gets a nosebleed any time he sees a hint of the female physique, we get Ao Gennai, a mild-mannered and sweet girl who just wants what’s best for Gourai and the rest of the robot gang.
Image source: フレームアームズ・ガール」アニメ公式 on Twitter
That’s not to say a male character would make it weird. We could have been left with another female character whose first thought would have been to strip Gourai and make lascivious comments or something to that effect, like some of the first interactions in Chobits. Anything could have happened. But what did happen was Ao, and much like Angelic Layer where protagonist Misaki and partner Angel Hikaru battle together, the relationship is a healthy one. At least, it seems like it’s going to be.
So while at a first glance when you see Gourai’s panties for an entire episode and she calls Ao “Master,” Frame Arms Girl might be misconstrued as just another exploitative “sexy robot” show, remember the innocent heroine Ao and the way she’s treating her newfound robot companions as friends, through and through. It’s not clear if any sort of yuri overtones might crop up here and there though, so we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
For now, I’m happy to see Ao taking center stage and replacing the generic protagonist we’ve become so accustomed to in similar shows like this one.