By people who know about these things, Ultimate Girls is known as a fanservice anime. That is, it's an anime that dispenses with such minor details as plot, character development, and story arc to focus on cheesecake. In doing so they can keep production costs down while still drawing in an audience. It's like cartoon softcore porn without the nudity. The series ran for one 12-episode season in Japan in 2005, each 13 minutes long.
UFO Man is yet another Ultraman rip-off, an alien hero who comes to Earth to defend it against giant monsters by himself transforming into a giant, with a time limit on his transformation. Fortunately the series isn't about him. During a minor battle, he accidentally crushes three seventeen year old girls and brings them back to life by giving them his power. This shrinks him to cabbage patch kid size and proportion which leaves him unable to continue his duties as protector of Earth.
Instead, following standard Japanese military doctrine, these three high school girls, Silk, Vivienne, and Tsubomi, are now drafted into service as Earth's protectors. It's a good thing these monsters are rather inept at this whole "destroying the city" thing, because even for beginners these girls are pretty ineffectual. Fortunately all the fights occur in the middle of major boulevards, which limits the destruction. No buildings are knocked over during the whole series. I thought that was the point of giant monsters?
In any case, that's not the point of a fanservice anime. The point is to grow nubile young schoolgirls into 100 foot giants wearing armored headgear and spandex. Spandex which starts to disappear off their bodies as their three-minute transformation time limit begins to expire.
Anyway UFO Man can only transform one of them at a time, so although the Ultimate Girl of the episode can sometimes defeat the monster by herself, other times they have to tag-team the beastie to dispatch it. Especially if they waste time:
- showing off for the crowd of onlookers
- afraid to get close enough to throw a punch
- trying to cover up the vanishing spandex
- considering the monster's weakness, apparently not thinking about this before the transformation.
The whole thing is played for comedy, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Much of it satirizes popular anime conventions. The monsters, for example, appear every week on Monday, which I assume is a reference to the show's schedule, and are designed around some silly theme. There's a metronome monster, a hypodermic needle monster, a giant Buddha statue monster, and so forth. Most of the monsters either have a blatantly phallic theme to them, or have a strange object between their legs (the train monster had what appeared to be a bus).
The girls are powered by embarrassment, which means they get stronger as their costumes begin to disappear as their time limit begins running out (how dramatically convenient!). UFO Man calls this M.O.E. power — Miteku Ore no Energy, which is Japanese for "Don't Look at Me Energy" (and also a reference to Master of Entertainment, the production company). When fully charged, Ultimate Girl can discharge her M.O.E. as an energy blast which usually destroys the monster.
I guess there's kind of a story here. Monsters appear in Japan every Monday and must be defeated by the Ultimate Girls. Silk is trying to work up courage to talk to Makoto while Vivienne deals with her crush on Silk. The girls have to keep their identities hidden and deal with school while accepting the responsibility of defending the Earth. That's about it. A huge chunk of an episode's puny 13-minute run time is taken up by the cold opening, opening credits, and Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequences (sometimes two per episode).
The version I saw had excellent subtitling rather than being dubbed. In fact the translators helpfully provided footnotes to help us understand some of the Japanese cultural references in the show. Although it can be difficult to read these footnotes and the dialog at the same time, streaming video and DVD players conveniently have a pause button.
UFO Man — Alien hero who came to Earth ostensibly to protect us from giant monsters, but actually to give three girls superpowers so they can star in a fanservice anime. His shrunken, chibi form winds up being the cute sidekick archetype. Following the anime rule that everything — humans, demons, aliens, robots, whatever — finds Japanese school girls sexy, he's also a pervert.
Silk — Main character of the show, Silk is the shy, quiet, cute Japanese girl archetype. They overdid it though, and she comes across as an ineffectual crybaby, something like Evangelion's Shinji. The media knows her hero persona as Ultimate Girl Small Boobs, and she's the most reluctant of the three even though circumstances conspire to make her the most often transformed. She has the strongest M.O.E. powerup, usually destroying the monster by accident with it after spending most of the fight trying to cover herself up. She has a crush on Makoto.
Vivienne — Second of the three Ultimate Girls, Vivienne is the tallest and most well-developed. I didn't catch all of her backstory, but she's not Japanese although she's been living in Japan for a long time. The media knows her hero persona as Ultimate Girl Big Boobs, and she's the best and most serious fighter of the three. She's in love with Silk. Like any good fanservice anime, Ultimate Girls knows not to overuse their sexiest character, so she is the least frequently transformed.
Tsubomi — The third Ultimate Girl, she's a genki tomboy who loves the idea of being a superhero and thinks it's fun to get media attention fighting monsters. She's also the "girl drawn as a twelve year old but we swear she's really seventeen" archetype. She's the most enthusiastic Ultimate Girl, but that's really all she has going for her. She's not easily embarrassed, so she can't use the M.O.E. attack. The media knows her hero persona as Ultimate Girl Loli. Makoto is her brother.
Makoto — A boy who goes to the same school as the heroines of our anime, he works as a freelance photographer for Sun TV and drives a motorcycle. Silk has a crush on him, but she's too shy to do anything about it and he's too obsessed with photography to think about anything else. At one point he runs into a girls locker room because he overheard someone call Tsubomi "Ecchi Monster", and left disappointed that there was no actual monster in there with the half naked girls. He's Tsubomi's older(?) brother.
Mayu — She exists for no real reason other than to give the Ultimate Girls someone to hide their secret identities from. She anchors a news show about the Ultimate Girl fights with the monsters and serves as a foil for the hyperactive Okamura. She's Silk's older sister.
Okamura — He's the one who christened the Ultimate Girls as Small Boobs, Big Boobs, and Loli. He's some kind of expert on the monsters, he either knows all their names or is making them up as he sees them (it's unclear). He finds it necessary to narrate the fights For SUN TV as they happen, even though it's all being broadcast live on camera, and is an unapologetic pervert. He fulfills the Dirty Old Man archetype for the show.
This is not a very good show, even ignoring the fact that the story isn't the point. It's funny at times, but as the intended titillation it doesn't work very well either. The occasional sexy scenes and carefully not-too-revealing disappearing costumes fall just a little too short of sexy enough to be worth sitting through. See it for free if you can find the 12 episodes on the internet as streaming downloads, but I wouldn't shell out money for it.