Naota Nandaba is an ordinary boy living in an ordinary town called Mabase that has nothing special outside of a giant plant called Medical Mechanica that looks like an iron and emits steam every day. Naota regularly hangs out under a bridge near the river in Mabase with a girl named Mamimi Samejima. Mamimi is the former girlfriend of Naota’s brother who went to America to play baseball. She calls Naota “Ta-kun,” which is short for Tasuka, Naota’s brother’s name. Naota sits under the bridge trying to do his homework while Mamimi is practicing swinging his bat, something Naota always carries around but never uses. Naota and Mamimi go on top of the bridge to share a drink but Mamimi buys a sour kind, something Naota despises. Mamimi makes fun of Naota for a hickey she left on his neck and gives him the remains of the drink. Naota tosses aside the drink and is about to tell Mamimi something about his brother. Suddenly out of nowhere a strange orange haired woman riding on a Vespa scooter plows right into Naota. The woman calls Naota ‘Taro-kun,’ and upon seeing him out cold gives him CPR, kissing him on the lips to Mamimi’s shock. A brief cut scene of the three talking about the creation of the scene appears but is quickly ended when Naota realizes no special effects were involved. Upon Naota awakening, the woman promptly swings her bass guitar into his head. Turning him upside down, she is surprised that nothing happens and is stopped by Mamimi. Naota asks the woman what she’s done to him, but she proclaims him useless and drives off. Later that night in his room, Naota notices that not only does he have a big red bruise on his head from getting hit, but there is a giant growth coming out of his forehead that he pushes back in. Naota decides against going to the hospital and instead puts a bandage over it. The next day his friends at school, Ninamori, Gaku and Masashi are curious about what the bump on his forehead is. They also talk about a strange woman riding a Vespa who showed up out of nowhere. Naota realizes this is the same woman that he met the day before. Naota decides to go to the hospital after school only to encounter the Vespa woman again near the train tracks and runs away from her. Naota reaches the hospital but the Vespa woman, who tied up the doctor and nurse tricks him into seeing her and tries to slam him in the head again with her bass, wanting to know what is underneath the bandage. Naota somehow manages to escape.
Naota receives a call from Mamimi but tells her to go hang out with her friends. Naota goes up to his room and takes a nap, and after dreaming about his brother goes downstairs to have dinner with his father Kamon and grandfather Shigekuni. Upon arriving however, he finds the Vespa woman eating dinner with them. She claims her name is Haruko Haruhara, and it that she had also hit Naota’s father with her Vespa. Kamon has hired Haruko to be their live in housekeeper. Haruko says she found Naota hanging out with Mamimi and Kamon makes fun of him, claiming he’s making out with her. Haruko claims she’s in that sort of relationship with Naota, riling up his father even more, who tries to pull the bandage off his head. After taking a bath Naota gets the pleasure of finding out that Haruko is staying in his room as well, walking in while she is talking to someone unseen about how useless he is. Haruko tells Naota she’s an alien. She is obsessed with finding out what’s under the bandage on his head but Naota won’t let her take it off. Naota won’t let her sleep on the top bunk as it belongs to his brother, who he tells her is in America playing baseball. Haruko sleeps in the same bed as Naota, freaking him out, so he goes downstairs with his pillow. Downstairs he runs into his father who has photos from Mamimi of when Naota was run over by Haruko earlier. Kamon tells Naota he gave her some stale bread and wonders if her family is poor. Naota runs off to see Mamimi, finding her smoking by the bridge. Naota asks Mamimi about her relationship with his brother and reveals he has an American girlfriend, something that Haruko also discovers by going through Naota’s room. Haruko’s bracelet starts moving and she heads off on her Vespa. Mamimi clutches her head saying she’s going to overflow and steam starts coming out of the Medical Mechanica plant. The bump on Naota’s forehead starts moving and two robots come out of it. One is a humanoid red robot with a TV for a head while the other is a giant white hand. Naota gets his shirt stuck on the red one which continues to fight the other robot, swinging it around the bridge and eventually defeating it. Haruko arrives on her Vespa and smashes the red robot in its head with her bass, causing it to turn a blue color. Naota is shocked, thinking at that moment she looked like his brother. Haruko is surprised nothing else happened. The next day, the bump on Naota’s forehead has gone away. The robot moves in with Naota and Haruko orders it around while it makes some bread. Naota goes to see Mamimi again and this time takes the sour drink instead of throwing it away.
A bizarre first episode; I was both amazed and bewildered the first time I saw this many years back on Adult Swim. Robots coming out of a boy’s head? A crazy Vespa woman claiming to be an alien swinging at people with a bass guitar? The weirdness is a big part of the appeal though. The creators of the show succeeded with an exciting start in this first episode, which will just continue to improve the rest of the way. Direction wise this episode starts off very good and keeps things interesting with constant changes in style. In particular the slowdown when Haruko kisses Naota (which I assume is inspired by The Matrix), breaking the fourth wall immediately after with Naota, Haruko and Mamimi talking about production, and the dinner scene, which is shown entirely in manga form (something we’ll see again later in the series). The music adds to the experience with the excellent “One Life” to start off the episode and “Little Busters” towards the end after the robot fight, a song that will be used in each episode. The soundtrack for the show, provided by the rock band The Pillows is as strong as they come, up there with shows like Cowboy Bebop and Escaflowne in my opinion. The English dub for the show is quite good as well. Kari Wahlgren as Haruko is my favorite English dub performance of all time, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was her first ever role. Joe Martin also puts in a hilarious performance as Naota’s father in this episode. He gives us some references to Gundam, during the dinner scene with his discussion of the “Gundam Hammer” and “Tomino-esque.” Mamimi’s dialogue at the start of the episode is taken from Ashita no Joe. References to other anime and pop culture will continue throughout the rest of the show.