Konami has received a lot of flack lately due to their poor treatment of Hideo Kojima and the company’s decision to focus more on non-gaming projects. The criticism is unfair when you consider that businesses are out to make money. Metal Gear Solid V cost an astonishing $80 million to make and if perfectionist Kojima had gotten his way he would have spent even more cash on extra content, so he had to go. Video game development is pricey and a huge financial risk if your triple A title flops. With that in mind Konami have sensibly decided to pursue other ventures. Gamblers who like playing with balls can try Konami’s pachinko machines. Meanwhile geeks who lust over plastic waifus can play with their balls whilst ogling Konami’s Busou Shinki line of female action figures. Said toys were popular enough to spawn an anime spin-off, which I am reviewing today.
In the Busou Shinki animated universe humanity has cracked the secret of artificial intelligence. Age of Ultron has taught us that bestowing machines with sentience can be perilous, so just to be safe the Japanese decided to make their androids a paltry six inches tall. That’s tiny enough to render them harmless. High school student Rihito, who has recently migrated back to Japan, happens to be the proud owner of four Busou Shinki bots. He’s not a morning person and is inept at housework so it falls upon his diminutive ladies to clean the apartment and wake Rihito up during school days. Once their master has set off to school the pint-sized quartet go on various adventures. The series is basically Toy Story with form fitting plug-suits. Over the course of thirteen episodes the Shinkis battle thieves, compete in a grand prix and even prevent airline terrorism.
Rihito’s four Shinki are named Ann, Ines, Lene and Hina. Ann is the sensible one and arguably Rihito’s favourite (due to the fact that he has owned her for the longest time.) Just like parents with their kids, the first one always gets the most affection. I can attest to that because I am an eldest child. On the off chance that she is reading this… in your face sis! Moving on, Ines is the tomboy who loves drinking oil. Her fondness for robotic beverages may be a crutch for coping with the realization that she has a small bust. Lene is the clumsy blonde who has a passion for tailoring. The latest addition to Rihito’s collection is a no nonsense swordfighter named Hina. Due to Rihito’s disinterest in the Shinki battle circuit Hina frustratingly has no outlet to show off her fighting skills. I suspect she would be a happier gal if someone from Angelic Layer owned her instead.
My rating for Busou Shinki: Armoured War Goddess is a three out of five. I liked the series for the most part, but wouldn’t recommend buying it on DVD at the current RRP of twenty-four quid. The series is ultimately one of those disposable shows that you watch just once, negating the need for a physical copy. It’s a pity that you can’t legally stream the anime because the standalone episodes are ideal for when you have thirty-minutes to kill and are in the mood for a good chuckle. The comedy is decent and doesn’t resort to the harem trope of having the female heavy cast feuding over the show’s lone guy. Rihito’s relationship with the Shinki is platonic, as one would expect given that it’s physically impossible to romance anime merchandise… even if some zealous body pillow collectors would have you believing otherwise.
Compared to other shows Busou Shinki’s fan service is rather tame and more the side effect of replicating the toy designs rather than a conscious effort by the studio to titillate. Although the storylines skew more towards humour than action there are occasional scenes were the heroines battle against rival Shinki. The duels in question have each character donning power armour and taking to the skies in CG sequences. If that sounds familiar it should because the aerial dogfights resemble Infinite Stratos, which the folks at 8-Bit are also responsible for animating. For a series created to shamelessly peddle figurines Busou Shinki is more entertaining than it deserves to be. Is it enough to make people forgive Konami for their past transgressions? Nah. They’ll have to revive Silent Hills and Castlevania if they ever hope to restore their tattered reputation.