Anime Review: Busou Shinki – Armored War Goddess Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 01.04.2017

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Busou Shinki - Armored War Goddess Collection (UK Rating: 15)

Japan puts out some pretty weird stuff (this coming from a die-hard Japanophile who visits annually) and while it's true that most of the weird is explainable because the strangeness is taken out of context, there's plenty of glorious oddness in the Land of the Rising Sun. Take, for example, Busou Shinki, a toy line by Konami Digital Entertainment - yes as in Castlevania, Metal Gear, Silent Hill et al - that is something like Barbie meets Gundam meets Transformers meets classic Japanese kinkiness. This franchise has spawned toys, games, manga, and this 12-episode anime series, and in the UK it comes courtesy of MVM, available from 3rd April.

It's not strange for an anime protagonist to be living with multiple people, although it's a little different for our protagonist here. After living abroad with his father for work, Rihito has returned to Japan with three petite ladies who cook, clean, and do just about anything he could ask. There's a bit of a twist, though, as the ladies are a mere six inches tall. They are Busou Shinki, little android dolls equipped with human level intelligence and a full range of emotions.

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The initial episode introduces Rihito with his three Busou Shinki girls. They move into a new house back in Japan and find a little surprise from Rihito's father waiting to be unboxed; it's a Busou Shinki new girl to add to his little toy harem, a battle-obsessed little warrior who makes sparks fly. The Busou Shinki are often used to battle, but Rihito has no interest in such, meaning new girl Hina has something of an existential crisis, since her whole existence was battling and now she's pretty much been made into a slave.

Hina's desire for battles is something shared by the viewers as they are forced to watch each episode play out around the basic household chores and general slice of life stories that make up the majority of the show. The girls go on a holiday, engage in a Shinki Grand Prix race, celebrate Christmas, and other such stand-alone stories for each episode. There are the occasional battles but not nearly enough to keep the show interesting, which is a real shame, too, because what little there is, is actually one of the best parts. The mecha/girl character designs look great and there are some well animated CG fight scenes. With their diminutive size, too, there are plenty of opportunities for comedy moments like in Marvel's Ant-Man, such as seeing the girls engaged in huge dynamic battles, only to cut away and see the reality from the perspective of humans. They could have played with the premise of what the girls get up to while their master is away or even gone dark and shown how others are mistreated despite their intelligence… Instead, viewers are stuck with these ferociously mediocre story-of-the-week style episodes.

On the presentation front, there is only a Japanese language option here and the usual extras are tacked on - a few trailers, textless openings and closings. Graphically, there is nothing that really stands out through most of the show. This series was produced by Studio 8-Bit, and it brings some of its signature ecchi style to the project, although it's rather strange to see the fan-service of the show when, ultimately, it's fan-service of little dolls… The designs of the transformed girls are pretty good and when the series makes the time to play with the premise of them living within our world, with small objects being huge to them, there are some smart and amusing moments.

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

With the franchise being big in Japan, it's easy to see how this got made, but it's hard to see how anyone other than the most ardent of fans could enjoy it. Trite and boring, Busou Shinki - Armored War Goddess Collection tries to be a slice of life and fails, tries to be a battle anime and fails, tries to be titillating and fails. On every count, this series just… fails.

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