Busou Shinki Review

This is review number one hundred and thirty one. It is part of the Fall 2012 lineup and it took me three days to finish this anime. I mostly finish anime in less than a day or two days top. Three or more and the anime probably doesn’t have a lot to offer. Busuo Shinki doesn’t have a lot to offer. It’s a twelve episode about dolls that fight each other. It sounds pretty good, huh? Let’s read on.

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Story

Shinki are 15 centimeter tall partners created to serve humans. They are endowed with intelligence and emotions, and they serve the one they call master. Humans can equip their Shinki with whatever armor or weaponry they please, and command them to fight. Some fight for honor, others to prove their strength and some simply strive for victory. These girls who do battle using their weapons given to them by their masters are what we call “Busou Shinki”.

Taking the Pants Off

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I was excited to try Busou Shinki because the concept is pretty intriguing. The idea of dolls being used for battle is something very exciting. When I first saw this anime, it closely resembled the anime “Angelic Layer”. It’s an anime where dolls battle in a tournament style set up but the anime is very light hearted and feminine. Angelic Layer was released in 2001 and I have mixed feelings about the anime. The idea of a 2012 anime with the same concept taking a shot at the same premise is pretty exciting though. Busuo Shinki had all the elements to make a tournament style anime with dolls but for some god awful reason, they choose not to do it. Some awesome dolls that fight gracefully like they’re dancing in the sky are apparently the perfect cast to do a slice of life anime. Yes, I’m confused too.

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There is nothing special about the story. It’s just about four dolls owned by one guy living in an apartment. When their master is in school or his job, the dolls are doing household chores or getting tangled up in some misadventure with other dolls. There is some fighting here and there but the anime is mostly the typical lives of the Shinki dolls. The episodes are mostly stand alone and there isn’t a main story that ties the anime together. Each episode involves some form of activity the girls are doing like cleaning the house, meeting other dolls, taking care of their master, firing up the image generator then talking amongst themselves or simply living the life of a 6 inch doll in a large world.

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I do not agree with the direction of the anime. The fight scenes are so amazing that it reminds you just how wonderful the anime would’ve been if it was an action anime. The dolls themselves, according to the anime, are designed to bash each other’s heads in but for some reason, the owner of the dolls doesn’t like fighting in tournaments. So the girls do nothing but mind numbing fluff episodes and blatant fan service (which I don’t mind if their normal girls) but for god sakes, they’re fighting robot dolls. I say let the fighting robot dolls fight other fighting robot dolls and not focus episodes on cooking or cleaning the house or goddamn beach episodes where the fighting robot dolls act cute instead of fighting other fighting robot dolls. I’m a fairly nice guy when it comes to anime and I look at things with an open minded view but an anime that purposely squander its potential to serve fan service and fluff slice of life is pretty offensive.

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Now I did wonder why such an amazing anime decide to be so awful and I think this anime explores a “wish fulfillment” fantasy that caters to a specific crowd. Are you one of those people that collect expensive anime dolls and wish they are real? Do you talk to your anime figures as if they were real? Do you just often think that “Gosh, it’d be awesome if you can walk and talk”? Do you go to anime conventions with a doll that sits gently on your arm as you freak other people out? This anime caters for you. Now please, don’t be surprised. There are people who love anime figures or dolls and there is nothing wrong with that. I learned a long time ago that the anime fandom consists of a large collection of people with a specific niche. In this anime, the dolls talk to their master. The dolls do the cleaning, wake their master up, express devotion to their master, loves their master, and puts their master above all else. It’s a heavenly set up if you’re into that sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong, give me five yandere and I’m in heaven too.

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If you’re expecting action or something that closely resembles Angelic Layer then you’d be very disappointed. The story of the anime is watered down and most of the standalone episodes are pretty anticlimactic or predictably boring. This anime is nothing more than a slice of life anime with a gimmicky premise. It takes a while for the anime to get good but it does start to show its charm when you reach the second half. After a while, the “Thumbelina” aspect of the anime does start to get interesting. Seeing the girls explore the big world in their little body is pretty interesting. The way they manages the environment is pretty fun to watch. Of course, it’s a small positive if you consider the fact that the anime doesn’t have a strong story to pull you in.

The characters in the anime aren’t that interesting. I also hate the fact that the anime doesn’t properly introduce recurring side characters. The four main girls are generic and they don’t add a lot of substance in the anime. They all have their own individual personality but it doesn’t really add much to the anime. If the anime was action centered then the personalities would’ve worked but it clearly doesn’t shine in the slice of life setting of the anime. There is one character that intrigued in the anime but in a negative way. The master of the dolls is a loner and he spends too much time with his dolls. He sort of rubs me the wrong way but it bothered me that he went to the beach with his dolls. He doesn’t interact with other people in the anime, he doesn’t have any friends, he has a creepy vibe to him and I bet a shoe, he’s a virgin. He also has a bland look and personality. I hate him.

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Besides the slice of life, the anime also features some fan service. It’s not Ecchi in any way though. There are a lot of scenes that looks pretty suggestive and there are some pretty nice shots of the girls’ crotches and ass. I’m not sure if it’s intentional though. There is a scene where the owner applied some oil to one of his dolls and it just looks pretty intense. There is also some pretty naughty dialogue thrown here and there. I think that if the girls are normal size then the anime would’ve been a massive harem as well. As I said before though, this would appeal to someone in love with their dolls and sadly, I am not one of them.

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The anime could’ve been great and I seriously wished they just stuck to an action packed anime. Instead they chose to have the girls cook and clean, what the f*ck where they thinking? This is a blatant way of squandering an anime’s potential and I seriously wish the creators burn for this unforgivable sin. If you’re a doll freak though then I think this anime will appeal to you.

Sight and Sound

The anime is pretty strong in the character design department. The girls are pretty generic but they have a nice look to them. I love the joints added to their body and the way their body curves. Most of the time, you are often drawn to look at their crotch because of the beautiful body frame the characters have. Even the side characters have a lovely look to them and I really appreciate the fact that the girls are all nicely detailed.

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I also love it when the girls transform. The design of their armor when they fight is pretty intimidating and the way it latches on to their body is freaking incredible. The transformed versions reminds me of “The Centurions” (it’s a really old cartoon show) for some reason. This beautiful character design gets even more incredible when the characters fight.

The fight scenes are the sole reason I was able to finish this anime. It’s so amazing and the camera work is fantastic. The way the characters fight is pretty graceful yet blunt at the same time. It’s fast paced but it’s also easy to follow. A lot of the fight scenes in the anime are pretty flashy and it adds a lot of intrigue in the anime. The way the camera moves is also pretty amazing. It curves and zooms in to give the fight scenes a better angle. It’s my favorite part of the anime.

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The anime is also pretty heavy with CG but it doesn’t look stiff. A lot of the fight scenes have a lot of CG in them but it manages to blend in with the regular animation. Most of the armor and the transformed versions of the girls are heavy with CG and it really makes the character a lot more beautiful. It also adds depth during the fight scenes.

The anime’s OP is “Install x Dream” by Kana Asumi, Minori Chihara, Kaori Mizuhashi, and Megumi Nakajima. In an episode that focuses on one of the characters, they do the OP by themselves. It’s a pretty mellow song and it reminds me of those idol songs like the ones AK48 sings. The OP sequence features all the characters as they give off a heavy slice of life vibe. The armors and the flashy versions of the girls are also introduced with their heavy CG. The OP also represents the anime to a tee with the first scene involving the girls catching feathers~

The anime’s ED is “Taiyou no Sign” by azusa. It’s another mellow song but I really love the singer’s voice. It’s very relaxed and it’s calming. Even when she hits the chorus, her voice is very mellow. I love it. The ED sequence features one of the girls walking side view while simple scenes with a heavy CG are in the background. This also displays the anime’s amazing ability to blend the normal scenes with the CG. Normal things like watermelons, gelatins and sound notes are done in CG in a very nice way. It’s probably the best CG I’ve seen in a while.

Overall Score

4/10 “It had flashy fight scenes but everything else is just subpar.”

This is probably the most disappointing anime of the season. If you’re into dolls and you like the fluff slice of life with no story then this anime is for you. There’s not a lot to like in this anime though.

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