What They Say:
Some guys wait their entire lives to meet the girl of their dreams, but Rihito is already living with three of them! How did a high school freshman get so lucky? Well, the truth is that Anne, Aines, and Lene aren’t normal girls: they’re Shinki – 6-inch-high, customizable androids that are the latest hit in the toy world. Don’t let their tiny size or doll-like appearance fool you; these little ladies have more than full-size intelligence and emotions, and, since each one would secretly prefer to be Rihito’s favorite, there’s always a little mechanical friction going on. Then, what happens when a fourth Shinki, Hina, is suddenly added to the mix? Get ready for sparks to fly as four battery-powered princesses take charge of Rihito’s world in BUSOU SHINKI!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show works a largely dialogue oriented approach for much of it but there are smatterings of action here and there and some areas where it steps up more. The action side is well handled with what it has to do with some fun directionality across the forward soundstage during some of the minor fighting sequences as well as some good impact with some of the explosions and other elements. Dialogue itself is simple and effective with placement as needed but mostly a solid full mix that brings everything out in a clean and clear way. It’s not a standout show in a lot of ways when it comes to the sound design but it’s competent and serves the material well.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by 8-Bit, the show has a really strong visual design to it that works very well with bright colors and a sense of design with them that gives it a lot of pop without being overbearing. The show works some good detail with the character designs but also has some really appealing backgrounds. It’s fluid where it needs to be in order to up the smoothness and the encoding brings it all to life. It’s a series that you may not think would have a great look but I was regularly impressed by it and the way it comes across, making it a far more engaging show because of it.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover works two of the main characters in their full battle configuration, which really doesn’t represent the show, and it has a high-tech and action oriented feeling to it that certainly sells it. Unfortunately, it’s pretty off-base to what the show is like and has me wishing we had a more standard multi-character piece with upbeat smiles and fun since that’d be more in line with it. THe back cover goes for more of the serious material with another character shot and some decent images from the show that again focus on the action and intensity. The premise is well covered with a clean summary and the episode and disc count along with the extras are all laid out well. The rest is fairly standard with the production credits breakdown along with the technical grid that brings all the details of the setup in an accurate way. Now show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is fairly straightforward and works well as we get the static layout design. The right side changes up the artwork between discs with some good key visual pieces of the characters with some detailed settings that make it stand out nicely. The left side works the traditional menu design with large strips that break out the episodes by number and title, this time white text on black, with a pop of color through the blue/green of the numbers themselves. It’s a good looking menu that’s quick and easy to use that sets the tone of the show well and works smoothly both as a main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are pretty straightforward as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with two of the Japanese promos for the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally done as a series of shorts in 2011 that were streamed on the Internet at five minutes a pop, a full on series landed in late 2012 for Busou Shinki, sometimes known as Armored War Goddess. Directed by Yasuhito Kikuchi based on the series composition by Masahiro Yokotani, the series was animated at 8-Bit and has a really strong look about it. The comparisons to Angelic Layer are very easy to make but in a lot of ways this feels like a more interesting version of it, a slightly more mature version, without the focus on competition and combat. Or pesky humans, for the most part, as we mostly see things through the lives of the pint-sized androids.
The TV series introduces us to our main human in Rihito, a young man that has returned to Japan for high school after being overseas for some time. Rihito is a seemingly nice guy that has a decent place as we see him moving in and enjoying being back in a place where he spent part of his childhood. What helps him get settled while he’s out doing things are the three Shinki, humanoid androids that are pretty self-aware and full of personality. They’re about six inches high and he has three of them that have been with him for some time with Ann, Ines and Lene. They’re familiar character types and obviously they have a certain love and idolization of Rihito. What “shakes things up” a bit early on here is that Rihito’s father has included a new Shinki for him as a welcome home present with Hina, a Strarf model that’s pretty popular. While the others are fairly standard in some ways, Hina’s a bit more of a loner and combat type, hence her always sharpening her sword and being somewhat threatening to her new family members until she becomes comfortable with them.
Honestly, from that alone you can map out how much of this thirteen episode series will go. And you’d be largely right. There’s a certain familiarity to events here as we get the bonding aspect over several episodes, some fun with them dealing with potential criminals in the area that may be a threat, interacting with other Shinki that are also in the area and are kind of wary of others, and even the usual beach episode. Though that at least has some fun in that Rihito grabs the wrong bag and doesn’t take them, which sees them then trying to make their own way there through their ability to fly. It’s a solid little journey episode that shows how they deal with different kinds of adversity and just how far they’ll go to be with their master. It’s obviously a solid piece of programming but there are aspects to their personalities that will work better with how they’re treated by their owner, resulting in Shinki like this under someone like Rihito.
The show does get serious at times, such as a travel episode where they end up caught up in an attempt to blow up the plane while in flight through the use of other Shinki that has its own curious twists. We also get things going serious toward the end that involves a body switching aspect and mindwipe that’s certainly curious. But these feel like off episodes, almost unnecessary in some ways, as the slice of life elements of the show proved far more appealing and engaging. The more serious episodes give us a taste of some of how other parts of the world work but it wasn’t a draw. In fact, I wish the show had made it clear just how many more Shinki are out there because while we see these four flying about from time to time outside, and a few others, one can imagine a world where they’re pretty much all over the place performing tasks in the same way we use cell phones now. There’s a richer story to work with here that’s barely scratched the surface with, but what they do scratch is pretty entertaining.
I had no idea what to expect going into this show, particularly as the cover does not sell it in the right way with what it’s actually about. What I got was an absolutely delightful slice of life show that plays with the Angelic Layer idea that removes the competition side and just engages in the Shinki/doll characters themselves. It’s sweet, cute, wonderfully designed and animated, and had me smiling throughout most of it when it wasn’t doing the serious episodes. Though there’s plenty of familiar things in here in terms of structure and story ideas as well as character personalities and actions, it’s presented in a strong way that makes it engaging and fun with the little quirks and choices made in animation. This is one of those little hidden gems that never gets a lot of attention or notice that when you do discover it in some way it’s very easy to become a fan of it. Definitely recommended to check out.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.