Busou Shinki: Intro

Boys’ toys (and even toys aimed at older collectors) have always been flavoured with machismo, aggression and implied violence. Muscle-bound he-men with snarls and grimaces wielding swords and guns are the traditional action figure standards.

But Japan also has a long-standing love affair with all things cute. Kawaisa has flavoured everything from commercial goods to military mascots. Thus, a fearsome heavily armed, battle-ready warrior with a cute face would seem to be a quirky but entirely understandable natural step in the evolution of Japanese action figures.

Akitaka Mika’s MS shoujo art from the 80s seems a likely conception point for this design style. In an interview with EX, the designer explained simply:

Well, I like drawing girls a lot. And, being a mechanical designer too, I thought it would be a lot of fun if I put Gundam armor on them.

That style has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of the moe movement. Shimada Fumikane has been at the forefront of the movement and as of writing there have been two anime OVA, Strike Witches and Sky Girls, that feature Shimada’s designs. It is perhaps unsurprising Konami tapped Shimada to be character designer for the first wave of its action figure line featuring cute girls in fearsome war accoutrements and accessories.

As a franchise, Busou Shinki (“armed princess” more or less) is Konami’s calculated attempt to separate the otaku from their money. Otaku like moe female figures so Busou Shinki features moe character designs from a variety of designers. Otaku like mecha and action figures so Busou Shinki features highly posable figures with weapons and add-on armour pieces. Otaku like videogames so Busou Shinki features an online game component.

For further information, see this article on Busou Shinki’s MMS figure design, a regularly updated checklist of sets released thus far, overview of the Diorama Studio and Battle Rondo software and this compilation of Busou Shinki links.