Monday, December 24, 2007

Battle Programmer Shirase

Shirase Satoshi is a computer programmer (and slight pervert) who lives in a house taken care of by his relatives. Frequently, Amano Misao (who Shirase is an uncle of, even though Misao considers him to be like an older borther) comes by to give him food and keep him company, but she is unaware that Shirase is the well-known hacker Battle Programmer Shirase (BPS). He doesn't work for money, but usually is paid for his work by other methods. To put it in a better way, he does odd jobs for odd payment (usually a very rare piece of computer equipment). These are his tales.
I'll admit that I am not a big fan of ecchi anime. In fact, it is one of my least favorite genres. Even knowing that BPS is an ecchi comedy which also features fan service by underage girls, it is hard, if not impossible, for me to hate this series. In other words, it is like Love Love, only this has more substance than the aforementioned horror story, with less fan service.
First, I might want to mention that BPS is a massive commercial. Subliminal advertising has never reached a point like this in a program. I think I counted Intel, Jolt Cola, DHL, Sony, and Pioneer (which was parodied) among many others. Of those, it seems DHL is the most used.
Another odd point is the way this program shatters the fourth wall in the last episode (Episode 5, Part 3). In said episode, the producers are thanking its loyal viewers as well as, according to them, "Those outside the broadcast area who took special measures to watch the show on their PC monitors." This sentence is referring to the fansubbers as well as those who view the fansubs, making BPS one of the first few programs to acknowledge fansubs. It also mentions "and to everybody who watched it subtitled overseas without permission: The head director, Hayashi Hiroki, representing the entire staff, would like to say 'I'm really sorry'."
Now that the references have been handed out, it's time for the review to start, and I will like to single out the music first. This show has a few catchy tunes, including the "In the last episode" tune (which sounds like an electronic/hip-hop crossover), the OP "Suddenly" (a very catchy electronic-style song with a rather interesting vocalist), and the ED "Pure Enough" is a fun little ditty with a laughter-inducing intro. These are actually quite good songs and can be sung along to.
For an ecchi anime, this anime has some rather decent characters. Shirase is your lazy man with the skills and popular name as well as an impressive collection of CPU hardware as well as a somewhat perverted persona. Misao is the girl who is rather shy except to her "onii-chan" (Shirase) and a few others. In the later episodes, a girl named Yon-chan (I forget her actual name) comes in. She is the new student visiting Japan who is really a hacker in the service of the US Navy, despite being about the same age as Misao. Akizuki is a man who is part of both the plot and a common gag involving Misao and Shirase (more on that later) and is in every episode episode, but in a different profession each time (like Alexei Sayle in The Young Ones). On the opposite side of the good guy/bad guy spectrum is Ose Rintarou, the "America King". He fills in the part of the foil of Shirase in the first four episodes, then abruptly stops after episode 4 (though the show provides a good enough reason for this). Most of the other characters are mostly in there for filler.
Plotwise, this show has a rather strange habit of using running gags and a separate plot for each episode, but stringing a backstory together, even though the backstory is very vague. One of the common running gags involves Misao, Shirase, and Akizuki (though in one case involves Yon-chan instead of Misao). Usually, Akizuki barges into the scene and just prior the his entrance, something happens (like an earthquake) that throws Misao and Shirase into a rather intimate position that was not intended. Akizuki then starts a sequence involving self-grief in seeing this (even though he is misunderstanding the scene), but midway through the sequence, Misao ends the so called "intimate position" while Akizuki continues the grief, ending with him abruptly stopping and acting like he never saw anything (which cues laughter from nowhere in particular. I'm serious!). This scene always plays out the same way. At first, the scene made me confused, but afterward started making me barely laugh each time. Another gag is the showing off of Shirase's "attacks", but without the lengthly intro or colorful lighting usually used in shows like Sailor Moon. The plot also spoons out a ton of computer jargon, so good luck recognizing everything.
As for the artwork, it is, to put it simply, quite impressive. The colors mix well in the scenes and casts a look that is both mundane as well as animated, which had me in awe at it. Even the worst scenes artwise were still nice and colorful. The neighborhood was full of life. The school was nice looking. There was very little that was not impressive (which is rare since in a show like this, the fanservice is what gets the better treatment). The animation is just like the artwork in that it works out the scenes in grand ways. There is room for improvement with the animation quality, but the way the show flows made me forget that fact.
To end the main part of the review, I will do the voices. The way this anime handles the vocals is very neat, but not exactly perfect. The characters and voices match up rather well (Misao=cute girl. Shirase=lazy.) and left me with little regret of having watched this.
Probably my only problems with this show are the small episode count (15 episodes was a rather small time limit and didn't get too far into Shirase's backstory as well as Rintarou's, but giving a small bit of info behind Misao, probably trying to prove that this Misao won't be having a blonde-haired evil alter-ego) and the fact that the last episode seemed to have a rather stupid ending. Other than that, this program is certainly worth a bright star in my book, even with the underage fan service (since it, unlike Love Love, didn't spoon it into your mouth all at one time, but had very little actual fan service) and the innuendo. Rating: Very good ecchi that was well-made, told a story at the least, and managed to implant fan service without overdoing it. Full marks.-->-->
Very good ecchi that was well-made, told a story at the least, and managed to implant fan service without overdoing it. Full marks. — Jake L Godek

Akira Shirase (白瀬慧, Akira Shirase voiced by: Nakai Kazuya)
He's the main character of the story. Akira is a very talented computer connoisseur and is known in the hacking world as Battle Programmer Shirase (which is typically shortened to BPS). A genius in computer hacking and security who can do anything on any computer, or phone.
Misao Amano (天野美紗緒, Misao Amano voiced by: Fukuen Misato)
Misao is Akira's great-niece. She is a very shy girl who loves to spend her time with Akira, whom she often refers to as onii-chan (お兄ちゃん, onii-chan). She cares for him deeply and it's very common to see her cooking for him or worrying about him. Sometimes, Misao says mau-mau (まうまう, mau-mau), which doesn't have an actual meaning (this may be a "cute" form of speech the creators added for her to please fans of cute anime girls). Misao looks very young for a 6th grader.
Yoriko Yunoki (柚木頼子, Yoriko Yunoki voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa)
Yoriko is a girl who works for the United States Navy. Her rank is Major Yoriko Yunoki. She First meets BPS (Akira) when he is seen walking home after waiting in front of a book store. He explains that the book store clerk only opens when he wants to. She had been following Misao and asked if she could go to her house. She seems to have the same knowledge of computers as Akira and in one episode asks him to join her in the National Guard as her partner. She Also asks him to go to America with her, and seems to have strong feelings for Akira as well.
Motoki Sae (本木紗英, Motoki Sae voiced by: Yūko Nagashima)
Motoki Sae is Misao's teacher. In an earlier episode she had tried to get Misao together with a boy from grade class. She is later seen drinking in an alley where she meets Akira, whom she hasn't seen since high school. She was being forced to have a marriage interview, and since she didn't want to go she ended up getting drunk in the alley.

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