Busou Shinki-1

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Description

BusouShinkiEp01-01.jpg

The year is 2040. Advancements in robotics have ultimately resulted in the creation of robots called "Shinki". Produced by a variety of companies and sold globally through Multi Movable Systems, shinki have now existed for about ten years and have grown quite popular. They are often purchased as toys, housekeepers, or assistants and share homes with their masters.

Life is good for shinki. The little robots have existed long enough to create their own little microculture--When the Master's away, the shinki will play. Many stores and specialized 'Shinki Shops' have appeared, offering products for shinki and shinki owners. Shinki sporting events, contests, and the like are commonplace in parks during working hours and have become something of a public spectacle.

There's even a rumor of a "Shinki City" underneath a Tokyo park where shinki who no longer have masters live, unwilling to give up the memories of happier times.

The largest public event involving shinki is the battle circuit. Shinki are combat robots by nature and all models come with fully functional weapons, armor, and shielding systems while also being highly customizable. Battles last until one of the fighters can no longer fight back. In the competitive circuits, battle damage is far more common. Street battles are more common, though rarely taken seriously and damage is a lot less frequent.

While shinki can fight in any environ, it's fairly common practice to use a portable holographic device termed a Battle Field, which creates a stage and sets the rules of the match. Inside a Battle Field, damage is simulated rather than real, and disappears when the Field is closed. The most prestigious tournament in Japan is the Busou Shinki Battle Rondo, televised worldwide every year.

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Primer

Shinki are 15 centimeter tall partners created to serve humans. They are endowed with intelligence and emotion, and 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 the weapons given to them by their masters are what we call 'Busou Shinki'.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Shinki are there?

For a list of all types, with pictures, look here.

What is this?

In essence, Busou Shinki is a mecha combat genre. Only instead of giant robots, it's small robot girls in various armor, with assorted weapons. The style of combat is just as intense and fast-paced as you might expect from settings with much larger machines. Consider them like tiny super robots. Some shinki are even inspired by mecha from other settings.

Nature of Shinki

Shinki are, as has been said before, robots that average 15cm (6 inches) tall and are designed to assist humans. They have a full range of emotions and personalities just as humans do, and the type of shinki has little impact on the personality they might have (Though Maochao and Howling seem to have options for how many awful cat or dog puns they make in regular dialogue).

Most shinki serve their masters loyally, though can get rebellious if they're constantly made to do things they don't like to do. Much the same way as people get tired of doing work they don't enjoy. A shinki who wants to fight will get tired of doing housework all the time, and a housekeeper shinki who's made to fight would be terribly unconfident.

Virtual Master Program

A thing in the setting is that shinki whose masters die or disown them are, by law, required to be formatted and repackaged to be sold as refurbished shinki. MMS as a company doesn't actively pursue this, though, for a variety of reasons (The one most often cited is that they can't tell a stray shinki from an owned shinki running an errand). They do, however, recognize that there are stray shinki without masters who might want a new master without being reformatted. That's where the Virtual Master Program comes in.

Via the VMP, a prospective owner can temporarily register as a volunteer shinki's master. This allows the shinki to participate in official events even if they don't have a proper master, and allows the prospective master to interact with a shinki that he or she might choose to adopt more permanently.

Many prospective masters who are unsure if they have what it takes to manage a shinki are directed to the VMP kiosks found in any MMS-sponsored shinki shop. As such, this is the most simple way for Multiverse residents to start interacting with shinki they may eventually own.

The Virtual Master Program can be a great way to introduce oneself to shinki without having to spend a great deal of money. Many citizens who love shinki but can't afford one participate in the program as well, as a way to spend time with shinki.

What the hell are jelly cans?

Jelly Cans are small, shinki-sized canteens containing a specialized mix of coolant referred to as Jelly. Contrary to what one might think, this isn't a source of energy and shinki don't actually get energy or sustainence from eating or drinking anything. Jelly is the most efficient way for a shinki to cool herself if she's running hot due to sustained activity or warm weather.

Some reusable jelly cans can be stored in the Slipway but the more common disposable cans cannot. The most inexpensive jelly is plain, and to a shinki is like drinking straight water. There are also a wide variety of flavored jellies which are slightly more costly. Finding a shinki's favorite jelly flavor is a big step towards keeping them happy. Their favorite jelly can be like a reward for doing well, or a comfort if they're sad.

Nitro Jelly is a very lousy coolant. However, it is used more recreationally. The chemical composition reacts with the internal systems of shinki and creates a sensation not unlike being drunk. Thus, while Nitro isn't very good as a coolant, it's still used by some shinki for relaxation in the same way a human would have a beer or wine. In large enough quantities, jelly can be toxic to humans. Thankfully, the amount found in a typical jelly can is too little to do more than leave a bad taste in your mouth. It's a drink only for shinki.

What is the Slipway?

The Slipway is a storage system all shinki have access to. Though each shinki's Slipway is separate from any other's Slipway, they all function the same. Think of it as a pocket dimension in which the shinki stores her armor and weapons when she's not using them. Summoning armor from the Slipway calls it onto the shinki's body in a flash of white light and the transition is nearly instantaneous.

Only items that are specifically designed to interact with the Slipway can be put into it or removed from it. Typically, this translates to shinki armor and weapons, though some other personal items for shinki are also configured for the Slipway. The most common accessory is reusable/refillable jelly cans, which fill the same purpose as a thermos or personal water bottle.

Some situations can call for a shinki to pull her armor out of the Slipway without wearing it, such as repairs, touch-ups, or adding new custom parts.

What's the deal with shinki names?

Shinkis can have any kind of name, really. A lot of the ones in the anime have names derived from their type - and you see that in the Busou Shinki cast as well. Vervi is derived from her type, VerVietta. And Fuki is a Fubuki (just cut the 'Bu' kana out). In the anime, this is demonstrated countless times such as Ann the Arnval, Ines the Altines, and Lene the Altrene.

However, while this is common, there are plenty of shinki with more ordinary human names, such as Lizbet (derived from Elizabeth). In-series, there are plenty of examples of this as well - Victoria the Strarf, Hina the Strarf, and Iris the Valona come to mind. The name is determined during registration, when all the other personality-related customizations can be made. After registration, this data all becomes Read Only unless the shinki is reformatted.

Shinki names are important. The name helps them establish their identity when they're registered and oftentimes the shinki will refuse to change her name even if she changes owners without being reformatted. As a result, those who are ICly using the Virtual Master Program should keep this in mind when coming up with the shinki they intend to play with. These should be handled as developed NPCs in their own rights, with personalities and backgrounds. Shinkis are not faceless dolls without personality; This is Busou Shinki, after all, not Angelic Layer.

I saw 'Monitor' come up in the anime, what is this?

Monitors are shinki that - for some reason or another - have hightened combat ability beyond what is normal for a factory-released model. There are a variety of reasons why this can happen. It can be unintentional, a unique bug or glitch that winds up being beneficial. In other cases, it is a special one-time factory upgrade typically performed on shinki that are meant to be prizes for national or international tournaments.

In-setting, the only Monitor shown is Hina the Strarf. On the MUSH, Vervi is also a Monitor. Hina is an example of the factory upgraded Monitor, while Vervi is the result of a glitch (Her skill in combat doesn't match her domestic personality).

The term 'Monitor' comes from the MMS Shinki Monitor Program, which...well, monitors these special Shinki. Most of the time, Monitors are discovered during product testing before they're sold. These shinki are set aside and delivered to Masters who apply to the Shinki Monitor Program. Applications are to determine masters who would take the best care of a combat-oriented shinki. Via the SMP and the habit of awarding Monitors as tournament prizes, MMS can be sure they'll be treated well.

Monitors are extremely rare. Some collectors may resort to less-than-legal methods to get a hold of one no matter what model it is.

How are shinki not destroyed during these fights?

Sometimes they are! The trick is that the CMS - The core of a shinki's AI which contains all of their read-only personality data and memories - is very hard to damage. Much like the Black Box on an airplane, the CMS is the most heavily armored and protected piece of a shinki. Thus, even if her body is almost completely ruined, a shinki's CMS can simply be transplanted into a new off-the-shelf body. MMS actually produces 'blanks' that could be used for this purpose in the short term.

Some Shinki hobbyists even use the Blanks as a base to build fully custom Shinki, but this is a very difficult thing to do. Such Customs are very rare, and recognized by MMS under the term 'MMS Custom Type'.

The CMS is located inside the shinki's chest, roughly where a human's heart would be. Replacing a shinki that's been almost completely destroyed is also expensive. This is why MMS has pushed development of Visualizer technology into what is now known as a Battle Field. Used in tournaments, shinki shop competitions, and many street fights, the portable Visualizer Battle Field projects a holographic environment for shinki to fight in. The most important aspect of the Battle Field is that all damage inflicted between shinki is simulated. Sometimes, quite dramatically.

How do older models keep up with newer models?

Upgrades are a big thing in the setting. Not just customization, but simple parts upgrades as well as software upgrades. It's a fairly simple task to keep your older shinki current, and as a result, newer models tend to not have such an outright edge over older releases. Shinki shops carry such new parts.

For masters who prefer to keep their shinki "vintage", there are so-called "junk shops" that sell older parts either saved from the inventory of mainstream shinki shops when new upgrades came in, or scavenge them from destroyed shinki bodies that have already had their CMS transferred to a new frame.

It should be noted that there is no advantage to keeping your shinki vintage. It may even be a disadvantage to do this. And keeping your shinki behind the development curve is likely to make her unhappy.

Can shinki do anything other than work for Masters?

There is such a thing as "Career Shinki". These are shinki who perform jobs you'd usually see being done by humans. The anime has several examples of this. Though shinki aren't paid much compared to humans, it is concievably enough for them to sustain themselves without having to rely on their master to buy things for them, such as replacement parts or jelly cans.

The most famous in-setting career shinki is Tsugaru, the only shinki of her type. She is owned and employed by the CEO of Multi Movable Systems, and only works one day a year. Her job is to deliver MMS merchandise to children who own shinki on Christmas Eve, free of charge, with the purpose of helping younger children take care of their shinki. This is the reason why Tsugaru is known as MMS Type Santa Claus.

How does the law treat shinki?

Law with shinki is a prickly subject, and was when they were initially introduced in-setting. But that was ten years ago. The push of legislation was fairly swift and things have been smoothed out for quite some time now. The main issue is that they are sapient robots with very real human emotions, feelings, and the capacity to form long term memories. In this fashion, shinki are even more of an ethical concern than common housepets like dogs and cats, whose sapience is much more in question.

This was ultimately settled by one of the most widely accepted international laws ever devised, the Shinki Sapience Act of 2031. The basic framework of this law is that shinki are considered "Electronic Merchandise" in their inactive form. The law gives licensed businesses the authority to sell shinki so long as they are inactive. Currently, the only licensed corporation is Multi-Movable Systems, who acts as a distributor for a variety of smaller companies that design and build shinki.

Following the Shinki Sapience Act's law framework, a shinki must be Registered. Registration is the process through which the Act actually begins to affect them as sapient beings. This is the process that activates the shinki, thereby transforming them from "Electronic Merchandise" into a law-protected sapient being. So long as the shinki has a "Master", they are protected and have many of the same rights as humans do, with some exceptions related to the fact that shinki are armed with very real weapons. Most notably, shinki aren't permitted to travel long distances on trains or airplanes without their Master.

The Shinki Sapience Act also outlines that shinki who no longer have a Master must be re-appropriated and formatted. The idea behind this is that they do have very real weapons which can harm humans, and the lawmakers don't want a potential army of tiny, heavily armed robots lurking around. The task of capturing "Wild Shinki" falls entirely on the shoulders of the distributor, Multi Movable Systems. However, MMS has issued statements that enforcing this law is "Unreasonable" due to the difficulty of telling a "wild" shinki from an "owned" shinki who's just running an errand for her master. They do claim to follow the law when they can, but the number of shinki reformatted per year is very low.

What is the "Shinki City"?

Despite the letter of the Shinki Sapience Act, shinki that lose their masters through accidents, murder, or abandonment more often than not are not captured and reformatted by MMS. While there are an estimated several thousand such cases (Accident, death, abandonment, or runaway) worldwide each year, the number of shinki reformatted by MMS is less than 100 annually. However, these "wild shinki" are not swarming the streets of the world's cities and towns. So where are they?

The Shinki City is the unofficial name for a section of drainage pipes underneath Tokyo's Akihabara Electric Town Park. These pipes were disconnected from the main drainage system during a rebuild some 30 years ago and simply left there, alone and empty and filled with rats and cockroaches. In the 2030s when shinki began to turn up without masters, they sought safe places to live that were where humans couldn't get to them - which eventually led them to clear the vermin out of these pipes. In the modern time of 2040, the Shinki City is a fully developed underground shinki community. Electricity is provided by tapping into the city power grid and many shinki work as Career Shinki to supply jelly cans for themselves and the community as a whole.

The Shinki City is not just a place where shinki hide from the law, though. This is where shinki go who have lost their masters, but do not want to give up the memory of those masters. It is a place created out of love and devotion, and a desire to remember. Even shinki who were abused and wind up here refuse to give up their identity to reformatting and cling to the few memories they have of good times.

Multi-Movable Systems Upper Management and many lower echelons are all aware the Shinki City exists and even know where it is. However, they do not reveal it to outside sources. In fact, the general MMS stance on the City is that the foundation it was formed from - The love shinki have for their masters, even when that master is no longer around - is something beautiful that should be supported. As a result, MMS as a corporation supports the City. In secret. The electricity used by the Shinki City is supplied through a "mistake" during an MMS-funded "repair" in the area. Several charge cradles have been "lost", which have turned up in the City. Inventories of spare parts and jelly cans tend to disappear in transit, also turning up in places where they can be taken to the Shinki City as well.

Denizens of the Shinki City more or less aren't aware of the silent support they get from MMS, and the stance on this is that it's for their own protection. If enforcers of the Shinki Sapience Act found out the Shinki City was real, then proponents in the government would try to force MMS to hunt them down. This is something that no one in MMS upper management is willing to do.

Where do Shinki come from?

First a mommy shinki and a daddy shinki like each other very much...
The biggest company in relation to shinki is Multi Movable Systems, or MMS. MMS is the sole licensed distributor for shinki and shinki products. However, MMS is not responsible for the production and design of shinki. That duty falls to a number of small subsidiary companies, who sell their products through MMS.

  • Front Line - Front Line specializes in aerial combat shinki and the majority of their designs are well balanced. They have a large number of released models, though several of them are retools of earlier releases.
    • Front Line is known for: Arnval, Arnval Mk.2, Arnval Mk.2 Tempesta, Werkstra, Strarf, Strarf Mk.2, Strarf Mk.2 Lavina, Valona, VerVietta, and LirBiete
  • Kemotech - Kemotech specializes in ground combat shinki and particularly has an interest in remote drones commanded by maneuverable masters. All of their shinki are based on common house pets and small woodland creatures.
    • Kemotech is known for: Maochao, Howling, Pomock, Partio, Gabrine, and Renge
  • Vulcan Lab - Vulcan Lab is a military developer which initially used shinki as testbeds for new equipment intended for soldiers. Though they have not designed any shinki in several years, the ones they have released are fairly popular.
    • Vulcan Lab is known for: Waffebunny and Waffedolphin
  • The Sixth Factory - This manufacturer designs shinki based on the archetypes of ancient soldiers and warriors, favoring the mythology over the history. While their shinki are able to fly and fight at range, they are strongest on the ground and in close range, and are typically heavily armored.
    • The Sixth Factory is known for: Benio, Xyphos, Zilvern, Olbern, Altines, and Altrene
  • Studio Roots - Studio Roots is a manufacturer directly owned by Multi Movable Systems. This company has only designed one shinki, which in turn has never been made for public purchase. Rather, it is used to distribute parts and presents to young shinki masters during the Christmas season.
    • Studio Roots is known for: Tsugaru
  • Pocket Arms - Pocket Arms is an American shinki developer on contract with the United States military. Their shinki designs were initially developed as mascots for various military bases. Following the popularity, these designs were published and mass produced to be sold through MMS. Given their origin, Pocket Arms' shinki all have strong military themes.
    • Pocket Arms is known for: Fort Bragg, Zelnogrard, Murmeltier, and Asuka
  • Plants Planet - Plants Planet started as an environmental awareness concern and developed shinki as mascots for their cause. The proceeds from their sales are donated towards conservation and restoration efforts.
    • Plants Planet is known for: Juvisy and Zyrdarya
  • Magic Market - Magic Market develops shinki with strong mythological themes. The most prevalent feature in their designs is transformable, multi-functional armor which leads to very versatile shinki.
    • Magic Market is known for: Eukrante, Ianeira, Maryceles, and Proxima
  • Constructive Tyrant - Constructive Tyrant is a union alliance which stands up for construction workers all across Japan. Their only Shinki design was created as a mascot for public relations, and has since been mass produced and sold due to the design's popularity. The original Grapprap, Rosie, still speaks for Constructive Tyrant at union negotiations after nearly 10 years of service.
    • Constructive Tyrant is known for: Grapprap
  • Union Steel - Union Steel develops shinki based on wild animals, typically strong or fierce creatures. The proceeds of their sales go towards environmental conservation and restoration efforts. Union Steel itself is a heavy mining concern known for eco-friendly mining operations.
    • Union Steel is known for: Tigris, Vitulus, Graffias, Vespelio, Artille, and Raptias
  • Ohmestrada - Ohmestrada is a media corporation which currently operates the largest worldwide sports news network. Their channels cover shinki tournaments and races exclusively, in addition to human sports. Their shinki were developed as news anchors, though have become far more popular in the tournaments rather than covering them.
    • Ohmestrada is known for: Ach, Yda, Estoril, and Jill Rivers
  • Production Fairies - Production Fairies develops shinki performers, specializing in human interactions and particularly performances. They put a much greater emphasis on the shinki's movement and articulation rather than their fighting prowess. While this means that Production Fairies shinki tend to be more fragile, their movements are universally more lifelike than most other shinki.
    • Production Fairies is known for: Schmetterling, Baby Razz, Sharatang, Brightfeather, Harmony Grace, Kohiru, and Meirienda
  • INSECT Arms - INSECT Arms is a cutting edge developer of multi-functional robotics. Their shinki were initially developed to showcase new technologies being tested in disaster relief and construction robotics, and have since been mass produced for their devoted customers.
    • INSECT Arms is known for: Lancamento, Espadia
  • Group K2 - Group K2 is a special design group contracted by MMS to develop limited edition shinki. The group consists of top designers from various other companies. Their shinki are only produced in very limited production runs, which makes them a prize in any collection.
    • Group K2 is known for: Fubuki, Mizuki, and Nagi