Although less prevalent than full length anime series, there have always been shorter series mixed into an anime season with even more debuting these days. Back in 2003 this was still the case as there were four short series running during the fall season and one of these happened to be Battle Programmer Shirase. With a bit of unusual history that acknowledged Western fans efforts at the time to watch the program, Battle Programmer Shirase had never saw an official release. Now with this short series combined into a five episode length and featuring a small connection to a very popular franchise Maiden Japan has brought the series to North America.
Akira Shirase may not appear like much to those who don’t know him as he tends to keep to himself but those who do know what a frightful being he can be. Nicknamed BPS, or the Battle Programmer Shirase, his abilities as a computer programmer make him a threat to every would-be hacker or anyone trying to use technology against innocent people as his skills put them to shame.
That being said, these skills only come out when Shirase is hired as a freelancer but rather than work for money he instead only works for those who can offer something relating to his interests, be it a rare computer part or otaku themed good. Otherwise Shirase appears as a quiet man who lives in a stifling apartment building close to his niece and great-niece Misao Amano. Misao herself is also incredibly shy when it comes to interacting with others outside of her mother and great-uncle Shirase who she simply calls “onii-chan.” Misao helps take care of Shirase by cooking for him to ensure that he is eating properly as well as keeping up with his work, though the truth behind Shirase’s jobs are kept hidden from her.
Battle Programmer Shirase is something of an odd series primarily due to the fact that originally it aired as fifteen episodes spread across five mini-arcs that have now been trimmed down into five normal length episodes that only focus on solving a single event though characters that are introduced tend to make appearances in future events. This means that these episodes follow a general pattern that sees some type of threat happening to either a technology company, a military facility, or even Shirase himself, appearing with only the vaguest of backstories hinted at throughout the show.
Instead viewers learn snippets about Shirase’s past that saw him learning his skills at a certain programming school though any mention of this is quickly squashed by Shirase himself who doesn’t want to speak of the incident, though it does serve as the major plot point in the final episode. Even things relating to Misao’s family situation are kept vague as mentions of her father are also dodged the one time they are brought up. Of course this doesn’t mean that the characters themselves are limited in nature. In fact they are nicely handled in this series as Shirase’s a man that sticks true to his interests and isn’t afraid to put himself in danger to fulfill a promise. Along those same lines Misao’s shyness is slowly conquered as the series progresses as she opens up to a new friend and even interacts more with kids at her school. Another girl, Yoriko, also makes an appearance and happens to match up to Shirase’s skills and mixes into the dynamic between Misao and Shirase well even if she acts far older than she might be.
It is interesting to note that since Battle Programmer Shirase is an ecchi comedy series that many of its running gags can be a bit on the nose. Every episode features Shirase being barged in on by a man named Kaoru Akizuki that is different from the last but similar in various aspects only to be found in an incredibly compromising and perverted situation with a girl, most often Misao, only to have Akizuki have a temporary meltdown before pretending he hasn’t seen anything.
Thanks to its nature as being a short anime series Battle Programmer Shirase can feel like it has much more to offer, especially since the last minute of the final episode leaves viewers off with a teaser of a time skip and more to come in Shirase’s story only to never actually continue and given that the story aired back in 2003, this cliffhanger is one that never ends up being resolved. That being said, this “beginning of Shirase’s tale” that the series itself describes itself as does tell a rather fun and interesting story that fans of elaborately impossible technical feats and fan-service will certainly enjoy.
Originally animated by AIC, the studio known for popular series such as Tenchi Muyo (of which Misao appears in a spin-off of), and numerous other series Battle Programmer Shirase debuted in 2003 and holds up shockingly well given its release on Blu-ray. The designs of the characters are fitting to match their roles, though a few are a bit more eccentric than one may expect, while the backgrounds are nicely detailed. Viewers can even try and play “catch the reference” when it comes to all of the different technological, shipping, and drink companies that are mentioned throughout the series.
As far as fanservice goes, the series never goes beyond showing off a little bit of underwear or having characters appear in swimsuits but it is worth noting that outside of a few instances most of the fanservice happens to younger characters.
This Western release of Battle Programmer Shirase from Maiden Japan only features the original Japanese voice track but this works fine primarily due to the fact that not only do the voice actors fit their characters quite well here but they also happen to be veterans in their field that are still voicing characters in various anime today. It is interesting to note that probably to help sell the “gag” nature of the show a laugh track plays over the running gag of Akizuki catching Shirase.
The soundtrack features some fairly standard background music, though it is nice to note that there is a very catchy theme that appears often throughout the show. The opening theme “Suddenly” by Naomi Amagata is catchy and quite memorable while the ending theme “Pure Enough” by Yuki Matsuura is a simple enough closing that works well given the light nature most episodes end on.
With Maiden Japan bringing Battle Programmer Shirase to the West the company has included clean versions of the opening and ending animations as well as trailers for other releases from the company.
Battle Programmer Shirase may have a fairly short length and a cliffhanger that hints at plenty of potential that hasn’t been tapped in well over a decade but what it does feature is a great story with plenty of comedic moments and a light level of fanservice that doesn’t go overboard. With sprinklings of backstory for both Shirase as well as some character growth for Misao, this series is an enjoyable watch that certainly breaks the limit on what a programming genius can be capable of in an anime setting.
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