Category Archives: Figures and Models

Konami Rinko PVC Notes, Notes on Character Designs

The other day I was thinking about shows to watch in the new season. Examining things by seeing what motivates me, basically.

It’s like going through the promo pics for Gold Saw PVC anime version and think that looks kind of like a busty version of BRS, except she looks like some psycho yandere. I probably wouldn’t buy it, despite how it looks meticulously crafted–in my mind meticulously craft kits are plenty, and the only problem with them is that they cost a lot of money, a thing I have limited amounts of. But hey, it’s GSC, they sell stuff to people who buy kits just because of how they look. And sadly the only thing Gold Saw has going for her, for me, is her chest area and the way that iconic BRS jacket looks on her.

That reminds me: every time I hear someone talking about “face” in the context of these little plastic girls I think of Snow Crash. Sure, the way the face is crafted is important in a 3D sculpt, but most anime faces are basically identical (cue the Aoi Nishimata joke image) and it’s pretty darn hard to add details to faces that isn’t

  • eyes
  • shape of mouth
  • size of nose

and still make it look like the original. It’s like if you move any of them a little you’ve basically changed the expression of the character, or even changed the character! I guess this is why Kotobukiya figures have that face all the time. And why Woody is awesome. And which is why Gold Saw is all about her namesake, her chains, her legs, her pretty nifty base, her cool jacket, and of course, that she has a large(r) bosom.

I guess this is why I’m not turned off by Rio – Rainbow Gate, to examine my motivations. Also I guess I’m not for a Snow Crash anime adaptation. Definitely not one with Nishimata’s designs.

Given all that you’d think I would be less enthusiastic about my latest purchase: Konami’s Rinko 1/8 PVC. Rinko is one of the three “girlfriend for the masses” and her appeal is partly based on her interchangeability in appearance and personality. Still, The Thing radiates quality, despite nowhere nearly as fancy as anything pooping out of Alter or GSC’s assembly line. She’s technically a video game character, so I’d compare her to my last game full-assembled figure, Alter’s Selvaria PVC. I’ve previously detailed how gaudy GSC’s  Selvaria was. In some ways it’s like if you stick Fate in a frilly military outfit and give her huge knockers, and instead of Bardiche she’s got a sword and shield and lance… Well, Rinko isn’t like that at all. She’s more like a Wave or Kotobukiya figure, where she stands in a semi-dynamic pose (in mid-motion) and there’s a lot of details, even if at a distance she looks like any other anime girl figure. In fact there’s so much details that I probably need a magnifying lens to get them all.

Rinko’s construction and paint job are not perfect, there are some blotches once you get close enough, but the flaws are within my tolerances. It’s not like copying a file; mass produced kits like this will have some flaws, especially given some of the paint job details… The biggest bone I have to pick is the way her eyes turned out. If you took a look at the MFC version of the review, the very first image is nearly a side-by-side shot along with the solicitation shot. Tell me that does not look the same…

Rinko comes with 5 different hair styles that you can put on her, a gym bag, and her mp3 player. The hair styles are:

  • semi-long with pink hairband
  • twin tails with short bangs
  • twin pigtails
  • melonhead
  • uneven long bangs, short in the back

I went with the pigtails for now, but I think all the hair choices have their charms, and each gives the figure a significantly different feel. It’s 3D proof of the Nishimata character design “theory” LOL.

If I had another hobby of photographing dioramas of anime girls I’d find Rinko’s bag pretty useful. It’s got a large strap so it probably can go on most figures easily, and it’s by far the most detailed thing that came in Rinko’s box. The only strike against it is that the bag is customized with Rinko’s chibi mascot, so it may look odd if you use it on another character. (Each of the 3 Konami Love Plus PVC figs has its bag with a respective custom mascot on it, so you will get the raccoon with Nene and the rabbit with Manaka.) The strap is soft vinyl, so it doesn’t slack as if it was rope. It looks better this way, although it might be more perilous to stretch or bend it than if it was an actual strap.

The only real problem with this kit, albeit a temporary one, is Rinko’s mp3 player. It’s just this dinky PVC loop with a mp3-player-looking rectangle attached lousily at one end. And it’s real small and not adjustable. The way to put it on her, as far as I can tell, is to remove her hair and carefully force it down her head. Rinko’s upper body is constructed so the head and the neck are one piece with the torso; you can’t remove it like most PVC sculpts in which the head is made up of 2 pieces sandwiching the neck joint. However once you install the PMP on Rinko you are all set, so it’s not a big deal. It’s just one thing that can go horribly wrong if you aren’t dexterous enough to force the loop down her head and get caught on her ears or something.

Ears, hmm, it’s not often you see ears on bishoujo figures, at least if they aren’t elves or some such. Well, the mp3 player is optional really; Rinko looks just fine without it.

The reason why Konami went with an unorthodox build with Rinko’s head (and presumably Manaka and Nene as well), I presume, is to facilitate swapping out her hair. In the packaging, the hair pieces come in a separate plastic “tray” with a matching thin cover. It looks like temporary storage but it is pretty easy to keep the hair in that thing. Each set of hair has a front and a back piece, and they are unfortunately not interchangeable (as in you can’t use one hair style’s front piece with another hair style’s back piece). That would have made this very cool, but you run the risk of not being able to remember which piece went with which hair, and it probably would limit the amount of details each hairdo contains (if not the hairdos themselves). Once you remove Rinko’s hair, you see this D-shape thing with a O-shape lock inside, at the back of her head. Each of the back hair pieces has a matching D- and O-shape  connector, so it’s easy to reassemble…sort of. Some of the longer hair styles can get in the way of Rinko’s ears or shoulder, so there’s like an angle in which you have to insert the back piece so it locks in right. For the short ones, it’s easy. The back hair pieces each also has its unique connector to the maching front piece, so you can play LEGO/Tetris/blocks with the front piece and put it all together.

In Tsukiboard/MFC style I will actually use number ranking for this review–

Sculpting: It’s well-scuplted, but it falls short of evoking a strong feeling. Rinko’s lines and features are faithfully reproduced in this sculpt, and it expresses her identity well. Probably an 8.5 or 9 for something very true to origin, artisan, but not excellent.

Painting: I’d give it 9.5 if I could, but let’s roll back to 9 just to reflect that despite the very detail paint job, the eyes, the mp3 player and a few minor flaws make this not a perfect 10.

Posing: Solid 9. It manages to be more exciting than an average Kotobukiya kit (which is kind of the measuring stick I use) and it doesn’t go overboard despite being a motion shot. There are a lot of good angles for this kit. If there’s a complaint, it’s that her skirt is too short; to some that might be a plus, since her butt does play that peak-a-boo thing with the super-short/lifted skirt, in an adorable way. Almost perfect stuff.

Base: It’s a simple plastic disc shaped in the iconic Love Plus shape. What is worth noting is that it also has the Love Plus logo pattern pressed on it. Probably just an 8. Rinko stands on it with one foot down, two pegs secures her action pose. It’s possible that it may lean, but it seems sturdy at this time and there’s no way to tell right now if it can.

Packaging: The packaging is simple. All the parts are well secured and are safe. As described the hair pieces come in a separate plastic mold tray thing, and it’s stored behind the cardboard backdrop inside the box. Nothing really special but it gets the job done. 8.

Enjoyment: Considering she’s my steady now for over a year, I have to give it a 10, right? She’s gonna kick me in the shins otherwise. ;) Do you play Love Plus? I think in the age where figure collectors don’t know the origin of their kits in and out like they used to back way back, how you feel about Rinko will be the only thing that matters when it comes to enjoyment. As objectively as I can to speak for people who don’t know her, it’s probably not worth the hassle, because these are exclusive Konami kits and they can be annoying to fetch. However if you like the designs or the illustrations, you probably won’t be too disappointed with Rinko. The hair customization is actually unique for a kit like this, and overall it is a quality product. It’s just not worth the hell and high water one might need to go through to obtain it. But if you find this in a bargain situation, please don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s not often to find something that is rather classy and still visually pleasing, at least for a tomboyish character.

Lastly, do take a skim over at the MFC version of this review for some more tidbits. Like the TL;DR version. And pics.


Year in Review: N-Listing

My tribute to the 12 days of Christmas blog thing. See M3 for more details. As usual I will do a list of 12 things, each thing being a list of 12 items. Some are counted down, some are counted up, others are unnumbered.

I’m a little late this year, only because of my blog being down. It’s surprisingly annoying that you can’t look back to what you’ve written.

1. Best simulcasts – The true first year of simulcast for the whole duration,  yeah?

  1. OreImo – for breaking street – you can’t get more zero day than negative. And it’s not some kind of boring show nobody watches (sorry TogaInu). Heroman actually gets the record for the earliest leaks, but let’s keep that hush-hush ;)
  2. Kuragehime – For not only being another goal in Funi’s big win in simulcast this year, Hulu actually places the ads during proper ad breaks!
  3. House of Five Leaves – Taking it easy.
  4. Shiki – Taking it less easy.
  5. Tatami Galaxy – Lower only because Funi isn’t streaming the bonus episodes. All four (2-5) are really kinda tied because the Funi x Fuji thing is pretty awesome.
  6. Sora no Woto – Anime no Chikara – flagship title, good stuff, and like Durarara we even got the OAV episodes! Also, nice HQ feed.
  7. Sora no Otoshimono – The seiyuu video CR made Hayamin & company do hands down wins. And also, it’s kind of a show that is prone to spoiling, so the speedy simulcasting is appreciated.
  8. Panty Stocking w/ Garterbelt – So cash. In fact thanks for all the Gainax pickups. Even including Hanamaru Kindergarten.
  9. High School of the Dead – TAN’s “simulcasts” are well timed now, even if it’s horribly managed (like, how the hell do you cancel crap?) and half the time it doesn’t even work for me.
  10. Occult Academy – Anime no Chikara – Fun little show that is retro just right.
  11. Giant Killing – this sort of anime works best for simulcast, that weekly sauce makes those cliffhangers feel just right. Also, World Cup synergy almost.
  12. Basically any show that aired within 24 hours of Japan \o/ Down with “simulcasts” that are a week behind srsly.

2. Anime with CHIKARA, in no particular order. I don’t even know what this means.

  1. Panty Stocking and Garterbelt
  2. Heroman
  3. Qwaser
  4. Yosuga no Sora
  5. Strike Witches 2
  6. Occult Academy
  7. Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
  8. Mai Mai Miracle
  9. Chu-Bra
  10. Sora no Woto
  11. K-ON!!
  12. Star Driver

3. Sex jokes, no order:

  1. Training with Hinako has an Android app?
  2. Yosuga no Sora ED – Sora’s deep throat shot, and that whole joke.
  3. Star Driver – Kissing with glass without glass is just a kiss?
  4. Amagami’s instructor play – because it is actually funny.
  5. Fate /stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – Dolphins.
  6. BakaTest’s Hideyoshi – Going to the bath house, gets own gendered changing room.
  7. Panty & Stocking episode 3b – Probably the one segment that signaled to me that the series worth sticking around for.
  8. Chikyubi (the hamster from Mitsudomoe) – It’s a running joke, all right. It’s got little legs this big!
  9. Seikon no Qwaser – the tsurupettan Song
  10. Shino Amakusa – Seitokai Yakuindomo’s lead character is generally pretty funny once you get caught up with her pace.
  11. B Gata H Kei – The entire show is a sex joke
  12. Koe de Oshigoto – Oh MAKO lol and the entire show is also a sex joke

4. Scenes from 2010 anime that I remember, no order:

  1. Gundam UC episode 1: Floating out into the fiery inferno, Banager’s dad smiles.
  2. Cross Game: The final confession
  3. Seikon no Qwaser: Boob fountain (which one?)
  4. K-ON!!: Lycopene…
  5. Eden of the East: The King of Eden: Walking around @ Angelika Film Center in NY.
  6. Asobi ni Ikuyo: Manami and Aoi’s skinny bike chase
  7. MM!!: Mio’s episode one batter-up maid debut
  8. Panty & Stocking: the car “chase” scene in episode 6
  9. Macross Frontier: Nyan^2 Clips: Northern Cross is… woah damn.
  10. Working!!: NEW ITEM
  11. Yosuga no Sora: He just keeps on going.
  12. Bakatest and Mayoi Neko Overrun: The spats/bloomer feud.

5. Episodes from 2010 that I remember, no order:

  1. Strike Witches 2 6: The rocket episode
  2. Panty & Stocking 13: Bitches, and more bitches, and a pair of legs.
  3. Hidamari Sketch *** 12: Tomato jamboree
  4. Seikon no Qwaser 13: What a recap episode.
  5. Mayoi Neko Overrun 6: The music video episode. Yes, I remember it better than ep 4!
  6. K-ON!! 20: The last school festival. It was such a high.
  7. SoreMachi 12: The day that Hotori died, bye bye Miss American Pie?
  8. OreImo 11: Most of the jokes were pretty solid, which is unusual. Even the dad joke.
  9. Angel Beats 3: Iwasawa was a big impact. Sold me a CD. Heck, Angel Beats 10: Yui-nyan! Sold me a CD too! LOL. Oh what is this with dead music people.
  10. Gundam UC 1: It’s just so pretty.
  11. The World God Only Knows 4: Take me down to minori city where the music’s by Tenmon and the girls are pretty~
  12. Katanagatari 12: Great conclusion for something totally Nisioisin-y.

6. Things that can’t be something else:

  1. My MM can’t be this fanservice-free
  2. My foot fetishism can’t be this pervasive
  3. My little sister’s anime’s title can’t be this verbose
  4. My Love Plus habit can’t be this expensive
  5. My camel militants can’t be this racist
  6. My blog hosting can’t be this cheap
  7. My AsoIku can’t be this furry
  8. My Prime Minister can’t be this good at mahjong
  9. My Azunyan can’t go all the way in Saimoe
  10. My Bisei Tokei apps can’t be iOS only
  11. My Aniki can’t be this hedgehoggy
  12. My Selvaria figure can’t be this expensive

7. AX 2010 moments:

12. Listening to gabber at the Nokia Plaza was surreal. It’s like being in Akiba.
11. Seeing Konishi cosplay Aniki was pretty boss.
10. Kitaeri’s panel, a lot of fun. Plus High Jumper.
9. Clover Brewed Coffee is p. good if you are a junkie like myself. They even have Kona that weekend, if you like Kona (I’m so-so on it).
8. Spotting Kenji Kamiyama scouting terrain. Totally expecting to see LACC/Nokia theater/Staple Center complex in his next work now.
7. Nabeshin being, well, Nabeshin.
6. Manga Gamer guests, plus High Jumper. CooRie and Kuribayashi, huh.
5. Yoko Kanno reprises their MacF/Tanabata routine at May’n and Mamegu’s live. Also it’s as MacF as it can get in America. Damn you Harmony Gold.
4. Alexd’s “luck and chance” sketch GET
3. The “No Photo” sign story
2. Group pic with KitaEri
1. Being in on the joke on Horie as collaborators with Morita and Asakawa.

8. Things I did to celebrate Satoshi Kon’s memories

12. Make a pun.
11. Whine on it on the internet.
10. Buy a copy of New York Times. Ugh buying newspaper ugh.
9. Realizing some (somewhat) famous guy who died actually matters to me.
8. Realizing my autograph from him will skyrocket in value!
7. Looking for copies of his stuff that I don’t have, like that lush LE box for Millennium Actress.
6. Stare longingly at his storyboards.
5. Learn more about the man after he has passed, from others who also knew him.
4. Follow the going-ons of his last words and its ripple, like that Farewell Project thing.
3. Read his final blog post.
2. Rewatch his movies, or at least clips from it.
1. Feel better about it after getting all sad from the news of his passing.

9. Reasons why I can’t pick a favorite character in 2010, no order

  1. Amagami SS sunk my omnibus – I like all the arcs, can’t choose… Alternatively, Amagami SS’s Tsukasa route was totally crap! – It’s Kaori Nazuka’s last shot at 3-peat!
  2. Runner up: Noloty from Bantorra is a great character, except she’s just a side character and doesn’t get much love from the series, in more than one ways.
  3. Way too many sequels – It’s hard to like what you didn’t like the year before.
  4. Way too many Kana Hanazawa roles – They are all kinda alike! And I like too many of them for my own good!
  5. Love Plus: hearing Saori Hayami’s moe voice confuses me with Manaka flags – Manaka is a no-no for me.
  6. Runner up: Teresa from Qwaser just didn’t get enough development to qualify.
  7. Runner up: All of K-ON cast, but I love you equally (which is honestly not that much).
  8. Runner up: Shoko from BakaTest, but she hasn’t had enough time to flesh it out. Also, too many other people’s waifu.
  9. Runner up: All those endless pleasure sticks.
  10. Runner up: Mii from Railgun, but she doesn’t have enough dimensions to her character.
  11. Runner up: Rin Tohsaka, because it’s not like Mii a more refreshing cool take by the same Kana Ueda. Also, dolphins? Really? (Wait is this supposedly in the sex joke category?)
  12. I usually pick my stuff from serious shows, and when the shounen romance pieces this year let me down, I had nowhere to go.

10. 12 OP from this year, no order

  1. K-ON!! OP2 – Mainly because it is probably the best out of all of K-ON’s. S1 OP still is kinda special too… well.
  2. Kuragehime OP – I don’t think much needs to be said.
  3. B Gata H Kei OP – Still a very nicely choreographed and catchy thing
  4. Mayoi Neko Overrun OP – It’s like a mind attack with a strong audio component
  5. SoreMachi OP – As smooth as SHAFT gets.
  6. Arakawa UB OP – Season 2 OP was disappointing compared to season 1’s, but that’s not saying much when it’s this good. Sayo Yamamoto, right?
  7. Angel Beats OP – Lia actually delivers something worthwhile here. Visually moving too.
  8. AsoIku OP – Pretty standard stuff, but I like the song.
  9. World God Only Knows OP – The full version is pretty interesting, but overall it is simple yet sophisticated in the way Eden of the East OP was.
  10. Big Windup S2 OP – I like it for the song. Animation was hauling ballz too!
  11. Dance in the Vampire Bund OP – for the shock in nekkid loli dance and the song is pretty good too!
  12. Star Driver OP – I like it for the use in whiplashing the viewer, but also for seeing something kind of pretentious but also kind of mesmerizing.

11. ED from this year, no order, because I’m out of ideas for lists

  1. Durarara ED1 – Pretty catchy and visually interesting. Kind of reminds me of Persona Trinity Soul ED.
  2. Amagami ED4 – Yukana has this super ero voice power, I cannot resist.
  3. K-ON!! ED2 – Yeah, yeah.
  4. Tatami Galaxy ED – My favorite of the year, easily.
  5. Qwaser ED2 – I like this song more than ED1, but the visuals in ED1 is more cohesive. (Not to be confused with this)
  6. Yosuga no Sora ED (second one) – It’s hilarious and visually exciting.
  7. MM ED – It’s the psychological attack version of Mayoi Neko Overrun OP. Except now with Aso Natsuko.
  8. Hidamari Sketch *** ED – Really like the concept and how the music works with it.
  9. Hanamaru Kindergarten EDsI guess I can just fill this list out with them. I recommend #2 and 7.
  10. K-ON!! ED1 – Cake Fairy is probably one of the best music video on TV in anime.
  11. Bakemonogatari ED (final) – I like this composite version the best for some reason.
  12. Angel Beats ED – It’s actually a nice song. The ED itself is more a joke that is subtle than anything. How about that Aoi Tada…

12. 3D and miscellaneous things I probably should mention, no order

  1. Hiyocchi is good-natured and FUNNY!!!
  2. Cosplay Girl gets you what you think you will get
  3. My random seiyuu soup…and now
  4. It’s totally cool to see that slick WoW addict and his compatriots at Otakon this year. I should pick up Kikuta’s Touhou album, shouldn’t I. Also, they still haven’t give up that CD single they promised back in August. That’s pretty egregious.
  5. Kamiyama’s trip at AnimeNext made that con worth it alone.
  6. K-ON Live BD is a good time, can’t wait for the next one.
  7. Sphere joins Shukufuku no Campanella in 3D TV land. Wasn’t some May’n show also done that way…
  8. First time I did karaoke during a con. In the normal way and not the weird American way. Need to happen more often.
  9. B156 and Dan Kanemitsu’s bone.
  10. Figures are serious business, but when you run a figure panel make sure you get a ton of super rat’s shots and just slideshow them.
  11. Almost done figuring out the illumination “problem” with UOs and renewable glowsticks and battery-powered stuff. I’m going to have to test drive these suckers this year, but so far I’m impressed with the one I have.
  12. minorigate is at an end. Oh God the memories flooding back.

And that’s a wrap folks, see you in 2011!

On Shopping Lists: Consumption with Monetary Costs

In our media-rich economy we do a lot of economic pushing and shoving (read: consumption) that revolves around the media. In other words, we buy and sell a lot of things because of media. Usually just buy. So in the two circles of blogs that I read, which are anime/manga types and gadget/personal electronic/tech blogs, shopping guide for the holiday season is not uncommon.

Shopping guides are something worth thinking about. At some level, core otaku fandom has to have a “monetarily active” wing of it that is focused on consumption. In the stipulated context of available and free programming it is all very natural. It would be no different than being a fan of, for example, Glee. That is a foundation in which we build a perspective about Japanese anime fandom.

For Americans, it’s definitely not quite so much the case although some generations of fan do come from that. Those who caught it on Sci-Fi, or those who caught Sailor Moon, or those who saw Speed or Astro Boy, and so on, are not too different as they start. However the focus on the fandom soon shifts from that.

I would go so far and to say that American anime fandom is overly concerned about consumption, and not enough about what they are consuming and why that is the case. I think the anti-moe thought has at least challenged some people’s notion of that, but that is just one opinion in a sea of them.  I think a big reason why this is the case is because that anime fandom in the west is rooted in that illicit but also low-monetary-cost, high-human-resource-cost form of consumption that is known as old school fansubbing.

And realistically speaking, consumption of anime as a pure medium is not where the money is. Anyone who’s seen Japan’s industry-wide reports about where the money is when it comes to anime/manga/game franchises know that it’s in merchandising. Or for that matter you can find out about this through any of the variety of books or websites that detail how mainstream anime business models are–often times they are ads for toys or for other products. The money is in those things. The animation is more of a vehicle.

As the difficulty of media piracy (and fansubbing) drops over the past 15 years, we see pretty clearly that the nature of consumption has changed among fans. More importantly we also see the nature of consumption changed among some non-fans, or specifically, pre-fans and casual fans (that’s an oxymoron amirite). I’m talking about people who are not quite fans, but those who did grow up watching Pokemon and is otherwise curious about a couple franchises. We’re talking about the average Millennium Generation American. I highlight this group just to note that the problems they bring to the table is mostly unique to them, but being such a large group of people, it also presents an unique challenge for companies trying to make money off them. This is where we can segue into a rant about New Media and what have you.

But those fans who actually spend a ton of money, at least before 2002, would remember the days where buying VHS at $30 a pop for 2-4 episodes is piece of cake since you were spending several hundred up to the 4-digit range regularly on imported LDs, and more importantly, shipping (or worse, plane rides). Today we enjoy luxuries such as DVDs and Blu-Rays, and better shipping (though the exchange rate right now is horrid, and nowhere as cushy as the 120+ to 1 valuation from the 1990s) options. Online sites provided easy access to Japanese goods versus human proxies that you had to contact by phone or mail. Life is good for the anime prosumers today.

In as such, writing a shopping list for the average English-language internet user in 2010, even in the world of anime and manga, is kind of “mainstream” don’t you think? It’s no different than making one for sites like Engadget or Kotaku. When I wrote mine I thought about things I actually owned or would like to own, and had some kind of novelty factor that made writing and reading about why I own them more interesting than their intrinsic value. Except the Detolf. Because that’s just one of those “if you knew about this, you are truly an insider, a 仲間, the real deal” kind of thing that more people should know. And you should know; it’s not really a gift-giving kind of thing, it’s more a “better living in 21st century as a geek” kind of thing.

For the real you-should-buy this holiday season kind of list, everyone who really needs it has it, and if you’re shopping for one of those people, you can only ask. I mean my list would be like, “hey, go to j1m0ne’s blog and pick something.” Most genuine anime fans are pro at consumption; they  know what to buy (if they can afford it). The real adages about gift giving is true always–you just have to know who you are caring for.