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Figure Unboxing and Review: Nendoroid Yamato (Good Smile Company)

Monday, August 29, 2016 / No Comments

When I first started collecting Nendoroids and figures as a whole, the Kantai Collection line caught my eye on several occasions, be it browsing through online stores or when window shopping. The sheer size of the boxes and how recognisable the characters were constantly captured my attention.

These are perhaps the best Nendoroids produced by Good Smile Company due to the multitude of accessories and parts they boast, letting you strike a variety of poses. Although the box features a good number of poses, I'm betting you can even recreate most, if not all her scenes in the anime or web browser game.


I finally decided to take the plunge several months back and bought the Yamato, the flagship for the Yamato Class battleship. She's the most expensive Nendoroid I've purchased and by far the hardest to set up.

On the flipside, it's also the most striking Nendoroid I've bought and one that I've enjoyed assembling. She even has a special page on the Good Smile Company website showcasing the various accessories and effect parts.




With three blister packs' worth of accessories, face plates and effect parts, Yamato is a Nendoroid collector's dream come true. The box even comes with an umbrella, a tiny omu-rice plate and a ramune bottle along with the parts that let you convert Yamato to her Kai form.

This is attention to detail at its finest. However, the large number of parts meant that assembling and eventually posing the Nendoroid wouldn't be the easiest of tasks, as you'll see later on in the review.



The sculpting of Yamato's hair takes the cake. It's by far the most stunning and detailed out of all the Nendoroids I own, although it did get in my way a number of times when I had to attach her turrets.


I decided to stick with the featured pose but even then, each time I solved one problem, another would pop up. The anchors at her waist constantly popped off, her umbrella couldn't seem to fit and there were times when her ponytail would drop off when I used too much force to adjust it. This exact same sequence happened a few times before I could finally achieve this pose.


Even then, I wasn't satisfied and went for a second round of self-inflicted torture a week later, changing her left leg and adding in the anti-aircraft turrets and batteries to recreate her Kai form. I also threw in the explosion effect parts for the bulk of her turrets but drew the line at including the missiles that could be attached to separate bases. This looked far more intimidating than the initial pose and one that can actually attempt to justify its cost.

I could finally put the box away and I daresay its the most outstanding Nendoroid I have on display right now. All the time spent assembling and posing the Nendoroid was worth it although I fear that I might end up changing poses yet again.


For Kantai Collection fans, the Yamato Nendoroid is a must-have along with her sister ship, Musashi. Unfortunately, the latter is only receiving a limited-production run but that shouldn't be a problem for ardent fans.

Written by ET


A Promising Swimsuit Competition

Sunday, August 28, 2016 / No Comments
Yo-ho, how is everything on the beach? While summer is all about fighting the heat and such, honestly it is increasingly difficult to look for people to participate in the ill-fated swimsuit competition, you know? I can't believe that there isn't a single fry out there who is willing to sacrifice...uh, give this competition a shot. Okay, so there aren't any prizes but it is all in the name of fun! The watermelons can wait, can't they? By the way, no pun intended. Hmm, this beach looks fairly decent. Let's just try my luck one more time!


Ooh...will you look at that godly sight? Hello girls! I'm awfully sorry to interrupt your dessert time, and those look really mouth-watering. The shaved ice, I mean! Would you girls be interested in taking part in a swimsuit competition? Yeah, quite unfortunately I'm both the emcee and talent scout around here. I'm supposed to have an accompanying panel of judges, you know...but those guys are still in the hospital due to severe bleeding from their noses. Meanwhile, I have been assigned to put these shambles back together. Anyway, would you girls consider forking out some of your time for this? Oh my gosh, YOU WOULD? Thank you very much!


Yeah, that was a lovely start! I should be able to persuade more people to consider joining the competition. Oh look, there goes another with potential! Hey, excuse me! That girl in the skimpy...zebra stripes? Could I have a little of your time please? Gosh, she isn't slowing down at all! Hey, excuse...whoops! Ah, never mind. There seems to be some trouble or something. Okay, I shall take back what I have said earlier. Well, just a little. What is positive plus negative? Yeah, I know.


How about these two? They look rather accommodating. Hello girls, could I have a little of your time please? I apologise for my sudden intrusion! Yeah, I'm actually looking for contestants for a swimsuit competition, and I wonder if both of you would be interested to give it a shot. Oh, there won't be prizes though I'm afraid. But there will be an audience, I think? If it isn't any trouble, perhaps I could get your approval on this? Great, thank you very much for your help! Yeah, you may resume your...running around, I guess. 


Okay, I just need one more person to form the minimum parade. Hmm, let's see...oh hello, I didn't see you earlier! Yeah, there is a swimsuit competition in the works. I'm supposed to look for a few girls around the beach for this. Uh, since you mentioned it yourself, would you be keen to lend your assets...I mean, strength to the competition? Because I just need one more person and the competition will be good to go! What do you say? 


Well, people...the swimsuit competition is all set to begin! By the way, these two peculiar people have volunteered to act as the judges. Yeah, I suppose that I can't complain much, since the existing bunch is still lying in the hospital. At least I can finally heave a huge sigh of relief...

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪ 

Figure Unboxing and Review: Nakiri Erina (Good Smile Company)

Friday, August 26, 2016 / No Comments
With the second season of Shokugeki no Soma airing currently, it doesn't seem like there is a better time to have Nakiri Erina's figure released than now!
Despite the large "FRAGILE" print on the box, unfortunately, my cardboard box still arrived scuffed. One side of the box was a little squashed and although I didn't take a photo, there was a hole in the body of the box had a hole as well.
Fortunately, there were no damages on either the figure or the box. In fact, both of them came out almost perfectly. Bravo! (If there are damages, do read my post on how to go about dealing with it)

This Erina is based on the very first impression we have of her, which is something akin to a noble queen who is far out of reach. Her refined taste and dignified air makes her look like she is someone of far higher social standing than other humans. This figure aptly captures just that. The way she is dressed, the throne base, her expression and angle of her gaze each tells a story that ties the entire figure together to give us a solid perception of her in this series.

However, this might not always be a good thing because focusing too much on one aspect of her personality might outshine the rest. From the series thus far, we know that this is just one side of Erina and thus focusing solely on this 'elite' side of her washes out the more delicate side of Erina, who is also portrayed to be the "real" her on several occasions.

Packaging



The box itself seems quite lackluster. I felt like there was a lot more that Good Smile Company could have chosen to do for Erina, such that this simple design that she ended up with has such a huge gap from the actual figure that it pales far, far in comparison.
With regards to her blister, as usual, it's sturdy and taped together to improve stability. None of my pieces were loose and free to move inside. Furthermore, adequate quality and placement of small plastic sheets were also included to prevent pain transfer during transport.

Base

This is the first area where this figure shine, because by base I mean the throne and pedestal.
First, let us start with the pedestal. It is covered with a red carpet-like material, which is not sculpted, but an actual cloth material. You can actually already see the material differences from the image itself! This makes it soft to the touch, but if you expose your figure to the air, you might wish to refrain from.

The gold lining at the base of the pedestal adds to it and makes it seem more like a detailed piece which royalty would use. Also, it ties in better with the throne as well as the tiara on Erina.

However, a shortcoming of this pedestal is that marks are left on it easily. After placing my Erina figure on it for about 2 days, there are already marks from the legs of the throne on the pedestal material. And yes, I have not places anything else but the throne and Erina on this pedestal.
Next up is the part where most are waiting for, the throne. First off, let's analyze the gold frames for the chair. Differing from a normal chair in our everyday lives, I don't think that there is anyone who would disagree when I say that this fits with our perception of thrones.

There are intricate carvings (or in this case sculpting) around the frame, save for the armrest. However, to make up for it, an unusual design of a ball-shaped ending of the armrest is sculpted instead of using a smooth angular finish. Little details like the indents on the armrests also aids in lifting up the quality of this throne.
Cushion for the throne is up next. We see that it is very detailed for the back of the chair, where Erina's back will be resting against. However, there is next to nothing for the cushion portion under Erina, which is likely to be mostly covered by her skirt anyway. Though it'll be nice to have some detailing there (considering how much the rest of the throne has), I do understand the drive Good Smile Company has for doing this.
However, we also see that this obvious lack of effort doesn't only stop there. The back of the cushion part of the chair looks printed on, and I wouldn't actually doubt it is, judging by how 2-dimensional it looks. Surprisingly, the rest of the chair frame is as intricately sculpted as they are at the front side, which just makes it look more silly that the cushion part looks so 2-dimensional...

Posing and Assembly
Posing is generally fine for Erina as it already gives a very good impression of how she is in the anime. Assembly is also easy, which includes placing Erina on the throne and then placing that whole thing onto the pedestal. Do note that there are no pegs in this figure at all and while slight movement would likely not cause anything to topple, precautions might be good.

Some collectors also found it difficult to get Erina into the exact same position and angle as on the official pictures. Users have mentioned that quite a fair share of turning and arrangement is needed to get her into the correct orientation. Even in my copy (which hasn't been corrected to the right orientation), you see a slight difference in the positioning of Erina's hand (resting on the ball part of the armrest) in my copy from the official pictures.

However, this is good enough for me and I have no desire to forcibly alter her position lest Erina gets damaged.

Sculpting and Painting
Sculpting and painting is done really well for Erina. All the gold accents in her figure are cleanly painted and they all have unique shapes and positions, enabling her air as a nobility to be futher enhanced in this figure. The gem at her chest is another excellent way to show how awesome the sculpting and painting went.

The red portions and yellow stripes along her torso area are clean and crisp. There are no paint spills on my copy whatsoever. Also, because her top half is so tight, there are not many creases whatsoever.

Erina's unique hairstyle is accurately depicted and sculpted as well!
Following her hair sculpt to the back, we see that her hair is clean and neat. This helps her tie back to her noble birth, where cleanliness, hygiene and looks are probably very important to portray herself as someone of honorable birth.

Though the strands are not that distinct at the top of her head. they definitely diverged near the ends, giving it that high-quality sculpt, with sharp and defined ends for the hair strands that most scale figures have rather than the hair clumps that prize figures sometimes come with.
In this image, we see how clear Erina's eyes are and how sharp the violet is. Her tiara is also well-sculpted where the shades of gold and red meld well together. Neither color is stealing the limelight, such a perfect harmonic mix!
When we look further down the outfit, here i when we finally see creases coming in as the skirt portion billows out.
Her skirt is long and almost touches the pedestal, and the sculptor definitely didn't cut any corners when it came to sculpting the folds and creases of her skirt. The appropriately placed folds make the material look extremely lightweight and comfortable.

And from the skirt, we look lower down towards her...
Heels! Red ties in well with the pedestal which it lies on, but the glossy finish sets it well apart from the base material. A gold bucle is also there for extra detail, because no aristocrat wears plain old red heels. At least, not anymore!

Let's not forget about the translucent hand which Erina comes with, for holding her shoe. The fingers are all well-defined, with none of them looking too long/short or fat/thin. The angles of each finger are appropriately distanced too, and the hand posture doesn't seem difficult to maintain either!

Here's the full view of all Erina's parts assembled, with the hovering hand equipped! Nakiri Erina, all ready for war!

Though I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the translucent hand and will be doing without it in my display for now.

For shortcomings about this figure, there are 3 things I realized. Firstly, her chest area is slightly too huge, to the point that it is defying gravity. It makes me wonder what kind of high level corsets they had that would help to hold her massive chest so stably upright in that pose. Not to mention that her chest definitely didn't appear so huge to me in the series itself.
Next in line is the size of her feet which are definitely a tad larger than most other 1/8 scale figures I have. I'm not sure if Erina was said to have larger feet than other females in the series, but I highly doubt so. It might have just been so so it'll be easier to slot the translucent hand in.
And lastly, flat butt syndrome. I still don't understand why they can't give the figures proper butts then carve the extra out from the base so the figure can sit comfortably in the crater created. I think it has something to do with it being easier to create a flat surface as compared to digging a crater out from a flat surface and hoping everything fits together well at the end of the day.
Enjoyment

This figure is definitely highly recommended even if you don't know the character, because of the sheer amount of details she comes with. Not to mention that figures don't usually come with this aura around them that this figure portrays impeccably. Though this might mean that she'll be difficult to mix and match with your other figures on display. But if you aren't short of space and would like something you'll feel good about and show your family and friends, this figure is definitely the way to go!

Summer 2016 Anime: Love Live! Sunshine!! -- A rip-off of Love Live!?

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With the recent airing of Love Live! Sunshine!! anime, we get a first hand exposure to the new Aqours cast (yes guys, it's AqOUrs and not AqUOrs)
As Aqours' name was decided in a poll at least a year ago, this also brings us to the fact that Aqours' first formation was at least a year ago. Though, how many of you didn't actually hear of them until recently?

For this article, I will be reviewing the anime Love Live! Sunshine!! and comparing it to the many different quirks of Love Live! School Idol Project (I will be omitting at least the '!' from the names henceforth to reduce confusion.)

No matter what you may tell me, I still think that Love Live Sunshine's plot is very similar to that of Love Live, and the following reasons will help to substantiate my point.

1. We start out with the desire to form a school idol group by one of the most outgoing and self-motivated members in the respective schools (Honoka and Chika). They are the ones who are into the whole idol thing first, then rope their friends in, before going to look for other students in the school who they are not close with personally.
Many of us might remember Chika practicing to Honoka's Snow Halation pose in Episode 1 of Love Live Sunshine. If you don't, this might help to jog your memory.


2. The first motivation that had Honoka intending to start an idol group is A-RISE. Remember when Honoka's sister wanted to join UTX and not Otonokizaka and Honoka went to check it out and that was when she met A-RISE and got motivated to start her very own group. Honoka only realized that the school was closing down after that, and her motivation changed then to using it to gather more students to join Otonokizaka the next year.

Likewise, Chika's motivation to start her very own group stems from seeing μ's performance. It is later changed to a means to prevent their school from closing down because "their conditions are now the same as μ's!" so if μ's could go on to win Love Live, so could they, right? Of course they most likely will.

3. The next member that joins their still-budding wannabe  idol group is their very close friend. For μ's, we have Kotori, Honoka's childhood friend, as the second member (yes, Umi joined later, after Kotori showed her the sight of Honoka doing some dance moves). 

Similarly, in Love Live Sunshine, we have (Watanabe) You, Chika's childhood friend, who joined in the very first episode. She also didn't make much negative comments about Chika's plans to form an idol group, but was playing along to Chika's whims.

4. The very first people they source for and managed to find is someone connected to the world of music. So we have Maki and Riko. Of which, both are into piano. The difference would be that Maki seems to be more in the leisure side of piano while Riko is more of the competition type. The Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)  Kousei-esque stage event for Riko is a great example of the importance of piano to her.



A mini-third point on the side, we have the third member in Love Live, Umi, living within walking distance from the leader of the group, Honoka. Likewise in Love Live Sunshine, Riko, the third member, is also living within walking distance from the leader, Chika. In fact, they are... neighbors!
5. The name for the idol groups come as a mystery to those involved. For Love Live, Nozomi left a paper with the suggested name inside a Name Suggestion box which Honoka constructed. For Love Live Sunshine, the name was left at a beach, drawn out on the sand. By who? Well, we have no idea yet but I suspect it might be Mari!

6. They started out with the first years the proceed on to getting the third years to join. For μ's, we first get Hanayo, then Rin and Maki... and after that the third years started entering the storyline, Nico, Eli then Nozomi. For Aqours, we first have Hanamaru and Ruby then Yohane joining. Following this would be the third years, Dia, Mari and Kanan -- of which we don't know which order it'll be in yet.

7. Someone in the third years had something to do with setting up an idol club in their schools in the past. Cue in Nico from μ's, whose club later disbanded before she met μ's. Cue in Dia, Mari and Kanan, who were all part of an idol group. However, the trio also realized that their group was not working out and they disbanded as well.
(Read here for more about Nico's idol past before μ's)


8. They are inspired by their rival group. It has always been obvious that Honoka was inspired by A-RISE, to the point that she wanted to start the group. She has seen A-RISE as her largest rival and pitched a fight against them with Yume no Tobira. 
(Yume no Tobira (Vietsub) in the anime, by Rilliane Phantom)
St. Snow has also inspired Chika, though it is to continue being an idol and to reach higher heights instead.
(Self Control by St. Snow, by Kitsuo !)
Though the two series are not completely identical. Placing the designs of the characters' physical appearance aside, there are subtle differences between the two.

1. In μ's, the main support that they get are from fellow schoolmates. As such, we have the snow shoveling scene by the whole school (Otonokizaka) as the second years make their way to the competition venue of Love Live! where they performed Snow Halation against A-RISE.

In Aqours, the main form of support they get are from the townspeople. As far as I've watched to this point (8 episodes), Aqours has gotten support from the townspeople twice. The first was for their very first live, performed by the second years in the gymnasium when they had to fill up the entire hall. The second was when they had to make a PV to describe how their school and town is, in hopes of gathering new students for the next year.
2. They didn't start out all that similar, but things changed along the way. Remember how Honoka, Kotori and Umi had to sing in an empty auditorium for their first live? Or rather empty, seeing how Hanayo and Nico were there and Rin even joined in later. And Eli and Nozomi were actually listening in as well!

Take that as a comparison against Aqours, who were singing to only several people in the gymnasium, then more townspeople showed up and they filled up the hall! It was such a moving moment.
(Dasuki Datta Daijoubu by Nozomi San)
3. Honoka was never really an avid fan of Tsubasa of A-RISE, but they were more of (friendly) rivals who motivated each other. On the other hand, Chika idolized Honoka and was shown to want to shine like μ's on several occasions, using μ's as an aim for Aqours. (Note that this comparison is made because Tsubasa inspired Honoka to start μ's and Honoka inspired Chika to start Aqours.)

Sadly, instead of playing on more of these subtle differences, the producers decided that it was a good idea to attempt to pit Aqours directly against μ's, thus bringing in all the school is closing down and the third years were once in an idol group issues. This might help viewers to recall how the original Love Live was like, and possibly relate to them, but for myself, an avid fan of μ's, this just makes the entire Love Live Sunshine scream out to me "Hey there, I'm a complete rip-off of Love Live! But since you like Love Live, no matter what form I come in, you'll love me too, right?"

Wrong.

And before anyone tells me that Aqours is in a rural area, by the sea, while μ's is set in Tokyo and the difference in setting sets them apart, I'll say no, it doesn't work that way. Setting needs to go slightly more than just a physical location. It has to encompass content; the flow of events might need to differ as well.

For instance, Nichijou and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou are both about school life. They are occasionally also thought of as female and male versions of school life comedy, but how many of us actually think of them as rip-offs of each other?