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Figure Unboxing and Review: Mikazuki Munechika (Damaged version)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 / No Comments
Mikazuki (dmg version)
Mikazuki is my second favorite touken danshi back when I was still in the series and since I got his normal version by Orange Rouge and felt he was worth what I paid, I decided to snag the damaged version when I was on my previous trip to Japan!

For those of you who are wondering what a ‘damaged version’ is, it’s based off of an illustration that cuts into the game when Mikazuki’s health bar drops too low. Comparing this to the normal version that is based off on the illustration of the player’s first meeting with Mikazuki, the damaged version would appear a lot more dynamic and ragged. While the ‘damaged version’ is one of my least favorite illustrations of Mikazuki, it appears that Orange Rouge has no plans to make a ‘battle version’ so I decided to satiate my need for more Mikazuki figures with this version.

I’ll say it right off the bat that I prefer the normal version a lot more than this version, although I’m usually one for more dynamic poses. I’ll insert my explanations for this in the review itself so let’s move along!

Firstly, the box and pose for both versions are very similar. Both comes with a similar box design and crest on a round black base. If you are choosing one version over the other, you wouldn’t be missing out on anything on these aspects. However, I did feel that something was missing for the damaged version, as such a simple pose did not match his dynamic pose. The damaged figure also came with specks of dirt on his hakama (which suggests that Mikazuki is engaged in a fierce battle… possibly on a sandy ground), but there is absolutely nothing on the base to help draw a conclusion.
Secondly, his pose. As this is a striking pose with Mikazuki’s head tilted down slightly, and his arm and sword blocking most of his facial features when viewed from a lower pose, this figure does not do very well when viewed from eye level or slightly above eye level. 
This makes it very difficult to find a fitting place for him in my current display.
An additional point would be the painted-on dirt specks on his hakama which could either be a hit-or-miss with collectors. Some prefer their figures to look pristine while others fancy the touch of realism to fit the battle-esque pose. 

However, I’m sitting on the fence for this since I like how it ties the pose and context together, but that sentiment falls short with the lack of a diorama base.

Also, while the golden hilt and sheath of the sword is sculpted and painted well and appropriately, the blade is painted rather awkwardly, with a slight metallic sheen which doesn’t match the gleaming katana we see in anime. The hilt of the sword was also rather difficult to push into Mikazuki’s hands and it doesn’t help that the blade is made to be quite flexible. I felt that Orange Rouge should have taken one more step and separated the hilt of the sword from the blade so there is less risk of damaging the accessory when assembling the figure.
Other than the aforementioned four points, I do feel that this figure is really well-made, and does not look bland in any way to the normal version. One aspect that I genuinely loved about the normal version is that the pattern on his outfit are all sculpted on and that makes it stand out well when it refracts light. This version has the same treatment, which is a plus in my book!
The sleeves and layers of clothing look a lot more dynamic here as he is sculpted to look mid-motion. The billowing out of his sleeves help to highlight all the different layers of his clothing that you could hardly catch a glimpse of in the normal version!
If you are into catching a glimpse of bare skin or lean muscles, you can get your fix with this Mikazuki figure as you are able to get a full view of his right arm and half a chest as his sleeve gets torn off in the heat of battle. 

This also reveals the armor he wears around his shoulders and wrists which are perfectly hidden from view in the normal version. So, if you love bushido as much as I do, it pays to get this figure to understand how these shoulder and wrist guards work in the olden days.
The gold tassels at the edge of his clothing are also looking a lot more dynamic in this version than the normal version. They are sculpted swishing in different directions and some corners of his clothing are even raised so it reveals the stitching done to hold the tassels in place! 
You can also see some tassels that are usually hidden from view!

Some of the pristine gold plates you see on the normal version of Mikazuki is also scratched and broken here, and you can spot the extra steps and effort taken to make the damage look as realistic as possible. Some of the white plates are also missing here to add to the ‘damaged’ look!
Speaking of the damaged look…the figure is clad with well-placed cuts and tears in clothes.
There are also several dirt stains around his grey hakama part to further intensify the atmosphere of the figure. This create a slight difference from the normal version of the figure as most of the other details for his hakama are kept consistent.

But surprisingly, despite the huge damage to his top and dirt on his hakama, Mikazuki’s zori sandals appear to be completely pristine. I feel that Orange Rouge could have definitely done a little more here to rough things up for his sandals, but this isn’t a very visible component of the figure and we probably don’t want Mikazuki to be fighting enemies in broken straw sandals, so let’s hold on to that thought!

 ~ Reina-rin

Figure Unboxing and Review: Hatsune Miku - LOVE IS WAR version

Monday, March 18, 2019 / No Comments
Spring is the season of cherry blossoms, symbolizing new beginnings and love – but let’s not forget the other side of the coin: those with unrequited love! And for all those people, we have Love is War! Hatsune Miku is back to show her strategies at grabbing the attention of the boy she loves! *:.。.o(≧▽≦)o.。.:*

If the previous assembly post didn’t convince you that this holy grail is a masterpiece and worth every cent, this review definitely will. There’s so much to point out about this work of art, especially the details on the base!

The texture is amazing. It looks exactly like the one represented in the music video, and all the rivets in the structure are just to right size so they are visible but neither misplaced or overpowering. The same metallic paint is also applied on the railing, right down to the hinges – which is definitely a very nice touch to the figure, making it look as realistic as possible!

The insides of the large microphones are painted with Miku’s teal, making the color palette of this figure largely dark grays and teal. This might be a very simple color palette compared to other newer figures (such as NGNL) but this simplicity makes it an eye-catching centerpiece for all collections! It would definitely stand out with its color scheme and design among a display of vibrantly colored figures, and on the other hand, it would mesh in nicely with figures with subtle color schemes too!

The teal in the microphones also have a marbling effect, which adds dimension, variation and depth to an otherwise bland color scheme.

Likewise, Miku herself is the pinnacle of dynamism in this figure. It feels like her pigtails billowing out behind her were sculpted to cover any blank spaces between the different parts of her base, and as such helps to pull these distinct blocks together to form a scene in her MV.
Her facial features aren’t the best, as this is a rather old MV and sculpt, but the expression is on-point. You can really feel her determination and frustration burning in her eyes! Her pose also helps to put the point across with her fiercely yanking the microphone forward, and thus twirling the pink cord behind her. 
I would have loved if they went for a more iconic look, where she stomps one foot down on the railing and yells into her microphone, but I suppose with figure technology back then, that would have been too prone to develop leaning issues.

A very huge gripe I have with the figure would be the pink microphone cord. Firstly, this is constructed using a wire which is very malleable and once it goes out of shape, it is very difficult to get it back to a perfect round shape (which is seen behind Miku in the prototype). The issue with this is that GSC only provides 1 wire, so you can either get it right the first time or berate yourself for life. Secondly, there doesn’t seem to be a hole where I can slot the other end of the wire (the one not connected directly to the microphone) and it’s not mentioned anywhere in the instruction sheet or in any prototype photographs. 
I’ve slotted it somewhere for now so it wouldn’t get in the way when I move my figure around in my display but this will forever remain an enigma to me…

~ Reina-rin

Sakura Matsuri Floral Display 2019 at Garden By the Bay

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Whoever are into Japanese Culture will look forward to the cherry blossom season in Japan.  We chose the easy way and visited the nearest cultural appreciation event at Garden By The Bay, Singapore. A three day affair designed to educate, explore and sightsee Japan's popular festive that gathers family and friends for delightful pinics underneath the swaying of cherry blossom trees; mesmerizing music plays from the backdrop infused by a pleasing fragrance drifting from the cluster of flowers. The highlight for this year was the Torri gate walking beneath the huge, red pillars while vivid cherry blossom makes a splendour canopy, strolling across a traditional ember-tone wooden Hirosaki Castle bridge inspired in Aomori. A simplistic teahouse set in the middle of the flower field, a Japanese themed Pavilion as well as peeking into circular windows to admire a series of self-contained structures. There are over 400 sakura trees implanted the extravagant showcase; a simple five-petal cherry blossom as well as double cherry blossom that appears in varying sizes and vivid tone of fuschia colours. 

Allow me to showcase you Sakura Matsuri Floral Display 2019, one of the occassion that has my focal point and immersing myself within the atmosphere of blooming blossoms; traditional garnish which makes one marvel at the allure. My journey as usual takes longer living at the furthest end of the sunny island has its own setback hence being up early and packing up my necessities beforehand. Heaving a sigh of relief when my feet steps into the flower dome as the cooling air between 23 degree celsius - 25 degree celsius to accomodate the range of florals within the wide globe but also soothes my warmth skin from outdoors. The adorable view of a pair of doll couple adorn in flowers greeted everyone. 

A samurai couple

A flock of crowds gathers around the blissful samurai couple for a photo session although I circled my way toward a dormitory without glancing at the scenery because a better idea of literally molding as one sounds much perfect in my head. Time to adorn myself in a pretty summer yukata when it was time for a stroll peaceful although the gaggle of people said otherwise but there's a fun catch for this year, you are allowed to dress up as a samurai if only I had noticed sooner. A section was closed in for viewing of the sakura flowers flown in by Japan and Europe even though my excitement dwindles due to the lack of embellishment compared to my past visit that of which captured my attention. Nonetheless, I took the initiative to study further before giving my out the final verdict. 

Looking at the florals from behind the lenses of my Nikon camera one has to agree that it definitely calms your senses. Often, loose petals rain upon whomever standing beneath the awning of white and pink cherry blossoms and a wave of awestruck voices drift across by both tourists and locals mingling together. I was quite lucky to be one of them when it rained down on my stunt feature truly a magical experience for me. 

A pink and white petal blossom

Straight out of a sappy romatic drama scenario, the flowers create a whimsical ambience whereas gaggle of photographers attempts to brave the swarm of beings to capture a better picture of each blooms upclose. Waddling in my yukata, packing two bags and a camera in hand was not an easy task while maneuvering in and out. As mid-afternoon approached, my lethargic body crave for supplements thus I venture inside the dormitory, yet again, after a little decision making my pallete hungers for pieces of kaarage chicken as well as delicious mouth-watering donuts. During at this time, I came across a sweet individual as we spontaneously hit off with about chattering she bought several gifts for her family that of which included an aesthetically pleasing liquor infused with a cherry blossom; a jelly and daifuku that was also cherry blossom flavour. She was kind enough to let me take several pictures of her little purchase while cooing at how adorable the packages represented. 

A stall selling liquors and savouries infused with cherry blossom flavour

The two of us banded together resuming with our excursion at this point we manage to take better pictures aiding one another while rejoicing with each other's companionship. She was a great sport, laughing alongside, pointing at different locations where it was most suited for a quality pose. I could not have asked for a better partner during that moment and if you are reading this, I want to thank you for being awesome. 

Resembling a pair of flailing salmon fish fighting against the current, we battle through with a glee smile for once not mindful by the number of people towards the Marumado windows displaying each edifice of Japanese abode and teahouses. An open window for anyone who wishes to capture Instagram worthy pictures as some reminiscences familiar territories while the workmanship was absolutely stunnng. 

I applaud at their patience for painstakingly creating a miniature version of each landscape

By then, I had toured the entire attraction with my newfound friend beside me it was time for me to head back home. Bidding the cherry blossom occasion a melancholy farewell I took off for the long and arduous traverse back to my little community. Once again, I as lucky to have the opportunity to visit such a cheery festive and literally soak in with the sights and sounds of mini Japan in Garden By The Bay. 

As mentioned earlier, the verdict for Sakura Matsuri 2019 I was a little dissapointed by the lack of display apart from last year that of which was truly breathtaking and got me strolling endlessly in the esconced ceremonial ground. When that moment of me walking into the dome I sensed a crushing disatisfaction there weren't many areas for me to take splendour pictures. The expenses as usual was quite pinching but understandable. But of course, do not take my word literally since I'm sure most of those who had the chance to explore during the three day event went home with a wide beaming grin on their profile carrying gifts purchased from each stalls. Before I bid my readers a good-bye here are a few photos that was worth sharing: 

A simple white five-petal cherry blossom

This picture gives me the vibe from Edo era

If you wish to see more of pictures from the matsuri do check out my Instagram account: @blank_space_project. You can see more pictures from the current event that I shall upload soon. Thank you for taking the time out to read my blog! are you one of the visitors and if so, do share stories from your little trip and see you soon. 

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