Wednesday 21 November 2012

1/8 Honma "Menma" Meiko (Alter)

Of all the innocuous ghosts out there, Menma is the cutest. You heard me, Casper. You've been usurped.

Being my third favourite girl from Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (gosh, what a name), I debated long and hard on whether to keep her pre-order. Nary a week passed where I didn't consider cancelling her. In the end, I stuck with her, and it was the right decision by far. By far.

See, I have a problem. I get bored easily. Slice-of-life shows just don't do it for me (Exception: Honey & Clover, a.k.a. best slice-of-life ever and forever). I steer clear of them like dangerous bacterium. When I picked up Anohana, I went in expecting to be bored. Luckily, it's decent cast and spontaneous emotional catharses kept me watching. Some tears may have been shed. Just some. But hey, this isn't an anime review. Let's get to the plastic.

Menma comes in an appropriately pastel box with a surprisingly nice backdrop. The box itself is lightweight and made of uncorrugated cardboard. It's pale and splotched with adorable blue flowers. The backdrop is pink and decorated with more flowers. It's all very squee-worthy. The box is also smaller than I expected given Menma's base. Alter did a good job of optimizing space this time. Much appreciated, Alter.

I'll come out and say it. Objectively, Menma falls below what I expect from Alter. The number of discreet seams on her hair and dress are disappointing. Fortunately, there are a number of redeeming factors in this figure that manage to overpower its flaws.

First, there's her incredible base. If anything that woos me faster than ball-busting detail, it's overwhelming bases. Take a look at Menma's disgustingly impressive throne and weep. It's right up there with Lacia's in terms of presence.

Second, Alter nailed Menma's face. She's even cuter than her prototype. There aren't many figures that turn out looking better than their prototypes, but Menma is a heartening success. Double kudos to Alter for nailing her funny head-shape.

Menma is adorable. How can you say no to a face like hers? Such big eyes too. I want to pinch her face.

Menma sits on her gloriously tiny bunk bed, kicking her legs in proper summertime frivolty. She sticks to her base with a magnet, so there are no unsightly holes in her butt. Unfortunately, she's still precariously balanced, and rough movements will send her toppling. Since I got her, I already dropped her three times, all from relatively dangerous heights, all in an effort to balance her on various fruits and balconies. On the bright side, all this inadvertant dropping speaks well of her sturdiness.

And what's the point of having a figure if you can't rough it up a little? Eh?

Menma is about as slim as a character can get before I begin shoving food in their direction. There's a certain body-to-weight ratio that I like, and Menma falls way under it. She has the youthful, never-hit-puberty body of an especially active ten-year-old (despite appearing, what? 16? I don't remember). Then again, I didn't get Menma because she's sexy. I got her cause she's easy-breezy.

Menma's dress sculpt is darn impressive. It's not quite Max Factory impressive, but it's getting there. I always enjoy well exceuted 3D fabric, especially since I can't even get it right in 2D. The fabric scrunches and pulls in all the right directions. There's lightness in its flow. Good stuff.

I usually praise Alter for its attention to detail, but Menma strikes me as---blurred. Her individual strands of hair are not as sharp as I would like them to be, and her white dress isn't shaded at all. Even her skin isn't as warm as it could be. The only splash of real colour she has are her eyes and ribbon.

But do I want Menma to be heavily shaded? She's a ghost right? (Surely that's not a spoiler, it's in the show's description after all) Even so, a little more shading wouldn't hurt, especially on her hair. She might be dead, but she doesn't have to look dead. She was pretty lively in the show if I remember right.

I balked when I first ordered Menma because I thought her base overwhelmed her character. It took me two months of indecision before I chugged three beers and clicked "confirm order". On the shelf, her base does takes the spotlight. I feel like Menma herself pales in comparison. But let's go meta for a moment. Maybe Menma's unobtrusive presence reflects her ghostly nature. It would be weird for a ghost to attract too much attention, right? Right? Tell me if I'm stretching here.

Menma is not very detailed as a character. Alter did a decent job on her ruffles, bows and feet (adorable feet), but there aren't many other aspects they can spruce up.

Oh, right, except her base. Her most beauteous base. Look a those spanking clean lines, that careful shading, those faint yellow lines across the metallic backdrop! Even her adorable book is detailed and clean. And, of course, "Super Peace Busters", as grand a club name as any, is carved into the plastic. If Menma herself made me doubt Alter's quality, her base restores my faith once more. It's smoking hot, as far as bases go.

Now, to the unpleasantness. How many times have I criticised an Alter figure? Zero? Well then, hold onto your hats, m'darlings, and get ready for a ride. The novelty will be bright and massive.

Menma's sculpt is my no means perfect. It's one of the roughest I've seen on an Alter figure. Do I expect a perfect sculpt every time? No. But I do expect standards to be upheld. Regardless of Alter's exultant reputation, blotches are blotches. Menma's hair and dress are plagued by minute seams. Not gaping, wide things, but a veritable web of tiny imperfections that make her unpleasant close up. It's like they forgot to smooth her out before mass producing her.

Then we come to her hair seam. It's more obvious and uneven than I want it to be. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I surprised? N-well, yes, actually, I'm very surprised. Alter almost never screws up, and though they're not always perfect, they usually get pretty darn close.

Nevertheless, Menma is one of those figures that works really well as a whole. She's also a lot of fun to shoot. As I always say, a figure's true nature shines in photographs (honestly, I feel like I lifted that from somewhere...but I don't remember where). I love that I can sit her on pretty much anything. I had a lot of fun carting her from room to room, putting her on just about everything. Her balance is horrid for a sitting figure, but she does ok if you angle her right.

I learned pretty quickly Menma looks good on just about everything. It's the white. The universal white.

Half my recent figures have been sitting figures. I don't know why. Maybe Shinobu really got me with her adorable scrunched-up pose. I love that all these sitting figures come with appropriate sitting bases. Now they can all sit together, like a bunch of happy apples.

My top cutest anime girl from recent shows (who is neither badass or annoying) is a close race between Erio and Menma. Erio's moe factor is through the roof, but Menma's smiliness is hard to resist. There's something endearing about cheerfulness that trascends life itself. That's some hardcore cheer. Hard. Core.

Mmm, a bowl of Menma...

How long as it been since I first put up a review? Over a year now? Nuts. 

I find the more reviews I write, the harder it gets. I call it acclimitization, but it's probably not the right word to use. It was easier in the beginning. I had a set of guidelines, opinions to offer, lots of nitpicky bits to rant about. Now, it's more, "Seam line, points off. Nice paint, points on. Static pose, points off. Good representation, points on." Bam. Bam. Bam. Done. After so many reviews, the objective part comes easy. But what do I do to plush it up? How do I fatten all those bones? It's often a fight to come up with new things to say.

But hey, if it's getting easy, it's time to step up the game. There's a reason, "If I'm not suffering, it's not good enough" hangs above my imaginary mantle (really, it's just a bastardized version of "No pain, no gain"), and the challenge of working within the limits of a review is always thrilling. It's like putting together a puzzle, and I love puzzles.

On the bright side, photography never gets stale. Photography is full of happy accidents. I love happy accidents. They're like bonbons raining from the sky. They almost never happens, but when they do, indulge with vigour.

Totally a happy accident.
Alter's Menma is a figure I can easily keep in my room without visitors shielding their children's eyes upon arrival. Unless you happen to be staring directly up her skirt, there's really nothing sexual about her pose. And if you are looking up her skirt, damn, she's a ghost with the mindset of a 6-year-old. Control your libido. I'm not one to let snide comments about the well-endowed ladies on my desk get to me, but it is nice to have someone come in and say "Oh, that's nice" about a figure without an awkward ellipsis between "that's" and "nice".

There has been an influx of Menma figures recently, and several versions of her have ended up in bargain bins all over the Internet. I'm still waiting to see Ques Q's Menma, but I'm almost sure it won't have the same sort of quality as Alter's. I also find Max Factory's swimsuit Menma ultra-adorable. It's the popsicle. The popsicle gets me.

In short, you can't go wrong with Alter's Menma. She's lively. She's cute. She can sit on all sorts of stuff. Nevermind her rough parts. Her stupendous base makes up for it.

Check out Wieselhead's review for some adorable pictures of Menma! You won't regret it!

The Run-Down
Box: 7/10 (Nice backdrop, could use flower windows though)
Base: 10/10 (DAT. BASE.)
Pose: 9/10 (Cute, energetic, summery, but she falls off pretty easily)
Sculpt: 7/10 (Menma herself loses points, but her base is awesome)
Paint: 9/10 (could use slightly more shading)
Overall: 8/10 (She's saved by her base, big time)

Manufacturer: Alter
Price: 8800 yen
Purchased from: AmiAmi 

!Warning! New Challenger,


  1. I'm going to throw in a bright and massive bid to coin 'happy bushel' as the (admittedly laboured but totally worth it) collective noun for moe anime figures in a group, and 'plastic harem' for the sexy ones. What say you, deadbeat mom?

    1. I've just been calling them "moe-moe" and "me gusta". The ones inbetween were "moe gusta". I don't have very good classifications. Plastic Harem has a nice ring though, and "Behold, my Plastic Harem!" (complete with wild hand gestures) is definitely appealing. =D

      Deadderp Jenn

  2. Very nice review of her, the pictures are also very nice, Menma is the natural born model.
    Im happy that I ordered her, she appears so sweet and lively ^^

    On her own this this figure appears not that interesting with her washed out colors, but she definretely is an adorable figure.
    Her thin body and her cute face with the blue eyes give her such a pure and innocent appearance, the face is very well done.

    The combination of Menma and her base is what makes this item shine, the elaborate diorama base kina makes up for plain and simple design.

    It's cool that she could probably sit everywhere in theory, too bad that her mangnet isn't stronger

    Ah thx for linking me=)

    1. I spent so many nights composing letters to AmiAmi to cancel her, but never sent them. Something must have told me she would be a good buy. If I could change one thing about her, I would make her blush a little more apparent, but she's already adorable as is. A bit of semi-transparency on the tips of her hair would have been neat too.

      If her magnet were stronger, I could stick her on the fridge. That would have been fun. =D


  3. Did all the figure bloggers I follow decided to get Alter's Menma? Lol!!! I can see why, such a nice figure, the base is very interesting and full of detail and Menma herself looks so nice too, so cute. Plus her sitting pose and relative stability can make for some interesting pictures like the ones you took.

    You just reminded why I stopped doing "reviews" for figures, after some discussion I came to the conclusion that as far as quality and built of the figure the photos speak for themselves. That's why I stopped forcing myself to talk objectively, instead I try now to talk about things like the character, show, etc. why I like them and silly stuff like that that actually showcases my enthusiasm. But that's just me, everyone has their own groove.

    1. I see Menma everywhere too! It's a Menma invasion! She deserves it though. She's such a sweetie. =D

      Objective figure reviews are difficult since the real value of the figure lies in personal enjoyment rather than quality (although quality does help in many cases). For me, it's about finding a balance between objective and subjective evaluation. A bit-o-everything for a well-rounded dish, or something like that.

      Thanks for visiting!