Thursday 23 February 2012

1/8 Ryuna (Kotobukiya)

Poke the Merch is back with another review on a soon-to-be-re-released item. Horray for us! Let us pat ourselves on the back and otherwise congratulate ourselves on doing our jobs barely adequately.

With Kotobukiya seemingly on a Shining release rampage, it's no surprise to see Ryuna slated for re-release. Cute, simple, pleasant, and produced in 2008, she's an oldie but a goodie. That being said, she's not without her flaws. Given her initial release date, does she stand the tests of time? Read on!

Of the Shining girl designs, Ryuna is one of my favourites (along with Neige and Kureha). Ignore the fact that I have never played the games, watched the anime(s), or know anything of her character. While I joke that the Shining franchise survives through the pure force of Tony Taka's designs, there is something genuinely attractive about Ryuna. Maybe it's her "good girl" vibe, or her half-kimono, half-miko design, or her caduceus staff (the caduceus being possibly the coolest symbol ever).

As per usual with the Shining girls, Ryuna's box is relatively attractive. It's free of clutter, and hosts an attractive pastel backdrop. Extra effort was made to give her interesting windows. I just noticed they were supposed to be yin-yang cut outs rather than monstrously deformed half-moons. Way to go, me.

Unlike some figures that I won't mention, Ryuna herself is magnificently easy to assemble. It goes like this:

Step one: Remove from box
Step two: Display

She comes attached to her base. Foolproof.

Ryuna embodies simple elegance. There's not much to say about her pose. At best, she radiates calm, bucolic appeal. At worst, she's boring. Personally, I'm all for it. I don't see too much gung ho in her anyways. Even her colour scheme is toned down (burgundy's not a colour of vigour, after all).

Ryuna comes with a lovely face. It's oval and cute and peachy keen. Her expression is one of...well, I can't really say. After all, there's not much to go on. I guess it can be called peaceful. And maybe a little apprehensive. Just a little.

Compared to her character art, Kotobukiya's Ryuna comes off as younger, especially straight on, with a rounder face and wider-set eyes. She also comes off as a little derpier. Not that I mind, of course.

Like the rest of her, Ryuna's expression can be defined as "nice". Overall, it's not too dynamic or interesting or expressive. Not many Tony Taka faces are. Now, I usually complain about docile, underplayed expressions, but Ryuna's is oddly captivating. After all, it's true to her character. Almost all pictures of her have her either standing around looking quietly determined, or standing around looking quietly placid. I can't imagine her to be an interesting person at all, but she sure is pretty.

Seeing as I don't have the highest expectations of Kotobukiya (to put it lightly), it surprised me how well Ryuna worked as a whole. She has a certain congruency. Unlike Kotobukiya's Kureha, there's no dissonence between her expression and pose. Unlike Kotobukiya's Maxima, she's not starved for action. Everything about her fits appropriately, and while she doesn't take my breath away, she's pleasant enough on my shelf.

Now, onto more technical aspects of this figure. If you've ever read any of my other Kotobukiya reviews, you'll notice I give them a hard time. If you've read any of my other Kotobukiya reviews, you'll also know I hold their older figures in higher esteem than their newer ones. So, being a 2008 figure, how does Ryuna stack up?

I'll say her sculpt is decent, at least when it comes to hair. Hair is usually a big deal for me, after all, hair is a girl's best friend (or was that diamonds?).

Yes, the top of her head does runs into "bowling ball" syndrome. It's round, it's shiny, it's lego-man in design.  

But nevertheless!

Ignoring the top, Ryuna's hair is surprisingly well sculpted. There are no notable seam lines (even the one between her head and bangs are partially obscured by her nurse-hat), and enough shading to give it depth. Best of all, it actually has depth. Kotobukiya managed to sculpt  volume into Ryuna's hair, and volume is always something to be admired. It's thick, it's sturdy, it has a sense of shape. It's not as whoosh as, say, Asuka's hair, but it's not really meant to be.

Being heavy and voluptuous, Ryuna's hair is well protected against the bumps and falls of figure life. The strands are rigid and sturdy. Feel free to bang her around (not that I recommend it or anything...)

You'll notice my Ryuna has a bit of a scrape on her noggin'. No, I did not bang her around. She came that way. I assume not all Ryunas have this fault.

Now, for the real test: The up-close shots. Kotobukiya is a company with untapped potential. I can see them blossoming into a top tier manufacturer if only they stopped ADHDing and focused on one figure at a time. From a distance, their figures fare well. Up-close, they tend to be a muddle of disastrous paint-bleed and rough sculpt. So close, and still no cigar. Sucks, don't it?

At first glance, Ryuna doesn't seem bad, and she really isn't. She manages to dodge many of the faults that plague Maxima and Kureha. She doesn't have obvious seam lines, and she doesn't seem to suffer from any (obvious) paint mishaps.

Her collar seems clean, at least with respect to the stitching along her neck. The symbol on her chest seems kosher.

Not bad, not bad at all, and I'm not taking simply about size either.
But when we get into the nitty-gritty, Ryuna's inconsistencies begin to show. On the left, you can see a faint seam line running down her arm, as well as roughness along the edges of her clothes. There are several such seams in Ryuna, albeit, none of them too obvious. On the left, there is obvious paint bleed on her stitches, and general roughness in her ribbon and sleeve. Again, this is an issue throughout the figure, especially along her finer details.

The worst paint bleed on Ryuna occurs on her staff. Fortunately, it's discreet and generally hidden, but that isn't an excuse for poor work. Poor staff. It used to be cool.

Another thing that bothers me about Ryuna is paint fade. Take a look at the picture on the right. Yes, there are notable bleed issues along her stripes, but take a closer look at the gold edge. Do you see what I see? One side is paler than the other. This worries me more than paint bleed. After all, what's going to happen if she starts losing vibrancy over time? (I'll have a greyscale figure, that's what).

There are few certainties in the world. The first is death, the second is taxes, and the third is that Kotobukiya's figures will not have adequate shading.

I'm happy to say Ryuna is tinted in most places. Her dress, hair, and white bits have some depth (if not much).

But there's one area Kotobukiya always neglects, and those are boots. It's like the meagre exertion of upper-body work wasted the painters before they could reach her boots. No Kotobukiya boot has ever struck me as well shaded, or even properly tinted. They're all flat lumps of single-toned PVC.

After all, take a look at this chunk of blah to the left. The stitches? Wonderful. Semi-realstic. The stockings? Sheer. Nice. The boots? Eh, at least she has boots, and that's being generous.

Her boots are barely a step above greyscale. They're monotonous, prosaic, unemphasized, and just plain plain! At least make some effort, Kotobukiya. At least give them a one-over with a brush. It's not that hard. Sure, they're covered by Ryuna's skirt usually, but that's really not an excuse. What I would give to see decent boots for once...

So how did I get such a clear shot of her legs without her skirt getting in the way? Easy.

Like all the other Shining girls, Ryuna is cast-off. She sure doesn't seem like the type to walk around in her underwear, but if that's how you prefer her, who am I to argue? (Besides, there's a certain charm to girls who nonchalantly trot about in their panties like it's nobody's business.)

Methinks Ryuna would look great with a short kimono. 

I have a love-hate relationship with cast-offs. I love that they can get nekkid, but I hate that getting them nekkid usually involves leaving paint smears. Besides, I never display figures cast-off anyhow. Nekkidness is good, nekkidness is sexy, but clothing is so much more interesting (and does wonders for my reputation).

I'm always amused by the attention that goes into a cast-off's private regions. Sometimes the sculptors pay so much attention to the TnA that they seem to forget about the rest of the figure. Does it pay off? Sure, I've seen figures saved by their commendable rears, but Ryuna isn't one of them.

Kudos to you if you noticed the lack of space between Ryuna's underwear and her gluteal cleft. Yes, Ryuna is an older figure, so she can be forgiven for such otherwise horrendous mishaps, but it's still disconcerting to see. More recent figures have suffered the same problem. Max Factory's Clalaclan has the same problem with her bikini strap. It's never nice to notice something that looks like melted skin clinging to outer garnments (ew, yuck, what? Ew).

If you've been paying attention throughout this review, you'll notice that Ryuna's skin tone is a little jaundice, a little shiny, and minimally shaded. It gives a sicklier tone. Again, old figure, I know, but still...

What do I think about Ryuna in general?

She's not the best figure out there, but she's not without charm. Despite her flaws, I find her attractive and enjoy her thoroughly. I guess that's what truly counts in figure collecting. And she's cheap, relatively speaking. That's always a plus.

Whether I would recommend her to others is another story. Short answer: No. There are better, more modern Shining figures out there, but if you're really attached to her character, I say go for it. If not, it might be worth your while to wait for something better. There's a rumour she'll appear in Shining Blades, and it looks like other companies are jumping on the Shining bandwagon (I'm looking at you, Alter). Chances are, she'll have another figure in the making, but as usual, don't take my word for it.

Kotobukiya's Ryuna is set for re-re-release in March.

(I have just started playing around with Lightroom, and I love it. What a great little program!)

The Run-Down
Box: 6.5/10 (Relatively nice)
Base: 5/10 (It does it's job, fits her colour scheme)
Pose: 6/10 (Fitting, but not very exciting)
Sculpt: 7/10 (No great errors, some roughness)
Paint: 6.5/10 (some paint bleed/fade, yellow skin tone, lack of shading in some areas)
Overall: 6.5/10 (Nice, but could use some sharpening up overall)

Manufacturer: Kotobukiya
Price: 5800 yen
Purchased from: KirinHobby

Hurp derp,

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