Which is why I was so pleased when a figure actually surpasses my expectations. Figures like Beelzebub.
It amazes me how voraciously a franchise can blossom under the right conditions, and the 7-sins line is a perfect example. The line runs on aesthetic appeal alone. There is no substance behind their veneer of polished character design and sex appeal, no show to support the art, or story to support the characters. It's purely a visual thing. I, among many others, wait for the 7-sins series to actually flesh out. There is news about a 7-sins anime, but it's scant and unsatisfying. For now, it seems, the series continue as a procession of 3D figures supported by Nishii's good name.
Beelzebub, a.k.a. Lord of the Flies, is often depicted as a giant, gluttonous bug capable of famine, pestilence, and general chaos. Beelzebub has many representations throughout the ages, all of them coarse, horrifying, and mostly male, until the 21st century, where suddenly, it was cool to be square, and irony became the in thing, and great minds gathered and said, no more. If the human realm will deign to suffer, why not suffer at the hands of a tiny, cute girl?
|Digging the new look, Bee.|
(**Click to enlarge photos**)
Beelzebub's base is also much like the other sins', except it's orange, and a wee bit searing. In buying Beelzebub, one of my main concerns was her needlessly bright base. Couldn't they have considered a nice green, or even a dirtier orange? As it is, it might as well be well-formed mango pudding.
Besides it's colour and general lack of depths, one other complaint that I have with Beelzebub (and the entire sins line) is her repetitive base. All their bases are the same! I understand it builds consistency, but it also gets terribly boring. Why can't Beelzebub be standing on a mountain of pumpkins, for example? Or a pile of
Other than it's adherence to convention and general luminescence, Beelzebub's base is well endowed with detail.
Oh, and there's only one teeny problem with her base. Let's zoom in, shall we?
Yup, "Gult". A typo. This mistake was also shown on the prototype, but it seems no one at Amakuni bothered to notice and/or fix it. At this point, I'm so tickled by the Engrish that I'm not even mad. So as you continue through this review, remember only this: Forgive me if, at some point, I devolve into calling Beelzebub "Gult".
Onto the actual figure.
Beelzebub herself is a charming girl. Perched daintily on a small mound of edibles, she does not seem like your everyday epicure. For someone who's only goal in life seems to be eating, she sure doesn't show it.
Let me get this out in the open right away. Beelzebub is currently a contender for my "top 3" figures of the year. I like her that much.
Her face is one of her best features. A lot of work went into her eyes. They're wide, detailed, and well shaded. It's no secret I'm a fan of more subtle expressions, and Beelzebub's seems to be one of quiet observation. She's probably accessing the edibility of something off screen.
The way she has one hand lifted is very cat-like. Almost every aspect of Beelzebub is sculpted to reflect a sort of girly fragility that contrasts her gluttonous nature. Honestly, if I didn't know Beelzebub represents gluttony, I would have never guessed she had anything to do with it.
Beelzebub's outfit is reminiscent of a french maid's, with frills, ruffles, and general lewdness (look at short that skirt is!). However, her outfit still manages to give her some sense of individuality. The metallic collar and breastplate are a nice, almost militaristic touch. The skull broach on her back gives her a slight menacing feel as well.
Like any proper demon, Beelzebub comes with a set of bat-like wings. At first glance, they seem to be cast off, but alas, they are firmly stuck to her back.
I like that they seem fluffy. Fluffy bat wings are my jam.
I had not planned on collecting the entire 7-sins set, nor do I intend to. When Beelzebub's prototype was first announced, I brushed it off as "yet another moe girl" and left it at that. But then, her paint job appeared and busted through my resistances. Beelzebub's paint job is beautiful. If there was one clincher, it would be the detail on her skirt.
Her skirt is an amalgamation of ruffles and insect wings, cells, veins, transparency and all. It's iridescent, with glimmers of green, blue, and violet. Great for light play, and stunning to look at. It's my favourite part about this figure.
Anime girl figures always have a bad habit of always looking like they need to go to the bathroom. I guess the knees-together-ankles-apart look is reflect a childlike delicacy, but I'm usually not a huge fan. Thankfully, the pose works with Beelzebub thanks to her being balanced on several food items.
Like any good moe girl, Beelzebub wears thigh-highs, displaying an enticing sandwich of flesh between her panties and stockings. The squeeze of her stockings is especially attractive, but what I really want to draw attention to is the detail around her knees. Look at that discreet knee wrinkle, and the general boniness of her anatomy. I love myself some detailed knees.
Of course, we need an obligatory panty shot.
For a girl in a ecchi series, Beelzebub wears some pretty tame undies. White, plain, traditional. I appreciate the fact that Amakuni bothered to put in some sew lines and wrinkle, but it's nothing to write home about.
You're probably wondering by now whether Beelzebub is cast-off, and the answer is: Of course she is. The 7-sins line is as cast-off-able as the sun is hot.
Beelzebub's breastplate and skirt can be removed to show her in a state of undress. Her cast-off is thankfully much more effective than Leviathan's. Beelzebub's collar detaches at her neck and is easily removed and reapplied when needed, a feature I appreciate after my disastrous struggle with Leviathan's clothes.
Personally, I don't think I would display Beelzebub cast-off, mostly because my comfort zone doesn't include naked lolis, and partially because her shirt doesn't really make sense when it's cast-off. Do her frills just stick to her shoulders or something? Does her shirt not come with a top half? How does that work, exactly? I figure I must be getting jaded when I complain about cast-offs making sense, but hey, it is what it is.
Getting to the nitty-gritty now.
Beelzebub has a lot going for her, including her hair. See, I'm not a huge fan of semi-transparent hair because it always makes it seem greasy and unpleasant, so when prototype shots of Gult showed semi-transparent hair, I cringed a little. Happily, her end result is much better than I anticipated. It still seems a bit oily, but not to the extent where I begin thinking of gel toothpaste (a la Miku).
Gult's hair has pull-lines where her pigtails meet her head, a feature I endlessly appreciate. Her pigtails are also wonderfully detailed, with individual strands rather than a chunk (again, a la Miku). Yes, she has a seam between her bangs and the rest of her head, but until figure companies find a way to insert face plates without disturbing the hair, we're begrudgingly stuck with them.
Now, my favourite part of any review: The details.
Gult's outfit if filled with clean lines and sharp detail. Her breastplate is painted with a nice, metallic sheen. There are a few well-placed wrinkles on the back of her shirt. I like that the chain link on her collar is an actual chain link rather than a glob of silver, and the texture on her horn is rather nice as well. Gult's the only demon who has a unicorn horn. Another homage to her innocent, childlike appearance, perhaps?
Too often I forget to mention shading in a review, simply because the quality of a figure's shading is usually apparent in pictures. In Gult's case, I feel compelled to mention the excellent, subtle shading on her wings, as well as her skirt (as previously mentioned). She also has some nice, lavender shadows on her clothes.
Now, we get into the few, teeny complaints I have about Gult. Overall, she's of excellent quality, but even she could use a few touch-ups.
Firstly, her chains. I've mentioned in previous reviews that I enjoy chains, especially when they're sculpted well. Unfortunately for Gult, the chains wrapping around her legs and body don't look so much like chain links than silver ovals welded together. There's not a single "link" to be found.
But wait. Every time I review a figure and find something unsatisfactory, I ask myself whether my expectations are overriding reality. Am I asking too much of Amakuni to give me realistic chains? After all, they're floating in midair, and they're already fragile (they're easily bent). Maybe the blobby look sacrifices aesthetics for stability. You know, to stop the figure from falling apart. So I always ask myself the million dollar question: are there other figures that have managed to pull off stable, action chains?
And the answer is yes. The entire Black Rock Shooter TV animation line have some pretty sick, midair chains. Alter's new Velvet figure shows her poised midair, with her chains trailing her like decorative ribbons. Given these examples, could Gult have also inherited more detailed, more realistic looking chains? Yes. Does she have to have realistic chains? No. Am I disappointed that she could have had realistic chains, but instead has silver ovals welded together? Yes, somewhat.
Besides my dislike for cast-offs that don't make sense, there's one more reason I probably won't have Gult prancing around with no pants, and that reason is Gigantic Seam Lines.
Look at the place where her hips connect to her top. Do you see that giant, gaping slash? Despite all my pushing and wriggling, Gult just would not click together properly. With her skirt on, the seam disappears, but without, it looks like Gult's got some serious anatomical screw-ups.
Continuing with seams, Gult also has a couple of smaller, quieter seams in her hair. There are also a couple in her pumpkins. They don't bother me as much as the giant seam in her torso, but nevertheless, there they are.
You know, figure reviews can become tedious over time. Take pictures. Admire. Complain. Take more pictures. Edit photos. Edit words. Ponder deeply. Publish. This is especially true if the figures you've received have been largely satisfactory. There's always less to say about the good than the bad, which is why I take so much pleasure in blamming the occasional mediocre figures. Yes, it's cathartic, but more importantly, it's different. After a while, all good reviews begin to sound the same. The process gets stale. The entirety of it becomes chore-like.
That's not to say I don't enjoy reviewing my figures. No, quite the opposite. I like flaunting these little plastic pieces to the world. I enjoy knocking out some sentences and stringing them into a semblance of sense. I enjoy photography. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if it's becoming too easy. So, fellow reviewers, let me hear your stories. Do you sometimes feel the ho-hum catching up to you? And if so, what do you do to break out of it?
Now, onto more photos in all their glorious ubiquity. With fall quickly descending upon the Canadian landscape, I managed to rush Gult outside before the first frost killed everything. In the last nice day of autumn (before the frost and bitterly cold gusts settled in), I braved the outside and shot a couple of colourful pics of Gult among the flowers.
Yes, yes, flower pictures are so overrated, but think of it as an homage to flowers. They're all dead now, you know.
Gult has what I called a "fixed" look. She's not exactly the sort of figure with which you can really push a lot of angles. She can't really sit on anything fun, so the background has to be build around her rather than with her. Or maybe I'm getting lazy with shots. I noticed I use a lot of neutral and bluish tones in my photos, so here's an attempt at getting things a little more red.
|Ugh, go back to the blues.|
I enjoy playing around with photography, although I don't nearly have as much time or funds as I would like to really get experimental. So the best that I'm going to give you today are some "off screen" shots that are inspired by a chat I had with a co-worker about awkward selfies (where only half of your face is "artistically" showing).
It's easy to take a picture of a figure's face. It's decidedly harder to make a photo look good when there's, say, only a half an arm showing. I'm not sure I would call this a successful experiment, but I did have fun randomly shooting pictures and sorting through them on the computer.
Finally, I took the majority of Gult's shots on Halloween. I'm terrible at Halloween, i.e. I don't dress up or hand out candy or decorate at all, but I did manage to find a couple of Halloween items at 70% off in our local art store, so I spent some money and tacked together something passable.
|Aw man, she ate a whole giant! What a...Gult.|
Would I recommend Gult to other figure collectors? Sure I would. She's obviously high quality, and exclusive to boot. Even if you don't appreciate her cast-off, she's a wonderful figure to look at. Excluding her bright base and certain small flaws in her sculpt, Amakuni has done an excellent job convincing me that exclusive + limited figures are worth their price tag. (Besides, I'm thinking of altering her base myself and giving her a more expansive pumpkin field to play in.)
And she's hecka cute.
|Box||7/10||Box is box.|
|Base||5/10||It's solid, but lacking in detail. Could have used some more depth in colour. Bright orange is not harmonious with the rest of the figure.|
|Pose||8/10||Delicate and cute with a subtle sense of movement.|
|Sculpt||8.5/10||Beautiful, with only minor flaws. Successful cast-off, although the gap between her torso and hips is regrettable.|
|Paint||10/10||I honestly don't see anything wrong anywhere. One of the best skirts I've seen yet.|
|Overall||8.5/10||An excellent figure with lots of detail.|
Price: ¥11,852 (Proxies around ¥14 000)
Purchased at: Nippon-Yasan
Box Dimensions: Approx 31 x 25 x 19.5 cm
Weight: Approx 700g
Shipping method: Small Packet SAL (or fancier)