Plastikitty Review: Alter’s 1/8 Naoe Kanetsugu

Alter’s Hyakka Ryouran line is one of the things that really got me into PVC collecting. One of my first PVC figure loves was Senhime, and we snagged the Yagyu re-release soon after that as well as the swimsuit version of her. More recently we picked up the exclusive Sanada (review) and Gotou (review), and we of course have the new swimsuit Yagyu and swimsuit Naoe on order! Which means the only one we’re missing is Hattori, who I find a bit odd-looking.

Anyway, Naoe has my second-favorite design of all of the Hyakka girls (with Charles, the only one without a figure, being my first) so of course I was really looking forward to her release. Plus it’s Alter, who can do no wrong… right? Well I’ll be honest–Naoe is not as flawless as I had envisioned her, but do a few small issues ruin the experience?

Naoe is a big figure for her scale, so it’s surprising that her box is so small! In fact, several stores were shipping it SAL. Given the breadth of her hair and the size of her hammer this was a really pleasant surprise, as I am running low on storage space and Naoe is definitely a figure whose box we will need for the eventual next move.

Naoe’s pigtails come attached so there’s not a lot of assembly involved aside from putting her on the base and getting the hammer in her hands. The hammer goes in easy enough, but unfortunately is quite heavy and hard to balance properly. Alter provides you with a little stand for it which you actually do need (though we omitted it from the shoot). It doesn’t really fit in anywhere in particular though, making it really hard to actually get the hammer balanced right. It requires a bit of fiddling, but once you’ve found the “sweet spot” it doesn’t budge so you don’t have to worry about constantly messing with it.

Naoe’s pose is rather unusual. She is bent really far over, and it makes her look a little small next to the other girls though her scale is perfectly in line. Personally, I wish she was just a little more upright as it’s both a little bit awkward looking and totally impossible to do in real life (especially with a giant hammer slung over your shoulder).

For some reason, her pose looks quite different in person than in images. In 2D she looks more sleek and certainly photographs well, while when she is actually in front of you it’s less than graceful. It’s certainly not so awkward that she looks derpy, but I think having her torso lifted up a little would have gone a long way.

Another downside of her pose is that it’s harder to see her face, which is just lovely! Alter rendered the almost Huke-like circles in her eyes that are a big part of Niθ’s designs. Several companies have worked on the Hyakka girls, but to be perfectly honest Alter is the only company that’s really nailed their character designs.

Naoe’s expression isn’t hard to read: she’s enthusiastic and happy, and looks pretty thrilled about hauling around a massive hammer. She seems more cheerful than many of the other girls in the line, which seems fitting for her in-show personality.

Naoe’s defining feature is her huge, flowing purple twintails which are perfectly sculpted here. Makio Munetoshi, who has worked on many figures for both Alter and Kotobukiya, really executed them flawlessly–there’s tons of detail! They add a lot of presence to the figure, and really make her seem bigger than she is.

The shading on them is a little bit odd though, as instead of using a darker shade they went for a lighter one. This makes her hair seem a little pale and almost washed-out instead of full-on vibrant purple. I suppose they wanted it to seem a little understated instead of such in-your-face color, but to be honest when I first took her out I thought mine was flawed and some of the paint had rubbed off. It also doesn’t really fit with the rest of the line, which uses rich and deep shades.

This line has a mix of traditional Japanese outfits and more modern ensembles, but Naoe’s outfit doesn’t really have all that many traditional twists. She’s got a pretty standard schoolgirl outfit on, but Alter has shoved a ton of detail in here so it doesn’t look at all plain or boring. The white lining really pops, and of course the paint is perfectly executed.

Naoe does have a few subdued traditional elements, like the sakura petals on her stockings. This is something some other companies (*cough* Penguin Parade *cough*) totally neglected, but Alter’s perfectly replicated her intricate outfit. Details like this really take a figure from “nice” to “amazing” and gives you a whole lot more to look at. Considering how long Naoe is going to be sitting on my shelves, I really appreciate all of these little elements!

While Naoe is pretty SFW from the front, she certainly isn’t as demure from the back! She’s pretty much got nothing but stockings from the waist-down, as her skirt can really barely be called clothing. But if this is something you’re uncomfortable with you can’t exactly see her butt when she’d displayed face-forward on a shelf!

As you’d expect from a girl from such a blatantly ecchi show, Naoe has a great butt and the traditional too-small anime panties. Seriously, one wrong move and she is going to be showing the world a lot more than just her buttcheeks!

Naoe’s hammer is ridiculously detailed. The pattern is perfectly applied and you can clearly see the little pagoda details! It’s really a beautiful piece, and oddly enough has better sculpting and finish than most figures out there.

Naoe has the same base as the rest of the line: it’s a simple white disk, but the soft star pattern does help it from being bland. And thankfully they don’t feature the same ridiculous Engrish as the Nanoha line!

Naoe is a beautiful figure, but she’s not perfect: her hammer is a complete pain in the butt, the pose isn’t exactly what I expected, and I found the hair shading disappointing. However, Naoe is stunning enough to make me overlook these flaws a bit. If Naoe was lower-quality these problems would totally ruin her for me, but let’s face it: this is Alter we’re talking about, and the sculpting and finish are just fantastic. I really love her, but I don’t quite love her as much as I thought I would–she’s not one of my favorites, but she definitely has a proud place in our display.

Thanks to Stephen for taking these shots! Figures leaning down with their face so low always take an extra bit of work when it comes to lighting and angles, but the time we spent on her was definitely worth it! Naoe is a really popular figure and it seems like she’s sold out everywhere, which means if you missed out on pre-orders Mandarake and Yahoo Japan are your best bets.

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About Leah Bayer