Alter has been making some pretty eclectic choices for which characters receive its famously excellent figures recently, passing over obvious moneymakers and popular characters in favour of some slightly more obscure picks. Me, I'm all about that - it's a lot of fun seeing some dark horse picks get the benefit of a truly top notch figure treatment. This time around we'll be looking at their take on Ohana Matsumae, the spunky teenage protagonist of the 2011 anime Hanasaku Iroha.
Figure Name: Ohana Matsumae
Figure Maker: Alter
Retail Price: ¥7800
Available at: Hobbylink Japan
There's nothing too special about Ohana's box, but I do feel obliged to mention the lovely clean design and the gentle fade from peachy orange to white from top to bottom. I've always thought most figure boxes are a bit on the 'busy' side, so it's nice to see one which is relatively understated.
Since she doesn't come with any extra parts or accessories Ohana's packaging is pretty simple, but there are no problems with protection here, and she survived the trip across the ocean with no trouble. I will note that the plastic tucked under her hands was quite tricky to remove and required a little bit of force and patience.
Ohana's base is a very simple round, white, plastic affair, but again, a touch of colour, and some nice, clean, typography really class it up.
And here she is in all her glory. I think the most immediately striking thing about her has to be that colour scheme, a bright orange that you really don't see much in the figure world. In-universe she's wearing the uniform of the inn she works at, but regardless of context it certainly makes her stand out. The other unusual thing is the pose, which I'm assuming is meant to depict her mid-dress, stretching the shoulder straps on her outfit. A few people have unflatteringly referred to it as a 'parachute' pose, but I like it. It sells energy and a sense of movement, absolutely vital qualities in any figure for me.
As you can tell by the orientation of her base and the direction of her eyes, Ohana isn't designed to be displayed head on but instead slightly off to the right at a three-quarter view. It gives us a bit more of her profile and further sells the illusions she's running somewhere.
If I had to pick one thing about this figure to wax lyrical about, it'd be the face. It's such an upbeat, joyful expression, perfectly captured by Alter's sculptors. It's very easy for big, open-mouthed expressions like this to look a little gormless, but that's not an issue here.
As ever with Alter there's a wealth of tiny details which really sell the figure. Check out the beautifully painted clasp at her chest, or that lovely flower in her hair. Speaking of the hair, it's a nice sculpt, with plenty of individual bangs fighting off the one big chunk of plastic effect you often get with shorter haircuts. Note also the great outfit work, like the way the cloth bunches up at the armpit or the glimpse of undershirt you get down the sleeve.
From behind we get another chance to see that hair sculpt and see how the cords 'cut' into the cloth realistically. One thing I will note is that my example had some very nasty paint texture on the hair, with numerous rough spots and paint splotches. You can see a little bit of this in the photo if you zoom in, but suffice to say it's below the standard I expect of a top name like Alter.
From this angle you can see how the 'straps' of her kimono aren't actually attached to her hand. Instead, they're completely separate pieces which can actually (with great care) be popped right out of her hands. I had to do this to extract the protective plastic sheet while I was unboxing her, but otherwise there's no real reason to tweak these and risk damage.
One of my favourite parts of Ohana is her feet (minds out of the gutter please). Alter have done a terrific job detailing the little tabi split-toed socks she wears and pairing them with these delightful sandals. As you can see in the picture, she's actually standing on tip toe so you'll have to be very careful when attaching her to the base. I held the sandal from the side and pushed from there - the regular method of holding the leg and pushing down will put worrying stress on that join at the toe.
There's no real joy for lovers of fine posteriors here, (sorry Tian!) but plenty for those who can appreciate a good bit of cloth modelling. As ever, Alter are a cut above when it comes to clothing sculpts, and they really sell the illusion of actual material here with the way the bottom of Ohana's kimono crumples and folds with the bend of her legs.
Overall, I've got to declare myself very pleased with Ohana. No, she's not as immediately striking as some of Alter's more grandstanding figures, but it's a fine example of taking a relatively simple design and then applying all the talent at your disposal to make it a cut above the norm. Bar the irritating quality drop on her hair, this is another great figure from the masters. Definitely recommended.
[Big thanks to Hobbylink Japan for providing Ohana for review!]
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