Last year, Kristina took a look at Megahouse's G.E.M. Himura Kenshin and decided she was impressed by it. Despite being a Rurouni Kenshin fan, I neglected to pick it up. However, along came Bandai with their take on Kenshin for the Figuarts Zero line, and I pretty quickly decided I had to have him. Of course, I also later remembered that my first experience with the Figuarts Zero line did not go as well as expected, and I began to wonder if that experience was an aberration or a sign of things to come.
Well, the time for talking is over, because I've gotten to take a good close look at Figuarts Zero Kenshin. Still, there's no way this little Kenshin can possibly match up to its bigger brother ... right?
Figure Name: Figuarts Zero Himura Kenshin
First up, the box. In a word: beautiful. The front features a huge window that stretches over to the top flap, with a second window on the side that's partially obstructed by a picture of the figure. More photos of the figure adorn the other two sides of the box, with the left side of the box in particular looking magnificent. The entire thing is backdropped by two floral patterns (one a golden tone and the other magenta) that make it one of the prettiest boxes I've seen in the last year and a half, at least. The inside also has another traditional Japanese print pattern in black, which is a bit hard to see through the plastic surrounding Kenshin, but looks just as gorgeous.
Out of the box, and at first glance, there's no denying that this is Kenshin in a great pose, ready to draw his sakabatou from the sheath and kick some butt. The sculpt has his haori, hakama and ponytail in movement, either from the wind blowing it or Kenshin's own movement. You can also see all the folds and wrinkles in his outfit; lots of detailing for us to talk about. The coloring on the figure is spot-on for what you should expect as well.
You also probably notice ... where's the base? There is one, but you don't need it what-so-ever. Kenshin is designed to stand perfectly on his own two feet.
If anything makes this Kenshin special, it is indeed the face. The default face is regular Kenshin, who still looks more intense and ready for a fight than anything else. His trademark X scar is front and center, and is printed cleanly on his cheek. It's also fairly nice how his hair overhangs his face and shapes itself around his head, just as he was originally designed to look like.
Those big bushy bangs and strands of hair Kenshin has on top of his head? Yes, they're all here and the sculpt renders them individually with a decent amount of detail. Additionally, Kenshin's hair has allowed Bandai to hide the seam for swapping faces really easily.
Likewise, Kenshin's long, flowing ponytail has a nice look, not looking like one solid chunk of plastic but individual strands moving in slightly different manners.
Further down the figure, we reach Kenshin's outfit. Not only do the folds on the haori give you a sense of it draping over Kenshin's frame, but all of the clothing is sculpted to hang a bit loose off of Kenshin's body and bunches at the waist. Small attention to detail like that really makes this a good-looking and accurate figure, in my opinion, and there's plenty more to come.
The bottom half of the figure features Kenshin's flowing white hakama, tied with a bow at the waist. What I especially like about how the sculpt look here is how his knees and thighs are visible as an imprint on the hakama, as if the fabric is resting upon them. It's a small touch, but a very nice one. You can also see how the folds on the hakama are fashioned to create their own natural shading in the light.
Here, we get a closer look at Kenshin's hands as they reach for the sakabatou. The only rough paint is actually the yellow rope around the sheath (and it's not really even that noticeable, to be honest), while the hilt looks accurate in color and detail. Yes, there's even a roughness to the wrap around the hilt, which would be accurate to a real katana that had seen the battlefield.
As for the hands, they look nicely sculpted. The hand positions don't seem unnatural, all the fingers have an individual sculpt instead of being a big blob of PVC, and there's some nice definition on the knuckles of each hand. It's also nice to see that the arms are attached deep within the rest of the body and not just as the surface, removing the possibility of some incredibly unseemly lines being present and making the haori look like it really does wrap around an arm.
From the back, you can see how long the sheath extends beyond Kenshin. It's also curved properly for a blade and no real scratches or scuffs to mention.
There are tons of detail from every angle on Figuarts Zero Kenshin. It feels like the folks at Bandai paid a lot of attention to making sure things looked right, as the folks here fit Kenshin's slightly bent pose.
... Oro? Is this a terribly visible seam? Well ... yes and no. It's a seam, but one that's supposed to be there on Kenshin's haori, even in Nobuhiro Watsuki's original illustrations. So, for Bandai, it's a seam of convenience, likely letting them get away with producing the arms separately and attaching them later on in production.
Same thing here on the edges of the haori's sleeves, and also on the back of the hakama. Yes, Bandai is super-lucky these seams also exist in the real world on the same type of clothing, but I have to suspect there's intention with the design, both to make it look a little more real and less of a hassle for the factory. All in all, the seams don't distract because they fit together well without overhanging and there's no flash issues to deal with.
The lone alternate piece is another face: Kenshin's Battousai look. The main difference here, if you can't tell, are his eyes, which have a more intense, staring look befitting a man about to clear the battlefield of life. The other parts of the sculpt are otherwise identical. Swapping them out is easy, too; Just a simple removal of the head and the front of the hair,and you can quickly plug in the face you want. No fuss.
A side-by-side look at the two faces, so you can see them clearly. I prefer the regular one, and thus, it's the one I am using to display him. Even though Bandai and Megahouse are two sides of the same coin (Megahouse is a Bandai Namco subsidiary), I can't help but think that these faces are better than the ones which came with last year's G.E.M. Kenshin ... and that's a pretty big statement. At least you get both looks this time around.
I guess we ought to touch on Kenshin's base, too, before I forget! It's stylized with a cherry blossom pattern and kanji that, sadly, I can't read, but it still looks great in that black and white color scheme. There are two tiny pegs that come with Kenshin which stick into the base and then allow you attach Kenshin to it.
Here's how it looks assembled. Fine and all, except for one thing:
Yep, the peg for his back foot is off. By quite a bit, too. But the good news is you only need to have one foot attached if you want because he is not going to be a leaner. Or better yet, just skip the base entirely. You lose nothing by doing so.
Generally, smaller, less-expensive figures don't stack up to their bigger-scale brothers, either sacrificing quality or detail for a lower price. Kenshin, though, is not one of those figures. It's a ¥3,500 figure only because of its materials and size, but it easily beats the G.E.M. Kenshin in pose and in the face. Still, while the G.E.M. Kenshin may have more detail thanks to its 1/8-scale and Megahouse's standards, Figuarts Zero Kenshin packs enough into its 6-inch size that you can't help but be blown away.
If you at all love Rurouni Kenshin, you should be seeking out Figuarts Zero Kenshin, if first and foremost to wipe the awful taste that was Revoltech Kenshin from your mouths and minds. Where Kaiyodo managed to fail in every single way imaginable, Bandai succeeds (in part because they don't have to cram joints into this Kenshin, but there were many other problems) and succeeds with unimaginable amazingness. Yes, I just made that term up.
I don't normally gush over a figure in a review like some kind of figure evangelist, but every once in a while, you just get one that's good enough to do so. This is one of those times and you owe it to yourself to own this one.
[A special thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sending Kenshin along for review!]
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