While anime and manga have encompassed pretty much everything in existence, one particular area that they've never seemed to do justice has been the conventional superhero genre. Tiger & Bunny has been one of the most recent (and most acclaimed) attempt at the Western genre. The anime/manga features humans with unexplained superpowers called "NEXTs" (I would just call them, "mutants") whom have abilities ranging from shape-shifting to elemental powers to temporarily enhanced physiques.
The series' most distinguishing characteristic might be that all the heroes are sponsored by businesses and all their superheroic shenanigans are covered on live television (to the point of not starting a capture until the cameras are rolling and the heroes go to some effort to show off). People assume that a series like this would be right up my alley but two things always bothered me: first, that Marvel did something like this back in 2006 when the New Warriors were given a reality tv show (where the quest for ratings left 600 civilians dead and sparked the Marvel Civil War). The second reason was simply that none of the designs really appealed to me... until I saw Lunatic.
The somewhat aptly named Lunatic is a justice-obsessed vigilante intent on killing murderers, not caring if they're already imprisoned. Lunatic's fire abilities greatly surpass that of the fire hero, Nathan Seymour, and allow the character a slew of abilities (including flight and teleportation). In short, he's incredibly awesome besides being among the series' most interesting characters.
But is Bandai's S.H.Figuarts a crazy enough representation of the character? Hit the jump for the answer.
Figure Name: S.H.Figuarts Lunatic
Lunatic comes in some rather average-looking packaging. While the color use and conventions (specifically the moonlit backdrop) are themed to the character, I can't help but feel that the box still looks bland.
It's worth mentioning that box spoils the character's secret identity, although it's nowhere near as egregious as the infamous Phantasm figure from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm where the secret identity was intended as some great mystery.
Lunatic comes with a copious number of accessories. These include two "punching" flames, two "holding" flames, a snap-on cloak/robe with an interchangeable front piece, an alternate head with fiery eyes (rather than just a face-plate), eight alternate hands (four are inside the flames), an at-rest crossbow, a burning crossbow, a crossbow holster, two items that snap onto the back of his belt (the function of which I can't recall), and a personalized base/stand.
While this is a lot more than other figures in the line have received, it's really not as insane as at it might seem at a glance. Most of the alternate pieces offer little to the figure and the second tray is there mostly to accommodate the cloak/robe.
Lunatic's cloak is possibly the worst offender. The first mode is a molded-close version which impedes arm movement. While the character does occasionally just pose with his hands at the sides like this, Lunatic has probably also just burned his cloak off about as often (honestly, given how times he's just intentionally DESTROYED this accessory, I'm not sure why he bothers wearing it out in the first place). At any rate, the display value is fairly low.
(Side-note: I want you to look at the area above and below his knees. Observe the creased material. It's a nice example of added detail.)
Much cooler is the slightly opened cloak. Besides giving Lunatic the use of one arm, it has a nice flowing effect as if reacting to the wind. Lunatic can wear the cloak with the holster (and other items) attached to give him something of a gunslinger look.
While the cloak restricts some arm mobility, it less impacts poses that use expensive elbow movement like the one seen above.
The cloak isn't without its issues, however. It snaps into place with six pegs which can be difficult to line up properly and also requires the figure's shoulders to be positioned a certain way (the belt accessories don't present any additional problems). Beyond that, the actual pegs feel a little flimsy so I worry about snapping the things.
Speaking of things snapping together, the way the flames were implemented is a nuisance. Each one snaps around a hand (only specific hands seem to work), which seems somewhat wasteful. I'm not sure why they didn't just glue the things together given that the punching flames (pictured) seem to snap apart whenever you go to pose Lunatic's arm. They're basically non-functional as a result.
The held flames (see previous photo) are a bit better. I like how you can see the actual hand through the translucent plastic but, at the same time, they could have easily just fused the bits instead of leaving them detachable and had the same effect.
Both kinds of flames make use of a translucent blue plastic with greenish tinges. The flame sculpting seems superb.
Changing the heads can also be annoying. The alternate fiery-eyed head took maybe five minutes trying to actually get it to snap on, but the standard doesn't seem to have that issue. Given that it's a mask, both head-sculpts feature the same expression although the alternate has a pair of flames glued onto the eye-sockets. The fiery eyes were always awesome in the anime but I have to admit preferring the standard head because it allows you to better appreciate the detail that went into the head. The eyes and forehead are probably the strongest facial features.
Non-fans may notice a recurring motif in Lunatic's outfit in the form of a blue "hand" as seen on his face and torso area. It's something that you might not immediately notice in the anime (Kotetsu points it out during one encounter) although the costume choice ties into the Lunatic's backstory and symbolizes his motivation for becoming a vigilante.
You'll also notice that the figure features shoulder pads that flip up to allow additional arm movement. They aren't terribly flattering when posed. In addition, the hands are on a sort of double-ball joint (allowing them to be interchanged), as is the head. Lunatic also has a double-pinned elbow, bicep rotation, and ball-jointed shoulder with an additional deep shoulder-span. The neck also features a separate joint at the base, allowing Lunatic some spastic poses. The upper torso has a shallow forward/back motion while the lower features rotation with a lot of forward/back and side/side movement.
Lunatic's hips feature physical ball-joints as well as a small rod that allows an additional vertical motion. Although the joint itself is concealed by the lower portion of his tunic, the cut and soft plastic don't really impede the joint. He has also has double-pinned knees.
For whatever reason, the lighting makes the grays look like black in this photo.
The crossbow holster and two things that attach to the back of his belt (still can't remember what these are) peg into their respective location and are completely optional (see left for without).
The at-rest crossbow (left hand) can be stored in the holster. The other one has a flame permanently attached to the top and can only be posed in-hand. Lunatic has two open hands with trigger fingers (one for each side); placing the gun may require bending the fingers a little bit. The plastic used for the fingers is soft and rubbery enough to move easily but, if you're worried about warping the plastic over time, just leave the chosen weapon in-hand unless you specifically want to change it to the other one.
For those unfamiliar with the character, Lunatic uses his crossbow to fire targeted bursts of flame.
As you can see, the holster has an opening on the side to accommodate the crossbow.
Lunatic's feet/shoes might contain some die-cast. They're cool to the touch and seem to have some weight to them. Despite the slender build, they support the character fairly well (although I haven't yet managed to get the character to stand on just one leg unassisted). The ankle features a ball-socket joint and ankle pivot. While Lunatic also has a toe joint, it doesn't have much practical function even if you can break it in.
For those who want additional stability in their figure's life, Lunatic comes with a stand. The base features the character's name, also that of his secret identity, and a little scale symbolizing justice (I wonder if Yuri is a Libra...?).
Lunatic features an interesting design that may appeal to non-fans. His design is colorful and interesting, besides featuring a good number of display options. Beyond that, the figure is similar to what we've come to expect from the S.H.Figuarts line (I'll also mention that he stands around 6-inches tall and gets a little extra boost when the legs are fully extended). Bandai has generally delivered a consistent level of quality in the line so if you've bought previous entries then you probably have a good idea of what to expect in terms of articulation, poseability, and balance.
So far we've seen a lot of Tiger & Bunny characters in the S.H.Figuarts line. Some have already been reviewed. At this point I believe we've seen the primary characters in at least prototype form. While Lunatic is supporting cast rather than a series regular, he's still something of an essential character especially given the villain-starved selection so far.
[Many thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this review sample!]
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