When wishing for new figure releases, I'm guessing that most people have the same chain of thought. The most popular shows are likely to get the larger number of requests and from those, most people would like to see figures from the main female member of the cast. OK, male characters are on the rise but this is still a female figure dominated hobby and the ones which make the most impact are usually the main heroines.
Except that doesn't work all the time for me. I have a fondness for the secondary characters, the ones which appear and push things along but aren't usually the main focus of the story. So, I always liked Minori over Taiga in Toradora!, Haqua over Elsie in The World Only God Knows, Kotegawa Yui over Lala in TO-LOVE-RU and Hanekawa Tsubasa over, well, everybody else in Bakemonogatari! I was rather pleased when Good Smile Company showed off their Hanekawa figure after releasing Senjogahara Hitagi, Kanbaru Suguru and Sengoku Nadeko figures. They may not be Alter, but Good Smile Company are known for producing solid and good looking figures. They are a pair of safe hands, but that doesn't mean that everything they release is gold.
For me, their figures always seemed to look nice on inspection, but aren't particularly attention grabbing. So, how does their rendition of Hanekawa Tsubasa hold up? There's only one way to find out.
Let's get it on!!
Let's have a look at the box first. The packaging was designed to relate to the series fairly, closely so there's quite a few references to Bakemongatari in the packaging. The front is pretty much dominated by the window to view the figure.
The back focuses on promotional shots. If you look at the various bits, you'll notice the pyramid shape which was seen in the opening sequence to the Tsubasa cat arc of Bakemonogatari as well as a few wordplays, which the author is known for.
The figure itself, like all but the Senjogahara Hitagi figure from Good Smile Company are based off the illustration used on the DVD box of the character's specific arc and for the most part, they did a good job of capturing most of the details.
In terms of accessories, the figure is pretty much bare essentials only. The standard school furniture, seen in every school classroom in Japan is used as the base, just like in the illustration and it's recreated in detail ... not that there's much detail to provide. These things are designed to be cheap and easily replaced, after all!
A lot of effort did go to the mobile phone's look, though, right down to the strap attachment. Of course, nobody in their right mind would have one as big as the one on display above but we'll let that slide!
If you look closely at the hand, you can see a groove where the mobile phone is meant to sit, in order to hold the device snugly and prevent it from falling off. It's a little unsightly on its own but it's unlikely that you'll ever display the figure without the mobile phone anyway, so the point is moot.
Rather disappointingly, the shoe is exactly that. A shoe! It's made from some pretty hard material and has absolutely no give, so if you wanted to have a little fun and try and hang it off Hanekawa's foot, you're out of luck. What this also means is that there is very little you can do with it other than leave it next to the figure so it's pretty much a throwaway item which is easily lost!
The figure also comes with a separate hairpiece which allows you to display her without the cat ears if you so wish. I kinda prefer the figure without but you may thing differently. Luckily, it's easy to swap the two parts out aside from one minor caveat ...
The "glasses" for the figure is basically just a thin wire frame which you need to place on the head and is essentially sandwiched between the face and hairpiece to keep it from moving. The problem is that there's nothing to help hold it in place while you are putting the hairpiece on and the glasses WILL move around! It got so bad that, in the end, I used some tape to hold the thing in place while I put the hair on. Thankfully, it hid the tape rather well after I was done.
Of course, you could just pose the figure without the glasses but a non meganekko Hanekawa would just be Black Hanekawa!! My advice would be to just pick either with cat ears or without and stick with it. It's far too annoying to keep repositioning the glasses if you want to swap the parts around.
You'll also be finding yourself constantly adjusting the glasses even after you get them in place! They look fine for the most part, but at a few angles, you do get some really odd orientations, like the one above.
There are some inexplicable design choices with this version of Hanekawa as well, such as the decision to to hold her in position using pegs. Now, if you look at the images of the figure on the desk, you can see that she's pushed quite far onto the desk. I've checked it out and the figure itself is pretty stable if you just leave it on its own. You'd need to shake it quite forcefully to knock her off the desk. Which makes me question why Good Smile Company decided to leave two massive holes on the desk to put the pegs in to hold a figure in place when it doesn't actually need it!
The issue extends to the figure itself as well. You have a pretty great looking Hanekawa figure and then you look at the knees and there are gaping holes for you to insert the pegs in! Granted, because of the pose, you're unlikely to see them much but it's still a very unsightly and unnecessary mark on the figure.
With the parts in place, you can also see that the pegs go through the top layer of the desk and can be seen in the gap where students usually store their books. The pegs are also different sizes so there is only one orientation which will work as well.
It's not all bad news, though. The face is very well done and Good Smile Company realised that it wasn't a good idea to copy the expression from the original artwork wholesale as it would severely limit the viewing angles for the kit if she's always looking down. So instead, they gave her a more neutral look. And I really mean neutral. The original artwork had her with more of a bemused expression but we don't get that here. I would have liked the original expression as it would have given the figure a little more energy. The one we get is by no means bad, but it could have been better.
Odd design decisions aside, Good Smile Company have provided us with a very solid and attractive figure. It's a good rendition of Hanekawa Tsubasa, but at the same time, one can't shake the feeling that it should have been great!
As a fan of Hanekawa, I'm pretty happy with the figure but at the same time, I have to admit that it lacks a certain pull which the best figures have. It's a figure which will sit nicely in a collection and will garner attention from those who are already looking but it's unlikely to grab ones attention from the start or turn heads from the street. Fans of the character or the series won't be disappointed, but I have a hard time believing that she would be able to convince those not familiar with or fond of the show to part with their hard-earned cash for her.
Close, but not quite.
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