Previously on Tomopop, we've taken a look at the first two Super Street Fighter 4 Play Arts Kai figures, Ryu and Chun-Li. While I didn't find them to be too bad, they weren't "super-awesome-omg-the-best-figure-ever" either. That led me to wonder just how the next two releases would be as they featured two of my favorite characters from the series. One of those two happens to be the ferocious Akuma (a.k.a. Gouki in Japan), a seemingly unstoppable beast who made his debut in Street Fighter II Turbo by destroying the super-tough M. Bison without breaking a sweat.
So how does Akuma stack up against Ryu and Chun-Li? Or for that matter, the other Play Arts Kai figures we've recently reviewed? Come along after the jump and find out!
So, box time? Box time. If you remember back to Ryu and Chun-Li, Square Enix has designed the boxes in Street Fighter 4's art style, and Akuma is no exception to the rule. His box's difference? It just has his photos all over it and a purple/black coloring scheme to reflect his appearance.
Square Enix really does make some excellent boxes, but I'm sure you guys want to see what's inside, don't you?
Akuma is an impressive figure out of the box, mostly because of his intimidating look. At first glance, there's little that seems to be missing from Akuma; his trademark devilish look, complete with red eyes and stone-faced expression, is here, and there's no big, missing detail on the piece. He's actually only about as tall as the other Play Arts Kai figures in the series, which is about right (Akuma is only 5'10" in Street Fighter lore; Ryu stands 5'9").
Let's start up top this time. Akuma's face is actually pretty darn close to how he should look, from the skin tone to those big, red eyes and furrowed brow. Just looking at this photo makes me think I'm already a dead man. The only real complaint I have is that his prayer beads are not flush with his chest, so they're a bit floaty there when looking head on.
There's a bit of shading on the hair that might look odd at first from the side, but could be the result of the red paint being a little too thin along the hairline.
No such problems are visible up on top of Akuma's head, with his hair pulled back and sculpted to look as such. Again there's a tiny issue with the paint being too thin in spots to where you can see some of the black PVC base underneath. It's not the first time I've seen this on a Square Enix figure and it probably won't be the last. In the larger scope of things, though, it doesn't detract too much from the overall figure.
Want to move on down to the gi? Sure, let's do that: it's about as close to the in-game appearance as you might expect, from the tattered and work edges of the sleeves to the big kanji character on Akuma's back which means "heaven" or "sky". No, it does not glow when you do a Super Combo. The wrinkling and folding sculpted here is pretty solid, and in addition, the paint job is pretty clean. Opposite the back, you can see Akuma's ginormous pecs, which might make most men weep at their sight. Probably in tears from fear.
Akuma's big, beefy hands are here, with individual fingers sculpted and no flash present on the edges. The rope he had wrapped around his hands and wrists is well-detailed, and his arms look properly muscular.
There's some excellent sculptwork down here on Akuma's lower half, from the toes and their little toenails to the folding and wrinkling on the black gi. The rope belt has some nice braiding texturing applied to it, and even the geta Akuma is wearing have some nice weaved textures applied to them. The paint job is also okay, with no real visible bleeds and just a tiny splotch on part of the gi. The joints are in their usual spots (hips, knees and ankles) and are flexible, but are of older construction.
The big problem, really, isn't even really Akuma's fault. He's a predecessor to the Mass Effect line that uses ratcheted hip joints, so he's got the old ball-and-socket joints. Yes, they still aren't quite as nice as the new joints, and they do pop out from time to time if manipulated too far. You can easily pop them back in, but it does make posing him a bit tougher.
Even so ... you can still put together some great poses, like Akuma in this fighting stance. The flat-bottomed feet do help give him a nice base to stabilize off of, and while he can be a little tipsy when he's out of balance, he holds stable once you have him upright.
He's also got a fair bit of range of motion in the upper body, as you can see here in this pose replicating Akuma's Goshoryuken attack. The shoulders do swing out and allow you to move Akuma's arms across his chest somewhat, and each shoulder joint has full 360-degree rotation on the vertical plane. The seams along the biceps are actually another joint, which adds to the range of motion.
You can also see my hand. That's because Square Enix does not make their Play Arts Kai stands readily available yet (and anyone who's been to a convention will tell you they exist). There are alternatives you can use, but I'd rather see the Play Arts Kai figures actually have Play Arts Kai stands and not have to turn to something from Bandai or another company. The lack of stands for the Street Fighter figures really is a downer because you can't set them up in poses like this right out of the box.
RAGE FACE! As you saw above, Akuma comes with an alternate head that has him yelling and angrier than normal. It is as well sculpted as the default face, and though there's a bit of bleed on the white of his teeth to the inside of his mouth, it's not very noticeable when you're not shoving his face directly in front of your eye. Given the pointy nature of his hair ... I'd recommend not doing that.
From the side, you can see the shadow "grime" that has been present on some of the other Play Arts Kai figures as of late is also here, though much more muted. I'm almost starting to think Square Enix should stop trying to paint shadowing on there, because it's clearly not giving them the desired effect they were hoping for. Compared to the likes of Shepard and Kratos, though, Akuma's shadow issues are minimal at most. However, the paint here doesn't quite come down to his hairline as it should.
Underneath Akuma's head really lies my biggest complaint with the figure: the neck joint. It's ball and socket with each of the heads, and this means that it is a bit hard to keep Akuma's head on because it does come loose. It's not too big of a problem since the joint is sturdy and never felt as if it were going to break, but considering you have to put some pressure on Akuma's head to get him to snap into place and his hair is so spiky ... let's just say the still might be indents on my fingers from it.
Akuma also comes with a second set of hands, open palmed so you can make him look like he's about to throw a Gohadouken. Like any Play Arts Kai figure, they take a little bit of effort to get into place and the sculpting work is nice. I could do without the little bit of paint bleed on the palm of his left hand and right thumb, though.
Akuma's final accessory is a deep purple ball of energy, which slips around his fist. It's supposed to replicate the effect that goes with his Goshoryuken attack, and the translucent PVC does a good job of making it glow. There is a seam visible along the top that you can see a little bit of, but it's otherwise a good accessory for Akuma and one that does add something.
Play Arts Kai Akuma has most of the pros and cons of the old Play Arts Kai bodies, and by extension, figures. The joints are really bulky and swapping in and out is a bit of a pain, plus the hip joints aren't ratcheted. But the detailing? It's fantastic, and the paint work is pretty good overall as well, save for some small errors that should have been caught in the quality control department. There's still a desperate need for Square Enix to release the Play Arts Kai stands commercially, but all in all, Akuma is a fairly good figure, despite being rough in a few places.
This is not your figure if you demand absolute perfection (and at a price point of US$55, you should expect something pretty good for your money) but if you're willing to put up with a bunch of potential little issues and the older joints from the Play Arts Kai family, then he should be worth the investment.
[Thanks to Square Enix for sending Akuma along for review!]
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