4:00 PM on 04.12.2013
It's Shunya ... what else did you possibly expect?
For most folks who know Shunya Yamashita, they are familiar with his work on the various Bishoujo lines for Kotobukiya. His pin-up stylings of popular characters have a lot of fans, and some definite haters, too, but he's also got his own illustrated characters that some might not know about. Yamato (now Arcadia), who Shunya has worked with before, has brought some of them to life as part of their Creators' Labo series, and one of those is the lovely miss Nen-Nen.
Does what we like about Shunya's Bishoujo designs hold up here, though? Well, mostly, yes, but there's a single little difference that makes Nen-Nen better than Kotobukiya's offerings ... or should I say, a single person.
Figure Name: Creators' Labo #033: Nen-Nen
Figure Maker: Yamato
Retail/List Price: ¥10,800
Available at: HobbyLink Japan
Begin with the box? Why sure. It's a fairly basic box with a large window on the front, some smaller ornamental window slits on the side, and the large Nen-Nen illustration on the back. It also lists both the illustrator, Shunya Yamashita, and sculptor, the talented Mitsumasa Yoshizawa (a.k.a. REFLECT), who has worked with both Yamato and Shunya before.
Nen-Nen is an interesting figure. While my first thought went something along the lines of, "I hope she's not a leaner," Nen-Nen has a bit of liveliness to her look. She's posed in a fighting stance with her dress (if that's kind of what you can call it) fluttering in the PVC breeze. Rather than looking head on, she's oriented at more of a 90-degree angle, looking off to her left, with a hand on her sword and the other extended outward. She does indeed look ready for a fight, and if she weren't an original character, you might wonder just what video game she came from.
The base has a nice Chinese pattern on it ... but is otherwise a plastic circle. Stable, simple with a peg for the foot to rest on. Nothing much to complain about or really praise here.
Speaking of her feet, take a look at these shoes. Yes, she is preparing to fight in high heels with big red balls on them ... why did you ask? While the idea of fighting in heels might seem ridiculous, at least everything is looking good here. The paint lines along the detailed edges are clean, and even the small red, jewel-like spheres add a little pop of color to the blue and gold palette.
As with some of Shunya's illustrations, you get plenty of leg with Nen-Nen. Paint is even here with a nice off-tone for the stockings and some fancy ornateness on the top end. To be honest, they kind of give me a Chun-Li feel from the look, without the beefiness.
And here is the obligatory butt shot to get it out of the way. You can actually see she has an uneven butt, which makes sense a bit because she's got one leg up in the air like that. But wearing a thong bottom? For fighting? I know, Cammy does it, too, but I don't understand it. Maybe it's a range of motion thing. But yeah, she has a nice sculpted butt.
When you get up to Nen-Nen's battle dress, it really begins to sink in how good this figure looks. Shunya's design is shapely and eye-catching without being too exploitative (yes, even with that little boob window), but REFLECT's work here is what sets this piece apart. Just the way the dress seems to twist and fold along Nen-Nen's curves naturally, how it creases along her shoulders and upper arms; all of it looks wonderful. That liveliness, or activeness, I mentioned before really finds itself manifested in this part of the figure; Nen-Nen would be very different otherwise and perhaps a lot more run-of-the-mill.
Perhaps Nen-Nen's other great feature is her face; REFLECT has once again done a wonderful job capturing Shunya's style in a way that looks even better when the detail work is done. It's a much softer and youthful look than in Shunya's drawing, but I think it works out pretty well here.
Looking past the face, the hair has some definition in it, and there's a bit of a seam hidden in the hairline, as is commonplace with a lot of PVC figures. The little hair loops (I guess that's what we call them?) look nice but do feel a bit like they're at a standstill when a bit more movement could have been put into them. You know, unless Nen-Nen has been holding this pose for a good five minutes, in which case, I salute her balance and leg strength.
As for the upper body, I mentioned earlier how the creasing looks good, and you can see a little better glimpse of it here. It bunches in spots where it should and tailors itself around her arms in a manner that feels realistic. I think this is some of REFLECT's best work, on par or even slightly better than what he's done previously.
Taking a closer look at the left hand, which faces palm outward as part of her fighting stance, you can see how each of the figures has its own definition and even Nen-Nen's pink nails have not been overlooked.
The sword itself — technically a type of dao — is an extra piece that you'll have to fit in. Here, you can see Nen-Nen's right hand without the dao in it, and where it slots in. The dao is a two-piece accessory that separates where the hilt and handguard are, easily disassembling and reassembling. Put together, of course, and it looks like this:
Now, it's clear Shunya has taken some liberties in designing the dao to be a bit more fancy, with a unique shape and that gigantic circle at the bottom of the blade. You would think that might make the sword less battle-worthy, but again, Nen-Nen's whole design is very stylized and not necessarily set in realism. The good news happens to be that the paint here is excellent; no paint splotches to worry about, and the colors all have a proper hue to it. Again, you can't really deny that this is a gorgeous figure in every little nook and cranny.
Oh, and included in the package is a print of Nen-Nen and her sibling Non-Non giving her a bit of a hug. Or something like that. Maybe Non-Non isn't that good at hugs.
It's easy to see the cheesecake here and expect a very Shunya statue. While Nen-Nen does fit that bill, it also means that some of the good Shunya qualities are present here, too, teased out by REFLECT's gorgeous sculpting work. Nen-Nen feels a lot like a collectible made for the older collector, not because of that butt, but because there's no licensing behind it to appeal to younger folks. It's more a piece of art that people will love for its individual look rather than a collectible you'll get to represent fandom or as a status symbol.
Nen-Nen fits in well with an equation I've learned to respect for being accurate: Shunya + REFLECT + Yamato = good-quality figure that I'll enjoy. Get her if you're looking for something that's different.
[Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sending Nen-Nen along for review!]