This week, I have a special treat courtesy of my friend Molly: a review on the new Senjougahara Hitagi figure! Nope, not that Hitagi figure, but the Kotobukiya version that seems to have been booted far from the spotlight by its Good Smile Company counterpart. Disappointed? Well, you shouldnâ€™t be, as the figure is no slouch against its intimidating competition.
In case youâ€™ve been living underneath a lock this past year, Senjougahara Hitagi is one of the protagonists of Bakemonogatari, an anime adaption of Nisio Isinâ€™s light novel of the same name. Thought she may not look exceedingly special on the outside, Hitagi has a razor-sharp tongue which she uses to frequently verbally abuse and tease the hapless vampire protagonist, Araragi Koyomi. After helping Hitagi in ridding the crab oddity that causes her strange weightless condition, Araragi becomes closer to Hitagi, eventually entering a romantic relationship with her. Not that the abuse ever stops, of course.
Despite being a labelled as tsundere by Oshino, Hitagi is a rather unique character. Her brand of verbal abuse is different from the usual angry shrieks that weâ€™ve heard from tsundere characters all over the place. If the tongue of a regular tsundere is a machine gun, then Hitagiâ€™s tongue would be a sniper rifle â€“ calculated and precise in its ability to reduce a man to a worm. But while her abusive tendencies may seem similar to sadist characters like Maria from Arakawa under the Bridge, Hitagi also displays moments of genuine affection that few could resist. By combining traits from various character archetypes, along with SHAFT-tier fanservice and a good backstory, the sudden boom of Hitagi figures should come to the surprise of no one.
In this review, Iâ€™ll do my best to judge the figure for what it is, rather than compare it against GSC and ALTERâ€™s unreleased counterparts, since comparing a real product against display prototypes is kind of unfair. I will scribble a couple of things down on that subject in the end, so without further ado, letâ€™s a-go!
The very first thing that came to mind when I first laid my eyes on Kotobukiyaâ€™s Senjougahara Hitagi was her size. Measuring at 21 cm (8 in) tall, Hitagi dwarves the GSC Vocaloid trio (the tallest of which being Miku, who is 18 cm (7.1 in) tall). If translated to 1/1 scale, Senjougahara would be 168 cm (5 ft 6 in) tall, which is noticeably taller than the average adult female height in Japan (158 cm/5 ft 2 in). This can mean two things: either Hitagi is a really tall high schooler, or Kotobukiya is surprisingly generous in terms of scaling. Whatever the case may be, Senjougahara feels pleasantly large due to her long legs, toe-tipping pose, and her voluminous purple hair.
Hitagiâ€™s face is hard to describe. Unlike the GSC version, the face on the Kotobokiya version does not capture the flirty side of her character. The face does not possess a strong sense of emotion, yet I canâ€™t call it â€œblankâ€ either. If anyoneâ€™s got a better way to describe her face, feel free to share. All I know is that her head has a dainty feel to it in its slight tilt and sideway gaze, and I like it.
Hitagiâ€™s oddity lies in her weightlessness caused by a crab oddity, and Kotobukiya captures this trait very well. Not only did they include a clear kanji-ridden crab pincer that is inserted into the clear display base, sculptor Shiketaudonko have also created the illusion of weightlessness in the folds of her skirt and tie. These subtle details on clothing physics make it seem that during her fall, Hitagiâ€™s body weight is not so different from the weight of her clothes, thus creating an almost low-gravity snapshot of the character. Her head of flowing purple hair spread out behind her completes the illusion, and a great-looking illusion it is!
Though Hitagiâ€™s school uniform is of a relatively simple design, Kotobukiya has done a good job with adding depth to her look by using highlights and shading on her top, skirt, and thigh-high socks. The buttons on her top are painted in the same colour as the rest of her top, but this is trait inherited from her original character design. Also deserving of mention are the rims of her socks, which actually have little wrinkles moulded into it.
True to her infamous dressing scene, her panties have light blue stationary prints on it. I had completely forgotten about the stationary prints before the review. Needless to say, this was a very pleasant surprise to me.
Like her outfit, Hitagiâ€™s hair is also well-shaded. The details of the sculpt are also decent â€“ the points on it are not as sharp as most ALTER and Max Factory figures, but they arenâ€™t too dull either. However, Hitagiâ€™s hair suffers from an excess of part divisions. While the horizontal division on top of her head is a flaw that is to be expected from figures in general, the various other divisions arenâ€™t. There is a line running down the front of her bangs, another on her left side, and yet another on the back side of her hair. The latter two seem to be the result of tacking on extra locks of hair. Since Iâ€™m not in the figure-making business, I donâ€™t know why Kotobukiya saw fit to make these extra divisions. What I do know is they unfortunately detract slightly from the overall appearance of the figure.
Hitagi is equipped with her weapon of choice â€“ a small stapler that fits snugly in her right hand. Because of its small size, Hitagi doesnâ€™t look too bad without it, either. Her light pink fingernails do not deviate far from the pale colour of her fingers, but youâ€™ll find that they are cleanly painted if you squint at her fingers.
Her right foot is screwed into the clear display base, and the screw is visible through the clear plastic. Itâ€™s not a big deal, since itâ€™s pretty inconspicuous. The crab pincer can be removed from the display base, though the exposed socket it fits into would make for a slightly distracting sight. The pincer has a pretty visible mould line running down its center, but Iâ€™m not sure if that could be helped. Regardless, this flaw is also inconspicuous enough for me to have wondered whether I should mention it in the review or not. Oh well, better safe than sorry~
Finally, I have a couple of general thoughts on the production quality of the Kotobukiya Hitagi. There are some mould lines on the sides of her top and the front and back of her legs. While the latter is hard to spot without looking closely at it under direct lighting, the lines on her top are a bit of a shame.
However, the bigger problem I have against the figure is its plastic sheen. The way light bounces off the figure gives it a cheap feel. Her top and skirt suffer from the flaw, but the most heavily-hit part of the figure is her skin. The picture above shows the difference between the Kotobukiya Hitagi and the GSC Kagamine Rin under a desk lamp. The implications of this flaw may differ â€“ if you display her on an ordinary setting, I doubt the sheen is going to bother you terribly much â€“ hell, you might not even notice it. However, if you have a dedicated display cabinet with lights coming down on the figure, I would imagine the sheen would become a significant problem.
Iâ€™ve managed to dodge the comparison with the Good Smile Company and ALTER versions thus far in order to give figure the fairest opinion I could muster. Now that is out of the way, letâ€™s get to the 9800 yen question, because chances are it is the most relevant question for someone contemplating the purchase of this figure.
Each of the three figures has their own unique virtues. The Kotobukiya version delivers a decent quality figure that does a great job at capturing Hitagiâ€™s weightless oddity while being 2600 yen cheaper than the GSC version. The GSC version captures the teasing side of Hitagiâ€™s personality, and the raining stationary effect looks very impressive. And while itâ€™s probably a little early to judge ALTERâ€™s offering, the promise of ALTER quality along with the big stationary-laden display base is compelling, not to mention the fact that Hitagi is practically squeezing her chest together in that pose.
So, with this in mind, should you get the Kotobukiya Senjougahara Hitagi figure? That depends. There is no question that the figure itself is pretty nice even with its minor flaws, so if you are a Hitagi fanatic with money to burn, by all means snatch up this figure. However, if youâ€™re looking for the one Hitagi figure (TO RULE THEM ALLâ€¦ sorry, I couldnâ€™t resist), it would be impossible to give you a definitive answer â€“ youâ€™ll have to weigh your own options and decide for yourself, though I honestly donâ€™t see a â€œwrongâ€ option here. Personally, if I was a little more invested in the character, Iâ€™d wait and see a coloured prototype of ALTERâ€™s version before making a decision, since theyâ€™ve proven themselves to be a consistent and capable maker countless times in the past. Of course, it may very well be too late to snatch up the other version at that pointâ€¦
On a side note: I am kind of annoyed that none of the three makers decided to go for Hitagi in the casual black outfit she wore in that superb stargazing episode. The girl is devilishly stylish, and itâ€™s practically a crime to have no figures of her in a ponytail. Pssst Megahouse, I hope youâ€™re listening~
Weightlessness is captured in the clothing, hair and pose
Plastic Sheen (especially on the skin)
Mould lines on the top and legs
Excessive hair divisions
Gee, of all the shots I could forget, I forgot to take close-ups of her faceâ€¦ Oh well, thereâ€™s a zoom button in the flickr interface â€“ make use of it! =P (EDIT: Fixed for now with a cropped version of an unused photo)