Ah Kousaka Kirino…if you’ve been following Hobby Hovel for a long time, then you might have seen some parts of my tumultuous relationship with this mischievous little scamp. When I first learned of the premise of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, or Oreimo for short), I could not help but to roll my eyes: “A closet imouto otaku that also happens to be a fashion model, an honor student, a track athlete, and a feisty tsundere younger sister character at the same time? Really?” But when I saw the first promo photos of this figure of her by Kotobukiya months ago, I could not help but to put away at least some of my prejudice, because I’ can’t help but to love bright-coloured, energetic figures like this.
When the TV anime began to air, I quickly warmed up to Kirino as a character. As contrived as the story’s premise may feel, Kirino’s underlying struggle to seek out others who share her socially stigmatized hobby is something that really resonated with me. Collecting figures and watching anime make me happy, but they are the sort of hobbies that are easily misunderstood and dismissed. At the time Oreimo was airing, I had just begun to attend meetings of my campus anime club, and thus I understood Kirino’s difficulty in throwing the hidden side of her life in front of a bunch of complete strangers. And when she finally finds success, I found myself genuinely happy for her.
But as the series progressed onwards, Kirino quickly became a serious test to my patience and tolerance. Her bratty antics were borderline unbearable, especially considering the extent to which her brother Kyousuke goes to help her. The author and director seem completely conscious of Kirino’s uncanny ability to induce rage, and they seemed to be using it to manipulate the audience. As my mouth foamed with frustration and anger, the side characters (such as Kuroneko and Manami) began to seem better than they actually are. I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems that this rage-manipulation tactic worked in the end, because by the end of the last broadcast episode, I was earnestly happy to see the announcement for the second season.
Oh Kirino, can I truly say that I hate you? No matter how great the side character may be, you are still the festering heart of the series! Yet why do I look forward to the sequel, and why am I sitting here, writing a review of a plastic figure made in your image? Why couldn’t I cancel the pre-order months ago when your shrieking voice was banging against my tattered nerves like a battering ram? I may never truly understand the method behind my madness, but I do know that I don’t regret not cancelling this figure. The Kotobukiya Kousaka Kirino is not perfect, and I am especially disappointed with one of its flaws, but in the end, she’s still a figure I’d recommend to most Oreimo fan out there.
Kotobukiya’s Kirino measures in at 18.5 cm from the bottom of her foot to the top of her head – a healthy height for a 1/8th scale middle-schooler. She is depicted in a running pose, pointing at some unspecified object. Knowing Kirino, she’s probably dragging his brother through Akihabara and getting overly excited about something her poor victim has no interest in.
Whatever the case, she seems genuinely pumped! Kirino’s face has the series’ signature perma-blush, and the fang sticking out of the corner of her big smile is all sorts of adorable. If only she wore faces like this more often in the anime, then maybe much of the hatred and frustration would be dissipated. Strategic application of dere to tsun is vital for the maintenance of the tsundere moe engine, after all.
Comparision with the promo shot, original artist’s illustration, and my personal favourite figure. As you can see, the Kirino figure’s hair is a far cry from the original bright orange. Thus, it ends up looking pretty flat in comparison to some other figures.
One thing I immediately noticed about Kirino is her pastel colour palette. Everything has more of a lighter shade than what I usually see. While I don’t mind pastel colours as a style, they really don’t suit Kirino’s character. The keyword of the figure is energy; from her head of bright orange hair, to the playful expression she’s got on her face, to the motion captured in her clothing, the promo photos promised a figure that is ready to burst out of the box. But while the pose and the sculpt made the transition from the prototype stage just fine, her hair colour seem faded by comparison – it barely looks orange under regular lighting conditions, and when under my room lights, it looks like dull blonde more than anything else. For such an energetic character and pose, the colour nerf dealt a nasty shin kick to my enjoyment of this figure.
The paint application for Kirino is pretty good. There are no significant mishaps to speak of, and since her uniform is of a pretty simple design, there aren’t any complex details to muddle up. The combination of a kinetic sculpt and subtle shading keeps the uniform from looking dull, and small details like her fingernails and ear piercing are cleanly executed. There’s not a lot of skin shading on this figure, but it’s definitely there if you look for it.
Speaking of details and skin, Kirino is unique in that you can see a part of her bra if you look up her shirt. It’s a totally unnecessary detail, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Kirino is also wearing some pink panties that her short skirt is doing a terrible job at concealing…not that I have a problem, of course!
Like the previous Kotobukiya figure I reviewed, there is a bit of a seam line issue, but since Kirino does not suffer from the same semi-gloss finish, they are far less glaring. The exception to this is the lines on her socks and on the sides of her hair. The latter also suffers from minor scarring near the division between the front and back half of her hair.
Kirino’s display base is pretty unique – it’s a speech bubble-shaped base that consists of two clear plastic disks and a clear insert that goes between them. The figures come with two inserts, one of which simply has the series’ title written on it, and the other features smaller version of the title, along with Kousaka Kyousuke’s nervous face sticking out of the corner. I had no idea of this gimmick before I received her, and I gotta say it’s a pretty nice surprise. If you are the creative type, you can easily make your own inserts to mix things up.
My final complaint against figure is its somewhat wonky assembly. A lot of things wiggle on this figure when they really shouldn’t. Her left arm wiggles around in its socket, and the division between the upper and lower half of her torso also shimmies around. Given that Kirino’s skirt is separate piece that loops around her waist, I thought the torso is supposed to come apart for the purpose of removing the skirt, but after a few attempts using reasonable strength, the figure refuses to come part, despite the seemingly loose fit between the components. I’ve seen a couple of photos of this figure with the skirt off, but I’m not sure whether that was managed, and I don’t not brave enough to find out first-hand.
But while these aforementioned problems don’t really affect Kirino as a display piece, the wiggle problem between her foot and the display base does. Her foot is permanently attached to a clear plastic wedge, which is then attached to the base via two short pegs. But due to the looseness of the fit and the backward weight distribution of the figure, the wedge loses its grip on the base pegs pretty easily. This means that if you pick Kirino up by the base or bump into her base by accident, the wedge will probably be partially separated from the base. While this won’t exactly send Kirino flying into the air, it will probably create additional stress on the pegs. If you plan to display this figure cabinet or some other secure location, this won’t be an issue for you. But if you plan to display her on a desk or if you like moving around your figures regularly, watch out for the loose pegs!
I may have spilt a lot of ink on the miscellaneous flaws like the seam lines and the loose assembly, but for me, everything boils down to the colours. Kotobukiya’s 1/8 Kousaka Kirino is very cute and has a great sculpt that perfectly captures the character’s enthusiasm, but the figure’s toned-down colours are a huge disappointment in my eyes. It’s not so much I regret buying the figure, but rather because it’s so close to my idea of perfection. If you aren’t bothered by this flaw, then by all means snatch up the re-release of this figure for around 4,800 yet at the usual
suspects, as there won’t be much else in the way to hamper your enjoyment. If you ARE bothered by it, it may be a better idea to exercise your patience, as there seems to be another scaled figure of Kirino by Kotobukiya is in the works. Or you can just go for the Figma, the Nendoroid, the Beach Queen, or the Chara-Ani version – rage-inducing or not, Kirino is here to stay, and there’ll probably be even more figures of her in the near future.
- Super-energetic pose and sculpt
- Simple & clean paint work
- Dull hair colour
- Slightly loose assembly