Do you have an overachieving sibling that seems to be better than you in everything they do? If so, you would probably know how Kagamine Rin feels (if she was a real person, that is). As the follow-up to the unexpectedly successful voice synthesizer program Hatsune Miku, Rin makes up for one half of the second instalment of the Character Vocal Series along with her twin brother Kagamine Len (the sound bank for both characters were provided by Shimoda Asami of Idolm@ster fame). But like all the Vocaloid programs that came after Miku, Rin and Len could not quite measure up to the immense popularity already garnered by their predecessor. Rin certainly had her share of hits such as “Meltdown” and “Kokoro”, but she nevertheless pales in comparison to Miku’s seemingly endless repertoire.
Miku’s overshadowing presence is not only felt over at Nico Nico Douga, but in terms of figure sales as well. To this day, Good Smile Company’s 1/8 Hatsune Miku has already seen at least one re-release, while the Nendoroid and Figma Miku has seen at least two. All three figures have all but vanished from the inventories of online retailers. On the other hand, you will still easily 1/8 Rin and Len along with their Figma and Nendoroid counterparts easily (I actually found my Rin on Amiami for 45% off). This really is a shame, as the 1/8 Kagamine Rin is an excellent figure that excels above Miku in many respects. Preferences for characters aside, this somewhat ill-fated figure is simply a great pleasure to behold and should not be overlooked.
The foremost thing that came to my mind was the pose. It’s definitely not the most comfortable-looking position, to put it lightly. The upper torso is almost at right angles with the hips, displaying either a questionable understanding of human anatomy or great flexibility on the part of the character. The pose leaves little to the imagination when it comes to guessing the sculptor’s intended focal point. However, I can’t write off the pose as being “bad”. Indeed, if you try to put yourself into the pose of the figure, you will end up with an infirm spine. But I don’t believe such was the intention of the sculptor — rather, it is meant to be seen as a snapshot of a character in motion, perhaps during a performance when Rin swiftly turns around to face the audience. In this respect, this otherwise questionable pose brings the figure to life. For me, the reception of the figure rests on the interpretation of the pose. If viewed as a static position, the words “back pain” will inevitably be engraved in the viewer’s mind. But if viewed as a frame of a moving picture, the figure will appear as lively and dynamic, if a little exaggerated in a cartoonish way.
Speaking of lively, the colours on Rin can be aptly described by that word. The bright yellow and white are contrasted with the black on her costume — a very striking combination of colours that seems to emit a pleasant glow. Together with her large green eyes, the figure simply oozes enthusiasm. Another point of notice is the colour of her skin: while Miku’s paleness suffered from a somewhat sickly green complexion, the skin tone on Rin contains a touch of natural-looking pink — yet another quality that gives her a very lively look. It’s important to not underestimate the value of this lively quality to the figure: keep in mind that she’s supposed to be an energetic tomboy-type! To this respect, the pose, the colours and the expression all contribute to reproduce the liveliness of the character in a static, miniature form.
Pleasant initial impressions are not betrayed by a closer inspection in the case of Rin, as virtually all the details are well-executed.
Rin’s hair is shaded in a very subtle way, so much so that you’ll have to look real close to spot the lighter tones in the creases of her hair. The overall effect achieved is great, as Rin’s hair looks pleasantly bright without being outright flat. The giant bow on her head is also shaded with tints of blue, emphasising its sense of volume.
On the flip side, the gold hairclips and the headphones are slightly rough around the edges; small traces of gold paint are accidentally applied on the hair portion of the mould, and the paint isn’t very smooth on the ear receivers. But as you can probably tell, these are pretty trivial flaws.
Like the bow on her head, the white portion of Rin’s top is also shaded with tints of blue, while the ribbon is shaded with darker tones of yellow. The sailor collar is given a glossy finish; it also features a lighter tones on its inner portions and darker tones near the edges. The lace trimming around her sleeves are very cleanly painted, much like the 1/8 Miku.
There are some miniscule details on Rin’s belt and shorts. Fortunately, all of the details pulled through in this figure rendition of the character. The triangular pattern of the belt, the metal buckles, and even the little buttons on her pockets are clearly distinguishable. Folds of fabric on the shorts are clearly visible partially due to the glossy finish and shading. I guess the only complaint I have about the shorts is how unbelievably tight they are – the damn thing is digging its way to China! I’m pretty sure that’s the intention of the sculptor, but to me, these shorts are just too damn stiff-looking for the purpose of sex appeal, as I don’t quite like staring at a permanent wedgie. Don’t get me wrong – I like asses as much as the next guy, but this really is an excessive case. Fortunately, this flaw is only visible from certain out-of the way angles thanks to the hanging belt that obscures the deep chasm created by the shorts, so it won’t be an issue unless you go out of your way to find it.
Finally, we have the arm and leg warmers. Like the rest of the dark portions of her costume, they are painted with multiple tones and a glossy finish. Even the shoes are shaded with light blue near the yellow soles. The nails are painted with great clarity, as well as the markings on her left leg warmer and left arm. There IS a visible injection mark on her left leg warmer and a mould line on her right leg warmer, however, but since she does not retail for an atrocious amount of money, these imperfections are well within acceptable limits.
Rin also comes with a little display sign with the names of both twins written on it. Compared with the rest of the package, the sign is really underwhelming given how hard it is to read what’s written on it. I think its real role is to tempt owners of Rin into buying her brother Len as well with this constant reminder.
I can continue to go on and on about the minute details of the figure, but I have a feeling that’s really beside the point. While Rin certainly isn’t the flashiest figure around, she possesses a simple charm that is hard to deny. With its bright colours, exaggerated pose and beaming expression, the 1/8 Kagamine Rin is pure sunshine in solid form. Good Smile Company could have taken so many shortcuts with the figure’s production process, yet the effort spent on applying the subtle shading on the figure really pulled through in the end. Sure, there are a couple of miniscule flaws here and there, but these don’t even come close to amounting to a criticism substantial enough to put it against the figure.
Personally, I absolutely love this figure. It has the uncommon quality of making me genuinely happy. Even now after a few weeks, I still crack a slight smile when I look at her. In fact, I like her so much that I’d be willing to get Len (the other Kagamine twin) if I see him on sale. Make no mistake: Rin looks perfectly fine without the companionship of her twin brother. However, she has steamrolled into my heart with such force that I am almost compelled to complete the duo. This is the only figure I have reviewed so far that is still widely in stock, and I whole heartedly recommend you grabbing one before she becomes hard to find. Oh, and if you see Len for a good sale price, be sure to let me know! (EDIT: Len acquired!!! Review in the coming weeks.)
Great uses of shading
Pose might take a little getting used to