Review: Alter 1/8 Ookami Ryouko

Next up on the review pile is Alter’s Ookami Ryouko from Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi. While I picked her up relatively early in the year, technical difficulties and aborted photo shoots delayed her review by months. Continue on after the jump to see how this “wolf in wolf’s clothing” stacks up.

Gallery

Review

I must confess that I know little of Ryouko other than that she is apparently a bit of a tsundere and that she is supposed to be modeled after the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. I wanted to catch a couple episodes of the series to get a little more insight into her character, but unfortunately Ookami-san has been licensed by Funimation since 2010 yet remains unreleased. Curse you, Funi! 😡

Visually, Ryouko reminds me a bit of both Taiga from Toradora! and Shana from Shakugan no Shana, which puts her in good company. Her outfit resembles standard seifuku up top, but the side slit skirt and military-style calf-high boots on the bottom are assuredly not standard school issue and serve to give Ryouko a bit of a roguish appearance. Add to this a dramatic red-on-black color coordination that complements Ryouko’s light brown hair nicely and further serves up impressions of a strong and rebellious spirit. Ryouko carries a pair of what I’m assuming to be animate totems on her belt: one black and one white.

Her stance and expression suggest a state of waiting and annoyance on Ryouko’s part, as might be appropriate just prior to departure to/from school. It’s a fairly static pose, which could be viewed as boring, but keen observers can detect subtle highlights in Alter’s work here. As a skillful example of the Art of the Tease, Ryouko’s skirt is conveniently pushed slightly to one side, inviting furtive glances at her long, slender legs while denying insight into her more intimate accompaniments.

Hair continues to be an area where Alter excels and I think it is the area most worthy of praise when assessing the paint and sculpt detail on Ryouko. Her long hair flows backward into a sort of faux ponytail while her face is framed by thick, side-swept bangs and extended side locks. It’s a fairly compact hair style for its length, which affords less room for detail as compared to a looser style that flares out–à la Buddy–but Alter manages to do a pretty good job of packing a lot of sculpt detail into Ryouko’s mane as it flows down her back. Subtle gradations in shading when moving from the center to the tips of each tress further enhance the detail to be found here. Ryouko’s outfit, on the other hand, is fairly unremarkable, detail-wise, while her left hand has a bit of an uncanny, prosthetic look that makes it the weakest area of the sculpt, in my opinion.

One other oddity worth noting is that while the paint finish on this figure is almost uniformly matte, Alter elected to use a glossy finish for Ryouko’s eyes and the toes of her boots. As a result, I was dogged by glare coming off Ryouko’s eyes throughout the photo shoot. I suspect that this effect becomes less distracting under normal interior lighting conditions, but given that the glossy eye treatment is hardly standard practice and the fact that catch lights are already painted into the character’s eyes, I’m not sure what Alter was trying to accomplish here.

Finally, we come to the display base–an area where Alter has been largely maintaining the status quo for a while now. Unfortunately, Alter continues to play it safe and boring with Ryouko. The display base is a simple clear plastic design shaped into a generic animal-eared profile–an obvious nod to Ryouko’s role as the wolf–with a handful of frosted accents. There isn’t even a series logo or character name inscribed on the base.

When I look back at my purchases over the course of this year, I must confess that I often think Ryouko would be the first to go if I had to do it all over again. While I can find only minor faults in the execution, this figure lacks a certain sense of epic grandeur and exoticism captured by favorites such as GSC’s Saber Lily ~Distant Avalon~ and Alter’s own Momohime. Alter does reasonably well with what they’ve got, but it’s hard not to view their take on Ryouko as just another sailor-suited heroine going about her daily business.

Highs

  • Surprisingly high visual interest for a static pose
  • Nice hair!
  • Solid overall sculpt and paint detail
  • Dramatic colors
  • That tsundere look

Lows

  • Glossy eyes
  • Boring display base
  • Mundane themes

Other Reviews

As usual, I’m not the first to review this figure, especially this far after release. Check out these other reviews for an alternate take:

Miscellany

Financial Data

  • Purchased from: AmiAmi
  • Order date: 2-Apr-2011
  • Ship date: 5-Apr-2011
  • Receive date: 15-Apr-2011
  • Base price (JPY): ¥5,430
  • Shipping cost (JPY): ¥895 (Registered SAL) – 1/2 of combined shipping
  • Total cost (JPY): ¥6,325
  • Foreign transaction fee (USD): $2.00
  • Total cost (USD): $77.49

Technical Data

  • Package dimensions (width): 145 mm
  • Package dimensions (height): 240 mm
  • Package dimensions (depth): 115 mm
  • Shipping weight (figure + base + accessories): 148 g
  • Shipping weight (packaging): 161 g

8 thoughts on “Review: Alter 1/8 Ookami Ryouko

  1. Tsundere characters are still an area that manufacturers struggle with, even for the likes of Alter. It’s still the best facial expression I’ve seen of her, though I’d have to favor Griffon’s pose of Ryouko. I do find Alter’s offering to be rather lazy, at least FREEing tried (and failed horribly) with a more unique pose of hers. If a company goes with such a static pose, they really have to nail the face. In my mind, Alter fell a little short in that regard. It doesn’t really matter that everything else looks good because the face really is the most important part of the figure. It’s not a bad figure though, it just could’ve been so much more, especially when coming from Alter.

    I would most likely reason the same way as you when it comes to the agony of getting rid of figures for whatever reason. I’m currently in the process of donating figures and while most of them are of similar pose and expression to that of Ryouko it’s still hard to let go at times.

    I do like the choice of cropping her transparent base as well as the brown backdrop featured in a few shots.

    • I’d never really considered the problem like that before, but now that you mention it there is a surprising lack of distinctive figures capturing the tsundere archetype. Even popular figures of iconic tsunderes like Asuka and Haruhi rarely capture the expressions we’ve come to associate with those characters. I have high hopes for Max Factory’s test suit Asuka to buck the trend in that regard. Her expression looks pretty good from the pre-release shots even if the pose is rather static like Ryouko here.

      The Ryoukos from Griffon and FREEing certainly one-up Alter in terms of originality, but they (unfortunately) seem to fall short of Alter’s work in most other areas. I actually don’t think the expression here is too bad–in fact it’s better than most now that I’m looking around for comparable tsunderes–but I do think that you have to catch the figure at the right angle or it looks a bit off.

      Funny how difficult it can be to part with even a mediocre figure. Even with the promise of turning around and buying something bigger and better, I have a hard time culling the weak, so to speak, from my collection. I recently did let go of one of my figures to a Tsuki-Board member in an even exchange for another, but it was the first time I’ve sold anything from my collection in over two years. 😕

      The brown background is a section of batik fabric from the local fabric store. I usually opt to crop out the display base unless it is significantly detailed as with GSC’s Black Rock Shooter or I’m just trying to show the entire figure in one frame. I just feel like there’s not a lot I can do creatively with the display base in the frame.

    • Figuring out how to get some variation in the backdrops without breaking the bank was the first step, but I feel like I’ve still go a long way to go before I can think about handing out photography advice.

      Now I need to get more creative with my lighting. I’m hoping to make my first forays into off-camera flash in the near future. Hopefully, I’ll find that I have more material worth writing about some time after that!

  2. The totems are actually supposed to be electrified punching gloves.

    The pose of the left arm does seem a bit unnatural, odd considering that they usually do a good job with that. This is kind of different from the usual Alter figures I see. What I’ve come to expect is very dynamic poses but this one is a little more conservative.

    I have a different Ryouko figure and I do feel an almost mundane aura about her too. I think it might have more to do with her character design. Brown and black aren’t very interesting. But I think she’s more about the hidden details than flashy first impressions.

    • Thanks for the clarification regarding the boxing gloves. I felt like I was going to get that one wrong, but I couldn’t find an explanation of what they were when researching Ryouko’s character.

      I also tend to associate Alter with dynamic poses, although their back catalog seems to have more relatively static poses than I previously realized. Their execution is usually good enough that I can forgive a small lapse in creativity from time to time.

      I tend to agree that Ryouko’s strength is in the little things. I noticed a number of nice, but subtle details while doing the review that I hadn’t noticed when I first unboxed the figure. I actually don’t think the color scheme is that bad. I rather like the boldness of the red in her outfit, though I suppose some detail could be getting lost in all the black.

  3. She is a good looking figure and resembles her origin quite well.
    The red and black color combination and the high cut of her skirt are interesting.
    I also like her high boots which underline Ryouko’s badass look.

    The face turned out quite nice, it is no cute expression, but looks confident and a bit tsun.
    I actually like eyes with a shiny finish and also the upper front teeth line in her mouth is another interesting detail.

    • I agree that Alter did a good job of capturing Ryouko’s character. Her outfit is an appealing variation on a typical seifuku uniform with little details like the boots giving her a little bit of an intimidating look and she has that annoyed tsundere look that we expect from her character.

      The glossy finish on her eyes is more of an annoyance when taking photos in certain lighting conditions than anything else. It’s not a major issue so much as it’s a puzzling design choice on Alter’s part.

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