Next on the review pile for 2012 is Shining Hearts heroine Neris! She’s another one of those pesky Gemaga exclusives and the first figure from Kotobukiya to roll through the review queue. See how she stacks up below the jump.
Neris is but one of a small flood of Shining Hearts figures to hit the market in the past nine months or so. The lion’s share of those have been handled by Kotobukiya, but there have been a couple from Yamato and the lone Xiao Mei from Max Factory. Neris has the dubious distinction of being the only Japanese shop exclusive from Shining Hearts to date.
Shining Hearts is a SEGA title and part of the greater body of work that is the Shining series that started back in the Genesis days. Those early 16-bit titles, particularly Shining Force II, stand as my earliest introductions to the SRPG genre and were also one of the few reasons why I might (slightly) have regretted selecting the SNES over the Genesis as my one and only 16-bit console. In the intervening time since its early 90’s debut, SEGA has throughly ran the Shining series into the ground, as it has a noted talent for doing. Most recent entries to the series lose the tactical elements of the early games, ship to lackluster reviews, and hardly any have made their way out of Japan.
If there’s been a silver lining in the fall of the Shining series, it would have to be the fact that Tony Taka has taken over character design duties for the most recent titles (Tears, Wind, Hearts, and the soon-to-be-released Blade). Tony has contributed some gorgeous artwork and character designs to the series–documented in the excellent Tony’s ART Works from Shining World artbook, which also received a very nicely done localization by Udon Entertainment. While his work may not have saved the series from further decline, I suspect he did at least succeed in making it more successful from a merchandising perspective.
I was a bit hesitant in preordering Neris for a couple reasons. For one, there’s the obvious exclusive tax which added about 2,167 JPY (Big in Japan price) on top of the forget-about-any-discounts price of 9,333 JPY. In Neris’s case, there was also an unwanted surprise at release time when a couple “extras” (namely, a wall scroll and bath poster) forced an upgrade from a fairly reasonable 1,390 JPY for Registered SAL service to the lofty sum of 4,000 JPY for EMS. All told, Neris ran me a tad over $200 (USD) shipped, which is a king’s ransom for a 1/8 scale PVC.
There was also my previous history with Kotobukiya weighing on the purchasing decision. I only owned two Koto figures at the time–wizard’s robe Blanc Neige and swimsuit Corticarte–neither of which I hold in particularly high regard. As such, I was a bit reluctant to throw large amounts of money their way again for fear of another disappointment. On the other hand, it had also been a couple years since my last Koto purchase and I figured they deserved another shot. I had high hopes that Neris would manage to restore some of my faith in Kotobukiya so I could buy from them with confidence again in the future.
Reservations aside, Neris wears with a cute Bavarian maid outfit that, combined with her pose and expression, gives her a playful demeanor. She carries a bread basket in her left hand that can be swapped out for a bow and arrows. Even with weapon in hand, Neris retains an air of innocence. The pose has few, if any, bad angles, though this is another figure with the glossy-eyed look that I’m starting to dread as a photographer, so I had trouble lighting Neris from certain directions.
Kotobukiya did outfit Neris with a cast-off implement, which allows one to display her sans skirt and reveal a pair of pink shimapan underneath. The cast-off feature was a bit of a surprise to me, as I did not see it advertised anywhere in the pre-release material, but the seam where the torso and lower body meet is well hidden beneath Neris’s non-removable corset, so I can’t really complain much about its presence.
Quality-wise, Neris is subtly disappointing. At a reasonable viewing distance of 12 inches or so, she looks pretty good. Move in closer–or with the aide of a macro lens–and it becomes evident that the sculpt and paint work has a roughness that I’m unaccustomed to seeing from the likes of Alter or Good Smile Company. It’s a problem I’ve seen with my other Koto figures and something I had really hoped that they would have fixed by now, especially on their high-priced exclusives.
The display base doesn’t earn Kotobukiya any points, either. It’s completely unadorned (no logo or anything) white plastic with a simple bevel design. Neris comes pre-affixed, possibly permanently, to the base, so it’s secure enough, but the lack of ambition in the presentation just furthers my impression that Kotobukiya is content with getting by rather than pushing the envelope.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with Neris. I had truly hoped she would show me that Kotobukiya could deliver a figure with the best of them, but instead I got a reminder of my complaints with their past work. Given the significant cost involved, I feel my money would have been better spent elsewhere and I’ll certainly be hesitant when considering purchases with them again in the future. It’s too bad, too. I was really liking the look of their Touhou Tenshi. 😦
Am I being too hard on Kotobukiya here? I’d like to hear some opinions from others.
- Cute outfit, pose and facial expression
- Interchangeable props
- Low-compromise cast-off
- Subtly disappointing craftsmanship
- Bare-bones display base
- Purchased from: Big in Japan
- Order date: 22-Sep-2011
- Ship date: 24-Jan-2012
- Receive date: 26-Jan-2012
- Base price (JPY): ¥11,500
- Shipping cost (JPY): ¥4,000 (EMS)
- Total cost (JPY): ¥15,500
- Total cost (USD): $203.37
- Package dimensions (width): 210 mm
- Package dimensions (height): 250 mm
- Package dimensions (depth): 160 mm
- Shipping weight (figure + display box): 512 g
- Shipping weight (total): 1,838 g