Review: Max Factory 1/8 Shana

Remaining loyal to the North American anime industry is an exercise in perseverance. One must repeatedly endure the inevitable time lag between a series airing in Japan and seeing it licensed, localized, and ultimately released on domestic DVD and/or Blu-ray. At best, this delay is measured in months; at worst, years. Shakugan no Shana is a series that had it worse than most. Its fate was tied to the sinking ship that was Geneon, which was responsible for releasing the first season of SnS on DVD years ago. Despite the apparent transfer of numerous Geneon licenses to Funimation back in mid-2008, which presumably included the Shakugan no Shana rights, the second SnS TV series from the Fall 2007 season did not make its NA debut until December 2012. The 2007 feature film and Fall 2009 OVA series followed in January and the third, and final, TV series is promised for next month. At least Funi is making up for lost time by releasing all of SnS in rapid succession.

As part of the NA Shakugan no Shana (re)launch, I have been re-watching the series starting from the first season, which I already had on DVD from the Geneon days, and proceeding through the newer content. As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to dust off one of my figures of the eponymous loli-tsundere heroine for review, while the series is still fresh on my mind.

Gallery

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#2)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#3)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#4)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#5)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#6)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#7)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#8)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#9)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#10)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#11)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#12)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#13)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#14)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#15)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#16)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#17)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#18)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#19)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#20)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#21)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#22)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#23)

1/8 scale Shana PVC figure by Max Factory (#24)

Review

Max Factory originally released this 1/8 scale PVC rendition of Shana back in late 2007, which makes this a pretty old figure–one of the oldest in my collection. At just 175 mm tall, she is also easily the smallest–a bit disappointing if you like your figures as large as possible.

Shana is depicted in full Flame Haze mode, with the Nieto no Shana slung casually across one shoulder, flaming red hair fanning outward, seifuku billowing in the wind, while wagging a defiant finger at some unseen foe. It’s a pretty solid pose that captures Shana’s essence as a confident, in-your-face fighter.

Size and detail are often inversely proportional, but this figure retains pretty good detail despite its diminutive size. Shana’s voluminous red hair is easily the centerpiece, as it is Shana’s most striking characteristic when in battle. Max Factory used a semi-transparent plastic that is an almost fully opaque dark red near Shana’s temples and transitions to a translucent orange at the tips of each strand. The light refracted through the translucent plastic gives the hair a faux glow when viewed in the right light and does a reasonable job of approximating the signature look of Shana’s flaming hair.

The sculpt also features an Easter egg in that our heroine can be displayed sans-skirt by separating the upper and lower halves of the torso via a seam cleverly hidden by the overhang of the blouse. The effect is fairly innocuous in that Shana’s panties are not overly detailed and the undulating hem of her skirt, as sculpted, doesn’t do a particularly good job of hiding her unmentionables even when in place.

Overall craftsmanship is respectable by modern standards, but it’s still a noticeable a step down from Max Factory’s contemporary scale offerings. Everything is just a tad bit rougher and less refined in terms of both sculpt and paint quality. The most obvious flaw worth noting are Shana’s hands, which I find to be unnaturally awkward at certain angles–particularly, her sword hand when viewed straight on.

The display base is a completely unadorned, perfectly circular slab of glossy black plastic. It is appropriately sized for the figure and holds Shana securely, but provides little beyond the bare essentials. Scenic (or diorama) bases were hardly the norm or even a trend back in 2007, though, so I guess I can’t really fault Max Factory for this design.

All in all, Max Factory’s Shana is a pretty good interpretation of the most adorable Flame Haze out there. Shana, as a character, has been blessed with a good many figures, but very few are particularly memorable and I think this particular piece is as definitive as it gets in terms of scale Shanas. This figure is showing its age somewhat, but more so in terms of Max Factory’s own work than the industry at large. As such, I think this Shana, when moderately priced, can still be a sensible pickup for dedicated Shana fans. Individuals less invested in her character will probably be better served by sticking with newer designs.

Finally, I want to give a quick shout-out to super rats over at HappySoda for providing the definitive review that made me want to pick up Shana in the first place. I distinctly remember scouring Yahoo Auctions Japan after seeing that review, because, prior to that point, this figure really wasn’t on my radar.

Highs

  • Dashing, character-appropriate pose
  • Dazzling hair
  • Excellent craftsmanship (circa 2007)
  • Still pretty good craftsmanship (circa 2013)

Lows

  • Small for 1/8 scale
  • Prosthetic hands
  • Still showing some age

Miscellany

Financial Data

Details are a tad sparser than usual as this figure came before I started meticulously budgeting my figure purchases.

  • Purchased from: Yahoo Auctions JP (via Celga)
  • Order date: 23-Oct-2008
  • Base price (USD): $77
  • Shipping cost (USD): $24 (EMS)
  • Total cost (USD): $101

Technical Data

  • Package dimensions (width): 168 mm
  • Package dimensions (height): 233 mm
  • Package dimensions (depth): 168 mm
  • Shipping weight (figure): 124 g
  • Shipping weight (figure + display box): 347 g

7 thoughts on “Review: Max Factory 1/8 Shana

  1. Oh, the second season can be bought? how cool. I have the first season DVD at home, since I really loved the anime for it’s characters and setting.

    *damn* this figure of Shana never look as good as here. Im totally serious, the setup looks first class and the lighting is perfect for her, picture 02 and 18 are my favorites.

    I really like how her smaller facial details, like eyebrows, eyes, nose and mouth are accentuated. There haven’t been many good figures of Shana, so this one ist still the best in my eyes, she has more the look of the light novel here. The hair looks pretty awesome.

    • Yup, the second season is available today as a DVD/BD combo pack from Funimation. I thought you were in Germany, though. Do you still buy the North American releases? I’m honestly not very familiar with who’s serving Europe for localization of anime on home video.

      Thanks. I basically reused the same setup I did with Alter’s Louise with a slightly different set of gels and a different material for the foreground surface. I was a bit worried that I might be giving it too much red, but that’s kind of Shana’s signature color, so I just stuck with that look in the end.

      There really aren’t a lot of good Shana figures, which is a real shame, because I like her a lot as a character. I think this is mostly due to unfortunate timing, as the heyday of the series came five or six years ago when quality in the figure industry wasn’t what it is today.

      • The German anime market improved a lot over the last few years, in terms of new anime and variety, but I doubt that someone will publish Shana here.So I probably would have to buy the US release.

        Oh really, I didn’t realized that, but yeah it’s a great setup for her ^^

        Mhh after the third season no new figures were made, which is quite sad, considering the cool characterdesigns from Shana and the rest.

  2. I love this figure, for a while it was one of my grail figures but I was finally able to get a hold of her for a reasonable price. I find this to be the best Shana figure out there, even now all these years later after it was released. I just love it, the confident pose, the hair, the expression it al speaks Shana to me. Most importantly it speaks the cool Shana from season one that made me like the character so much. Pretty cool for a figure going to be some 6 years old or so.

    The pictures are great, I totally get the vibe of flames dancing around Shana.

    • Shana retains her cool factor for me all the way through (watching S3 now), but she’s definitely a bit more aloof in that first season.

      I agree that this is the definitive Shana figure. It’s the best blend of character representation and material quality. I also have Cospa’s waitress Shana, which I like and all, but I would throw it away in an instant if I had to choose between the two.

      It’s just a bit disappointing that the figure was made then and not now. I’d really like to see what Max Factory could do on a new Shana figure today.

      Thanks! I’m fairly pleased with how the Shana photos came out. It’s a bit more obvious creative re-use (see the Alter Louise pics) than I would like, but I felt like it was the best option given the time invested and resources on hand.

  3. It’s only when you look at older figures that you realize just how far the industry’s come. A good portion of my collection is from 2008 or before (since I started getting PVCs in 2006 and hit my HARDCORE COLLECTING peak in 07-08), and I’m surprised at how many of them don’t impress me anymore.

    Like, figures that BLEW MY MIND back in the day seem “merely okay” against my newer collection items. Not that they’re bad. I still love my oldies as much now as I did back then.

    I remember this Shana when she first came out. That hair’s still amazing. It really gives off the vibe of fire. Shana got quite a few figures back in the day but none came close to matching this one in terms of cool-factor. It’d be super cool if MF would make another Shana…

    • I’ve parted with a handful of my older figures in recent years, but I still prize the ones I’ve kept even though they don’t seem as magnificent as they once did. Clayz’s blue dress Saber is a good example of this. That figure was a favorite of mine for years, but I’ve realized more recently that the quality really isn’t as good as I remember it being.

      I think old figures can inspire nostalgia in a way that newer figures cannot. Outside of a few franchises that enjoy enduring popularity like Evangelion and Vocaloid, figures are very much period pieces in that they represent the popular characters and shows of the day.

      Unfortunately, this means that the odds of seeing a new figure of an old character, such as Shana here, are regrettably low. I often wish I were rich just so that I could commission new figure designs of under-represented and forgotten characters. 😀

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