Figure Review: Hagu from Hachikuro is a Koropokkuru

Honey and Clover is one of, if not the best, anime series from the jousei (young woman) genre in recent years. Based on the manga of the same title by Umino Chika, Honey and Clover achieved great popularity worldwide with far more than just the young women demographic it was intended for, with teenagers, working adults and even the middle-aged loving it.  The down-to-earth and likeable characters are all in the bridging phase between youth and adulthood, struggling to find their love, purpose and identity in life. This, combined with the familar setting of an arts college rather than any place or time too far-fetched, makes for a wonderful drama.

So if the series is popular, it will have merchandise in the form of figures, right? Not really. The figurine industry is one driven mainly by the male otaku spending power, hence the general trend is in sexy, cool, or cute female figures which appeal to their tastes. Honey and Clover is not about that, and in fact has more prominent male characters than female ones. Nevertheless, demonstrating the show’s overwhelming popularity, the two more prominent female characters have been figurised, and loyal to the source material, styled in a fittingly clean-cut fashion with little emphasis on pandering to male desires.

In this review, we’ll be looking at Alter’s version of Hanamoto Hagumi, the lead female character of Honey and Clover. The character, though aged 18 and starts the series as a freshman, is tiny in physical stature, resembling a child not just in appearance, but behaviour as well at times. Despite her apparent childishness, Hagumi is a bright talent at the arts.

Alter’s figure is a 1/8 scale PVC figurine, standing at about 18 cm tall. It was released in June 2007. Sculpted by Kobayashi Shin, this figure is excellent for it not only boasts of great worksmanship, but more importantly, speaks volumes about the personality of the character. Hagu is standing barefoot, seemingly in an imaginary grassy field, complete with giant mushrooms. This is from a scene in the source material, where Hagumi is forced to dress up as a Koropokkoro by Morita, a schoolmate, who then digitally enhanced the pictures with a fantastic setting. A Koropokkoro is a mythical Ainu (Japanese indigenous tribe) god who is tiny and lives under the leaves of the Butterbur plant. While this figure has her holding a large leaf, the shape is not that of the Butterbur leaf, rather a more slick and tapered shape. This may reduce the accuracy, but makes the leaf look a lot better.

The setting and general feel of the figurine projects the impression that Hagumi is a dreamy person who is cute and likes cute things. She also looks docile, shy and nature-loving. All of these can be inferred from the figure solely, and is actually true when the actual anime is considered.

The material used for the figure is rather dense and heavy, making it feel more like a plaster statue than a plastic figurine. In fact, that in addition to the distinct soft colour palette, also employed by the anime, makes the figure look like the pretty little fairy status seen in gift stores. She would not look out of place on a shelf in one of those, surely. The painting style is quite water-colourish, which is unusual for a figurine.

Hagumi is wearing a simple white dress, without much detail, which is what she normally wears anyway. Her hair is a soft blonde and wavy, without any unsightly headseam. One point of interest is that the stalk of the leaf above her head is actually inserted into her hair, which holds the weight. The segment of the stalk she holds is not connected to that above. This gives the appearance that the stalk is going through her hair.

The base is a fantastic piece of work. Not only is it sturdy, as mentioned earlier through its weight and feel of plaster, the setting is also well-painted with much detail, including many flowers, a mushroom and a bird. Hagu is permanently attached to this base and cannot be detached from it.

The lack of dynamicism in this figure may be a concern for those who prefer a more action-oriented pose. She’s just standing there, looking cute. Overall, I would think this is a great buy, especially for fans of the series, considering the quality of materials, sculpt and paintwork. Also, there are so few Honey and Clover figures (about 3) and this is just the best out of those. Despite slightly hefty price tag of course.

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