Figure Review: Rrrrryouko from Zegapain!

Zegapain, a mecha series from the studio Sunrise, ran from April to September 2006. It was not particularly popular, no thanks to the clunky CGI used in the rendering of the mecha which turned many off the initial episodes. But near the end of its run, a significant cult following had been amassed, and these hardcore fans were attracted to two aspects of the show – the Matrix-style world setting and plot, and more importantly, the ultra-lovable delight which is the hidden main female character of the series, Kaminagi Ryouko.

I like this pic, looks straight out of an anime OP sequence.

I say hidden because at the beginning of the series, she was little more than a good platonic friend of the protagonist, and seemingly set to play a small role as perhaps, cannon fodder. But as the series went on, viewers like myself were inexplicably drawn to Ryouko’s niceness and sincerity, as well as her voice actress Hanazawa Kana ‘s masterful performance as the embodiment of cuteness. Seriously, the voice alone is enough to make anyone like her, such is the lure of the unique tongue rolling and insertion of “rrr” sounds where none should exist. An example is how she addresses the main character, Kyou, as “Kyourrr”. One must hear it first-hand to appreciate the pure goodness of that sound.

Due to the above factors and some secret spoilerific ones, Ryouko became the most popular female in Zegapain by a large margin. Thus it is no surprise that she is the only one to have a figure made of her so far! Produced by Alter and released in September 2007, the 1/8 scale 19 cm-tall figure is sculpted by Nishimura Naoki.

Nishimura, judging from his previous works, favours poses which are simple and classy, which is a throwback to the old days when plastic technology was not advanced enough for wild, dynamic figure poses. In recent years, consumers have been demanding for more creative poses on their figures, which accounts for the greater proportion of such on the market now. There have been grouses about Ryouko’s regular standing pose, with hands behind her back, as being rather boring.

She is attached to her translucent green ABS base via two small pegs. The high-tech-looking base is quite cool, providing a contrast between Ryouko’s regular school uniform. This reminds the viewer of the premise of the anime where Ryouko alters between regular school life and piloting giant green translucent robots.

Making up for the uninteresting pose are fine and accurate details in the shading and sculpting of the clothing, and you can see sweater vest crumpling rather naturally. The paintwork is generally neat and tidy all over, with no mishaps even for the fine lines around her collar and skirt. In terms of paintwork, Ryouko really epitomizes the high standards from Alter.

Her face closely resembles her anime version, replicating the same pert nose and wide smile. Ryouko, being rather realistically designed in the anime, with a short bob of hair and a girly physique, does not allow for much fanciful figurisation in terms of wind effects or sexiness.

Alter’s Ryouko does not score particularly high because despite the good paintwork, there are more negative aspects such as the lack of interesting posture and more importantly, the absence of the main reason why she is beloved in the first place (her voice, remember?). This is compounded by the 4800 yen price tag, which is supposed to be for figures with something extra. I recall Bandai producing several voiced figurines, which come with speakers and pre-recorded dialogue attached to their base. While those figures were rather gimmicky, the system would perhaps be a boon in the case of Ryouko.

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