Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tamaki Kousaka by Max Factory

No further efforts necessary; please tell the modeling department they can stop trying.  This is the definitive, the only figure of Tama-neechan that you need.

Few anime, manga, or eroge characters have been rendered to scale for shelf-borne perusal and moesome delight more than Tamaki Kousaka from Aquaplus' 2004 visual novel To Heart 2.  For a game published eight years ago, To Heart 2 has managed to keep itself remarkably relevant through OVAs, spinoff series, and, perhaps most of all, the relentless marketing of character goods.  With a stable of almost twenty girls to cavort with across the original and spin-off series, there is no shortage of character archetypes to exploit, and no limit to the number of marketing opportunities designed to separate otaku from their yen.

Robot maid on the bottom left, because Japan.  Thanks to for the image.

With so many lovely girls to choose from, the To Heart 2 figure market is enormous, outdone only by the fighting ladies of Ikki Tousen perhaps.  So far as the gentler members of the gentler sex are concerned, however, Tamaki must be the leader in the clubhouse.  A search on the PVC Figure section of Hobby Search Japan yields a Mastercard-melting 56 different presentations of Miss Kousaka for consideration.  School uniform?  Check.  Bikini?  Check.  Maid uniform?  Check.  Straddling a Suzuki Hayabusa?  Gotcha.  Samurai armor?  Sure, why the hell not.  Race queen?  Bunny outfit?  Licking a giant, dripping popsicle?  Yes, yes, and, God save us, yes.

Tamaki, often referred to as Tama-oneechan, or just Tama-nee for short, is described as a headstrong young woman with a forceful disposition adept at classical Japanese arts well as more modern pursuits.  Her nickname is a reflection of the older-sister confidence she brings to her relationships with boys and girls alike.  She's an osana najimi of the story's protagonist who went away to an all-girls boarding school for the majority of her education, but left to rejoin the lucky young man for his senior year of high school. 

Thanks to for the image.
Certainly these character traits lend to her popularity with the otaku set, but there can be no doubt that her character model is at least an equal conspirator in her campaign for collectors' hearts.  If her distinctive mulberry red hair doesn't do the job, her voluptuous figure comes through in spades.  Perhaps the operative word here is "thick"; she's a far cry from fat, but she's not svelte either.  She's not a lean, athletic type, and she's not grotesquely proportioned with gigantic breasts and a tiny waist.  I will not insult any 3D female by describing Tamaki as "realistically proportioned," but she is reasonably close.  She is a rare bird in this instance; if Tamaki fell down, she'd just bruise instead of shattering on impact.  She looks like she'd eat a sandwich and some chips and not moan about the dietary consequences for two hours after the fact.  Few examples of similar sturdily-built characters come to mind; certainly Sena "Niku" Kashiwazaki from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is the best recent example.
Not afraid of a sandwich.   Thanks to

Business logic dictates that figures of Tamaki would no longer be made if they ceased selling, so what is it that keeps her in the otaku consciousness?  I would have to think that her distinctly different character build is what keeps new iterations of her coming about and onto collectors' shelves.  Of course she's idealized, but Tamaki exudes an almost American girl-next-doorness that makes us collectors keep coming back for more. With so many iterations to choose from, it is necessary to be somewhat discerning when it comes to buying.  Fortunately, back in May 2010, Max Factory made it easy for us.  They made what I feel is the first, last and only Tama-nee figure a collector needs to have to capture the essence of the character perfectly.

Beware diabetes sufferers, this one packs a lot of sugar!

Rendered here in a smallish 1/6 scale, Tamaki is posed on her knees in what would have to be called an unusual state of undress--the blouse of her light pink school uniform drapes below her shoulders as her clasped hands contain her considerable bust.  Her skirt and brassiere are nowhere to be found, just a pair of thigh-high stockings and simple pink panties .  Her gaze is slightly up and to the left, her chin over her left collarbone (quite an underserved part of the female anatomy when it comes to figures, if you ask me!).  Let's not quibble over exactly how Tama-nee found herself in this position, but just enjoy it for what it is, starting with her expression.

Let's bask in this for a moment...



...okay, good.  Tama-nee's face is, I think, just about the sweetest one I've ever seen captured in 3D on a figure.  Her large-as-the-moon brown eyes, subtle blushing in her cheeks, and her Mona Lisa-quality smile are a force of nature.  Another, much better-established figure review site refers to it as angelic, and damn it if they didn't take the best possible word for themselves.  You'll notice that the corners of her mouth and the middle of her lips are slightly peaked, forming a subtle "w" shape.  Her expression is one of bashfulness, just shy of embarrassment, and also happiness; in a narrative, this figure exists after maybe years of friendship and months of dating, finally ready to open the whole of herself to your view, in those chest-pounding moments that exist before instincts trump all.  At this moment in time, Tamaki is comfortable with herself, and comfortable with you, and that nervous natural inclination to keep oneself obscured is finally ready to be broken down.  If there is anything to quibble about, the material used for her eyes seems to be extra glossy, and tends to reflect light a bit more than most figures do, but this is a minor consideration at best.

From the best part of the figure to the worst, to say that Tamaki is well-endowed is insufficient.  Her character model certainly does feature an impressive bustline, but on this figure, her breasts are verging on being absurdly outsized.  Tama's clutching them, pressing them to her body, and lifting them up does lend to an interesting, somewhat realistic shape.  They not perfectly round, and they are not perfectly even, and they definitely have heft and substance to them, which are all welcome departures from the lightweight fantasy globes usually attached to the chests of busty anime girls.  However, these go a bit beyond what they should be--were they free from her grasp, we'd be venturing into Cattleya territory.  Large breasts can be realistic, or they can be carnivalesque, or they can be grotesque. and these definitely qualify as carnivalesque.  They are far from abhorrent (again, Cattleya), but with the rest of the figure so nicely, lovingly proportioned, Tama's chest size does definitely detract from the overall.  And again, at the very least, they are somewhat consistent with the thickness and voluptuousness of the rest of the figure.

Tamaki's torso, legs, and butt all continue the impression that, as a young woman, she is far from fragile.  Her stomach has a noticeable convex, as would any healthy woman, and the waistline of her panties shows a slight bowing to the bottom of her stomach, not just a straight-across flat expanse from her groin to her chest, and sweet Jesus her navel looks like a proper navel, not an afterthought, and I tell you it is s-e-x-y sexy.  
Room for internal organs!
Actually gripping the body!

The same can be said for her thighs--you can see a slight bulge where the upper seam of her stockings compresses her flesh into the hosiery.  And again, those sweet simple pink panties, perhaps a bit low-rise, but basic, honest, what one would expect a girl to wear on a normal day at school or work or what have you, not festooned with bows and lace, just a simple cotton fabric set.

The view of Tama from behind is just as luscious as the front.  The Mulholland Drive created from her lower back to her buttocks to her upper hamstring is remarkably sexy and does not do anything to betray the thickness of the character's build.  I almost wish the panties were cut a little lower down on the leg to give her slightly more coverage, again, just to highlight the curvaceousness of her body, but I can't fault the modeler too greatly for wanting to show more of her skin.  The modeler continued the idea of simple coverage between Tamaki's legs--just a modest rise, nothing overly detailed to see there. 

 Extra credit has to be assigned for the care given to Tamaki's hands and fingers.  The fact that the time was taken to sculpt each individual digit separately, to interweave them, to give a kiss of color to each fingernail, to actually express the articulation of each knuckle, is simply awesome.  Anyone who's ever tried drawing a hand knows how easy they are to botch and how integral they are to a proper human figure, and the success of this piece's hands cannot be overlooked.

One of the greatest successes of any figure is when it looks right from every angle.  Above, below, left, right, or center, for a figure to avoid a derp here or a herp there and, even better, to stay true to the expression of the character, must be exceedingly difficult considering how rare an accomplishment it is.  This figure does it.  Wherever you're viewing Tamaki from, you get the right idea, that incredibly moe feeling that the sculptor sought to capture.  Tamaki measures 7" tall, requires about 4.25" of shelf space, and comes with an optional base with a furry white fabric for her legs to rest on--for shelf-saving space and for aesthetics, I've chosen to go without.  

Break all the other molds, throw away the templates.  Hang up the bunny suit, put the sword down, park the Hayabusa in the garage.  It's all clutter.  Nonsense.  Just keep making these.  This is no longer unrequited, this is the sweethearted friend-turned-lover Tama-neechan you've always fantasized about. 

  • Soulful expression delivers volumes of depth
  • Thickness of body proportions; looks and feels like a real, healthy girl in 2D
  • Seamless--nothing takes away from the realness of the piece
  • Hair color; not too red, not too purple, true to character design
  • Oversized breasts betray proportions of the rest of the figure. 
  • Not exactly sure how character ended up in this state of dress.
  • Nothing better to look forward to.  This is the omega of Tamaki Kousaka

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