Saturday, April 21, 2012

Okama's Nasubi-Sama from Food Girls by Yamato

She demands your respect.  Whether it's parmagiana, domination, or just something a little abnormal that you crave, Nasubi-sama will certainly satisfy the most discerning palate.

Not long ago, my wife and I were having a fight about spacing and clutter on our bookshelves--yes, this is a remarkably white middle-class thing to argue about--and because we were both in rather foul moods, our argument spilled over onto the contents, and therefore the context, of our bookshelves.

Now, the arrangement of the bookshelves in our library is such that she has a set of shelves for items she brought into the marriage from her home, I have one of items I brought in, and the rest is for items we've acquired together.  She and I take the approach that, at home, one should be surrounded with the things one loves, and with the argument taking this vector, it regrettably turned into insults over taste.

As we were cleaning and rearranging and gradually getting agitated with each other, I petitioned her to move into storage some of the fiction works she has on display.  I could not understand why she'd be inclined to show off what I felt were horrible two-dollar paperback copies of assigned reading books from high school:  Romeo and Juliet; The Giver; The Great Gatsby; generally any-and-everything with Signet Classic or Penguin Press on the spine.  She tells me to this day that she actively dislikes Lord of the Flies, but my request to put it in storage was taken as an affront.  As I sat on the floor in front of my set of shelves, I made a wise-assed comment about a Bronte sister's work, when she replied with something that, to this day, I cannot retort.

"And how many more comic books about high school girls do you get to display?"

Game, set, match.  I could feel everything above my collarbones flush with shame, as there I was alongside endless volumes of Hot Gimmick, Love Hina, Chobits, Kashimashi, Welcome to the NHK, Genshiken, Oh My Goddess!, and Aria--it was not the time to explain that there were college students in some of these, of course--and I promptly dropped my protest over those bargain-bin classics on her shelves.  What retort could I, complaining about the presence of too much John Steinbeck in our living room, possibly present?  And when I thought about the most recent anime series we'd watched, the list was Squid Girl, Kimikiss, and Ouran High School Host Club.  I didn't have a leg to stand on. 

Any figure collector will understand exactly what my wife was talking about; one must concede that the high school girl is the sun of the anime/figure otaku solar system.  How many iterations of the blazer/skirt/kneesocks trinity does one truly need?  While the allure of such heroines themselves cannot be denied, an interesting figure collection can certainly support some different approaches to the female form.

Enter Nasubi-sama.

A creation from the mind of master illustrator Okama, Nasubi-sama (Lady Eggplant) is one of the several characters created for his 2006 art book, Food Girls.  Quite a departure from his character designs for Kamichu!, Himawari!, and Glass Fleet, Food Girls is an exercise in anthropomorphism, featuring girls based off of such noshables as onions, cream, strawberries, coffee, bananas, and broccoli; each one receives a brief vignette that ends in some state of undress and/or arousal.  Amusingly, of the 16 girls Okama created, only one, the dominatrix eggplant girl, demands the "-sama" honorific.  She's characterized as an S&M queen, the book states, because of the leathery feel of an eggplant's skin.

Clockwise from the blue chick:  Blueberry-Chan, Strawberry-Chan, Melon-Chan, Pumpkin-Chan, Yuzu-Chan, Potato-Chan, Yuzu-Chan, Eggplant-SAMA dammit!  Thanks to
Nasubi-sama was created in late summer 2008, more than two years after Food Girls was published, and was one of only two girls to be produced in figure form (Strawberry-chan being the other). Clad in black leathers with purple straps, with silver chain links and studs, holding the handle of her whip aloft, drawing it taut with her other hand, one certainly does not have to strain one's imagination to understand what Okama's trying to accomplish.

By and large, the figure representation is spot-on with the original illustration.

Many thanks to for the image
Most obvious is the omission of the large-gauge fishnetting on the illustration's torso and upper arms--it would have been terribly cool to have an actual fabric fishnet application here, but a poorly done application would have looked terribly cheesy.  The handle of her whip is held a bit more vertically in the illo than on the figure.  I would suggest that the figure is better-proportioned than the illustration, as in the illo the angle of the right arm coming out of the shoulder socket seems a bit awkward, and the character's head seems to be plunked onto her shoulders, as though Okama ran out of room for both it and her neck.  The figure's facial structure seems a little different from the illo; it seems that there's a little more space between the eyes on the figure, which ages the character a bit.  Of course, the fact that the figure has a bit of melanin in her skin compared to the illo cannot be overlooked, and, again, I find it more pleasing than the original by spades.

Nasubi-sama's facial expression is one of the most arresting I've ever seen on a figure.  There is something very cold, very devious, and very otherworldly in it.  The bright lime of her iris and darker green of her pupil are so starkly simple in their design, as are her eyelashes and eyebrow, and they stand in sharp contrast to the abyssal multi-toned eyes of so many figures.  The size and placement of the eye demand your attention, and I love the use of the beauty mark next to the mouth to grab your attention to the toxic streak across her lip.  Her hairstyle is molded very closely to her face, so much so that you really cannot tell without examination if there is a second eye painted behind the tousle over the left half of her face, cleverly mimicking the leafy cap at the top of an eggplant.  Less subtle is the back of her hairdo, quite literally an eggplant shape devoid of any texturing details.  The eggplant ponytail feels substantial, but I wish there was something done to make it seem a little more like the character's hair and a little less like it's just tacked onto the back of her head.  Perhaps it's good news in this way that the lack of subtlety continues the farther down the character's body we go.

As mentioned previously, Nasubi-sama is characterized as a dominatrix, and evidence of same is present both above and below that striking face of hers.  The pommel of her whip is grasped by a black leather-clad fist, and credit to the modeler for using a high-gloss finishing material for the glove and all the other black leather she's wearing--it lends a vinyl look to the outfit without looking cheap.  Below her face, a spiked collar sets the stage for Nasubi-sama's outrageous breasts, which certainly continue the eggplant theme.

Her leather-clad, eggplant-shaped breasts are not oversized, and from a distance do not appear out of sorts, but upon more careful review they certainly do defy gravity.  Each breast is compartmentalized and capped off on her upper chest with an eggplant cap.  These flourishes hide a peg-and-hole setup to make the coverings of her brassiere cast-offable--I assure you, as absurd as her breasts look clothed, they look all the more ridiculous naked.  To accomodate the cast-off feature, the figure deconstructs at the base of the head to the neck, her right arm detaches where her glove ends, and, most glaringly, she does have a rather nasty seam mid-torso underneath the bottom seam of her brassiere.  The chains dangling from her collar down her back with eggplant-shaped leather fringe and her studded collar are removable as well.

Father down her torso, Nasubi-sama is a shapely, thickly-built girl with some substance to her body.  Her back is arched slightly (just in case her breasts weren't accentuated enough), and her stomach has a pleasing curvature to it, with a very pleasing navel.  The coloration of her skin is perfectly acceptable.  Extra points are owed to the way the purple straps running down the front of her body are molded--as Nasubi-sama stretches her right side while bending her left, the right strap is pulled taut while the left has a bit of buckling to it, giving the proper attention to how the outfit would fit were she standing fully upright. 

The view from the back is just as pleasing, with the line of her shoulder blades, spine and the concave of her lower back pleasingly molded.  The leather wrapping around her back is the site of the figure's worst bit of painting, as a few small streaks of black did make it onto the character's skin.  At least it occurred on the least visible part of the figure, further obscured by the metal ringlets that dangle from her collar. 

In case you've by now forgotten the eggplant theme as your eye traverses the expanse from her breasts to her waist, the leather strapping that encircles her waist is joined together at her groin by an eggplant-shaped codpiece-like enclosure.  This skirt of straps, being connected to the leather of her brassiere, is indeed cast-offable, held together rather flimsily by a series of three tab-and-slot connectors on the character's left hip.  This connection is my greatest quibble with the piece, because the fit of those tabs is poor enough to let the skirt come undone by its own weight.  Fortunately, when this happens the skirt does not slump down too badly, but this application is a candidate for a little super gluing if you're not going the cast-off route.  If you do decide to display her cast-off, Nasubi-sama sports a pair of T-back panties to preserve what little modesty she has. 
A series of purple straps hang freely from the character's waist down to her feet--I love the application of silver on the buckles and the pronounced studs that hold the outfit together.  Each one of the straps ends in an inverted eggplant.  The charms at the end of each strap are not heavy enough to exert any kind of force on the straps themselves, and as such you are somewhat at the mercy of how those straps are packaged; the one that juts out to the far right in the photo is permanently kinked in this shape as it was packaged as such.  It creates an interesting effect that suggests a bit of motion, and is much more interesting this way with their random kinks and waves; I'm glad the eggplant charms aren't heavy enough to straighten out the straps over time.  Her knee-high boots receive the same glossy black treatment, with purple laces up the side just as the front enclosure and side ties of her brassiere

Nasubi-sama has a very shapely backside, the curvature framed delightfully by the horizontal straps. 

The straps around her thighs are not cast-offable, and I feel that the sculptor missed an opportunity to impart a bit more fleshiness, more weightiness to the figure.  Between the straps and the tights she's wearing, you'd think that there would be a bit of compression of her skin where the straps constrict the tops of her thighs (see also:  my Tamaki Kousaka review), and it would certainly be in line with the voluptuousness of the figure as a whole.  Call it an opportunity missed. 

As if she needed any further assistance in the Uniqueness Department, the whip she flaunts over her head, drawn tight by her left hand helps her assert her dominance.  Other than Nasubi-sama's face, I feel that the strongest feature of this figure is the sculptwork of her leather-encased left arm, with the ripples of the glove around the elbow and down by the wrist as it strains the whip.  I do wish that the hand were positioned immediately next to the kink in the whip, as the way it's presented here, the leather seems a bit overly stiff, though at least the rigid tail of the whip sticking out of her hand continues the apparent rigidity.  I just can't shake the feeling that the whip is kinked the same way a metal tape measure would be, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. 

Nasubi-sama is presented in a generous 1/6 scale, measuring in at about 11 inches in height.  She is affixed to her white-with-eggplants base by a simple round peg-and-hole setup.  The base is essential and is 6.5 inches wide; she takes up a fair amount of shelf space, but the height of the figure counterbalances that breadth nicely.  The pegs are not very long or wide; I am surprised that a figure of this size and weight does not have deeper pegs to anchor her, but I have not observed any kind of figure lean in the summer months. 

Like my wife put so starkly not that long ago, I am certainly guilty of participating in that most obvious mode of otaku fetish objectification, that of the high school girl.  The anime scene has fostered its own self-sustaining monster, because those shows, those figures, those dakimakura and breast-shaped mouse pads sell, clearly, to people like me.  It would be quite easy to fill one's collection with sailor suits and sukumizu, with wool plaid skirts and white cotton panty flashes, before you even realize it.  Fortunately, not every quality figure is churned out of the high school student mold.  Okama's Food Girls collection is a remarkably interesting exercise in anthropomorphism, and it's a shame that more wasn't done with the market basket he created.


 There's nothing innocent, nothing pure or moe about this one, and your collection will be all the better for it.

  • Penetrating facial composition--that green!!
  • Glossy black application on gloves, boots, etc.
  • Generous proportions for a 1/6 figure
  • Definitely not from the moe cookiecutter
  • Nasty seam around torso to accomodate cast-offability
  • Poor connective features allow skirt to come loose without much prompting

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sakura Nanako Platonic Side ver. by MegaHouse

Pull up a seat, pour some sake, and relax.  Hanami season doesn't have to be just two weeks long--this Sakura's blossoming is something to behold year-round.

As an English-speaking and Japanese-illiterate fan of all things anime and manga, the thing that both impressed and depressed me most about walking through places like Gamers and Toranoana was the sheer, unbelievable amount of such content that exists on shelves, just begging to be ingested.  Never mind the fact that I can't read a word of it; even if I were a native speaker, it seems that there's simply not enough time in one's life to be able to consume the volume of entertainment awaiting perusal.  The eroge market is, naturally, no exception to this.  The number of doe-eyed girls clamoring for your attention, waiting to be installed, conversed with, dated, and potentially bedded is staggering, and the colossal size of the market of such games really only can be appreciated in person.  As a wide-eyed and, again, completely illiterate fan of the scene, all I can do is look and react to whatever characters and packages catch the attention of my eye/moe sensor/gut/nether regions to begin to make sense of it at all.

When a game has an ambassador like this one speaking for it, I am all ears. 

Thanks to
The young lady featured above is Sakura Nanako, one of the titular heroines of the 2009 visual novel Sakura Sakura by Haikuo Soft.  From what I've learned online, and the information is scarce, Nanako is a teacher and dormitory matron at the school that the game's protagonist transfers to, and, judging by the picture above, she's a bit of a rhythmic gymnast as well.  This 1/8 scale figure was offered in March 2009, a couple of months before the release of the game in which she starred. 

As we can see, the figure and the illustration have some marked differences--you may be wondering how the manufacturer managed to completely botch the color of the piping on her leotard, for instance.  The good news is that this is completely on purpose.  Two versions of this piece were produced--the original, standard-issue version more accurately depicts the character as we see her above, with the red piping on an opaque, pearly leotard.  The figure I present here was the second release, referred to as "Platonic Side Version," a peculiar nomenclature considering that the "Platonic" version's leotard is semi-transparent, and the expression on her face is far more sensual than the original release's look of almost-surprise.  Both the original figure and this release have a small cast-offable feature--the shell of her leotard around her chest and sleeves is removable.  Strangely, the cast-offable part of this Platonic Side Version's leotard is completely opaque, and does not at all match the rest of the figure's clothing.  It looks, frankly, a bit silly when put on the piece. 

Nanako is depicted in on her knees in her leotard and tights with her long, beautiful peachy-pink hair tied in a ponytail, with her back arched and her head craned to her right side.  On unstrained portions, her leotard is a light, dusty pink color, most noticeable on her shoulders, her ribcage underneath her breasts, her lower back, hips, and navel.  Across her breasts, on her stomach, and her buttocks, Nanako's leotard is translucent, showing her skin tone on those parts drawn tight against her body .  It's done nicely--rather than seeming completely bare, those parts that strain the fabric of the leotard still have a slight yellowish-pinkish hue compared to the uncovered skin of her arms, chest, and face.  The soft pink of her nipples is apparent without being completely exposed and defined.  Does this leotard exist anywhere other than the psyche of the otaku?  No, probably not, but the effect is almost believable, as though you've caught Nanako at the end of a workout, perspiration from her effort saturating her clothing as it clings to her body.  It is unquestionably erotic without being explicit.

Nanako is lithe and athletic, but slightly out of proportion.  The length and thickness of her limbs seems a bit excessive and the crown of her head also seems to be a bit oversized when compared to the size of her torso.  Again, assuming from illustrations that she is a gymnast, I can certainly understand the desire to keep her body thin, but I wish it were a bit more substantial when compared to her extremities.

Nanako's hair is beautifully colored from a peachy pink to darker pink, and molded in a lovely tousle, but also contains the figure's most obvious seams, especially around the ribbon keeping her ponytail together.  Those seams are not ghastly and are fairly well incorporated into the overall design of her hair, and all things considered, to have the only noticeable seams on the entire piece be on the back of her head in her hairstyle is about as good a bit of news as it could possibly be. 

Nanako's expression is a soft one and makes her look a good deal more adult than comes across in the illustration suggests she is--note the difference in the size of her eyes relative to her entire face on the figure versus the illo.  Her deep blue eyes are not overdone, and she has a lovely, very faint blush on her cheekbones to accompany the small parting of her mouth.  It is a bit of a tough expression to pin down--it's not embarrassed, it's not exactly seductive, it's not matter-of-fact.  I imagine that I walked in on her practicing a routine.  She is aware of her state of dress, and she is aware of her athleticism, and she is aware of your gaze, but she doesn't acknowledge your presence until she's completed her routine.  To the distinct credit of the sculptor, I cannot find an angle at which Nanako's expression looks goofy, cross-eyed, or otherwise out of sorts.  It may be seen by some as a little bland, but I find it very expressive in its simplicity.

Nanako's chest does not belie her athleticism and her breasts are, on the measure, remarkably realistic given the fact that this is an eroge character.  They are small, they are not ridiculously perky, their shape extends into the armpit like an actual woman's would, they have some weight and gravity to them.  Her nipples protrude against the leotard into noticeable peaks, but generally speaking the the treatment of Nanako's chest is admirably restrained.  Most enjoyable to me is the treatment of her skin and the fabric around her right breast that crease to accommodate her right arm, and the very subtle way the flesh of the left side of her upper chest bulges to accommodate the tightness of her leotard; it significantly aids the impression that Nanako is a very reasonable treatment of a realistically proportioned athlete.

The lower half of Nanako's leotard ends in a frilled ruffled seam that squeezes her flesh a little too tightly compared to the upper half--around her hips and buttocks, the bulge of flesh is a bit more than would be expected, especially considering she is wearing a pair of tights that one would expect to compress her skin somewhat.  Between her legs, the sculptor did include quite the topographical map of the character's femininity--this is an eroge character after all, so I can't call it out of place, and it's not so pronounced as to be distracting, but those who have an issue with cameltoe should look elsewhere.  From behind, Nanako's left arm reaches to her posterior, her index finger extended to adjust the seam of her leotard.  The finger simply rests against the flap to allow the hula hoop to pass through to rest around her waist.  Regrettably, the molding just isn't great back here; it would have been much more better if the piece were created with a bit of flexibility in the arm that would allow her finger to rest inside of the seam she's adjusting, rather than just alongside it.  When you see an original illustration like this...

Why couldn't we have that one? Thanks to can't help but wish they paid a little more caring attention to the character's backside.  When so much of the piece was given such lovely detail, it seems like a missed opportunity.

Sakura Nanako is less than 5.5 inches tall, and requires as little as 4 inches of shelf space, 5.5 if you decide to go with the hoop around her waist as I have it here.  She was released in 2009 and seems to be in rather short supply; eBay may be the first, last, and only option to acquire her if interested. She does come with an optional display base that does nothing for the figure.

I'm not sure if Haikuo Soft still exists; Sakura Sakura was the last game they published, and with the work rate of some eroge software companies, I would have to guess that the title wasn't quite the financial boon they wanted or needed it to be.  There are very few character goods for Sakura Sakura, and it seems that what little there is came out at about the same time the game did--there simply was no continued attention paid to the game.  Perhaps Haikuo Soft's hanami season has ended.  I hope I'm wrong.  When a company can present this character as an ambassador, I am certainly inclined to continue following its work.

For now, however, Sakura Nanako will have to exist as the last best effort the company could produce.  I'll never know if the game she stars in was any good, but if Haikuo Soft never produces another game, it won't be for a lack of character design talent. 

  • Gorgeous, voluminous, charmingly colored hair
  • Very effective treatment of leotard to achieve transparent effect
  • Shape of breasts and torso; not too many eroge characters' bodies are done this sensibly
  • Unfortunate molding of left arm/hand misses the intended mark
  • Cast-offable piece coloration is inconsistent with the rest of the character's garments