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

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the wonderful review! It helped a lot in my decision on which version of Sakura to get (I went with the standard version since I like her surprised face better).

    I would have never noticed the difference between her top and her leotard if you hadn't mentioned it. I really appreciate reviews that detail such observations.