Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Domestic Hentai Anime: Not (Quite) Dead (Yet)!

Very exciting hentai anime news courtesy of Anime News Network today--Media Blasters announced that they have licensed the five-episode 2010 OVA adaptation of the banned-by-proxy manga Aki Sora, one of the very few series known to have been impacted by the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance.  Titled Aki Sora: Yume no Naka (Autumn Sky: In a Dream) in Japan and sold as intended for all ages, the series is to be released under Media Blasters' Kitty Media label, which handles their library of age-restricted content.

I'll see your Kasugano twins and raise you the Aoi siblings--thanks to trinity-anime.net for the image.
The character design and story of Aki Sora are by Masahiro Itosugi, whom hentai fans may recognize from the astounding English-language release the ecchi manga compilation A Wish of My Sister, an outstanding ero tankoubon heavy on crossdressing and both sibling and parental incest themes published by Icarus in 2008.

I do not profess to be an aficionado of hentai anime, but to me this is relevant hentai release since Megachu!, known in the US as Oh! My Sex Goddess, which was released by Kitty in December 2010.  Oh! My Sex Goddess suffered an almost 10-month delay between the originally intended release date and the discs actually leaving the distributor--here's to hoping Aki Sora does not meet a similar fate.

Monday, July 23, 2012

More Kuroneko on the way from Digital Lover?

Just about two weeks to go, and no hints yet from two of my three favorite doujinshi circles, T2 Art Works or NiseMIDIdoronokai, on their release plans for Comiket 82.  From Yuka Nakajima's Digital Lover, however, this image, uploaded just two days ago...

Directly from the source, and my thanks to digitallover.net for the image and the good news!

...after taking a two-book divergence into the world of Brain Burst with Haruyuki/Kuroyukihime pairings in D.L. Action 67 and 68, it looks like Nakajima be returning to that sly tsundere muse, Kuroneko, for a ninth go-round!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dear Cospa: You're Doing It Right

Updated on AmiAmi today...

Image from amiami.com

Look familiar...?


Thanks to e-shuushuu.net for the image

Thanks to HobbySearch for the image.
Thanks to animestrip.net
Yes madam, yes indeed!  Looks like a pretty awesome rendition of Sena Kashiwazaki's bikini from Haganai.  The question now becomes, can I buy this for my wife without her realizing it's a cosplay item?  And THEN the question becomes, am I violating some kind of trust if I do so?

Thanks for the .gif to aisle-h.com

...Totally f'n worth it!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Oyari Ashito's Princess Mordina by Native

A top-flight artist with an unmistakably distinctive style, given the works by preeminent producer of ero figures; sounds like a perfect marriage.  Every marriage has its flaws, however...

Part of the fun of being an English-only member of the international genshiken is the occasional lightning flash of discovery, not just of new artists' works to drool over or new series to watch, but of new connections made inside the otakusphere that would have previously escaped you.  For example, from my previous post, I started to follow Yuka Nakajima's Digital Lover doujinshi series because of the Haganai-centric D.L. Action 62.  The art quality encouraged me to investigate previous works in the circle's history, including the many OreImo parody books which paired Kuroneko and Kyosuke.  These D.L. Action books led me to search for other Kuroneko/Kyosuke books, which eventually brought me to this:

Image from doujinshi.mugimugi.com
Thanks to translatedsorekara.wordpress.com for the image
I was struck by this impossibly lithe, rail-thin presentation of Kuroneko, not only by the drama of the character's rib bones and chest, but by her face, her head, her young proportions.  It was as though we were seeing Ruri Gokou at 10 years old and, at the same time, the young adult she is in the anime.  More importantly, I was hit by that lightning flash of familiarity, a distinct feeling that I had seen the artist's work somewhere before, and a quick trip to the remarkable Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon yielded the artist's name: Oyari Ashito.

Thanks to Konachan.net for the image
The feeling of familiarity with that depiction of Kuroneko was completely justified, I found.  Ashito is one of those artists whose work you are guaranteed to come across as an ecchi anime and manga fan, and his is the sort of work which is immediately identifiable on sight as his own.  Ashito is most immediately recognizable for his work with visual novels containing lolicon subject matter, including Littlewitch Romanesque, Quartett!, and Episode of the Clovers.  His girls do indeed seem not like young women, not teens, but girls--the pronounced foreheads, the stomach lines extending beyond the chest, and again, the extremely thin limbs and torso all impart a definite sense of not youthfulness but genuine prepubescent youth.

Thanks to AnimePaper.net for the image
Ashito's artwork tends to impart a European ethnicity to his characters, rather than Japanese.  Perhaps because only the size and shape of his characters' eyes suggest any sort of anime heritage, his character designs' varied hair textures and colors and skin tones and eye colors are most identifiable as Caucasian.  His characters are often found in Victorian dress and in the heavy stained woods and rich velvets of aristocratic Euorpean parlors and boudoirs, rather than being kimono-clad and surrounded by tatami, and the effect is amplified by Ashito's preferred method of coloration, watercolor; his characters and his settings can blend together in an ethereal sea of lightly dyed softness. This will probably get me on Colony Drop's "Shit Otaku Say," but Oyari Ashito's combination of heavy ink lines, expressive facial expressions, delicate watercolor, and whimsical period dress is Pop Japanese Norman Rockwellian in its reverence for the pre-sexual post-innocence embodied in his young subjects. 

More than one year ago at the Winter 2011 Wonder Festival, Native displayed a maquette of a figure that I knew was a necessity for my collection, not (just) because the figure itself looked great, but because of the art it was based upon.  The oversized brow, the willowy limbs and torso, the severe, heavy eyes; Native was bringing an Oyari Ashito character design to 3D, and knowing the sublime pieces they did with Tony Taka characters, I felt quite justified in eagerly anticipating the figure release, moreso because previous attempts had been made to capture an Ashito character in PVC, with results varying between acceptable and tragic.  Before this one, Native had not done a figure that could be classified as lolicon, either, and teaming up with Ashito was an outstanding opportunity to appeal to the niche.  Finally, more than a year after that maquette made its first appearance, Princess Mordina has arrived to the US, and the wait was very much worth it. 

Native's figures are treasured because of their high fidelity--there are no wasted parts of the figure, nothing that seems to be an afterthought, and Mordina is no exception.  Regrettably, there are quite a few details that were lost between Ashito's alluring original artwork and Native's creation.  As large as Ashito's characters' heads tend to be, I believe that Native's reproduction is even larger than usual--it seems that Mordina's face especially is a good deal larger than the original artwork.  Also missing is the ruddy blush across the princess' cheeks, as the figure's complexion is very even.  I would also say that in Ashito's illustration, Mordina's posture is somewhat more upright, and the figure's back is bent upwards in an improbable angle.

The most notable and most disappointing of the differences, however, lies with the pose of the character's left arm, as in the illustration her wrist is clearly in front of her the ruffles of her hiked-up skirt, while the figure rendition has her arm shoved underneath the waistline of the skirt, effectively turning her outfit into two pieces instead of one.  I truly do not understand what purpose led to this design decision other than needless cast-offability of the skirt, and if I'm being truthful it looks somewhat silly on the figure, because there is simply no practical reason why the character in her time and place would have chosen to take this route to reach between her legs.  It's the kind of error in judgment that can't be unseen once it's noticed for the first time, and is a rather unfortunate decision by the figure sculptor. 

Mordina's face wears a soft, trance-like gaze, which is a bit shocking given her intensely erotic pose.  She wears no evidence of passion, or embarrassment, or apprehension.  Indeed, her face is the face of a prisoner kept captive, if not in prison, then in routine.  Her sapphire eyes pop from the pale ivory that frames her face, and is complemented by the ruby-and-gold crown that perches atop her head held in place by a strong magnet built into the figure's head.  Those ivory strands are tousled down her back, over her right shoulder and to the floor, and there was quite a considerable amount of detail built into that hair.  I have seen other collectors complain that their figure's hair had a considerable amount of "flashing," or excess plastic at the edges and tips of the hair that signify an impure mold, but mine had no such trouble whatsoever.  Her coiffure plays host to the most severe of the molding lines on the entire figure, but are largely contained to the back and to the right side of her head, which are the least visible aspects of the figure.  It's almost a shame that her hair isn't more front-and-center, because a considerable amount of sculpting went into the locks that reach from her right shoulder to the ground.  Unfortunately, the strands of hair closest to her right knee do not quite reach to the ground, and hover a couple scale-length inches off of the ground, another confusing dash of carelessness for such a premium figure.

From behind, we finally find Native's answer for what to do with the left hand missing in Ashito's illustration, and this more than anything enhances the disquieting effect the blank expression on Mordina's face imparts.  Her fingers are lightly spread out, with her middle finger extended to but not quite touching her labia, which, unlike her cheeks, are a flushed pinkish red, belying her physiological arousal despite her apparent lack of emotional investment.  Unlike some of Native's previous works in a similar pose, Mordina's anus is not visible, as it seems the sculptor decided to lend Mordina more plump buttocks than Ashito's original drawing, and the rest of her anatomy, while completely uncovered, is not luridly detailed.

Mordina's captivity is made evident by a ball and chain shackled around her ankles and dangling from a neck collar; the chain and the ball weights are made of metal; the balls are painted the same gold as the detail on her crown, but the chains are not painted and are instead a gold-colored plating.  As such, the chains look a bit glossier than the rest of the figure and, as such, seem a bit incongruous.  The chain dangling from her neck is a good deal longer than the one in Ashito's drawing, so much so that it looks like the ball would still rest on the floor if she were standing, and the excess length of chain creates a bit of a nuisance.
As is a hallmark of Ashito's work, Mordina has one of the most delicious flat chests in all of DFCdom, beautifully and carefully sculpted.  One could grate a block of parmigiano reggiano on her collarbones, and extra points are awarded to the enhanced curvature of her breast tissue where her right arm presses against the side of her chest, giving us a preview of her more womanly shape to come in future years.  In the right light, you can see where the bony rigidity of her sternum wishbones off to her ribs, and gives way to the softness of her abdomen.  Really and truly, this is one of the nicest sculpts of a torso I've ever seen.  It is a bit of a shame that her nipples are not sculpted quite so precisely, and that her areolae are just a pink-shaded suggestion. 

Moldina's lower abdomen is girded by a light lilac bodice and that difficult-to-comprehend tutu, and in some places there is a noticeable gap where the waistband of the skirt does not rest flush against her body to accommodate her left arm on its southbound voyage.  If the sculptor had either cinched the crinoline of the skirt underneath her arm or given the skirt's waistband a stretched-elastic kind of treatment there would be nothing to complain about, but the fact that the skirt waistline is treated as a completely implausible afterthought on such an otherwise gorgeous figure cannot be overlooked.  Furthermore, if one looks up the skirt from behind there is a slight gap in the mold where her abdomen connects to her pelvis to accommodate the cast-off feature, completely unnoticeable when looked at on normal display but evident when examined closely. 

Mordina wears a pair of ruffled thigh-high stockings and white pumps which are removable at her instep to accommodate the ankle shackles.  Her legs are lean, though not quite as much as the original artwork and are nicely proportioned, seeming neither too short nor too long compared to the rest of her body.  Her right hand wears a white glove, which her left hand has discarded as unnecessary in its southern expedition, and the left glove lies flaccid on the ground.  Native did take the time to color her fingernails a soft pink, and the ungloved hand itself is decently sculpted and believably sized.  I would say that her gloved right hand seems a bit larger, the glove itself a bit bulkier, on the figure than the original artwork would suggest, but it's not egregious by any means.

Mordina comes with an optional base of white faux fur ringed with a rather unfortunate glossy dark brown plastic, a disappointingly cheap touch to finish off a rather expensive looking figure.  Despite this, I choose to display Mordina on the base; I think she looks more appropriate in this little luxurious setting than just on the wood of my shelf.  Without the base, she requires about five and a half inches of shelf space and is a shade more than five inches tall.  With the base, you'll be giving up seven inches of space and an additional half-inch of height.  She also comes with an optional headband with bunny ears and a bunny tail, held in place by a magnet embedded in the small of her back.  I have heard complaints online saying that the magnet in the tail had been embedded upside down and will not stick on in place, but no such problems with mine.

After so many paragraphs of negativity, I would not blame the reader for thinking I'm ready to throw my copy of the petite princess in the garbage and decry it a waste of PVC better off molded into plumbing supplies, just like cynics could decry Ashito's illustrations as oversexed bourgeois prepubescent cro-magnons on parade.

Nothing could be further from the truth--if anything, I am inclined to rearrange my collection to better showcase Princess Mordina.  She is the sort of figure that people who don't collect figures can tell is something special.  Native's figures are arguably the finest on the market, and are certainly the head of the ero class.   Using an Oyari Ashito original character design for the company's first foray into lolicon art is a figure collector's dream pairing, and I scrutinize the figure so heavily only because it can stand up to it and still emerge a must-buy recommendation.

While Ashito's artwork depicts Mordina's expression as somewhat blank, her complexion gives her excitement away.  Native has created something far more intriguing and captivating by leaving her so completely emotionless, both in expression and in pigmentation.  Ashito's princess is sultry, flushed with the throes of stimulation though her eyes lack expression, while Native's take, when viewed from different angles, is lonely, desperate, ashamed, captivated, hopeful, anticipatory.  As plain as it may be, the sweeping arc of her eyebrows, her half-closed eyes, and her lips ever so slightly apart allows the viewer to assign whatever emotion they deem fit, and makes the figure more interactive emotionally, and much more compelling as a result.

Native did an outstanding job with the coloration of the figure--her skin tone, her hair color, her clothing, her irises, her crown even, all are from the same palette, with a powdery, almost eggshell-life finish to it all that makes the figure seem like an Ashito watercolor.  The only weak link (HURR) is the chain used for the shackles, but I'm glad that Native used actual chain instead of molded plastic, because it does lend some of the intended heft to reinforce Mordina's imprisonment.

Finally, that pose.  Sweet Jesus, that pose.  I wonder if Ashito specified what he wanted to see his creation doing with her unaccounted-for left hand, or if the sculptor was given the flexibility to decide what to do?  Native has never shied away from eroticism and Mordina is not the first onanist they've managed to capture in the act, but the fact that they took this route with such a young-seeming character is unbelievable, usually the realm of one-off garage kits than retail figures.  The face, the hair, the collarbones, the chest, the torso, the buttocks, labia, thighs, the calves and feet even; while some of their decisions on the piece are questionable, there can be no question that Native made every square millimeter of PVC work to capture this incredible creature in the most natural and most sexual moment possible. 

While there are so many flaws to mention with Princess Mordina, they ultimately amount to so little.  Don't worry about having to explain it to your friends.  Don't worry over a poorly molded tutu.  Oyari Ashito getting the Native treatment is a dream match-up for lolicon fans and the end results are absolutely worth the premium price of admission. 

  • One of the most intriguing expressions I've ever seen captured on a figure
  • The very epitome of DFC
  • Gorgeous hair sculpt
  • Doesn't look like any other figures you have on your shelf, a real eye-catcher
  • Senseless treatment of skirt, really seems like an afterthought
  • Unfortunate finish of base clashes with the richness of the figure