Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: UART Blade of the Immortal - Manjiby Rob Bricken, Dec 28th 2008
Series: Blade of the Immortal
Back during my Anime Insider days, the Wizard magazine crew—mostly people who hated and feared anime and manga—would pass off Dark Horse's manga offerings to me as I was one of the few people in the building that would read them (I also read every Star Wars comic, no matter how terrible, but that's neither here nor there). This included Hiroaki Samura's breath-taking samurai series Blade of the Immortal, which I read for four straight years, and never once knew what the @#$% was going on.
But that's fine, because 90% of the joy of Blade of the Immortal is Samura's artwork. It's beautiful and personal, unlike almost every other manga series on the market, and every panel looks suitable for framing. Despite the manga's beauty, there's been hardly any BotI swag since the series debuted waaaaay back in 1994—heck, Samura only agreed to an anime adaptation this year. So when I saw a chance to by an honest to goodness statue of Manji from Blade of the Immortal, I happily went for it. Of course, I was far less happy when I realized I'd BOUGHT A NAZI!
Happily, I quickly remember that I'd read that Manji's swastika is an ancient Buddhist symbol of peace, love and understanding or something in about 80 consecutive issues of Blade of the Immortal, as well as several random Viz Comics. Besides, Manji's swastika is facing the other way from the Nazi one. So I got over it.
What I didn't get over was the lousiness of the statue as a whole, Nazi or not. It stands 7-inches tall and is made of a reasonably quality material, so that's nice. But that's about all I can say nice about it. The rest is pretty lackluster. Let's first say that the statue is of the anime Manji, which has lost significant detail over the Manji of the manga. Without the insane level of detail, the bar is already lowered, but this statue fails to meet even anime Manji's limited level of detail.
First off, his lips are some kind of odd beige, made more noticeable by the fact his mouth seems 135% larger than a normal mouth. There is no precedent in the manga or the anime for this extra big, extra weird looking mouth (I checked). He's also missing a few of his scars—sure, he had the one over his nose and his right eye, but the one on his forehead and his chest are both missing. I wondering if this was an anime thing, but nope! It's just a crappy statue thing. Awesomely, UART also forgot to paint in his hair-tie, so it simply looks like Manji's hair is exploding out of the back of his head.
While Manji's pose is not inaccurate per se, it is pretty lame. Manji is a tortured samurai who must kill 100 evil men before he's released from his curse and allowed to die. Maybe Japan could make a statue of him that's slightly more dynamic than him just standing around. Would it have killed UART to put Manji in an attack pose? I sincerely doubt it. As a bonus, the fingers on his left hand are sculpted too close together, so his weird short sword/tonfa thing only fits lazily in his right hand. I love it when toys refuse to give you any options whatsoever—it just makes things so much easier.
Now, with all these scandalously missed details and lazy sculpting and painting, you might think that Manji's trademark black and while jacket might have suffered, that the crisp lines might have bled together or something. A good guess, but not accurate, since the jacket is made of two utterly separate piece, joined in the middle of the back. This keeps the lines clean, and would be praiseworthy…if, you know, the pieces actually matched. Sigh.
And that's pretty much it for the statue, really. The sculpt is mediocre to bad, some paint apps are missing, several details have been forgotten and even if all That Was Good, it's a pretty boring statue anyways. There's nothing that conveys Samura's incredible artwork, and not much that even matches up to the simplified art of the Blade of the Immortal anime. Now, UART is also selling a Rin statue, whose base connects to Manji.
As you can see, at least Rin is in a slightly dynamic pose, although her head seems to be vaguely squished. I couldn't afford Rin, so I have no idea how she compares to Manji in terms of paint or sculpt, but rest assured I have zero plans of finding out. It's sad to say, but these are definitely not the Blade of the Immortal collectibles you've been looking for. If you've waited this long, I promise you're better off waiting a few years more.
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