Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Toyline: Nendoroid Series
By: Good Smile Company
I was greatly worried that I wouldn't have much to say about the subject of this week's “Astro Toy.” Obviously, the toy is another in Good Smile's SD Nendoroid Series, which I covered back with the adorable L from Death Note. And unlike L, I don't have the faintest clue who Miku Hatsune is.
Oh, I know she's popular — that's why she has not just this figure, but several despite not technically being an anime, manga or videogame character. She's actually the mascot/persona of Vocaloid2, an intensely popular Japanese music program which allows folks to create music “sung” by “Miku” (actually voice actress Saki Fujita) by typing in lyrics and other data, although I know this entirely through Wikipedia.
However, I'm pleased to note that I do have a few things to discuss with you “Astro Toy” regulars; Good Smile has apparently updated its Nendoroid figures since last year. Miku is a definite improvement of L in many ways. For instance, can she stand up by herself?
No. Not in the slightest. As it turns out, humanity has not reached the level of technology necessary to create a figure with a 4:1 head:body ratio and have it stand up on its own. That said, thanks to her ball-jointed pigtails, Miku can do this:
Which gives her the stunning illusion of being able to stand on her own two feet, so we're getting closer to the point where Nendoroids no longer need a stand to stand.
Like the other figures in the series, Miku Hatsune has three different faces: smiling with mouth closed (as you can see in the very first picture), smiling with mouth open and looking to the side, (below) and what I assume is dismay (directly above). Miku also has a second set of bangs, which looks strikingly similar to the other set; you can see the “main” bangs in the picture at the very top, and the second set on the picture with the “dismay” face. The only difference I can see is that she only has one straighter bang on her face on the second version, for reasons perhaps one of you guys knows. Based on the packaging, the piece is only used with the “dismay” face, so… that's what I did. Sometimes, I play by the rules.
Here you see the rest of Miku's accessories; an extra bent arm, an extra hand made specifically for holding a leek, a leek, and a bent leg so she can make this adorable little pose (oh, and here's that other smiling face, too). Although the arm is strictly a right arm, the hand can be used with any arm, any side. The bent leg is also side neutral, thanks to the stubby legs being separate, ball-jointed pieces. This also means that Miku's panties — and of course they're on there, it's a Japanese toy, for goodness sake — look like a diaper. The certainly that certain perverts are unable to get their jollies to this figure is an extra bonus.
So if you're wondering why Miku comes with a leek, I can only link you to this video. If you're still curious, all I can say it was a very popular video. Now let's move on.
So what all this means is that Miku is a definite improvement on her predecessors. L didn't have removable legs; his body was all one piece (except for an arm). While I had the damnedest time trying to pry L's bangs and faces off to switch them out, Miku's came a lot more freely (although they weren't loose in the slightest). Heck, Heck, even Miku's stand is better.
Miku's is specially sculpted so it catches her dress, meaning once she's in the stand, she's not going anywhere, Compare this to L, whose head is so enormous and heavy that he topples over even in his stand, and I have to admit: purely as figures, Miku beat L, tiny hands down.
Even L is shocked!
Now, this Nendoroid figure is just one several dozen of Miku, who is as legitimate a pop star as anyone churned out by Japan or America's pop music industry. She has several other figures and figurines, as do the “singers” of the other Vocaloid music computer programs, such as Ren Kagamine and Luka Megurine, and this includes other Nendoroid figures too: you can see some of them here. I'm not going to say that Miku has replaced L in my heart — I'm a Death Nerd, after all — but I do wish that L had some of the Miku figure's features, including the ability to stay on its feet for more than half a second.