Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Series: Persona 3
Welcome back, everyone. Before we begin, I'd like to abuse my limited powers a little bit with an amusing story. I (and Mike too, after I told him about this great deal I'd found) got ripped off on Amazon on what I was hoping was a good deal on a rare figure. When mysterious Amazon marketplace listings say things like “Complete Figure Box”... be aware that you might get an empty box for another figure. Amazon refunded me ASAP, but it was a sad couple of days thinking I'd lucked into my own life-size transforming Gold Lightan.
The venerable (and, I freely admit, my favorite by a mile) Chogokin line has been branching out lately beyond its usual subjects of robots and live-action superheroes: there was a Chogokin Hatsune Miku a couple of years back, now long gone, of course. Recently there's been the aforementioned Franky from One Piece (a cyborg, so...) and the miniature exterminatrix Hoi-Hoi-san (an android, so...). This week we're going into Japanese RPGs with Aigis from Persona 3 (and soon Arc's fighting game The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena). She's an android, so!
This is the first time I've ever gotten to make a joke about Astro Toy and Astro Boy.
It's “Aegis” on the (super-compact) box, but I'm going to use the name that appeared in the videogame. When I looked up this figure I wanted to make sure it wasn't just a Figma with diecast parts, like I'm pretty sure the Chogokin Miku is. If it was some cheapo BS like that we wouldn't have gone for it. There's too much quality out there to look at weak toys! I mean, uh... not that we haven't, but I try and stick to toys we can't tell are crappy until we open them up and look at them. Guy notwithstanding.
The first thing you're going to notice from this figure is “whoa, that's heavy!” It's not a huge figure-- taller than a Figma, about the height of the Super Robot Chogokin releases-- but the feel of it belies that. Parts of the legs and the whole lower part of the torso are solid metal! This is a non-issue to a lot of folks, but I'm really fond of the presence that well-used diecast can give a figure.
The second thing you're going to notice is “wait a second, how the hell does she stand up?” Not on her own: her feet are kind of hoof-like, with an upward slant. As such-- I suppose in the name of character design accuracy-- the included and rather fancy stand is completely necessary for any kind of posing. This is odd, because the Figma solved the problem with little plastic clips that went into the feet. You'd think they'd at least offer that, but it's peg-in-the-back all the way here.However, there are no problems with the stand keeping heavy Aigis suspended. If you don't want the big PVC-style stand, there's a weird, round little plastic lump that is supposed to keep Aigis up by itself: it's possible to use this but not terribly convenient.
Those points out of the way, let's get to the look of the thing. This toy is looking quite crisp: the same level of detail paid to super robots in the Chogokin line is applied straight across to Aigis. It's a relatively simple, modern, anime-style design, but there are tough parts that this figure nails. The eye goes right away to the gleaming gold armor at the shoulders and hips, and the mechanical detail within. The point where the face attaches looks a little weird, but that's about it. There are three other faces: “deactivated” with closed eyes, smiling, and angry. Those cold, blue eyes never change.
Posability is good: of course, as with robot figures, the articulation at the shoulders and hips is supposed to be there, so the joints don't look out of place and the armor moves a little bit to accommodate movement. The other articulation consists of standard ball-joints at the elbows, knees, and a hidden joint at the chest.
However, and this is the single biggest problem with the figure: be very careful with the shoulders. Those metal bits look really nice, but the arm will pop apart if you move it too far out and it's a huge pain to put back together, because three pieces need to be lined up and pushed together just so, and one of them, the metal bit, is loose.
Of course, Aigis comes with the weapons you see in the game, and not just her machine gun fingers (though really, machine gun fingers are a major selling point).
In case you weren't getting enough machine gun, you can slap one on either wrist or just replace her entire right arm with one.
Of course, there's also a cannon (is it a rocket launcher? Grenades? Lasers? I dunno, I never got that far in this game!) to round out that first-person shooter diet.
But the obvious best weapon in the package is something that both appeared in the game and happens to be a long-standing Chogokin tradition: the humble rocket punch. Obviously the ridiculous, unfitting, and totally awesome rocket punch weapon in Persona 3 came from ol' Mazinger Z (from which the whole Chogokin name and line is derived), so they did something special for this figure. It's a spring-loaded rocket punch! Awww, yeah!
The part that replaces the right arm is pretty directly modeled after the rocket punch assembly you find on any Mazinger Chogokin: a switch at the elbow lets the fist fly. I was going to make a video, but Amiami beat me to it quite some time ago. That's an alright firing distance, but if you're familiar with other Chogokin figures, you know that it's nothing compared to the powerful cross-a-room-and-choke-a-small-child velocity of their rocket punches (to say nothing of the outright murderous vintage toys). Of course, this might have to do with the bulk of the ornate rocket punch fist itself...
You can get this figure for $50 to $60 on Amazon, depending on whether or not you have Prime: importing it from the usual Japan-based sites, even on sale, brings it to an estimated $70-ish. I must admit, Bluefin's distribution is making my life a lot easier lately, and their pricing is dangerously good. Keep in mind that after international shipping and import markup, Figmas and Revoltechs cost a buyer outside Japan $50 on the low side these days. Now I like Figma and Revoltech (but what the hell is happening to Revoltech lately, and is that seriously supposed to be Alucard?) but this figure is simply a rung up the quality ladder from those. If you like this character at all-- and I hear anime fans just love the Persona series-- this is highly recommended. It's definitely going to spend some time on my shelf.
Is this Bandai Japan's evil plan, to infiltrate the US market with low-end prices on high-end items in a time when a crappy economy and high shipping costs make importing even the most basic Japanese figure prohibitively expensive? Well, I'm not mad at 'em!
Neco-Arc has to be a cyborg, herself. I mean, she's a fuzzy critter of nature, but where do the rockets come from? Magic? I doubt it!
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.