Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Dark Pucelle by Enterbrainby Rob Bricken, May 31st 2009
Series: La Pucelle
I think I made a mistake. I'm pretty sure when I asked the fine folks over at AAA Anime for a small pile of anime figures to review, I accidentally asked for this here La Pucelle Dark Éclair figure, when I'm pretty sure I meant to ask for the similarly bizarrely named Unity Marriage Unity Mei figure. Not that I have anything against Dark Éclair here, but look at her — she's dressed like an eroge game character, while Unity Mei is dressed far more conservatively.
Of course, since I just found out that 1) Unity Marriage is actually an eroge game, 2) La Pucelle is not, and 3) Unity Mei looks like she's 12 years old anyways, it's probably for the best that I ended up with Dark Éclair.
2002's La Pucelle: Tactics is actually one of those weird Japanese strategy games that almost never come out in America, although this one oddly did. It's probably because it was made by Nippon Ichi, the game designers behind the similarly excessively Japanese Disgaia RPGs; Mastiff released the PS2 game in 2004. As far as I can tell, there's been a small smattering of statues of the game's ladies, of which Dark Éclair is the most recent.
So here's Dark Éclair's deal: she's better known as regular Éclair, who is the princess of Paprica and pal to the game's more main characters. Regular Éclair looks like this:
Alas, Éclair has a bit of a dark side, and when she gets stressed out, she “hulks out,” as long as you understand “hulking out” to mean “dressing in a swimsuit, putting on gauntlets, grabbing a faux lightsaber, and generally freaking out.” Dark Éclair looks like this:
…which means Enterbrain's 8-inch statue is pretty darn accurate. Heck, given the added paint detail to the sleeves, boots and stockings, I'd say it's arguably a superior representation of Dark Éclair than the 2-D art. Maybe some Pucelle purists might be annoyed that her saber appears to have a tiny Emperor stuffed inside of it, since it has a crazy lightning-esque blade instead of a straight one, but I think it's far more interesting than the boring blade seen above.
So really, the basic question is how much you like the character and her design. But what if you're like me and have absolutely no experience with or feelings about La Pucelle the game?
Well, let me tell you, since that's what the pay me for. Looking at Dark Éclair here, I think I suddenly realized what most non-anime fans see when they see anime — something really, really goofy. I don't mean this to be negative, I just mean think about it — this chick is wearing a one-piece swimsuit, knee-high boots, steel gauntlets, and most inexplicably, two large, blousy sleeves that are connected to absolutely nothing. This is not a bold fashion choice; this is insanity.
The reason I point this out is because this is exactly the sort of thing that never dawns on most anime fans. Sure, we might giggle that Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko Kusanagi is wearing lingerie while she's on active police duty initially, but none of the other characters in the anime notice or care, and eventually we stop noticing and forget about it. When it comes to anime and videogame fantasies, we get the belt and buckle-laden kids of Final Fantasy and the like, and never think anything of it. And then non-anime fans see what the characters are wearing and think we're all insane.
I don't disapprove of Dark Éclair's outfit by a longshot, but those sleeves really do freak me out. Still, I do love a chick who wears massive steel gloves and/or carries a lightsaber (I'm not sure that I knew this before seeing this statue, by the way) so overall, I think Dark Éclair has a pretty good design. I wish the swimsuit weren't so plain, but lightsabers make up for a lot.
One thing that I have to note is Éclair's proportions. The positive way to put this is that she's not your traditional, rail-thing anime heroine. The negative way to put this is that she's about 10 pounds too heavy for her outfit. Look above, and you can see she's got more ample proportions than most traditional anime statue girls, although I'd hardly call her overweight. Look below, and…
Well, she just needs a larger swimsuit is all. I guess this attention to her abundant fresh is pure gratuitousness on the part of Enterbrain, but for some reason, I can't help feel that it's… I don't know, kind of healthy. I doubt the figure's makers though they were striking a solid blow for realistic feminine beauty, but after looking at preposterously thin anime girl after anime girl, I can't help but be pleased when I see one that isn't quite as utterly ludicrous. Chance are this means I need a vacation more than anything, tho’.
Not much to say about the face, other than it's very plain — very very plain when the price tag is $100+ —but certainly adequate. I'm not sure why her earrings are larger in the statue than in the art, but they are.
So overall, if you're a major La Pucelle fan or just need an oddly dressed anime chick with an awesome fake lightsaber to place on your shelf, you could do far worse than Dark Éclair. In all honesty, her worst feature is her plain, standing-straight-up pose, which makes her more like a maquette than a statue. Since she's Dark, I would suppose she's evil, although the vanilla pose makes it tough to know. I pretty much have to infer her evilness from the slightly cruel smile on her face and her refusal to wear pants, which we all know is one of the truest signs of evil there is.
Happily, such things don't bother Krauser in the slightest.
You can read more of Rob Bricken's bitter, needlessly mean-spirited thoughts on toys and many non-anime subjects over at ToplessRobot.com (which is safe for work).
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