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Astro Toy with Rob Bricken - Mermaid Rei & Asuka

by Rob Bricken,

Toyline: Vignetteum Mermaid
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion
By: Sega
Cost: $40-50




I've just been informed by the Anime News Network management that “Why?” is not an acceptable review. More specifically, it is not acceptable as a review that I will be paid for, so now I have to think up some words to describe my utter bafflement with these figures of Evangelion’s Rei and Asuka as mermaids. Who wants these things? Who would ever want these things?

Now, I get Evangelion’s popularity, of course. Evangelion may not have saved the anime industry as it sometimes get credited with, and it might have explored themes that were better done in other series, but the fact of the matter is that Evangelion is the series that changed the face of anime for most people — Japanese, American, Zimbabwean, whatever — and that's what counts.

Now, between Japan's fetish-culture of cute and Evangelion’s two main females roles, Rei and Asuka, serving as such archetypal characters — emotionless and overemotional, coldly analytical and passionately reactionary, conscious and id, angel and devil — I also understand how and why the two girls would become icons and superstars. So I get the many figures of them, I even understand all the hentai figures to an extent.

It's when Rei and Asuka leave the realm of Evangelion (and pornography) and start branching out into other action figure fields — like geisha, ninjas, underdressed soldiers — that I don't understand as much. I mean, they're kind of fun, I guess. I know that Sega has created a whole industry out of making incredibly silly Evangelion girl figures, and the UFO catchers of Japan are still full of them, nearly 15 years after Evangelion first came out. Hell, I admit, I almost picked up a ninja Rei at a con once, just because it was so ludicrous.

But mermaids? Come on.

What possible reason could anyone want a Rei or Asuka mermaid figure? This is a concept that goes beyond silly/funny to just… weird. No, let me correct myself — these things don't go beyond silly or funny, they're just weird. They aren't ask as goofy as ninjas or soldiers. They just have fish tails. It's like whatever lunatic at Sega's prize figure division has a checklist of archetypes he has to put Rei and Asuka in, and he's just going down the checklist. Next up will be clowns, Roman gladiators and hobos.

I'm not going to lie, those are all awesome ideas. I would buy all three of those sets. Damn.

Anyway, mermaids are still really boring by the already established lunacy of these figures, and they're not sexy enough to justify for that reason, either. They're wearing bikini tops, but given most of the stuff I see for sale nowadays —especially since half of all anime merchandise being made in Japan is apparently for Queen's Blade — these aren't that naughty. They're practically chaste.

Now, even if you're a mermaid fan, these leave a little something to be desired. First, Rei and Asuka are both sitting on rocks, which seems kind of a waste, as… you know, they're @#$%ing mermaids. Can't you have them swimming around of something? Wouldn't that be slightly more exciting?

Their hair is slightly translucent, which I suppose is partially done to look a little ethereal, and partially to look like they're underwater. Asuka's hair is spread out slightly to look as if it could be flowing in the currents, although the effect is kind of wasted on Rei, who has the same damn haircut on the surface or 20,000 leagues under the sea, apparently. It's also weird since Sega deiced to make the girls’ tail section also partially translucent; again, I'm sure this is supposed to make them look more “magical” but it actually makes them look kind of sickly, like someone's been dumped toxis waste into whatever section of the Japanese sea these chicks hang out in.

If you look at the pics of the faces, they aren't exact representations of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's original (and fabulous) character designs; they're that softer, rounder art style that Gainax seems to use for when they're really whoring out their characters (seriously, it's the same design as from the crappy eroge games and stuff. I honestly think this whole thing has been meticulously planned out).

Besides their bikini tops, the girls are wearing the exact same outfits — armbands, a pendant, and two little handkerchiefs or something off their waists, which since they're the same color and translucent materials as their tails, it looks like they're wearing random fins on their belts — kind of like if they had belts with human hands on them on the surface. It's kind of creepy.

The only real difference between the two is that Rei is holding an ocarina, because I GUESS MERMAIDS ENJOY PLAYING WIND INSTRUMENTS UNDERNEATH THE WATER. Oh, and each girl has a poorly sculpted sea creature on their rock base; Asuka has a fish, Rei has a turtle. By the way they're attached to the bases, both the fish and the turtle are incredibly poor swimmers.

So these are poor Evangelion figures, poor Evangelion girl figures, and kind of crappy mermaid figures. Admittedly, they're not nearly as bad as those horrible Aero-cat Eva figures I reviewed early this year, because they aren't poorly disguised, hyper-sexualized garbage. But that doesn't mean that these guys are interesting. If you need a Rei or Asuka toy in your life, I'd keep looking — even Sega's prize line has more sensible options, like in their school uniforms in spring, or more interesting figures, like the aforementioned ninjas. Meanwhile, I'll wait for my Eva hobo clown figures.

And Krauser will try to figure out a way to have his way with two girls whose lower parts are fish.

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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