Astro Toy
Nendoroid Isabelle (Shizue)

by David Cabrera,

Nendoroid Isabelle (Shizue)
Good Smile
Series: Animal Crossing (game)
Cost: ~$45

Hello and welcome to what has turned out to be Nintendo Month here at Astro Toy! I want to take a moment to say that whenever Astro Toy's schedule lines up in a theme-like way or perhaps matches with a news story, it is always an accident. So it is with Nintendo Month. I will give you a hint as to the next one: its fans are famous for their extremism, and by the time we review it it'll be completely sold out everywhere.

Can I talk about Animal Crossing, though? I'm still playing the recent one. Animal Crossing is a great chill-out game, especially as the games I typically play are hard, stressful, and competitive. I love that all of AC's design urges you to walk slowly, take in the air, and just relax. I recommend it, but with a big caveat: it's the most passive-aggressive videogame ever made, the gaming equivalent of that friend you avoid because they want every event and outing to be about them. Being actively scolded, guilted, and punished for not playing enough is an ugly disclaimer for any videogame to have; it also ensures that when a player stops playing Animal Crossing for a week or two, they do so forever. Game should really drop all that “why don't you call your mother more” crap.

Anyway! Isabelle is the mayor's (ie the player's) secretary in the most recent Animal Crossing game, New Leaf. Her character design is decisively different from all the other animals in town, who tend to be made of simpler shapes. Isabelle looks much closer to a human being than the other animals: it's barely even a stretch of the imagination to imagine the human Isabelle.

Coupling her appearance with her too-diligent personality (she's at her desk 24/7 and has a “d-don't worry about me!” kind of attitude about it), I would argue that Isabelle is Animal Crossing's moe character. And yes, she will give you moe guilt trips. There is no easier way to prove my theory than to behold this, a damn Animal Crossing Nendoroid of the beloved Isabelle.

(In the original Japanese version Isabelle is Shizue, and so it is on the box. We're going to call her Isabelle anyway because it is probably an extreme minority of Animal Crossing (Doubutsu no Mori!) players who actually know this. Kind of like with Teddie/Kuma. In conclusion, don't ever search Pixiv for Shizue.)

So by now we all know what Nendoroids are about, right? I'll repeat myself for the sake of new readers (because I imagine this brought some in). Nendoroids are cute display figures in a squatty style: they don't really move or pose, rather you can remove and attach pieces to get new poses and expressions. So it's kind of like Mr. Potato Head.

By the way, in the game, Isabelle doesn't look like this anymore. She switched to her fall outfit a couple weeks back. Oh well; I think the figure is wearing a nicer vest. It's not a very complicated design, but the paint is pretty crisp.

One cute touch is that the bells on her head really do ring. Go ahead and give them a shake.

As for accessories, you will remember that Isabelle works a desk job and doesn't really run around town much. She gets a signboard and a pen for getting the paperwork done. Raised arms are also in the package, and of course there are the alternate faces. You get “smile”, “upside-down smile that still looks like a smile since she is a dog,” and “ecstatic smile”.

The effect parts should be familiar; they're effects directly from the original game. A little toy sleight-of-hand is used to get these working. Ingeniously, the question mark attaches to Isabelle's head with a replacement hair tie.

The musical notes are held up in the air by transparent stand parts. This is the first time in a while that I recall that a Nendoroid's stand has been easy to work with. Sometimes I think the bad stands are just a QA thing, and that your particular Nendoroid may or may not have a horrible stand.

And that's about it! This isn't one of those fancy Nendoroids, it does three or four things and that's all ya get. That it does these things without incident is enough.

I'm sure Isabelle will look lovely up on your shelf, silently guilting you into playing more Animal Crossing. AC fans (and Isabelle fans) should buy this ASAP, as all the recent Nintendo/GSC figures have sold out fast. Gamers, and the Nintendo cult, often don't know about Good Smile's small print runs or that these figures exist at all. As a result, I've been seeing Link and Samus figures get scalped for some ugly prices on the Ebay and con circuit. Get in there now, or resign yourself to paying way too much for a figure in this range.

We got Isabelle for $45 shipped from Amiami. She just came out last week, but she's already gone at every single one of my usual stores. Amazon has her for $56 shipped from Japan. When you're hunting the figure down, remember to look for “Shizue” rather than “Isabelle”.

When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, DavidCabreramakes moe 4-panel comics about videogames atKawaiikochan.You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.

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