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Astro Toy
Nendoroid Tomoko Kuroki

by David Cabrera,

Nendoroid Tomoko Kuroki
Good Smile Company
Price: $48

Now we just did a Nendoroid here at Astro Toy, and I realize this might be redundant... but it's alright, it's WATAMOTE. The title is an abbreviation, short for (when translated) “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys' Fault I’m Not Popular! ”, and the series is a brutal, crushing portrait of a precocious, awkward kid who's barely able to function outside of her misanthropic internal monologue. A lot of people consider the anime cruel-- they should try the original manga, which has so much extra self-loathing written in that you can tell it's autobiographical-- but I think it has some sympathy for Tomoko. It wouldn't exactly be right to call her a moe character-- she's a little too hateful-- but Mokocchi is trying. She's trying something.

In any case, she definitely has a certain appeal, right? It's such that there is a Nendoroid, and that I put in a preorder as soon as I could, and that I rushed it to the front of the order. This is okay.

The weird thing about reviewing a Nendoroid twice in a row is you get deja vu... which, as I type that, I realize I said last time. It's okay, let's do the whole thing again. A Nendoroid is a display figure. Rather than moving joints around like with most action figures in this price range, you replace the limbs and face Mr. Potato Head style to create several very specific poses with the same figure.

I like the sculpt, especially her accurately-molded, horrendously unkempt hair. The tips of the hair are even a little sharp, which means you actually have to be careful of her thorns when you replace parts. I don't really consider this a drawback. You'll also note that her legs are kind of permanently bowlegged, like she's hunched without hunching. Anyway, no mistakes, no bad paint. There's an extra hair piece so that her hair isn't necessarily swept over one eye, as she usually appears.

I think the main attraction for this Nendoroid has to be the faces. This is not a character who wears the normal moe-chara bright-eyed smile, and no such face is supplied. You get a creepy smile, a creepier smile, and a face of screaming desperation. People in Japan got to work with these faces the day the Tomoko figure came out, putting Tomoko's creepy expressions on other Nendoroid characters.

You get Tomoko's knockoff Beats by Dre headphones (I like to cal them Deats by Bre), which are cheaply done in flat blue plastic. There is some irony to the fact that they feel like a bootleg item, but I doubt it's intentional. When I took the headphones out of the package, they actually had stray bits of plastic hanging off the edges, like somebody had clipped them wrong from a Gundam model kit's sprue. Again, super cheap.

While we are back here, note the stand that reaches up under the hair to plug into the back. The hole in the figure is hexagonal, but the peg on the stand is round, unlike other Nendoroids I've recently looked at. They don't get along well.

You'll note they didn't bother to do a backpack that fully hooks around Tomoko's body: rather, this one clips onto the shoulders and hangs there as the straps just kind of end. Ehhh. This doesn't look great, especially since there's a hole for a stand peg right smack in the middle of the backpack. This one kind of called for a claw-type stand. At least the stand works this time!

The poses are all callbacks to very specific gags from the show, like the time Tomoko went shopping for an otome game and won a massager. Having legitimately no idea what this combination suggested, she played the otome game all night while actually using the massager on her shoulders (“Hey, this is great! I can see why these things are popular!”)... leaving her dad to find her passed out on the floor of her room with an otome game on the screen and a massager lying nearby.

It kind of hurts to look at these accessories and remember the moments from the show. This story tells itself: remember the time Mokocchi thought she'd become a cool, sophisticated girl if she just bought the right panties? So this is what happened to those. This piece actually has to be bent a little bit to make the pose work: I was worried about snapping it, but luckily it didn't happen. With this piece more than any other, you can see that slight degradation in quality between pictures of a protoype and pictures of a real thing. The final piece is blobby and melty-looking: unidentifiable as torn-up fabric unless one already knew what it was intended to be. Which, of course, every WATAMOTE fan does.

The final accessory is, as far as I know, exclusive to the figure (was it in the later volumes of the manga?): Tomoko tears a piece of paper reading “riajuu” in half. Riajuu is a Japanese internet slang abbreviation somewhat analogous to nerds calling people who aren't obsessed with anything “mundanes”. There is, however, also the statement of fulfillment with one's real, non-weirdo life in “riajuu”, which is of course the source of Mokocchi's frustation. This is kind of the same gag as the last accessory, but the pieces are different and the slip of paper looks a lot better than the last piece.

What she doesn't know is that the headphones aren't plugged in.

This figure is really about the faces. It's nice-looking, does the job, the worst of it is a couple of accessories they cheaped out on. Like usual, I guess. But the real stand-out point is having Nendoroid faces this ugly and creepy for your collection. Shout outs to that.

The Nendoroid of Mikasa was half-hearted, but we're back at “average” right now. In any case, this is likely to be the only Mokocchi you're ever gonna get. (There is a UFO catcher figure; don't do that to yourself.)

We paid $48 shipped as usual at Amiami. It's on backorder as I write this, but you'll get it.

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

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