I was very surprised when I saw the first pictures of Alter’s Momohime figure; she was one of those characters that I had hoped would get a figure but didn’t expect to. Alter had already shown some love to Vanillaware’s properties, having produced Gwendolyn over a year before and having announced Mercedes by then, but I had thought that they would unveil a figure of Velvet next. Instead, we got a figure of Momohime, and I’ve got no cause for complaint as it is a gorgeous figure indeed.
Momohime is one of the two playable characters in the Nintendo Wii game Muramasa: The Demon Blade. The other character is a male ninja named Kisuke, who is not likely to get his own figure any time soon. Muramasa is something of a spiritual successor to the games Princess Crown and Odin Sphere, being a 2D action RPG with environments modeled on a specific culture and history. Momohime is a young princess who is possessed by the spirit of a malevolent warrior and is thus forced into battle.
This figure is manufactured by Alter and is in 1/8 scale. Excluding her base, she’s about 18 centimeters tall, and while she seems smaller than Alter’s other 1/8 scale figures, presumably she’s of slighter build than many other characters. Unusually for an Alter figure, she comes with some extra parts so that her sword can be displayed either sheathed or brandished in her hand. She also comes with a very nice base, which features plastic water in a style reminiscent of the video game.
The first thing that strikes me about Momohime’s character design is the pattern of colors on display, black alternating with the vibrant red, sea green, pink, and violet of her clothing. The pastel tones suggest that she is a delicate, innocent young girl, but the dark silver and black of her armor and sword reveal the peril of assuming such. The next thing that I notice are all the details of her outfit. Her forearm guards include tiny rivets, and the soles of her sandals feature a woven pattern. The white, pink, and red flowers on her sleeves have four, five, and six petals, respectively, giving them both chromatic and geometric distinctiveness.
Alter loves their action poses, and Momohime is one of the nicest examples I’ve yet seen. The illusion of movement is breathtaking and makes her one of Alter’s most dramatic figures. Momohime looks equally good from any frontal or side angle, which is a quality that is very rare among figures.
Vanillaware’s character designs are grounded in the familiar anime style but they still maintain a sense of uniqueness, and Alter’s done a wonderful job in sculpting Momohime’s face. One of the nicest touches is that she has a lower lip, which imparts depth to her expression. She could be anxious, pensive, hesitant, or perhaps completely cold-blooded – looking at her, I can easily convince myself that she’s any of these.
Momohime’s sword scabbard is marvelously detailed, as is her sword. The blade of her sword features a metallic texture but it still looks like plastic and nobody is going to confuse it for actual metal. It seems oversized for her – which is appropriate, since one of the aspects of Muramasa’s gameplay is switching between small and large swords – and is one of the things that gives this figure its charm. The size disparity also accentuates Momohime’s apparent frail nature and provides an additional contrasting element to her design.
Alter generally refrains from swappable parts and gimmicks, but Momohime is an exception to that tendency. She comes with an additional left sleeve and right hand that allow her to be displayed with her sword out, gripped in her left hand.
While this is a very nice touch, it’s also the source of the most glaring problem with this figure. The seam where her left sleeve detaches is extremely conspicuous, particularly because it’s a straight arc around her arm and cuts across the folds of her clothing. I think it would’ve looked better if they had disguised it as a fold, but perhaps that wasn’t possible.
There’s not really a lot I need to say about the paintwork; Alter’s quality speaks for itself, and the pictures do a better job of describing it than I can. I’ll just say that it’s astonishing.
Momohime is one of my favorite character designs in video games, and when Muramasa was released I was very tempted to pick up a Wii solely to play it. I never did so, and so I’m glad that I now have Momohime on my desk instead. Alter’s quality is second to none, and Momohime is an outstanding figure; she is dynamic, dramatic, and beautiful, a superlative work of art that stands out even amongst Alter’s most exalted figures.
For another review of this wonderful figure, check out Exelica Meteor.
I’ve tried to keep this review classy, but I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t include this picture:
This artwork was done by George Kamitani, the founder of Vanillaware and director and lead artist of their games. It appeared on the cover of the now-defunct Play Magazine. Hey, you know the name of this site, I had to show it here.