Sasara Kusugawa from To Heart 2: Dungeon Travelers (Paladin Version)

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Despite not being particularly religious, I always like to play as a paladin in role-playing games. I’ve always admired the ethos of the paladin: the self-sacrificing knight devoted to justice and charity. My party leader in the Bard’s Tale games was always a paladin. My Baldur’s Gate parties always had two paladins – my player character and Ajantis in the first game and Keldorn in the second. I played a paladin in EverQuest despite the hindrance of the hybrid experience penalty. I stayed away from World of Warcraft for years because I was told that paladins were only good for healing and I didn’t care to spend my game time staring at a CTRaid status window while mindlessly spamming the Decursive key (I wound up doing that after I bought the game, anyway). When Volks announced that their Sasara figure was called the “paladin” version, my curiosity was piqued, and when I saw the promo pictures, my interest was confirmed. I had some slight misgivings because Volks’s Moekore figures tend to not feature the cleanest production quality, but I figured Sasara looked good enough that I wouldn’t care. I figured correctly, because pally Sasara is a very impressive figure indeed.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Sasara Kusugawa is a relatively recent addition to the expansive cast of To Heart. She first appeared in To Heart 2 XRATED, the PC port of the original title, and has swiftly become one of the franchise’s most popular characters. This particular figure is derived from her appearance in To Heart 2: Dungoen Travelers, the PSP adaptation of Final Dragon Chronicle: Guilty Requiem. Kotobukiya has released several figures of characters from that series, including samurai Tamaki, and Volks has a figure of valkyrie Tamaki and bishop Manaka. An OVA of Dungeon Travelers is scheduled for release next February. And if you like seeing the To Heart characters in oddball games, Aquaplus also published the Examu-developed crossover fighting game Aquapazza, starring various characters from To Heart, Utawarerumono, Tears to Tiara, and other Leaf games. Here’s the debut trailer. Unfortunately, Sasara doesn’t appear in the game, nor Buddy or any of the characters from Kimi ga Yobu, Megido no Oka de.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

This figure was, like all of Volks’s figures, sold only in Japan, which necessitated an additional expense to procure it. Sasara is sculpted in 1/8 scale and stands about 21.5 centimeters tall, making her appear quite large relative to other 1/8 scale figures. She’s about comparable in size to Alter’s 1/8 scale sculpts and is noticeably larger than Kotobukiya’s samurai Tamaki figure.

She comes with an oval base and sword and board. Her weapon fits easily into her hand – a happy change from how difficult it was to get Kaguya Nanbu equipped – and her left hand detaches to get her shield onto her forearm, making setup a very simple affair.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Every good pally requires appropriate equipment. Sasara’s arms and armor comprise a broadsword – rather plasticky-looking, unfortunately – and some very fetching white enamelled plate. Her design keeps troth with female warrior convention in fantasy art – though her limbs are encased in armor, her torso is basically protected by a plate brassiere. Her accoutrements include a red dress with a plunging neckline and a very high cut above her legs – very attractive.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

It’s a bit rare to find an anime girl who carries a shield since, curiously, it seems to have played no role in the history of Japanese warfare. Though you won’t see any ninja or samurai girls toting shields around, some of the characters inspired by Western martial styling – like Leina and Annelotte from Queen’s Blade – do carry them, and so does Sasara. Sasara’s shield features the same white color as her armor, with a large black cross, affirming her allegiance. It looks good and adds a conspicuous element of distinction to her design.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Sasara’s statuesque pose is one of the best parts of this figure. Legs set wide and head cocked to one side, she radiates competence and confidence, with just a touch of arrogance. And sexiness as well – her aggressive stance emphasizes her armor-sheathed legs, calling attention to her bare thighs. The sinuous tilt of her body exposes the swell of her hips and highlights her narrow waist, both of which are perfectly complemented by the flare of her dress.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Her expression lies somewhere between casual nonchalance and cold-blooded disdain. Narrowed and icy blue, her eyes convey almost no emotion, and that in itself establishes a great deal of this figure’s personality. Sasara projects a somber, serious attitude – wholly appropriate given her role as a reverent avenger. It is a good thing that her eyes can carry so much of the weight of effecting her disposition because her mouth is all but vestigial. Look closely and you can sort of see that she’s scowling, but from a normal viewing distance, her mouth is basically invisible.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Though her gaze is grim, her headdress adds a bit of lighthearted counterpoint to her look. She’s wearing something reminiscent of a pair of floppy bunny ears and a hair ribbon. I tend to dislike animal ears on anime characters but since this is obviously an article of clothing, I’m fine with it here, and it’s not completely obvious that they’re animal ears, anyway.

Incidentally, her white armor and red and gold color scheme remind me a bit of A Song of Ice and Fire, specifically, the armor of the Kingsguard and the traditional colors of House Lannister. Sasara doesn’t have the right eyes, though.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

I think it’s pretty hot how her navel is visible through her dress. And for people – such as myself – who don’t mind explicitness, pantyshots are easy to come by. Her underwear is cut very high, which I’m glad to see, since I think the high-cut waistband looks a lot better than the low-leg style you see a lot, such as on samurai Tamaki.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

In my experience, Volks’s PVC figures aren’t exemplars of exceptional production standards, and unfortunately Sasara isn’t an exception. Look closely at her and you’ll see tiny paint flecks, little pockmarks, and all sorts of other small problems that become obvious up close or through a macro lens. However, I think her construction is a notable improvement from some of the other Moekore figures I own, particularly the Super Robot Wars girls.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

It would be nice if Volks upped their game to match Alter, Good Smile Company, and Max Factory with respect to PVC figures, but even without their painting precision, Sasara is an awesome figure. There are a ton of things I like about her: her elegant armor, her steely stare, her fearless composure, the revealing tightness of her panties. And of course, I like that she is a paladin. All of this adds up to make Sasara one of my favorite figures released this year. It’s a bit of a shame that she won’t get a general release, because she definitely merits all the love the collecting community can offer her.

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Daiki Kougyou is making another figure of Sasara from Dungeon Travelers; theirs is based on her samurai outfit. I have it preordered and I’m quite looking forward to it, though I’m undecided as to whether she looks better fully-clothed or cast off. I wonder if anyone will make a figure of Sasara in her Tyris Flare-inspired outfit?

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review
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34 Responses to Sasara Kusugawa from To Heart 2: Dungeon Travelers (Paladin Version)

  1. Asa says:

    She’s pretty and I want her. Never hit my radar, I guess because she’s a Japan exclusive and not sold through usual channels. If she’s still available from any proxies I would appreciate being pointed in their direction.

    Out of curiosity, do any of UBW Rin’s swords fit in her hand? Or Saber’s spare? (You have GCS’s UBW Rin and Saber Lily, iirc). You say that doesn’t look great, so maybe one of their alternatives may look better.

    I ordered the recolour of her upcoming Samurai version; http://www.amiami.jp/shop/?set=english&vgForm=ProductInfo&sku=FIG-MOE-4714&template=default/product/e_display.html as I prefer this recolour to the original. So I suppose if they’re the same character I can’t get this version anyway; no two figures of the same char is one of my fundamental rules of collecting. ;.; But this one looks different enough for me to ignore that, perhaps.

    • Tier says:

      She appears to be in decent demand even just a few weeks after her release; there are only a few listings for her up on Yahoo Japan Auctions and the buyout prices for her are significantly higher than her retail price. Hopefully her price will settle out a bit after the initial rush.

      I didn’t try any of the GSC Fate/stay night weapons, but that’s a good idea. I put Rin’s swords back in her box since they don’t stay stuck in her base very well, but I’ll have to pull them out and see if they will work. Certainly Caliburn or Excalibur will look much better than Sasara’s broadsword, too.

      They are indeed the same character. I had a similar rule for a while, back when figure makers weren’t quite so prolific, and I wonder if that played some role in me not getting GSC’s old 1/8 scale Saber figure. I really wanted that figure for a long time (though looking at it again, it’s, uhh, somewhat hideous by contemporary standards) but I got Clayz’s figure around the same time that one was released. I think I first broke that rule with Rei Ayanami; Alter’s 1/5 scale version of her was one of the first figures I bought, and then I got Yamato’s Shunya Yamashita-designed figure.

  2. Wolfheinrich says:

    I am a big fan of the Paladin class too, for the longest time I play PLD in FFXI myself. Sasara is looking good, I was moderately tempted to pick her up at one point after seeing the promotional art of the Dungeon Traveler game and the like. I am keenly aware of the production issue of Volks scaled figure since I own one and vowed to never buy them again. And since I have already picked up Native Collet, there is no more budget allocated for scaled figures =/

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, Volks’s Moekore figures are sort of middling as far as quality goes. Aschen Brodel was kinda bad, though; I really like her sculpt but she looks like she got dipped in a vat full of floor wax or something. A lot of their X-brand stuff isn’t that great either, but their A-brand Sengoku Rance figures are incredible. It’s weird how inconsistent they are across several different product lines.

  3. duqs says:

    Gah i had to let this figure go due to fundage, i hope there will still be more of her being sold around DX.

    Really beautiful review (as usual), I’m reminded now that I have to buy some indoor shooting stuff and props after visiting your site XD

    Really nice how figure forming that costume of hers look and nice touches to the bunny-ear looking ribbon as well.

    • Tier says:

      Hopefully so; perhaps Volks will release more of her during Wonder Festival or one of the other shows they attend, like their All That’s Hobby show. I think they did that with version 2 of Kaguya Nanbu.

      Thanks XD This was an interesting set to build and didn’t take too long to construct. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out given that I didn’t spend a ton of time on it.

  4. 5ushi says:

    Another nice review as always. Though you’re making me regret not getting her, because ‘at the time’ I didn’t like that posture. Might try securing one of Daiko’s figures (ripping my hair out deciding on the normal pink edition or the limited black variant), but now have financial difficulties…

    • Tier says:

      Daiki’s stuff is pretty expensive; you might be able to pick up one or the other in the bargain bin, if you want to take the chance. I’m guessing Kotobukiya will make one of her as well, since they’ve already done figures of samurai Tamaki and several other characters, but not Sasara. I wonder what outfit they would pick? Sasara’s got a whole bunch to pick from.

  5. Nightmare says:

    This is a great figure, I pretty much like everything about it. The hair, the pose and especially the face. Her outfit is very much befitting of a chivalrous, slightly sexy, paladin. If only paladins looked this good in .

    The scenery is just stellar. I welcome the return of those fantastic looking floor tiles, they should make an appearance more often. The window pane and pillars do look great even if I find them a wee bit too grainy in some shots. I’m not sure if they look like that or if it’s something else causing that effect. While the base actually fits the floor I’m glad you cropped many shots in favor of your custom set. The ray of light coming from the window is done just right and the shadows fit her character very well. There is some crazy exposure going on in some of the shots though, specifically on her hair, even if that’s being picky. Regardless, it’s a great figure and set of shots which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I looked at the photos in Lightroom and I was surprised by how coarse the grain is. The grain comes from the props themselves; I used some textured spray paint that I got from the crafts store next to the Wendy’s I like to go to for lunch, but I guess this stuff isn’t formulated for miniature scale-sized use. On the other hand, it still looks much better than with no textured paint at all; I tried using one of the big pillars for my Darth Talon review last year and it turned out so badly that I dumped those photos.

      Haha, yeah, I went overboard on the overhead light. I wanted Sasara to have this shining knight look, like I did with Sigui’s human light bulb shots. It would have been more noticeable if the background were darker, but I was blasting a lot of light through the window to blow it out and since the set is painted white, pretty much all that light got reflected back. I didn’t quite think that through when I painted the set; in retrospect, I might have been better off going with gray, like I used for Saber Alter’s set, but on the other hand, I’m pretty happy with the way the brighter backdrop looks. I probably should’ve dialed down the overhead light on some of these shots, but I did take some pictures with softer light and they didn’t seem as interesting to me. For example, I had this picture, which is basically identical to shot #2 other than the lighting, which is much softer and more even. I waffled back and forth for a while but I decided to go with the harder-lit one, mainly because I thought it gave a more interesting look to her face.

  6. JL Coburn says:

    I’ll be honest. This is the first Sasara figure that I’ve been remotely interested in. And great review again.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! It’s a great figure. You should get into figures, they are tons of fun to collect. Not quite so fun to repair if your kids break them, though.

      • JL Coburn says:

        I have a couple that I’ve had for years now. Morrigan Aensland and the Hero from Suikoden IV. Plus a couple small Gundams, though I’m not much for mechs. Oh and the Tousaka Rin Fraulien figma I got this year. Once we move I should have a separate space to use as an office/workshop so I’ll be able to keep them safe from the kids. Already had a cat knock down and smash a $100 statue years ago and don’t want to repeat that experience.

        • Tier says:

          I bought a couple of polystone figures recently and I nearly had an anxiety attack the day they were due to be delivered, because I was certain they were going to get damaged during shipment. It’s somewhat disconcerting how emotionally invested we get in our toys, but then again, for a lot of these things, it’s often nearly impossible to find replacements or to conduct repairs.

  7. Wieselhead says:

    Im happy to see that you’ve used such a “jaw drop” setup for your pictures again.
    picture 17.jpg, 21.jpg, 22.jpg, 23.jpg and 25.jpg are really nice.

    This Sasara girl looks awesome, especially in terms of color combination red, white and gold

    the stuff on her head really looks like dog…no, it’s clear that it should resemble bunny ears.
    Anyway, I really like her tight fit dress, the underwear is quite tight, isn’t it?
    The strong legarmor is really cool and supports the overall warrior look of Sasara very well.
    Her pose looks so well done in your pictures, the nicely tilted upper body and the flowing hair, just lovely. I also like the strong expression of her eyes.

    Nice review and it seems like I also would be happy with this figure, if I had ordered her, unfortunately I did not. I think I should place less preorders in the future, to leave more free budget for figures that I start to like when seeing them in reviews :D

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, they look like dog ears as well; maybe cocker spaniel ears? I only had a little terrier dog so I tend to think of dog ears as being small and non-floppy.

      They are very tight indeed. I should have given big kudos to Volks for that sort of sculpting decision, it wasn’t necessary at all but it adds a lot of spice to the figure when you take a peek under her dress.

      I’m quite happy with her; in fact, she might be among my five favorite figures of the year thus far. Speaking of which, I guess I need to start putting together that list; this year sure has flown by fast.

  8. Devastator001 says:

    Definitely piqued my curiosity when I saw her and your pics do her great justice too :D. Gotta set aside budget for her :D

  9. Cantan says:

    Not a bad figure – must say I don’t expect too much (but not too little either) from Volks based on the two figures I have of theirs. Ironically the weapons are one of the more interesting features of the SRW figures… not replicated here i guess.

    But to take exception… Ajantis… really? Always ignored him when I met him in the wurm hunting grounds… just got annoyed that he always tried to talk to me… and if you had a Paladin, Keldorn must have been pretty superfluous for BG2. There was only 1 decent class only weapon in that game (just as there was in IWD2) so Minsc, or even better Sarevok should have been the obvious choice of a second melee. Guess at least Ajantis didn’t keep saying “Heya” as he chased you across the map then – stupid Imoen!

    • Tier says:

      Indeed! I never had much variation in my parties despite playing through both games several times. I never even recruited most of the NPCs in BG1; my party was almost always Jaheira, Khalid, Imoen, me, that one elf ranger that you get early in the game (uhh, Kivan or something … I forget his name, it must be over eight years since I last played it), and then I usually had Ajantis, though I think I had Minsc for one playthrough. In BG2, I think my favorite team was my holy roller squad; my player character with the ghost hunter kit, Keldorn, Mazzy, Valygar (or whatever the stalker’s name was), Aerie, and the gnome mage/thief … can’t remember his name, I think it was Janne or something. I usually subbed out Valygar for Jaheira, though, since I didn’t like having that many melee characters but I don’t remember Jaheira having much offensive firepower. Keldorn got the Holy Avenger because my player paladin always went with dual-wield; as soon as I got to the main city, I’d go after the lich to get the Daystar sword, and then I’d go clean out this one house that had this really good katana. I don’t remember what the name of the katana was but I remember it was really, really sexy.

  10. BioToxic says:

    Sasara looks awesome. Vivid colours, interesting pose, and she’s got deadly weapons, well maybe not so much the plastic-y sword. Her vacant facial expression is also nice and fits with her character. While some of the fine details may not look perfect I think her overall presentation and amount of interesting things going on is more than enough to ignore any minor defects. The bright set you’ve created suits her paladin theme very nicely.

    I’m with Wieselhead, her head piece reminds me more of droopy dog ears than a bunny. Plus her body build doesn’t suit the bunny look, I’d have expected her to look more alert or agile if that were the case, but that’s just my opinion.

    I’m liking these Dungeon Traveler ToHeart2 girls a lot although I’ve yet to pick one up myself. I’d be sure to get one if someone chose to make some of the darker variants. I particularly like Sasaras Death Knight and Blood Knight look (dunno if that’s the correct class name, that’s just what they look like to me).

    I’m the opposite when it comes to choosing RPG classes. Melee / Hybrid melee I avoid like the plague. It’s either the oddball classes I pick or if that’s not available some sort of ranged creature/area control class. I find it odd Sasara is wearing cloth armour though. Paladins should be in full plate. At least she’s got plate protecting her boobs, arms and legs. Maybe it’s magical female armour where less is more :P.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I think you and Fabienne are right. I probably see bunny ears because rabbit ears and cat ears are so much more prevalent in anime art than dog ears.

      I’m kinda hoping someone will make a figure of Lucy; she’s got some great outfits and there aren’t really enough Lucy figures available.

      I’ve always had a tough time playing a spellcaster. I did play a warlock in Warcraft when I was starting to wind down my time in that game and it was sort of a strange experience. PVP was particularly weird; I had a tough time getting used to running away from melee types (though on the other hand, spamming Seed of Corruption in the level 61-70 AV bracket was funny as hell). That said, the only other class I ever beat Baldur’s Gate with was as a mage with a specialty kit. Sorcerers in BG2 were pretty cool, too.

      She’s fully armored! Just like my first Warcraft paladin. That’s all the armor a fighter needs. The female types, anyway; they have much more robust constitutions and thicker skins than those wimpy males.

  11. super rats says:

    Setup is so awesome it’s disgusting! Love the lift of her chest-plate.

  12. Mentor says:

    You could tell by the thumbnail, that the setup for this figure is gonna be huge!
    The effort you put into this one is really impressive. In combination with your lighting scheme, you really captured the atmosphere of a sacred citadel (in which fanservice is offered).
    May favorites are the ones with the slight overexposure, that’s super stylish!
    I hope to see her in your next wallpaper submission (^.^)

    I also used to play the Paladin class in every single RPG but stopped in Morrowind, because I couldn’t stand the feeling to not be able to pick any lock that I want, or get an item from an NPC without turning into a murderer. So you could say my greed literally turned me into a thief xD. The Baldurs Gate series is still one of my favorite series yet. I just don’t grow tired of those oldschool games in the Infinity engine.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks! This was a fun set to put together and shoot – admittedly, mostly because it worked out about as well as I was hoping for. I’ve had a ton of sets which just completely crashed and failed.

      Haha, yeah, when I played Oblivion, I was trying to be a pretty good guy but every now and then someone would annoy me and I’d be like, “Ahh screw it, my infamy isn’t that high” and I’d off them. That came to an end when I did the Knights of the Nine quests, though.

      Man, I’m feeling kinda like playing Icewind Dale again. I really liked that game; Black Isle’s stuff always seemed to have a different nuance from Bioware’s, even though they made a lot of similar games. I never did get into IWD2, though; the 3rd Edition rules were hard for me to get used to after playing so much BG and IWD.

      • Mentor says:

        Crashing sets? OMG the reviewing scene is more spectacular than I thought ;D Man that’s gotta be annoying… Glad, this one worked out, though.
        I figured, the reviews I like most from you are those, in which the spectator completely forgets that he’s looking at a small figure. That you’re achieving that is what makes you unique amongst other reviewers. And that’s what makes my desktop look a little less like a basement dweller’s when I use them as wallpapers xD
        I unfortunately skipped Oblivion, but now redeem myself in Skyrim. But as much as I wish someone’s death in TES Games I had some bad experiences with dead quest givers in Morrowind, which still keeps me from rampaging around.
        Yeah some of those Black Isle Games are still in my all times favorite list. If you don’t mind the low resolution in BG1 times, you should give Planescape Torment a shot. It’s the same engine, rules and developer, but in a totally different setting with one of the best storylines you’ll ever see.

        • Tier says:

          Yeah, for example, in my recent review for Sigui, I had a bunch of pictures that I really liked that used two of those Greek-style columns in the background. I was feeling really good about those shots but when I went to edit the pictures, something didn’t look right, and then I realized one of the columns was upside-down. Photoshop is amazing software but even CS5 can’t fix that sort of screwup. And I’ve had a few times where sets literally went crashing into stuff, so I use heavy stuff like food cans and large camera lenses to prop them up.

          I tried to play Morrowind, but for some reason, it gives me really debilitating motion sickness. I got it on Xbox when it came out and couldn’t play it for more than fifteen minutes without suffering incredible dizziness. A few years later, I got the GOTY edition on PC and I had the same problem. However, for some reason, I’m okay with Oblivion. I’m glad I was able to play it since I’d heard so much about how great Bethesda’s games are but couldn’t experience them for myself. I’m hoping Skyrim doesn’t give me any problems (I’m holding off a bit since I have a huge backlog of unplayed games and I’m waiting for people to develop mods).

          I really need to finish Planescape. For some reason, it continually hard-locked my old computer so I was never able to complete it. I think I’ve still got the discs somewhere here. (Septerra Core also hard-locked that computer all the time, but that didn’t bother me quite as much.)

  13. duqs says:

    I have been RAGING the past few days because i can’t believe i had to let go of my preorder for this figure. Everything about this figure, from a viewer’s point of view, is perfect! i actually want to buy two of her already. ARGH

    If you know anyplace i can get her, aside from the $400 bid in ebay, i’d greatly be thankful for it XD

    • Tier says:

      Ouch >.< That is a shame, since it’s a great figure. I wish I could tell you it’ll be an easy figure to pick up, but last I checked, she was going for over 15k yen on Yahoo Japan auctions. Hopefully Volks will re-issue her at one of the upcoming conventions and a proxy service like Tokyo Hunter will offer her.

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