Alter is one of the most well-respected figure makers in the hobby, and they have a diverse product portfolio that encompasses a huge variety of properties. There are a few franchises that they seem to particularly prize – in particular, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Strike Witches, and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls. One could make a good argument that Samurai Girls doesn’t deserve figures of this quality but although the show is quite terrible, the character designs are, at least, fairly pleasing to the eye. They’ve trickled out over the last few years, and though Alter seems committed to making figures of all of the show’s characters, they’ve shown little of the alacrity that they evince with chucking out Strike Witches figures, who seem to get a new one every few months. Nonetheless, the newest one is Naoe Kanetsugu, an evidently happy young girl who carries a very big stick.
Naoe Kanetsugu is one of the central characters of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, although she makes her debut fairly late in the anime series – which is to say, I dropped the show well before she showed up and thus I don’t know much about her. I did learn that her debut included the summoning of a tentacle monster; that sort of piqued my interest, and I skimmed that episode, but even tentacle groping could not overcome my distaste for the milquetoast male lead and cardboard-cutout characterization of the whole cast. Fortunately, none of that baggage comes along with the figure which, in this case, is probably best enjoyed purely on the basis of its looks.
Like all of Alter’s other Samurai Girls figure, Naoe is sculpted in 1/8 scale and stands about 16 centimeters tall; her hammer adds some additional height, though exactly how much will depend on how one positions its supporting pylon.
The characters of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls all have very eyecatching outfits that comprise a synthesis of traditional Japanese dress with modern styling, typically in the form of archetypical girls’ school uniforms. Naoe’s outfit is perhaps more modern than most, lacking anything like Senhime’s robe or Matabei’s fundoshi. In fact, take away the massive rope encircling her waist and she’s wearing a fairly straightforward schoolgirl uniform. Like most anime schoolgirls, she’s wearing a miniskirt and thighhighs. She’s also got some cherry-red pumps and a necktie; the Wikipedia article for the series suggests that Naoe resembles Miku Hatsune, and while I’m not sure if I make that connection myself, the necktie does bring her closer to the more famous Vocaloid character.
Though her outfit isn’t overwhelmingly innovative, it is nonetheless just as attractive as those of the other Samurai Girls characters. Other than Matabei, anyway; it’s hard to imagine anything more appealing than a fundoshi. The big, thick ropes instantly catch the eye, perhaps because of their unusual girth, as do the gigantic golden bells attached to her hair. Her color scheme is fairly muted, providing a quiet complement to the sweeping arcs of her violet twintails. The flower petals and the character on her thighhighs are a very nice touch reminiscent of historic Japanese art.
However, the most striking element of this figure is, of course, Naoe’s gigantic hammer. Colossal in size and almost ludicrously ornate in design, it presents a humorous contrast in terms of its sheer mass placed next to Naoe’s evident glee. Note that “mass” is a figurative term; the hammer actually doesn’t weigh that much and the figure can hold it up just fine. A support pylon is provided to prop it up, and I would guess it would be a good idea to use it since I’m not sure if the hammer might warp Naoe’s arm over a long period of time. I found it rather irritating, though, because the pylon weighs next to nothing and since the hammer can roll in Naoe’s hand, the pylon tends to slip and fall away.
The first few Samurai Girl figures presented rather serious looks: Jubei effected a stoic dignity that was credible even though her panties are hanging out of her dress, Yukimura looked like an evil spirit, and Senhime had the face of a serial killer. Of course, none of those characters are anything like that, which disappointed me immensely. Naoe, in contrast, wears an expression that is much more in accord with the lightweight silliness of the anime. She is unabashedly cheerful, and though I have no idea whether her giant smile fits her personality, it is pleasant to look at her.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls is synonymous with fanservice; though these days, it seems like half the anime series out there – including, somewhat disturbingly, a whole bunch starring elementary school-age children – are basically about fanservice. Staying faithful to this principle, Naoe is bent all the way over, giving everyone a solid look right up her compact rear. As usual, her backside is impeccably detailed – and as an aside, I sort of wonder whether veteran sculptors specifically guide neophyte sculptors in learning how to model these particular parts. It’s a bit disappointing that, although her costume is on the elaborate side, her panties are just plain old white ones with a regular leg cut.
She also has this big drinking gourd. Naoe appears to be a small girl but the things she carries are all about bigness.
She may come from a garbage show but Naoe is a fantastic figure. Her design is very attractive and her enormous hammer is particularly humorous given her small stature, obvious femininity and lighthearted happiness. She’s such a great figure that I’m reconsidering whether I ought to watch her anime; after all, if I could get through Freezing and if I’m slowly making my way through Guilty Crown, I can probably stomach Samurai Girls … I mean, can it really be as bad as those two shows?