When you get down to it, figure collectors are really just grown-ass men and ladies who buy lots of toys. And of course, one of the best things about having toys is playing make-believe with them. In that spirit, we’re going to pretend that Inori doesn’t come from one of the most wrongfully overhyped shows of the past few years. We’re going to pretend that Inori isn’t a terrible character from an even worse series because Inori, you are so pretty and you don’t deserve all the things that were done to you. You deserved a much better show. You don’t deserve to be the concubine of the Shührer or the wet nurse of a different character. You deserved better writers and a better director. And well, while this figure isn’t bad, per se, you definitely deserved a bigger figure.
Inori is, of course, from the anime Guilty Crown. Broadcast in fall of 2011, it attracted considerable attention because of the high profile of its creative staff: Production I.G. handled the animation duties, well-known artist redjuice provided the character designs, and doujin J-pop band Supercell performed the opening and ending themes. However, the show started terrible and got worse and worse. For all the talent amassed for this show, little of it is apparent; redjuice’s signature style is hardly recognizable – except, perhaps, in the female cast’s lack of clothing – and Supercell’s first opening theme is one of the most execrable songs I’ve heard since Final Fantasy VIII’s Eyes on Me (to be fair, the second opening theme – an uptempo rock song rather than a slow Engrish-laced ballad – is far better). A whole heap of criticisms can be laid on Production I.G. and there’s not enough space or time to list them here (plus I’ve long intended to write a review of Guilty Crown, and perhaps reviewing this figure will spur me along in moving towards that goal). I’ll just say that Guilty Crown is a show so unbelievably bad that you have to experience it for yourself to understand how awful it is.
It doesn’t help that the show’s production staff evidently had no idea on how to make appealing characters. Inori is a victim of this inadequacy, which is baffling because everything about her is engineered to make her appealing. She is less a character than a Dollfie Dream, an artifical composite of unrealistic traits synthesized in a single entity. Ethereal, seraphic, she represents an ideal, a being intended to inspire not just love, but worship – however, the effect ultimately fails to convince because everything about her is so damned contrived. Let us count the ways: first, we learn right away that she is a well-known singer, which follows the pattern established by numerous anime (and anime-oriented) characters, such as the various heroines of Macross and the popular Vocaloid characters. (This trope also shows up elsewhere; notably, William Gibson’s novel Idoru features an artificial intelligence who takes on the persona of a female singer.) However, Inori’s singing ability is entirely irrelevant; to my recollection, she performs as a singer only once in the series (she also does some chanting later on, which I guess could technically be called singing, and we do hear some clips of her songs through Shu’s headphones and as an insert in certain scenes). She’s depicted as a lethal combatant, expert in close-quarters combat and skilled with both firearms and knives. We never quite learn where she learned to sling guns, but anime fans – particularly males – like cute girls who can kick ass, so it’s important that she can sling guns. Male anime fans – at least, those who aren’t feminist in outlook – also like damsels in distress, and Inori fulfills that role as well. Indeed, when she needs to act like a rape victim, she screams and writhes like a rape victim. When she has to comfort the male character, she does that, too (admittedly, it’s difficult to tell whether the show’s creators want us to be sympathetic to Shu; by this point, the audience so loathes him that at least some of that sentiment transfers to Inori). She’s a composite of so many tropes that in trying to make us love her, she becomes so offensively artificial that it is difficult for us to do so.
So that’s the burden that this figure carries on its slim shoulders. Perhaps it is best to simply pretend that all that baggage doesn’t exist. And of course, anyone who didn’t watch Guilty Crown will not be aware of any of this. However, even if one ignores or doesn’t know of Inori’s background, I think that one can conclude that this figure embodies significant missed opportunities.
This figure is manufactured by Good Smile Company in 1/8 scale. However, that is a lie as she stands 17 centimeters tall, including the standoff under her right foot. She’s much closer to 1/10 scale, which is disappointing. She comes with just one accessory, a sort of translucent white plastic strip that drapes behind her body. It’s removable and I think it’s distracting, so I didn’t use it for most of my photographs.
Inori was sculpted by Sakurako Iwanaga, the same person who sculpted Lacia, who was also designed by redjuice. It is interesting to compare the two. I felt that Lacia’s sculpt could be improved by giving her lips; Inori has a well-defined lower lip, which I think makes her face more attractive than Lacia’s. Also, Lacia’s stare is sort of empty, as if you can’t really guess what she’s looking at. Inori’s eyes are directed upwards, and as it looks like she’s leaping upwards, the direction of her gaze perfectly complements her body language.
I did not see this similarity at first, but while editing these images, I was struck by how much Inori’s facial expression resembles Dizzy’s. They have a similar eye-shape, the same slightly-parted mouth, and the same neutral, unreadable expression. That is appropriate for Inori, since we never really get a good read on her emotional state.
Inori is frozen in a graceful pose, eyes lifted skyward and arms set slightly to the side, as if to slow her descent. Her pose gives her an angelic quality, almost as if she could herself fly (and well, she comes pretty close in the anime – just another one of the odd things that happens to her). The tilt of her hips is particularly sexy, emphasizing her femininity and directing attention to her beautiful, slender legs.
One of my favorite aspects of Inori’s design is her costume. She’s dressed like a prostitute, wearing a skimpy red leotard with an enormous hole cut out of its front, revealing the cleavage of her small breasts and plunging almost all the way to her crotch. Numerous streaks of cloth – resembling flower petals, or maybe tentacles – project behind her, enhancing the dynamic nature of her pose. Glossy thigh-highs sheathe her legs, accentuating their litheness. It’s a fantastic costume. I wish more female anime characters dressed like this.
Her hair is nicely-sculpted, with none of the helmet hair so commonly seen in figures. The curves of her sidelocks mimic the curves of her body, and the movement of her twintails follows the position of her arms, providing a sort of unified harmony in her design.
So those are the good things. Inori’s problems are, unfortunately, also quite apparent, even without a close examination. Perhaps the most obvious problem is the sculpt of her abdomen. Her stomach and upper torso are not particularly detailed, which is unfortunate since they are so prominently displayed. Compare the sculpt of her stomach to a figure like Naoe Kanetsugu and Inori just can’t compare.
Similarly, if you’re looking for muscular and skeletal definition in her back, you’re going to be disappointed. Nice butt, though.
Also, Inori has kind of a pallid, greyish skin tone that doesn’t look too attractive. It’s a shame since her color scheme is so vibrant otherwise.
She doesn’t really have the most attractive profile, either. I think the shape of her nose and the area between her nose and mouth contributes to an odd look that makes her appear somewhat bird-like (mildly ironic, since her overall appearance is also rather bird-like, but with a more positive connotation).
But really, my big beef with this figure is that it is small. Anyone who has been reading this site for a while knows that I prefer larger figures and that I’m always disappointed when a figure turns out to be smaller than expected. I did know that Inori was going to be small – her height was listed in her figure’s product description – but still, it’s discouraging to see how small she is.
I feared that she wasn’t going to be much larger than her Figma, but thankfully, she’s fairly larger. Man, though, Inori’s Figma definitely isn’t one of the more beautiful ones out there. I don’t want to say her face looks like she ran a hundred yard dash in a ninety yard gym, but man …
A less fair and more esoteric complaint is that her transparent blue base tints her legs when she’s being photographed, which is sort of annoying. (Though easily removed, so I can’t complain too much.)
This is a difficult figure for me to evaluate. I really like the character’s design but I don’t like the character or the series that she comes from. The figure has so many things that I like but its small size is impossible for me to get over. I hate to say that this figure is a disappointment but I do think that, like Guilty Crown itself, it is not nearly as good as it could or should be. For me, just making the figure larger would have been enough. However, the lack of definition in her body is also detrimental to the overall attractiveness of the figure, and I would not be surprised if figure collectors passed this figure over for that reason. I guess I’d say that I like it, but I regret that it falls short of what I was hoping for, particularly since what I was hoping for would have simply required Good Smile Company to know how to operate a calculator.
So Inori gets kicked around again. It’s okay, Inori – I still love you, even if neither your anime studio nor Good Smile Company nor Max Factory do. (Will Azone love her? … Will the tentacle stand love her? Hmm …)