Mio Akiyama from K-ON!

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

We are here today to take a look at a cultural icon, one of the most famous things in its field. Indeed, it is so ubiquitous that some might say that it is overused and overexposed. So without further ado, let’s go ahead and take a look at the Fender Jazz Bass.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

The Jazz Bass is, along with the Precision Bass, one of the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s flagship products for low frequency musicianship. Arguably one of the most significant musical instruments of the twentieth century, the list of bassists who have used the Fender Jazz reads like a who’s-who of rock, funk, and jazz: Flea, Adam Clayton, Tim Commerford, Les Claypool, and so on. Larry Graham, one of the inventors of the slap and pop style of playing, also played on a J bass, and Marcus Miller, one of my favorite bass players, has a signature Jazz.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

In its most famous and basic form, the Jazz Bass is a four-stringed instrument with two single coil pickups. Three pots control volume for each pickup and tone, and the headstock features Fender’s distinctive rounded design with all four tuners on one side. Fender offers maple and rosewood fretboards usually with twenty frets, and the body is made of alder.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

I know I’m forgetting something … oh yes, there’s a girl holding the bass here! Heh. Okay, presumably everybody who follows and watches anime has heard of Mio Akiyama. Me, I haven’t watched K-ON! and I don’t know much about it other than it has five high school girls who form a band. K-ON! is a curiously polarizing show and I don’t think my lack of knowledge of Mio’s character or personality will matter much here since everybody has already made up his or her mind as to how they feel about her. Other than me, anyway; I have no real feelings either way for the show or its characters.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

I do love girls who play musical instruments though. I presume that Mio’s bass is supposed to be a Jazz; however, there’s no Fender logo on the headstock so you could make a legitimate argument that she is using a cheap knockoff. Given how much the American Standard model costs, I suppose it’s plausible. But anyway, let’s assume it’s the real thing. Her version of the J bass is a southpaw model with a rosewood fretboard and maple neck and the always-popular sunburst finish. From my personal observation, many bass players prefer to use the fingers to play their instruments, but Mio here is using a pick. Nothing wrong with that, but she’s not going to get much sound out of her bass since it’s obviously not plugged into an amplifier.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Details, hmm … Mio is manufactured by Alter and is in 1/8 scale, standing just about 19 centimeters tall. She’s got a circular, transparent base that she attaches via two pegs that plug into her left foot. There’s some text on the base that introduces the girl and also advertises “Ho-Kago Tea Time.” I have no clue what that refers to.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Mio’s sculpt is pretty simple, she’s wearing a fairly standard schoolgirl uniform with her hair splayed out a bit. The pose is quite dynamic, right hand on the fretboard and right leg lifted up. Mio can’t slap with that pick but it does give her something to hold up for the viewer’s attention. I really like the ribbon under her collar; its ends are flared forward, adding to this figure’s sense of movement.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

As I’ve said, I’m not all that familiar with the source TV show, but it seems to me that this version of Mio deviates a bit from the official character artwork. I’m not entirely fond of the TV design, so I think that this is a pretty good change. Her eye shape reminds me a bit of Alter’s Narika, although I guess there’s only so many ways you can sculpt an anime-style eyeball. I’ve noticed that a few of the other, myriad Mio figures scheduled for release seem to be more faithful to the original design.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Her bass looks fantastic. It’s around 14 centimeters long and you can get a good sense of how big a bass is from this figure. The strings are real strings that go from the bridge through the nut to the tuning pegs; they’re not metal though so don’t expect to be able to play on them. You see the appropriate white outline under the pickguard, and there are little bumps meant to represent the screws holding it to the body. The pots have a level indicator, the bridge is lovingly detailed for something so small, and the fretboard has the dots at the appropriate locations.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Mio is wearing a schoolgirl uniform, and school uniforms are never designed to stand out so her paint scheme is a bit drab overall. That’s not Alter’s fault, though. There are some nice touches, like how her shoes imitate shiny leather.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Back to the bass; Alter’s done a marvelous job replicating the sunburst finish. Not just that, though; the pickguard also looks marvelously realistic. The pieces that are supposed to be metal – tuners, bridge, the plate under the knobs, the strap pegs – look very much like chrome. One very nice aspect of the paint job is the lack of it on the neck; the neck of the J bass is made of maple, and you can see the simulated wood grain on its back and on the stock.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

It’s been a long wait for the J bass – err, Mio – figure, but in the end it was well worth it. Mio looks awesome, her bass looks freaking awesome, and I can’t say enough about what a great job Alter did here. Irrespective of how one feels about Mio – and I do understand why many people hold venomous views towards her – I think everyone can agree that the J bass looks great. So if you don’t like Mio but you like basses, you should still buy this figure.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

I’m trying to think of the basses that we have seen in anime. Haruko Haruhara in FLCL used a Rickenbacker 4001, also set up for left-hand play like Mio’s. Haruko used hers more as a cudgel, though. Taira in Beck used a Music Man Stingray, another classic instrument. It’s a bit odd that I’ve never seen an Ibanez guitar in anime, even though they might be the most recognizable Japanese guitar manufacturer.

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Ehh … I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Mio’s choice of undergarments, since I’ve noticed a bit of controversy regarding her unmentionables. She’s wearing plain white panties; apparently in the TV show she wore striped drawers. Personally, I think it’d be cooler if she wore a thong. I know people care about this sort of thing, so here’s the proof:

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

Alter Mio Akiyama from K-ON! Review

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33 Responses to Mio Akiyama from K-ON!

  1. Leonia says:

    Really nice review ! I like light in background. This Alter adaptation is better than others for her quality and faithfulness to the character. I ordered this version and MovicxKotobukiya adaptation (yes I really like Mio character). I prefer the original costume of the second, but this one is beautiful and dynamic. She has got too a really nicely base (original !). I am waiting with impatience that my copy leaves Japan ^^

  2. softz says:

    That’s a nice figure. Mine is on the way though.
    It seems like you are really into the Jazz Bass thingy huh. For me, it’s solely about Mio. She is my fav!! 🙂

    Oh yeah, the “Ho-Kago Tea Time” is actually the name of their band. Btw, do you play any instruments?

  3. VF says:

    Sweet lighting – did you use a filter or was it post processed? I was debating whether to get this set of figures or not, didnt get them as I’m broke now with all the other figure purchases. LOL

    Love the details in the instruments – ALTER’s great with little details. I’m also a fan of dynamic poses like this, makes the figure livelier.

  4. Katsura-chan says:

    Mmmm i love Mio so much mostly because of her hairs 🙂 I always wanted to have long and graceful hairs like that.
    Anyway that’s a very nice figure and i’m amazed how the bass is detailed.
    Indeed you did well by taking a picture of her pantie :p It’s a very important matter to me lol
    And she seems to have a very delightful pantie, yummy !
    Very nice and long review, that’s great ^^

  5. Tier says:

    >> Leonia
    Thanks! I like Kotobukiya’s version a lot, too, particularly since she has her fingers positioned to walk over the strings. I thought her forehead looked a bit large, but I like her outfit on that figure a lot better than the schoolgirl uniform. Particularly the necktie. I know it sounds lame but I like girls in neckties.

    >> softz
    I unfortunately do not play any instruments. It’s one of the great failings of my life and every now and then I try to start to learn but I can never muster the discipline to keep at it.

    One funny thing about my review here is that I’m not actually a huge fan of the Jazz bass itself, but I do very much appreciate its place in history. I shopped around for a bass around three or four years ago when I was interested in learning, but I didn’t look at any of Fender’s models.

    >> VF
    I used a star filter to get the flashy, sparkly effects but the pictures went through a ton of postprocessing. I’m not really good at getting good pictures right out of the camera (which is to say, I have no idea how to get good pictures right out of the camera). I don’t really know how to use the star filter all that well, but one thing I do know is that this Christmas, I’m going to look around for lights that have dark-colored wires rather than white.

    >> Katsura-chan
    I aim to please! I know what my viewers want. At least, I think I do. Hmm … checking my stats, my most popular review is the demon girl. Second most popular is, uhh, Masane from the Witchblade anime. My viewers like girls with wings and girls with blackened eyes, I guess.

  6. Lylibellule says:

    Another great review. I appreciate the render of your photos where you highlighted the scenery spirit. For this i say Bravo! 😉

    I didn’t ordered Mio, i’m more of a Yui fan for which i have to wait more than a month. “CRY”
    Nevertheless, i have to admit, seeing your photos, i would be tempted only because of the work done on her guitar.
    Thanks for providing so much information!

  7. Aka says:

    Good job, I enjoyed the review of Mios guitar, I had no idea it was so detailed. I find it kind of amazing actually they managed to get so much detail on it.

    I watched K-On! but I kind of hate K-On! now for what it seems to have done to the animation quality of other series, copying their style. I didn’t find it moé at all.

    A friend of mine has a few Ibanez guitars, I’d never paid much attention to the name before he showed me his, and some of the amazing guitarists who use them.

  8. Iced says:

    Hey, Tier! I saw you got Pic of the Day over at Tsuki-board. Congratulations!! ^^

    These photos really make her look awesome ^^ I think her face looks better now than from the promo shots, too. See this (http://myfigurecollection.net/image/Shiddo1249625565.jpg) and this, from foobarbaz’s review on her (http://foobarweb.sakura.ne.jp/images-figure/2010/f_alter_mio/large/c01.jpg). It looks more…natural now, I guess? Something about the promo shots just didn’t sit right with me. But she looks a lot better now, which is good ^_^

    And I like your focus on the guitar, lol. XD Although I stumbled a bit through it since I have no idea about guitars myself. I don’t really like the design of her bass (same with everyone else’s instruments, except Azusa’s), but I agree that Alter did a really nice job on it. ^^

  9. Tier says:

    >> Lylibellule
    Mio’s probably the only K-ON! girl I’m going to get unless I watch the show and discover that I like the characters. I do like Yui’s tights, though. As you can probably tell from the review, at least half the reason I bought this figure was because of the bass XD

    >> Aka
    I’m becoming more intrigued by this show and its impact on anime viewers. I should watch it sometime for research purposes. Maybe I’ll just watch the episodes that are prime numbers to get a sense of what it’s about.

    Ibanez makes good guitars, a friend of mine has a Satriani model. I like guitars with pointy stocks and Strat bodies, like Jacksons, ESPs, Ibanezes, Schecters … unfortunately you don’t see them in anime much for some reason.

    >> Iced
    Thanks! It’s funny, I spent the last couple of weekends trying to get a backdrop ready for MF’s Miku with no success, and then when I get Mio, I don’t have any idea how I want to photograph her. I see my Christmas lights still hanging off the shelves and I think, “Ehh, let’s see how it looks if I shoot them in the back with this star filter screwed on, maybe something good will happen.” I’ve still got no idea how the light streaks on that one light came out like that.

    Hmm, could be the lighting maybe? Mio’s hair is looking kinda gray there in the official shot. You can’t see the lines under her eyes too, I was actually surprised when I unboxed her, since that was the first time I saw them.

    Haha, yeah, I probably went too heavy on the guitar parts jargon. That stuff is boring anyway, the stuff musicians do with them is more fun. If you haven’t seen the slapping technique, here’s a short video that I’ve been nodding my head to all day (while I was supposed to be working) where David Dyson shows off the slap and pop style. I’m going to guess that Mio doesn’t play this way in the anime.

  10. VF says:

    I tried the Christmas lights as a background with my Sheryl Nome figure (first ever figure) – note to self, use lights that aren’t attached to the Christmas tree! LOL

  11. Aka says:

    A friend of mine has an Ibanez JEM7VWH Steve Vai Signature guitar I believe, among some others. But I think that’s his favourite. It has a very nice look to it.

    Last summer he bought a Fender Custom Shop 1960 Custom Telecaster. I don’t think it looks as nice, but it certainly had a price tag and an entirely different sound. Also bought a Fender 1960 Stratocaster Relic, which I believe is just a replica of a 1960s style guitar with fake wear heh. Still a nice guitar though, but I really do prefer his Ibanez JEM7VWH.

    Everytime I visit his place it makes me wish I could play a guitar.

    Bit more on topic, I suppose giving K-On! a try isn’t too big a deal, I may even watch the second season.

  12. Ashlotte says:

    Alright Tier you fully convinced me to write a Joke review in the future…or atleast one that starts off like one. :p

    I’m with Aka never been much of a Mio fan, but damn if the base ain’t awesome like you said. ~_^

  13. Tier says:

    >> VF
    Haha XD Actually, James over on Exelica Meteor got pretty good results shooting a picture with a tree in the background; I think he said that he didn’t have enough room to shoot Fate in his normal location, but the shots turned out nice anyway. Much nicer bokeh than what I got; you can tell exactly what lens I was using by the pentagonal shape 😀

    >> Aka
    Ah, that’s the one with the handle and all the mother-of-pearl inlays, isn’t it? That is indeed a very nice axe. All this guitar talk makes me want to figure out where mine is and learn how to play at least barre chords.

    >> Ashlotte
    I was really, really, really tempted to title this review “Jazz Bass from Fender Musical Instruments Corporation” and to not write a word about the figure. Unfortunately nobody would’ve clicked on it and nobody would’ve read it and all my hard work would’ve gone to waste if I did that (and I do like how Mio looks here, even though I don’t know anything about her).

    Yeah, the bass is the highlight for me. I probably should watch the show just so I can understand why she evokes such strong feelings from everyone.

  14. Iced says:

    I’ve had things happen like that before, but I don’t know whether or not to feel frustrated, or confused XD

    @Lighting: Ah, that’s probably it ^^ By the lines under her eyes, do you mean the blush? Because I couldn’t really see it in the promo shots, either.

    Ahaha, I think it’s fine! Everyone else thinks it’s interesting ^^ And thanks for the link, I started laughing really hard when you said that Mio probably doesn’t play that way in the anime. I think I’d like her a lot more if she did, though. XD

  15. Tier says:

    Yeah, I didn’t know she had blush lines till I pulled her out of the box. They’re really apparent when you’re looking at her in person, but you don’t even notice them on the promo pics.

    I think I would too. Anime characters in bands play too much happy pop music, they should bring the funk more often.

  16. Ashlotte says:

    The girls in Kira Kira rock out a bit more then the ones in K-ON! atleast…Still more in the J-Pop vein though, but enjoyable nonetheless. Kept hoping K-ON! might spurn on a development of more Music centric anime, but doesn’t seem to have happened so far. T_T

  17. Doriinatrix says:

    This is the most entertaining K-On! figure review I’ve ever read
    Thank you

  18. Tier says:

    >> Ashlotte
    I downloaded the MP3s for that game, they were interesting XD I forget, did MangaGamers bring that over here? I thought I read that they were working on it.

    Yeah, I got the feeling that the anime creators know what their main audience wants -_-

    A completely random thought: I saw this one picture over on an image repository site where a commenter speculated on the nature of insect incest, and since then I’ve thought that Insect Incest would make a great name for a female-fronted band. In the spirit of the recently-completed American football season, Naked Bootleg would also be a pretty cool name for such a band.

    >> Doriinatrix
    Thanks! I try to keep things quirky and fun here.

  19. Ashlotte says:

    Haha perhaps…Can’t say as I haven’t seen more bizzare band names. :p

    And yes Mangagamer released it awhile back…the core story and one of the girls paths was extremely good though the other two where varying degrees of bland and I never did get through them. >_>

    And ofcourse the music is quite enjoyable throughout both in and outside the concerts.

  20. Tier says:

    Maybe I’ll give it a shot sometime … I’m waiting on Lightning Warrior Raidy II and Demonbane but I don’t think either of those are coming out any time soon, so I can probably free up a few more bucks for an h-game purchase.

    Hmm … now that I think about it, was one of the characters actually a dude? Or was that in the other Kira Kira game, or am I just delusional?

  21. Ashlotte says:

    Ah yea in certain shots if you see a girl in long orangish hair and a hat thats actually the male lead of the story since its supposed to be an all girl band haha…Leads to some fun situations including getting it on with a woman while in drag at one point. ~_^

  22. Tier says:

    That interests me more than it really should. I think I will have to look into this game.

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  24. Blowfish says:

    I just had to double check the URL to make sure I am at Tentacle Armada!
    Personally I would have prefered a Statue of Flea in his socks only days instead of the abonimation called Mio.

    Well the bass looks awesome XD

  25. Tier says:

    Ha, what can I say, I like basses XD I’d definitely dig that too, Flea with two regular socks and a tube sock. Or even better, a figure of Mio with two socks and nothing else. Dang, now that’d get me to watch K-ON! in a hurry.

  26. VF says:

    So I finally got this figure. Box was all crushed as if someone stepped on it, luckily the figure wasn’t damaged.

    I’m a little scared she might develop leaning issues due to the way she’s “flying” in the air, all the weight on that left foot can’t be healthy. =(

  27. Tier says:

    That’s kinda unfortunate. I’ve noticed that everything that I buy from Japan comes very nicely packed, but back when I was buying from Kid Nemo, the box would be all stove in as if the UPS guys had played kickball with it.

    I kinda wonder about her stability too; she seems sturdy, but I’ve had two Alter figures that’ve developed bad ankle warping problems. One of them even snapped her foot pegs so that I can’t display her now.

  28. Pingback: Shadonia » Mio Akiyama – Alter

  29. Leah says:

    The “Ho-Kago Tea Time” on the bass is the name of their after-school band, meaning “After School Tea Time.” There are a few jokes in the anime about how it doesn’t sound “cool,” (mostly from Mio xD) but they end up not changing it because it was Ritsu’s design. 😀


    Nice post! ^o^ I was contemplating getting the K-On! figures with my extra birthday money, and you’ve definitely sold me. The details on this are stunning! Very nice, in-depth review (pardon the pun, since you showed a picture of her panties XD), and I’ll definitely be getting it this week! 😀 Where did you buy yours? I’m afraid of getting a knock-off from a site like Amazon because there was a Hatsune Miku figure scare.

    By the way, (if you still haven’t seen the anime) you can watch the whole thing, the special OVA and the second season on animefreak.tv. :3 (Will anyone ever read this? I guess it’s been dead since April.)

    • Tier says:

      Ah, thank you for the information. And I’m glad my review was helpful (though I’m kinda cringing at how the pictures turned out; I can think of at least a half dozen things I ought to have done differently, in retrospect). I got mine from Hobby Search, generally my favorite retailer for anime figures.

      I’m reading this! More people might read it, most people hit up this site’s archives rather than the front page.

  30. Kamisama says:

    I am fortunate enough to actually have Mio’s Bass. It is a JB62/LH/3TS. They are now nearly impossible to get outside of Japan…and are wait-listed there. Word is that Fender Japan sold about 6 months worth of them in 2 weeks…and has since started a run equivalent to TWO YEARS normal production. Her bass is the ’62 Reissue and sells for between $1,100 and $1,400 in JP…if you can find one. Fender USA does not even know about this bass…I know, I called. Once K-ON!/K-ON!! gets its US release, the prices will skyrocket on these. Fender US offers a Mexican version of this, but it comes with the ugly white pickguard. Those are currently available for around $595. For those without too much money, Squire also makes a Sunburst P-Bass Special. During the “Let’s Go” live concert in Yokohama Arena, the voice actors all used their signature instruments…and they actually played two of the songs live. Interestingly, the voice actor for Mio played left-handed, despite the fact that she is right-handed. Most of the concert was backed by an absolute killer band. So, any of the instruments played by the K-ON! girls are becoming very scarce, especially the bass and Mugi’s Triton Extreme. BTW, the Japanese Drummer Girl, Senri Kawaguchi, plays a full yellow Yamaha drum kit…and, BTW, she (at 14) is quite possibly the best drummer currently living on the planet. So, if you want the real deal instruments from K-ON!…bring your wallet and expect to empty it…and do it soon, because collectors are snapping them up big time.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I noticed that Korg seems to have discontinued the Triton Extreme, which was kinda annoying when I was trying to find more information about what the girls actually played. It’s pretty amazing how much influence an anime can have over buying habits, and I kinda wonder how many people who bought their gear because of K-On! actually intend to try to play these instruments. Not that I can say anything, I bought a Stingray partially because Flea played it and I never got anywhere with it.

  31. 13/N says:

    I am impressed that you were so confidently able to recognize the fender Jazz bass, but I feel I must point out that this one is specifically the three tone sunburst finish. Please don’t mind me, it’s just that if one simply says ‘sunburst’ I’m sure most people would automatically assume the cherry-burst colour theme. For those that are not overly familiar with guitar paint jobs the heritage cherry sunburst (aka cherry sunburst or cherry-burst) is seen on Yui’s Gibson Les Paul standard, in the same show, K-on.
    No to offend, I just hand a strong urge to point that out.

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