One of the nice things about Hobby Japan’s Queen’s Gate series is that it gives a spotlight to a few characters who wouldn’t otherwise get a lot of love from figure makers. Dizzy was one, at least until Alter made their figure, and I’ve also ordered Ivy Valentine’s figure, since she’s only gotten a few thus far. I gave some thought to trying to get the Queen’s Gate figure of Katja from Seikon no Qwaser, but while I like the character, I would’ve liked the figure more if she were in her dominatrix outfit. Curiously, Lily from Namco’s Tekken series stands out as the sole Queen’s Gate character not to get a figure thus far. That’s a shame; I wouldn’t mind seeing a figure of her, especially in her 3P costume. Oh well. Junko Hattori is another character that would seem an unlikely candidate for a conventional, mass-market figure; she’s not generally regarded as one of the best characters from her show, and her show is primarily known for its absurd level of incoherence. At any rate, I do like both the character and the way that she looks, so even though having to go through a proxy service is a bit of a hassle, I ordered her right away and here she is now.
Junko Hattori is one of the female love interests in the anime Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, or Demon King in the Back Row. The show stars Akuto Sai, a well-meaning young man who has the misfortune of being the prophesied demon king. Junko is one of the first students he meets at his new school, but when his future avocation is revealed she misjudges his intentions and reacts violently, only to suffer repeated abuse and humiliation. Various other girls are subsequently introduced and for a while the show looks like it’s going to be a fairly typical school-based harem anime.
Every November is National Novel Writing Month. On November 1st, aspiring writers from around the world – contrary to the name – shove aside priorities and life in an attempt to hammer out a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. The objective here is to go for quantity rather than quality, and as such it comes as no surprise that writers will often write themselves into a corner from which their stories cannot be extricated. One remedy broached on the Nanowrimo forum suggests rescuing a doomed plot by dropping ninjas into the story. No matter what the story is, if you’re stuck, just drop in some ninjas and see what happens. Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou champions the uninhibited spirit of this approach, adding in not only ninja, but also a flying battleship, tentacle monsters, nude bondage, samurai miko androids, and a dragon, all for no discernible reason. In addition, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou uses a clever method to sidestep the problems with pacing, character development, and plotting that plague many anime – it simply omits these things altogether. Coherence and plausibilty go out the window in favor of surfboard broadswords, naked flight, deicide, and general badassery. I enjoyed watching the show, though I still have no idea what it was about.
The female cast of Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou is taken right out of the handbook of stereotypical harem anime girls. Junko is the tsundere girl, continuously distancing herself from Aa-chan before succumbing to the fire in her loins. Normally I detest the tsundere archetype, but I don’t really mind it with Junko – mainly because every time she gets bitchy, she gets beaten up, knocked out, bukkake’d, or otherwise humiliated. That sounds misogynistic as hell, now that I think about it, but fortunately, all of these characters are fictional. And to be fair, Junko does become absolutely adorable when flustered, such as when she game-plans her love proposals.
The Queen’s Gate figures have been made by various manufacturers, but Junko is the only one to be made by Good Smile Company. As an upper-tier manufacturer, expectations are automatically set higher for them. Good Smile Company offers a good initial impression by making Junko appear relatively large for a 1/8 scale figure; she’s about 19 centimeters tall, including her flame base. Her sculpt is also very eye-catching, particularly her pose and her clothing.
However, her clothing is going to be a point of contention for owners of this figure. Good Smile Company published pictures demonstrating that Junko’s clothes are removable; however, they are actually glued to her body, meaning that you’re not going to be stripping her without a fight. I’m not sure why GSC showed the shots of her in her underpants if they weren’t going to allow her clothes to be taken off, and it’s a regrettable thing, coming after they messed up the star on their Black Rock Shooter figure. If you want to see what Junko looks like without her ninja suit, this Japanese review has pictures.
So. To be honest, I’m disappointed but not distressed. I didn’t plan on removing her clothes, since I think she looks better with her ninja outfit. Many figures with removable clothing either look good naked or look good in clothes, but not both, and I think Junko definitely falls into the latter category. Also, given how many figures I own, I’m not predisposed to fussing around with figures anymore. These days, I want to take the figure out of the box and put it on a shelf without worrying about how to take it apart and put it back together.
That’s not to say that Junko is ready to roll right away, though. She comes with a couple of weapons – a katana and a kunai – that need a bit of care to get into her grasp. In particular, her sword is quite flimsy, being made of thin, lightweight plastic. Her base comes in two parts but everything holds together quite securely; you can lift Junko by her torso without any fear of her feet coming loose, even though the base is relatively heavy.
Scowling, heavily armed, standing atop a sweeping arc of flame with cleavage and crotch exposed to both the elements and appreciative stares, Junko effects a powerful sense of energy and presence. Her costume highlights the various aspects of her personality; her armor emphasizes her martial nature, and the mismatched leg armor, left gauntlet, and loose right sleeve add a hint of nuanced asymmetry to her ensemble. The Japanese-style robe and sash obviously point to her cultural origins, and the scarf provides a touch of elegance and a splash of bright color. And of course, her skimpy fundoshi underwear – or outerwear, as it’s just about fully visible – shows her complete lack of common sense. Or perhaps it shows she doesn’t mind that her ass is hanging right out of her outfit. The fishnet stockings and low neckline further jack up her level of wanton sexuality, or utter cluelessness.
I’m shameless enough to admit that one of the major motivations that impelled me to watch the show was Junko’s fundoshi. I like figures of cute anime girls in thongs, and I specifically tag all such figures on this site. Good Smile Company has done a very nice job with Junko’s underwear; the strap does go all the way back, unlike many figures I own. Her ass looks great and there’s a bit of cameltoe in front, which is an admirable sculpting decision. One of the things I really like about this figure is how from some angles, she looks like a fairly typical sexy anime kunoichi, but from the angles where you can see her fundoshi, the effect is about as subtle as a donkey punch.
I’m generally not too enthusiastic when figure makers try to sculpt special effects out of translucent plastic. Usually it just winds up looking fake as hell. Here though, the flame effect actually looks really cool, and there’s the added bonus of her bottom base being transparent, thus making it easy to blast a flash pulse right up into Junko’s crotch.
So while the lack of a castoff display option might be salt in the wounds of some collectors, I’m not too unhappy about it. It’s pretty weak of GSC to pull this kind of switcheroo but at least her outfit and pose look fantastic. Junko is an action girl with a sword and a thong, and anybody who’s read this site for a while knows that that’s exactly the sort of anime character that I like. With Dizzy being amazing and Junko being beautiful and with Saber Alter actually hitting her release date – and also looking astonishing, it’s a very, very good time to be a figure collector. Junko was a Hobby Japan exclusive so she might take a bit of effort to track down, but she’s definitely worth both the time and the money.
For another review of Junko and more pictures, check out Biotoxic’s site.