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?
Oh sweet, it’s been awhile since I’ve made first post! Guess staying up late (or rather waking up early) has its perks. Yup, seeing this review and her pics is a perk, great way to start the day! Thanks man! LOL
Can’t wait to get my Naoe, Alter did an amazing job with this one, just like the other Samurai Girls. I was planning on a review for her as well, though that may be delayed to to other factors and Mass Effect 3. ^_^’ Can’t say I know much of their characters, but I enjoy these Alter figures for what they are.
Love the pics, as usual, and that background – can never get tired of it! Really soft and even lighting with this set of pics. What aperture size were you using in some of the pics (like the second one)? The bokeh/DOF seems edited rather than natrually from the lens.
Speak of the devil, she arrived today as I got home. Sweet!
I think that’s the best way to enjoy these figures. Nobody seems to have many good things to say about the anime; I know I certainly don’t. However, after slogging through more of Guilty Crown, I have to admit, I think that I can handle a trite, conventionally-bad anime like Samurai Girls (versus a wacko show like Guilty Crown, which is setting a record for the most times jumping over a shark during one series run).
All the pictures with the sky backdrop were shot at f/6.3, I think. The depth of field was not edited. I’m not a big fan of either bokeh abuse or ridiculously-thin depth of field; I’m on the record as saying bokeh overuse is like Autotune for photographs.
Beautiful pics as always. I also ordered her but i won’t get her so soon since i combined shipping with other orders, and she will be my 1st Hyakka Ryouran figure (im weak against twin tails).
On animes like Guilty Crown, Hyakka Ryouran and Freezing, i cant really say i hated them. Kinda enjoyed them but i wont say they are very good of course. I tend to have tastes for anime that people call bad, which is odd, but nowadays i just watch almost anything to improve my knowledge in anime. For currently ongoing series, im watching 15 titles.
Have been following your blog and reviews but usually lazy to comment lol.
Yeah, I wouldn’t say I hate any of these shows (though Samurai Girls comes closest, and since I last saw it months ago, I may have forgotten how strongly I felt about it). Freezing had enough tits and pantyshots and violence to hold my attention, though not nearly enough to improve my opinion of it, and Guilty Crown is … man, Guilty Crown is all over the place. It’s a terrible show for certain, but it’s also vastly amusing to watch just how inept the show’s creators are at developing the characters.
Actually, when it comes to anime that I hate, I think I’d pick the second half of Beck. I loved the first half of that show, hated the second half. I don’t know that I’ve seen a show fall apart as thoroughly as Beck did (though I fully admit I don’t watch a great deal of anime).
Damn, now I regret not getting her. I was attracted to the giant hammer, but I, also, disliked the show so I just ignored her. Now, seeing how gorgeous she actually is, I wish I had gotten her. 🙁
Also, I love the shoot. Especially the open door and the mat at the end, very fitting. What flowers did you use in pic 7, anyway?
I kinda regret passing on Yukimura; she might be my least favorite character in the anime, but she still has a very cool design, and missing her in my collection triggers my OCD tendencies.
The flowers are just some cheap plastic flowers that I picked up at the arts and crafts store I always go to. I used to use them regularly in the past (I think a lot of reviews from around mid 2009 to around mid 2010 used them) but I was rarely very pleased with how they looked, so I haven’t used them at all recently. I thought they’d look neat with Naoe, though, since she seems to be looking at something specifically and I wanted to give her something to complete that eye line.
Huh, plastic flowers. That’s a novel idea. I have a varied garden, but stuff generally only blooms in spring so I don’t have many options to harvest, aside from a yellow rose, and my hydrangea is just starting to bud again after I gave it a sound pruning a few weeks ago; they’re definitely good backdrop material. But still, plastic flowers sound like an interesting staple prop.
I’d really like to look in to building up a box of goodies to shoot with, I also need to experiment more with monitor backdrops; snooting my lights to avoid glare is first up. Then working out how to handle exposures and white balance with the backlit monitor. I’m not willing to discard it as impossible like some people have told me, I’ve achieved some semi-decent results just in preliminary testing, so I think with refinement it has real potential.
Staging like you do is important for bringing characters to life, I think. As you say, giving her something to look at just completes the picture. Though your staging also helps a great deal, both backdrops and flooring.
I had an idea for my first Beach Queen (many months til release, so a lot of time to think about it) is simply getting a bucket of sand (I live near the ocean, easily done) and putting her base just under it in a tray of some sort, so it looks like she’s standing on it. A ghetto solution, but free is the best kind I think. Problem is backdrops; I don’t really want to take a figure to the beach to do an outdoors shoot I see people doing from time to time.
Maybe you should do a writeup of some handy everyday materials you use to shoot, a behind the scenes look, instead of simply in-progress figure shooting. I’d like to get more insight in to props and things you use, or any ideas you’ve had but discarded as impractical, or whatever. Would be really helpful to us who want to learn to shoot like you. ^^
I used to use the flowers a lot in the early days of this site; I was never really too happy with them, though, except maybe on the Narika review. I resorted to just blurring them out through depth of field wankery, though I don’t think that looked too great, either. They often looked out of scale and I didn’t really know how to light them (I still don’t). I think the last time I used them seriously was with FREEing’s Senhime, which is one of my least favorite posts on this site. If I use them again, I’m going to have to give more thought as to their setting and lighting setup.
A prop collection is pretty useful; I re-use a lot of components, and sometimes it’s not too obvious that they were re-used (for example, the diagonal black sticks in the background of the recent Alice post were previously used as the bars on the windows of my Triela post).
I’m not expert at all in using a monitor as a background, but I’d definitely keep at it if you think it has potential. I have the sense that a lot of beginning or struggling photographers are afraid to experiment; I recall it took me a very long time to move beyond the blue curtain background I used in the early days of this site, and then the black background after that. However, a lot of the stuff I’ve learned has come about by wondering, “What would happen if I do it this way?” and then trying it out.
I’ve been planning on doing a post on the backdrops and props I use. Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing something like that since the Saber Alter post, when people were interested in what the background was made of. I’ll see about writing a description of some of the things I use; it might surprise people how low-tech and poorly-made a lot of it is.
The main thing I want, is variation. I don’t want all of my shoots to be the same white/black backdrop, and if I can get a monitor working well it opens infinite possibilities. I do need to find some materials for flooring, though. I was thinking rubber mats, bamboo mats (eg sushi rollers) and a few other things may be an idea to keep in my “props” box.
I also found http://www.lightsounds.com.au/img_src_http_www.lightsounds.com.au_content_fs_red_5156_prd1.htm as far as gels go, so may see about getting that.
But still, I am definitely keen to see what other goodies you may use, the cheaper/more ghetto/easy to make the better. I approve of low tech Macgyver solutions as I would rather use everyday easy to obtain stuff than pay many hundreds for designer props or any such.
Great shoot as always 🙂 I’m looking forwards to her arriving for me later this week as well. She was my favourite character in the show (though I did enjoy it overall a bit more than most people), as she was the slightly stupid comic relief character. Didn’t hurt that I really like the character design too. After the 2-3 episodes she first turned up she didn’t get all that much more significant screen time so you could just watch those ones alone if you’re interested in her personality I guess. If you didn’t like the start of the series I doubt the ending will improve it for you much.
That makes her sound appealing; I didn’t like Jubei much since she seemed to have that immature little sister thing going on, Yukimura was a snotty brat, and Senhime was a snotty princess. I might just watch the show while playing Robo Defense. I find that Robo Defense markedly improves my enjoyment of terrible anime.
The Hyakka Ryouran anime had several bigger flaws, anyway I already watched it 1.. 2.. no 3 times( the third time because it was uncensored), the flaws didn’t really vanish, but the characters somehow really grown on me and the character interactions kept me entertained.
Well, the story was badly directed, in this anime but at least the comedy scenes felt convincing, especially the ecchi specials are hilarious.
Naoe is one of my favorite characters from this show, next to Hattori she also belongs to the more weird characters, weird in a quite amusing and likeable way ^^.
I never saw ALTER as a company that added a high amount of cuteness to their figures, but that changed since last year, there was Kaminagi Ryoko, loli Vivio and a few more I would consider as really cute recently, but with this Naoe Kanetsugu they reached a new level.
Her cheerful face looks just adorable, there is just the right amount of blush and the open mouth ahhh *I luv it*
They are spot on with the recreation of the anime character, the clothes look really cool and stylish. Everything on her seems so enchanting, also the small details like the little bells at the tip of her hair, the gloves or the red shoes. Her rear seems as detailed as on the Strike Witches figures from ALTER, haha nice, even though as you’ve already said the white design is a little plain, in the anime her pantsu was like that as well.
Your pictures were quite reassuring, I probably won’t regret her purchase ^^. I like all of the pictures, as favorites I’d would choose 01, 05, 07 very lovely with the flowers, and 16.
I nearly passed on her, cause I was very worried about shipping, custom fees and if I’d like her enough, but she just looked too nice in the end. I missed to order her from my usual shops cause she was already sold out, but luckily the price of a german online shop felt fair enough, so I placed my order before she was completely sold out.
that turned out rather long …:D
Ah, well, that’s promising. Sort of, anyway. Guilty Crown is a great comedy, mostly in a “I can’t believe the creators came up with these ideas” sort of way, but it’d be nice to watch a show with more purposeful comedic aspects.
I really like her cute look, it makes for a great contrast with the other Samurai Girls figures, who all look so serious. Though swimsuit Jubei is very cute as well.
Yeah, I was thinking about passing up this figure, since I don’t have a high opinion of the show, but I figured I’d regret it if I didn’t buy it. I’ll almost always get a figure that looks good even if I don’t like the source show, as long as Alter’s the one making it.
Ah nice, a review of Naoe Kanetsugu. I’m still waiting on mine arriving so seeing this review has got me pumped for her arrival. Hopefully I don’t have to wait not too long, but you never know with SAL & the postal service. I’ve got the Penguin Parade one at the moment so I’m looking forward to see how she compares. One with lots of customisation and one what you see is what you get, should be interesting.
The details from Alter look great as always. Her hammer in particular look fantastic. I like the metallic gold and white flower patterns. I also like her eyes, the light to dark transitions looks really nice. Her face is super cute too.
Even though her colour palette looks a little muted I think having so many different details makes up for that. Yet at the same time there’s not so much detail that it becomes too noisy and overpowering. A perfect balance I say.
I really like the shots with pink lighting, they really suit Naoes’ character. Plus they look warmer than the white. Picture 16 is my favourite.
Are you planning on picking up the limited swimsuit version of her or is one Naoe enough for you?
Yeah, I like her black-and-white color scheme a lot; it looks great and lets her hair and hammer grab most of the initial attention, which I think is the way it should be. All the Samurai Girls characters have great designs, I can’t say I’m as enthused about those new characters that Nitro+ made up with Orchid Seed doing the figures … uhh, they were all named after demons, but I forget the name of the property.
Yeah, I ordered the swimsuit figure. Though looking at it closely, it looks more like underwear than a swimsuit to me. I ordered the one with the “luncheon mat,” though I have no idea what I’m going to do with such a thing, since I eat all my meals at home in front of a computer monitor. I know I’d get all neurotic about not having that mat if I got the cheaper version, though.
I like how you followed a “bent over showing the goods” figure with a “bent over showing the goods” figure. They really need to make more figures in this pose. Again this is something that I am not familiar with (I admit I don’t watch much anime), but I like this figure design. I really like the detail on the thigh highs.
Also great job with the photos. I can actually imagine that the flowers are cherry blossoms.
Indeed! XD I give the people what they want to see. And I definitely agree that more figures should feature such a pose; I’m really looking forward to Native’s Hotori Yoshii and Alter’s swimsuit Jubei. Actually, the latter figure should be shipping this month, I think.
Hotori screams “pedobear” too much for my taste. Just doesn’t feel right (or legal) but I’m still looking forward to your review of her. LOL
I don’t have anything that approximates Pedobear but I do have a mechanical dog and the President, both of whom are ready for Hotori’s release.
I cannot wait to see the Hotori review. The Alter Jubei also looks like it will be a good review…I like the sword placement on that one.
So… Alter have just released this figure… and then they’ve announced this one?
It never rains…
Annoyed about my figures at the moment… still can’t decide on Elfriede, but TH is saying she is out of stock again… If I want her I might have to use SMJ as I had to with Sonico when he refused to order more – cost me a bit more – starting to dislike Tokyo-Hunter a lot.
And then I’ve just been hit with a 41% import tax charge on my latest buy which, with a handling charge, is over 50% of the item cost. Think I’ll report the government for tax fraud as that is double our tax rate and the item should have got through tax free as the goods were below the usual discretionary cost threshold… now though they will try to charge whatever. No way I’m paying that… waiting to hear from Amiami to hear what they labelled her as. If they overpriced her I’m going to use Paypal to force a refund… yes, I’m annoyed
They did! I guess they saw how popular the character seems to be. Heck, given how mediocre the anime is, I’m kinda surprised at how popular the Alter figures are; Jubei’s gotten her initial figure plus a re-release, an orange-ish swimsuit figure, a recolored white swimsuit figure, Yukimura has two figures, and Kanetsugu will have two figures. I wonder when they’ll get around to making the last couple of characters.
Tokyo Hunter ran out of slots pretty quickly. I waffled when he first took orders for her and missed out; then he opened up another ten or so slots and I put in my order with the quickness. I saw that Entertainment Earth is taking orders for the figure, though I don’t know if ordering from a US retailer is a good option for you or not.
Ouch, that is crappy as hell. I’d be utterly appalled if I were assessed an import tax on the stuff I buy. I hope that situation works out in your favor.
I just got mine yesterday and wow, no regrets there. Fantastic details, especially on her hammer and hair. I have to admit, Naoe was my least liked character in Samurai Girls but I’m choosing to forget it and just enjoy the character designs. The one thing about the pose is that it’s hard to get a good look at her full outfit at normal viewing angles with her bent over like that but I suppose compared to the other Samurai Girls, it makes her unique. Plus the view from the back is quite nice.
I intensely disliked Yukimura and Senhime and if Naoe is as bad as those two or worse, I suppose I have no regrets about dropping the show.
Yeah, I guess that’s a tradeoff they decided to make to highlight her hammer. That seems appropriate in a way, since Alter’s Samurai Girls figures tend to highlight the characters’ best parts: Jubei’s highlights her breasts (at least, from what I remember her breasts were her most notable feature in the anime), Hanzou’s figure highlights her skirt, Matabei’s figure highlights her butt, and this one highlights her hammer. Senhime and Yukimura have no best parts so they get none.
Mine just got shipped last March 5 via amiami. And coincidentally her favorite food ingredients are leeks (as seen in episode 8), so maybe she is inspired by Miku Hatsune.
Can’t wait for her to arrive (but since its sal parcel………….impecable taste in figures Tier.
I hope to be able to complete the Alter line of girls soon:
Already got Jubei, Yukimura ver.2 and the incoming Nanoe. Have an eye from a local supplier for Matabei though Hanzo is kinda hard to find at present……..
My taste in figures is unimpeachable. On an unrelated note, I am really looking forward to Daiki Kougyou’s Imari figure; Amiami put up some new pictures and she is looking great.
Hanzo is always the figure that I keep forgetting. Didn’t Alter make two versions of her? I guess she might be another Samurai Girls character who has gotten two figures from Alter.
Iirc, Hanzo ver 2 had a spear of sorts that worked in conjunction with the blades in her hemline (episode 7 ). It was a great episode btw which showed the depth of Hanzo’s character and not just some weird, S/M lezbo ninja bodyguard (that term btw was used by Yukimura in one of the bonus shorts of Sentaiworks)
And that Imari you mentioned……….ARRGH! Right on the money.
Ah right, she had a different weapon from the standard version. It’s good to hear that Hanzou had some depth because my impression was that all the characters conformed to the standard, stereotypical personality types. At least, Senhime, Yukimura, and Muneakira seemed to, and that was enough to get me to stop watching.
Variation is good; back when I used black backdrops all the time, I remember feeling very frustrated that my pictures always looked the same and I felt I wasn’t getting any better. I think your idea about getting some floor options is a good one; I found it a lot easier to begin incorporating different floor materials than backdrops. The floor in this picture set is just some dinner table placemats I picked up from Wal-Mart or Target fairly inexpensively. I’ve also got a couple of large (about 2 feet square) panels of particle board that I’ve painted with textured spray paint; I use one with a gray stone pattern a lot.
Those gel sheets look good; 24 cm square seems like a good size. I think that’s large enough that you can cut out extras to double them up for deeper saturation.
Fantastic figure all around, the hammer looks reals and highly ornated. I am not familiar with the source anime but Alter can really “alter” some guys to buy figs from a very niche anime. I guess they will not dive on the madoka pit on this year as well and will be more focuesd on continuing thier current lineup. Your photography enhances the figure’s appeal even further, not to mention the concise and easy to read review. So how’s the guilty marathon? It seems too stupid for me to go further on that show, since it went too much plot twists (I remembered tsubasa chronicles for this)
Ahahahaha, the Guilty Crown marathon … well, I’m up to episode 19 now, so I’m almost caught up. It almost defies any attempt to describe it; I thought it went off the rails when they introduced the American villain early on, and I thought that after they brought that guy on, I’d be ready for anything else that might happen. Little did I know that the show would just get more and more bizarre. I guess maybe I should give the show’s makers some credit; I judge all bad anime against Freezing (one of the worst shows I’ve watched in its entirety), and while Freezing was thoroughly predictable all the way through, Guilty Crown’s plot hooks are much more interesting, and a lot funnier than a lot of comedy anime.
It’s a bit interesting that they haven’t made any Madoka figures. As far as I know, Alter and GSC do not have any corporate ties but they don’t seem to encroach on each other’s territory much; GSC doesn’t do many Nanoha figures and Alter doesn’t do a lot of Fate/stay night figures, even though I’m sure they’d sell a bundle if they did. I wouldn’t mind if Alter did show off some Madoka stuff, though; I’m not too enthused by the GSC figures, mainly because I don’t like the character designs much. Those Hidamari Sketch-style melonheads really bother me.
I guess japanese companies doesn’t really intend to compete with each other and they sometimes tend to contemplate together (madotitus anyone?). Maybe because they have a different business philosophy. And since figure making is a very niche one, they must squeeze every investment they make, after all making a figure from an anime franchise could be risky.
That surely could be true. It’s interesting to see how often Kotobukiya and Alter step on each other’s toes, though; they’ve both done Beat Blades Haruka figures (Kotobukiya’s looks very similar to Alter’s) and I get their Strike Witches figures confused all the time. They’re also the only two makers to do PVC figures of Dizzy, who doesn’t get nearly enough love from hobby goods manufacturers.
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Finally got her Tier!.(took about 20 days sal) Compared to the other 1/8 masterpiece of Alter……Dizzy, and yes, their Samurai Girls line up is kind of bigger than usual 1/8 scale.
For such a comic relief character in the show (noisy,stupid, pure hearted,gullible, country bumpkin, dirty minded virgin) Alter pulled out all the stops on her. Her big @ss hammer is fully detailed with that dog house like design in the middle (kind of like her “cottage” she pulls around in the show) and her equally nice and big rump of hers ( noticed that too and how plain her pantsu are……though the horrid looking Penguin Parade version ( which I passed up for this baby )had more detail, maybe I’m OC?)
Next in the hunt is “Beta”, another gal with a nice rump………….as usual, Tier’s taste is the standard!
Every time I use SAL, it takes like two months for me to get my stuff <.< Yeah, the Samurai Girls figures are all pretty big, or rather, Dizzy is pretty small for 1/8 scale. Naoe sounds like a pretty cool character XD At least, those traits sound a helluva lot more appealing than Yukimura and Senhime; particularly since I detest the archetypical tsundere personality.
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