The schoolgirl-with-weapons theme is a very popular one, so much so that it’s made its way into Hollywood films like Kill Bill and Sucker Punch. Still, it is a quintessential theme associated with pop Japanese culture, particularly anime and video games, and as such one of the most common weapons for such a schoolgirl is a traditional Japanese sword. It’s odd, then, that looking at my collection, I see I’ve only got a couple of figures of schoolgirls with swords. This one here is one of them.
This figure is manufactured by Max Factory and depicts a character named Katanako, which I think simply translates to “Sword Child” or perhaps less-literally “Swordgirl.” She comes from the PSP game 7th Dragon 2020, which was developed by Imageepoch and published by Sega. It’s a sequel to the Nintendo DS game 7th Dragon; as far as I know, neither game was ever released outside of Japan, which isn’t too surprising, I suppose, as Imageepoch is sort of a niche developer. While several of their games – like the Black Rock Shooter RPG and Fate/extra – are reasonably well-known amongst anime fans, and particularly figure collectors, the 7th Dragon series would seem to have a lower profile than those games. If you’re interested in learning more about the game, Hardcore Gaming 101 has a really good article that provides an overview of it and its predecessor.
7th Dragon 2020 is a dungeon crawler game, and it’s a shame that it never did get a translation since I really dig dungeon crawlers. In fact, I’d still name The Bard’s Tale III as one of my favorite games of all time. Katanako is a Samurai, the standard warrior character, and that’s pretty much all the backstory she gets. She’s sculpted in 1/7 scale but stands a bit over 24 centimeters tall, making her quite tall for her specified scale size. She’s pretty much ready for display right out of the box; the only optional parts she has are swappable right hands. No castoff options are provided.
Probably the most striking aspect of Katanako’s design is her stretched, elongated body build, which gives her a highly stylized, cartoonish look that contrasts effectively with her otherwise conventional appearance. She wears a fairly typical sailor-inspired schoolgirl uniform, albeit with a combat harness and body armor over it. While her slender proportions are obvious, the additional bulk of the armor and belt pouch takes some of the overtness away from her exaggerated physique, and it takes a few moments of examination to see just how tall and skinny she really is.
She effects a very sharp, angular appearance, a visage that seems appropriate given her job. Her jaw is steeply raked, her chin sharply pointed. Her bangs are squared off and her eyes are also strongly sloped, giving her a severe expression. Her mouth is a dark slash across her face, a little wider than typical for an anime-type character.
I really like her facial expression; she has a stern but rather impassive look that, combined with her pose, radiates confidence and competence. It’s a look that says that her business is cutting things up, and that she’s here solely to do business.
And this is her weapon of choice, a very large, stylized sword. It’s unusually thick in cross-section, which is in keeping with Katanako’s exaggerated look.
She also has another blade, a combat knife in a thigh sheath. It also has a very angular look, which is a recurring theme of this figure.
I like the contrast presented by the obvious violent implication of her weaponry juxtaposed on the femininity of her outfit, particularly the lace trim of her socks and the shortness of her skirt.
And I would be remiss if I failed to provide this peek under her skirt. Her sex appeal is, at first glance, rather muted; Katanako has only a modest chest, and her uniform will appeal to fans of the archetypical schoolgirl costume, but a glimpse of what it covers reveals a surprising amount of immodesty. A great deal of detail is provided under her skirt, as can obviously be seen here. Unfortunately, this view will probably never be available under normal display conditions.
The samurai wears unusually low-cut underwear; her panties seem to not be up to the task of covering up her backside. Perhaps she should endeavor to find more adequate underwear during her adventures.
Going back to less-salacious topics, her hair gives this figure a strong sense of energy and movement, even though the samurai’s pose is stoic and heroic. It’s also one of those aspects where you don’t realize just how much hair she has until you look at it for a few seconds.
Her right hand can be swapped out for this one, which allows her to be displayed without her sword. This matches the artwork but personally, I think she looks a lot cooler with her sword.
Among the things I didn’t like about the samurai was the color of her socks and her arm armor; I thought the purple socks and aqua-blue plating looked garish. However, looking at the character art for the game, it seems that the designs were created with the intent of presenting loud, clashing colors. Seeing the figure in person, the colors don’t bother me much now. I really like this figure; Katanako is both cute and confident, and her stylistic quirks are somehow both conspicuous and subtle at the same time. I had hoped that she would look good displayed next to Mishiro Akatsuki, my only other sword-wielding schoolgirl figure (unless you consider Kanu Unchou’s Seiryutou to be a sword), but Katanako looks like a colossus compared to her – not a bad thing in my view, as I always prefer larger figures. Overall, this is a great figure, one I’m glad that Max Factory did, being that it comes from a slightly obscure property.