Many, many companies make figures of the characters from Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, but nobody does it better than Alter. It has been a while since we’ve gotten a new figure of a core character, though; in fact, it’s been over a year since they released Naoe Kanetsugu. Charles d’Artagnan is still MIA, with not even a hint of a prototype sculpt, but presumably she’ll be along at some point in the future. In the meantime, today we will take a look at Gisen, the erotic seductress whose fiery passion and icy resolve conceal a variety of secrets.
Like most contemporary anime, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls is not a particularly sophisticated show, but it does have an impressive and distinctive sense of style. Also, it typically doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the absence of pretension serves it well. While the characters are taken stock from simplistic, familiar tropes, they are likeable enough – even the lead guy, who doesn’t have much of a role beyond being the victim of the female cast’s affections. The show made a poor impression on me at first but after watching it again, I found that I liked it – at least up until the last few episodes, when it tried to inject drama into the plot. Of course, the attempt failed miserably; shows like this one ought to stick to what they do well rather than making an abortive grasp for pathos. The second season – titled Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride – is airing now, and hopefully it won’t pretend to have a plot.
Yagyu Gisen is the last of the core cast to be introduced, and that’s unfortunate because I felt she was one of the more interesting and appealing characters in the show. She presents herself as an assertive yet sexually submissive young woman, labelling herself a slave and freely offering the use of her body to lead male character Muneakira. Following some friction with the other members of Muneakira’s harem, she casts herself as Yagyu Jubei‘s little sister. However, her seductive, feline affectations hide a far darker personality, and it is this side of her that plays an integral part in the resolution of the first season’s story.
Interestingly, she appears in the character section of the Samurai Brides website, so maybe we’ll be seeing more of her later on.
Like all of Alter’s other figures of the Samurai Girls characters, Gisen is sculpted in 1/8 scale, standing about 20 centimeters to the top of her head and about 25 centimeters to the tip of her sword’s handle. Unlike most of Alter’s figures, Gisen comes with a number of detachable parts; her sword grip can be removed from the blade part to place it in her hand, and her head is also detachable so that her face can be swapped out. To facilitate the removal of her head, her right forearm separates from her body. Aside from all that, she also comes with a white plastic base festooned with stars and the series logo, just as the other Samurai Girls do.
One of the odd things about Alter’s Samurai Girls figures is that they don’t obviously reflect the actual personalities of the characters. Jubei looked fairly serious and reasonably confident; in fact, she’s an airheaded juvenile with self-esteem issues. Senhime looks like a sullen, serious killer; she’s actually a garden-variety tsundere character. I guess Matabei‘s figure comes closet to matching her looks with her traits – but then, she doesn’t actually have much of a personality to start with. Gisen has a couple of things that provide clues to her nature; the eyepatch is an obvious one, as it conveys a sense of mystery, and the padlocked collar is another, suggesting that she has a masochistic disposition. The look on her face is fairly neutral, though – just by looking at her expression, you wouldn’t guess that she’s capable of great malice.
That’s not to say that it’s not a good-looking expression, or that she isn’t attractive. On the contrary, her single green eye is very appealing; so much so that despite the complexity and detail of her overall appearance, her eye is still one of the most attention-grabbing aspects of her design. Her eyepatch is a striking red and gold color, offering a marked contrast to the cool tones that dominate her look. The eyepatch’s strap stays entirely on the right side of her face rather than crossing over her left cheek, rendering the eyepatch unobstrusive despite its conspicuousness.
As mentioned, she comes with a number of parts. Disassembling her is straightforward and everything fits very well. Aside from the prominent seam circumscribing her bangs – which many figures have, anyway – there is nothing to indicate that she can be disassembled at all.
The eyepatch look can be discarded, if desired; she has an alternate face that features her uncovered right eye. She has a heterochromatic look reminiscent of traffic lights or Christmas (or Vivio). However, I’m not nearly as fond of this look as I am of the eyepatch; something seems off about it. It might be because of the proportions of her face; she seems to have a more round-faced appearance without the eyepatch. Perhaps it’s because of the contrasting, unsettling appearance of the reptilian pupil. Possibly it’s because she looks a little cross-eyed. Or maybe it’s just because it looks unfamiliarly weird, in the same way as when a friend shaves his face after having had a beard for the whole time you’ve known him. That said, her two-eyed look does do a better job of conveying her sinister intentions, though I’m not sure that the shape of her mouth matches what her eyes are expressing.
Unlike her nominal big sister, Gisen wears a fairly straightforward outfit, an obvious derivative of the schoolgirl seifuku uniform so prevalent in anime culture. It is, of course, much more ornate than the average blue-and-white schoolgirl outfit, with lots of intricate patterns on her gloves and socks. True to the characteristic aesthetic of the series, her outfit also features lots of ribbing and ropes.
As expected, the paintwork is impressively clean in its application.
She carries a rather unusual sword; it features two blades, with a pivot near the grip so that the other blade can rotate out, rather like scissors. To be honest, I don’t think it’s the most attractive weapon in the show.
Strangely, Gisen’s breasts seem to be toned down. In the anime, Gisen is a very well-endowed girl, and she freely uses these traits to her advantage, but here, her bust is quite modest. It’s sort of odd for a figure company to deemphasize the sexual characteristics of a character, but perhaps they were working off of the original Nitroplus design materials, where her breasts looked to be a bit smaller than they did in the TV show.
As expected, Gisen is an excellent figure. Her character design is quite attractive, and Alter’s workmanship is impeccable, as always. She’s not at all a dynamic figure, of course, and perhaps a more energetic pose would have done a better job complementing her stylish design, but she fits very well in overall theme and look with Alter’s other Samurai Girls figures. With the new season introducing new characters, hopefully Alter will show off Charles soon, and with Alter having made swimsuit figures of several of the cast members already, hopefully Gisen will get one too.