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Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home Review

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home is not about the Kissuoiso. Unlike the TV series, in the movie the traditional ryokan moves to the foreground and the focus of the story falls on the three generations of Matsumae women, with an emphasis on Ohana’s mother, Satsuki. This shift in focus shuffles some cards and in doing so provides one of the less known characters in the Hanasaku Iroha universe some time to shine.

Taking place between episodes 22-24 of the TV series, Home Sweet Home finds an Ohana that is already used to her new life as a nakai in Kissuiso, but still doesn’t feel accomplished. By pure accident she finds an old series of work log books from the years when Satsuki was still a teenager living in Kissuiso. Through these books she discovers parts of her mother’s past she never knew about: the identity crisis Satsuki had when she was a child, how she fell in love with Ohana’s father and why she eventually ventured off to the remote Tokyo. These revelations help Ohana understand her mother better, and she is shocked to discover she shares more traits with her mother than she initially believed.

When watching the TV series I never felt the need to hear Satsuki’s story. She was the one that bailed; The outsider that left Kissuiso for good. Once I witnessed the story from Satsuki’s point of view though I realized she is one of the corner stones of Hanasaku Iroha; An essential part of the Kissuoiso puzzle that has impacted Ohana, Enishi and Sui (Ohana’s grandmother) in meaningful ways. Like Ohana, Satsuki also wanted to shine. To find a place where she belongs, to bloom on her own terms. She also decided to pursue a certain dream. One that would have her collide directly with her mother’s strong opinions and eventually led her to brave the world by herself. I never thought I’d like Satsuki, but by the time Home Sweet Home’s credits rolled I developed a deep appreciation for her, and a better understanding as to why she chose to leave Kissuiso behind.

Even though most of Home Sweet Home revolves around Satsuki’s past there are a few small scale present-day tidbits added here and there to tie the movie to the TV series. It’s nothing fancy. Just enough scenes to remind us of the series’ old magic and give the minor characters some screen time. Ren’s attempts to be hip and Yuina’s zany attitude are as charming as ever. There are also some less charming Tomoe moments. For some reason the creators of Hanasaku Iroha still believe making fun of single woman for the sake of her being single is funny. It is not.
As per usual Minko and Nako both receive considerable more attention. They both have issues they try to attend to in the movie. Minko has been doing her best to perfect some cookies skills, but still receives a cold shoulder from Tohru. Nako has a small family crisis when her parents go on a trip, leaving her alone to tend to her brothers and sister. Sadly unlike the TV series Minko and Nako’s scenes feel forced and quickly overstay their welcome. Satsuki’s past is so prominent and vivid that it easily foreshadows Minko and Nako’s daily worries. Their problems are just way too mundane, at times serving little more than filler for Satsuki’s story. It’s interesting how a simple change in focus made two of my favorite characters appear boring. On the other hand the different focus also makes Ohana’s grandmother Sui more likable than before. Her screen time is limited yet plays well to her strengths.

While not apparent from the get-go Home Sweet Home is delicately balanced to show the many ways in which Ohana, Satsuki and Sui impacted each other in both the past and present. Unlike the TV series it’s not a story about a place, but first and foremost about a family. The struggles for personal growth that we have become accustomed to see squarely from Ohana’s viewpoint is shown from a fresh perspective in Home Sweet Home throught the eyes of her mother. This seemingly trivial change present us with sides of Satsuki and Sui I never knew existed before. It’s a welcome addition to the series, a story that was needed to be told and will positively delight those who enjoyed the series beforehand.

Welcome To The Nendoroid Freak Show!

freaky_nendoroid

Good Smile Company’s Nendoroid figure line has been with us for some years now. It had its fair share of cute or cool characters over the years. But this article is all about the freaky, weird, kooky and outright hilarious figures that came out of that line. Figures you might want to consider twice before displaying on your desk at work. It’s time to meet the freaks of the Nendoroid world.

Nendoroid Mackenzie & Funghi

Nendoroid Mackenzie & Funghi

First on our list is detective Mackenzie from the DS point-and-click adventure Touch Detective. To the unfamiliar onlooker she may appear a bit odd, but unlike most of this list I really love Nendoroid Mackenzie. Her game character design is was avant-garde and translated exceedingly well into Nendoroid form.  Her pet fungus Funghi is a celebrity in his own right, and have had his own figures and a successful mobile game in Japan. That said he still looks a little bit like a certain private male organ. Mackenzie and Funghi are certainly not to weirdest entries on my list but if you put them on your office desk they might raise a couple of eyebrows.

Nendoroid Mikudayo

Nendoroid-Mikudayo

Next we have Mikudayo, the intentionally creepy Hatsune Miku look-alike that scared the hell out of the kids during the 2011 Tokyo Game Show. The human-sized gag doll that roamed during that event was eventually turned into a gag Nendoroid. Those cheeks, that huge mouth and those emotionless eyes earn her a respectful place on my freak show list.

Nendoroid Spider-Man: Hero’s Edition

Nendoroid-Spider-Man-Heros-Edition

Oh Spidy, you never meant to frighten anyone. Alas, your head turned out huge, your limbs tiny little twigs. No matter how you pose your Nendoroid Spider-Man he looks ridiculous. And it doesn’t help that common sense dictates the biggest part in a big spider’s body is usually its butt.

Queen’s Blade: Aldora Nendoroid

Queens-Blade-Aldora-Nendoroid

Here we have a figure in which two opposite notions collide – chibiness and nudity. To take one means to forsake the other, last you find yourself with a figure that looks like a little child with no panties and a huge freaky eye. The sad truth about Queen’s Blade: Aldora Nendoroid is that it doesn’t look cute nor does it look sexy. It’s just…weird.

Watamote: Tomoko Kuroki Nendoroid

Watamote-Tomoko-Kuroki-Nendoroid

I have to give Good Smile Company some credit here – the Tomoko Kuroki Nendoroid does a great job of conveying the ups and downs (well, mostly downs) of Kuroki’s teenage life. Unlike most other figures on this list she is not disfigured. In fact she looks mighty good. It’s her god-awful expressions that put her on the list. Imagine your new girlfriend entering your room for the very first time is greeted by a panty-ripping Kuroki on your table. I’m not sure her other expressions are SFW either.

Nendoroid Neko Arc: Ultimate Version

Nendoroid-Neko-Arc-Ultimate-Version

We are down to the top 5! And it begins with Neko Arc, the space alien cat with superhuman powers (try reading the Neko Arc Wikipedia entry once. It’s completely bonkers). Well people, you asked for freaky and this is almost as close as they get. With huge eyes, a human skirt, boots and some other weird accessories Neko Arc can do some of the most hilarious poses in Nendoroid land.

Nendoroid Death Note L Reindeer Version

Nendoroid-Death-Note-L-Reindeer-Version

Death Note is considered a great series. But the Death Note Nendoroid figures are considered abysmal. They all look cheap, their paint job amateurish. Topping their ranks is this poor figure – Nendoroid Death Note L Reindeer Version. Look how sad and miserable he is! Let’s just give him an easy death and be done with it.

Koizumi Itsuki and Kyon: Nendoroid Petit Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu #3

haruhi-collage

We venture a bit off into the realm of Nendoroid petit to find Good Smile Companies’ arguably worst Nendoroid figure ever. Since this is a freak show I suggest everybody gives GSC and huge round of applause for creating figures of Koizumi Itsuki and Kyon that look nothing like their anime counterparts. Their faces are so ugly it’s hard to look at them straight. To add insult to injury they are often portrayed alongside their feamale Nendoroid Petit counterparts (see image above) which turned out awesome. Talk about guys getting the short end of the figure stick…

Nendoroid More: Faceplate

Nendoroid-More-Faceplate

Nendoroid More: Faceplate

Nendoroid More: Faceplate is not a figure but a collection of swappable faceplates for the Nendoroid figure line. The faceplates design was chosen from a pool of 100 suggestions sent to the official Good Smile Company Nendoroid blog. It was a great idea – give fans the power to create unique, cool or goofy faceplates. That left some room for mischief, as we can learn from the faceplate above. For some reason it kind of reminds me of Norihei Miki. This faceplate is way up on my list since it is weird, freaky and you can force any Nendoroid to wear it and become a monstrosity.

Nendoroid Colossus Titan & Attack Playset

Nendoroid-Colossus-Titan-&-Attack-Playset

Speaking of monsters, my number one pick is no other than the Colossus Titan & Attack Playset Nendoroid. This is by far the freakiest Nendoroid figure out there. Firstly, because it looks like a lump of meat, and secondly, because it looks like a completely ridiculous lump of meat. Seriously, this guy looks like a demented heavy smoker. Interestingly it loses its scary factor when it manifests itself in this minified form. But this first spot doesn’t only belong to him – it belongs to the playset as well. Just look at those two titan figures. They are so much smaller than him yet so much more menacing! On top of that we have two even smaller figures of humans who are pooping their pants in midair! Oh, how I love getting chocolate colored figures with white liquid-like plastic protruding from their asses. Joy oh, joy.

Already feeling uneasy? That’s nothing! Wait until you see the culmination of all that is freaky and evil. I present to you the Mikudayo Nendoroid with Colossus Titan faceplate and Colossus Titan Nendoroid with Mikudayo faceplate:

nendoroid no kyojin

The horror!


Treasure Festa 2013 – Sexy Figures Gallery

sexyFigure10

The first Treasure Festa 2013 figure gallery covered regular Garage Kit figures. This time around we check in with the sexy figures that were on display during the event. Continue reading »

Treasure Festa 2013 Figure Gallery

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On May 5th the annual Treasure Festa event was held at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Odaiba. Treasure Festa is a convention that revolves around Garage Kits – resin figures made by fans (not official and not mass produced) that are usually sold in parts and without paint. Those that are good at assembling and painting such figures are known to bring amazing figures to life. Others (myself included) have learned to adore these unique (and rare!) figures from afar. This year we have a treat for your Garage Kit lovers out there in the form of a huge figure gallery (in two parts!). Continue reading »

Nendoroid Tsubasa Kazanari Will Bleed For You!

Tsubasa-Kazanari9

Nendoroid Tsubasa Kazanari is packed-full with blades, protective gears and a face with blood dripping all over it. Wait, what? Continue reading »

The 5 Most Promising Figures From Winter WonFest 2013

Chariot Black Rock Shooter Nendoroid

I didn’t like this winter’s WonFest (Wonder Festival) 2013 very much. From companies that weren’t ready and showed mostly cardboards with pictures, to tons of figures that weren’t painted yet, to companies that keep producing rehashed figures of the same brands. Not to worry though. These faults made the best figures around all the more attractive, and I’m here to offer you my pick for the 5 most promising figures from WF2013. Plus a couple of extras! Continue reading »

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