When C-Works’ Imari came out in April I thought it highly unlikely that I’d ever buy another figure from the brand, and yet here I am, suckered into yet another purchase. Thankfully Saori isn’t quite as bad as her predecessor, but the thumbnail alone speaks volumes: this is not a good figure. Worth picking up regardless? Perhaps… Note: this review contains spoilers from the final episode of the Bible Black anime.
Original Design: Yoshi-Ten, Sei Shoujo
Sculptor: Tainidou TinyKid
Source: Bible Black (eroanime, eroge)
Scale: 1/6 (11 cm tall, 20 cm long)
Release Date: late October, 2007
Production: C-Works (distributed by Mint)
Price: 5,460 JPY (tax included)
Current Availability: [HS] [TL]
Support HD!: [PA] (red version) [JLIST]
Since its initial release in July of 2000 Bible Black has become one of the most storied franchises in eroge history, boasting an extensive list of anime conversions including an original six-episode OVA series, two episodes of “gaiden” side story material, a two episode fetish short, and a new OVA (新・バイブルブラック Shin Bible Black), thus far with five episodes, that continues the story of both the game and the original anime series. For those wanting to go to the source, the game was recently released in English by Kitty Media.
Saeki Kaori as she appears in the game
Saeki Kaori is a classmate of Minase (protagonist of Bible Black) with a fascination for the arcane arts. She has researched the history of the school’s magic club and the ritual held 12 years before the story opens, and when she discovers that Minase is able to use real magic she is determined to find out his secret whatever the cost. Unfortunately for her she finds herself quickly wrapped up in events beyond her control, and becomes one of the first to succumb to the tide of evil sweeping the school.
Spoilers from Bible Black episode 6 follow:
Unlike Imari before her the sculpt for this C-Works figure is not derived from one of the series’ DVD cover illustrations; instead it seems to be inspired by a scene at the end of the final episode of the original Bible Black series, in which it is revealed that Kitami-sensei’s demon has not been defeated but was instead passed into Imari’s body. When Saeki goes hunting for the book that gave Minase his power she is surprised by the possessed Imari, and used as a test subject for her newfound “skills”.
screen shots from Bible Black vol. 6,
probable inspiration for this figure
In the intervening time between our review of C-Works’ Imari and the release of this figure the official C-Works site seems to have disappeared. This isn’t too surprising, as all C-Works ever put out was low quality, overpriced and obscure (except for their Ranma trading figure set, which was just a decade too late). C-Works’ parent company Epoch is still around and has ties to distributor Mint, so it’s possible that the brand hasn’t been discarded entirely; I’m guessing its furthered existence depends largely on the success of this figure and its predecessor.
So how does Saeki Kaori stack up? Looking first at the sculpt we have something of a mixed bag. I like the general pose, and the lines though rough-hewn flow in a nice way. While her breasts aren’t bad at all, the way her panties cut into her rear is definitely the charm point of the kit, and when viewed from certain angles almost makes it possible to forget about some of the more flawed aspects of the sculpt.
Sadly flaws do persist here, from the odd divots on her lower back to the fact that a lot of the creases on the kit, from the hair to the panties, look like they were cut away by a modeling knife. Of course they were, but good kits don’t look that way. The most sculpturally deficient area of the kit is definitely the face. While it does bear a startling resemblance to the work of the sub-minimum wage ‘tween animator who drew this, I’m sure it’s nothing Sei Shoujo or Yoshi-Ten would hold up as shining examples of their art. It’s sad – TinyKid has some ability with faces, and it’s a damn shame he doesn’t show it here; surely he had more than just a few badly captured frames of the anime for reference?
In terms of production value Saeki is a slight improvement over what we’ve seen from C-Works in the past. While seams are still visible they are much more cleverly hidden, and there is no scarring of the type that cursed Imari. That said, visible mold lines on the shirt sleeves and backs of the legs along with blunted edges of the hair sculpt keep this casting job firmly in the realm of the mediocre.
Coloring is also a slight improvement over Imari, with less of a “grey meat” tone to the skin, some clumsily effective attempts at shading on the shirt, panties and hair and no major artifacts left behind following castoff. Trim work is inexpert but not atrocious, and while overall the finish is a pretty uniform semi-gloss (except the hair) there is enough variation to indicate that they tried. The kit is also helped by a color scheme more conservative than Imari’s, giving them fewer opportunities to screw it up.
Overall C-Works’ Saeki Kaori gets a passing grade from me, albeit barely. The grade is heavily weighted by the fact that she doesn’t have much competition and that she’s a clear improvement on her predecessor; I should make it clear that in a more mainstream figure such sculptural and production missteps would be grounds for the axe. All in all a figure I wouldn’t mind recommending to someone looking for exactly what this is (a castoffable Bible Black figure), but if you’re just looking for something sexy or a nice figure in general there are better fish in the sea.
Overall Score: 5.5/10
+ sexy pose from a very memorable scene
+ with better execution panty sculpt would be worth the price of admission
o mediocre casting job leaves seams, mold lines visible
o paint job is rough, but passable
– while better than Imari’s, skin tone still unpleasant
– rough-hewn sculpt details betrays use of tools
– unforgivably atrocious face sculpt
If you’re interested in picking her up and would like to support HD, J-List still has a few in stock as of this posting. Play Asia also has preorders open for a limited edition red version scheduled for release in January, and the English release of both the anime and the game are available at J-List as well. For those on a budget ToysLogic currently seems to be the best option.