Back when this figure was announced I was taken in by the cute simplicity of the interpretation of Noriko’s design, and put in a preorder on a whim. While I’m not the most hardcore Gunbuster fan I have fond memories of the show as a Gainax classic, and the fact that Noriko figures are still regularly being released after almost 20 years stands as a testament to its enduring legacy. Not all Norikos are created equal, though, so let’s take a look at what Wave’s recent attempt has to offer:
Original Design: Mikimoto Haruhiko
Sculptor: Ogawa Youzou (Amiami search)
Source: Gunbuster (anime)
Scale: 1/10 (7.1 cm tall)
Release Date: December 15th, 2007
Price: 3,990 JPY (tax included)
Current Availability: [HLJ] [HS] [TL]
Support HD!: [PA] [YA]
original Noriko design
Takaya Noriko is the heroine of the 1988 Gunbuster OVA, animation studio Gainax‘s second major project after Wings of Honneamise. Despite her apparent lack of talent she is drafted to pilot a mech in humanity’s near-future war against a race of insectoid space monsters, and she uses hard work and perseverance to rise to the top of her cadre of fellow pilot candidates. It’s been awhile since I’ve last seen the show so I can’t really do her justice here; if you haven’t had the chance yet I’d highly recommend hunting it down and watching it yourself, it’s a true classic.
My first impression of this kit was “wow, small”. At this size it’s hard for a sculpt to make much of an impact unless the details are exquisitely rendered, and this Noriko doesn’t quite fall into that category; the pose is quite appealing, and at about twice the size I could see this figure really standing out. As is she’s competently produced, but with such a small footprint that she’s easy to overlook in a crowd. Her hind end is especially well done though, I have to say.
Wave is solidly in the middle of the pack when it comes to production values, and they’ve stayed consistent with this offering. The casting job doesn’t suffer unduly from seams or mold lines, with just a bit of “softness” around the edges that is easily ascribable to the smaller scale.
The paint job while not complex is generally solid as well, with a few minor defects also due to the size (especially notable is some roughness around the strap of her leotard). There isn’t much shading in evidence, but precise detail work is well done, and a face job that so often suffers on kits of this scale comes out looking just fine.
When all is said and done I come out with a generally favorable opinion of Wave’s Takaya Noriko, but she doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression. If she’d been half the price or twice the size there would be more to recommend her, but as is it’s clear that her production budget went into the detail work, packaging, and base, and that’s what you’re paying for when you pick up this figure. With trading figures coming out at less than a quarter of the price and nearly the same size it’s worth asking whether a figure like this is worth the investment, but for the diehard Noriko fans out there it seems like an easy call.
Overall Score: 7/10
+ attractive pose
+ decent casting job and application of detail
o small scale fails to leave much of a lasting impression
o some roughness around the edges due to size
– questionable cost / performance ratio – is the packaging worth it?