Slightly older figure today but one I’ve been trying to get for a reasonable price for quite some time. It’s Hatsune Miku, everyone’s favourite Vocaloid and virtual idol.
Having missed the first pre-order of Hatsune Miku because I was much more strict on what I bought back in September 2008, and again missing her re-release in May of 2009, I was relegated to the alternate and more expensive methods of acquiring Miku. Nearly a year has passed since I missed the last run of this figure and I’ve seen Miku’s price range from obscene to utterly obscene, in very much the same way Narika’s price did. Unlike Narika though I wasn’t able to find a friend who was willing to sell her at a vastly discounted price compared to the auctions on eBay and the like. Making it harder still Good Smile Company released the “CM Ver.” of Hatsune Miku which is identical in every way to this figure except for her closed eyes, which I didn’t want. This exclusive Miku could actually be had cheaper and much easier than the original Miku despite it’s limited run of 1500 pieces. But I didn’t want this version, and waited. My waiting finally paid off last month when I found her on Mandrake, unopened and brand new for ‘only’ ¥8,000 / $93 CAD, which is admittedly ¥2,761 / $32 CAD above her original MSRP. Given the prices I was seeing at the time she was vastly discounted over alternate methods and I took the plunge. Looking at eBay today, the cheapest I can find her is $165 CAD, so I still feel pretty good about the price paid, despite it’s obvious premium.
Miku doesn’t have a story like other characters, nor does she even come from a series. I wont go into too much detail since everyone likely already knows, but Miku was designed by Crypton Future Media for a piece of voice synth software developed by Yamaha called Vocaloid2, the second installment of the software. What I find strange about the entire phenomenon is that Miku doesn’t have a personality or a compelling story for one to invest in. Instead she has a list of statistics that describe her voice and how best to use it when producing music. Some of those stats are her optimum tempo range, genre, octave range among some lesser useful stats such as her age, height and weight. Beyond that nearly everything about her is fan produced, growing organically in much the same way I think as the Touhou Project has.
Miku’s popularity has also spawned a wide range of merchandise as well as even live concert events. Many have argued that she’s become too popular, being exploited by too many companies milking her for profit, much against what made her popular in the first place. With 72 results on MFC I’m inclined to agree with this theory and I’ll cite two additional examples that I think sum this up quite well. First, during Miku’s surprisingly well done live concert this past “Miku’s Day” (March 9th, 3 (mi) + 9 (ku)), Miku sang the SEGA sound. While this makes sense since the concert was produced by SEGA to promote their Project Diva PSP game, it still felt as if she’d sold out. Which is a very strange feeling to have since, as described above, she doesn’t even have a personality on which to base that feeling on. The second item I’d like to envoke is this (NSFW), a ‘dutch wife’ made in Miku’s likeness. While this is an entirely unauthorized product, it’s way over the top and they’re obviously using her appeal to market their product. Despite this fact though, I do think it’s be slightly amusing to own it as a piece of Japanese weirdness.
So what does all this have to do with Good Smile Company’s Hatsune Miku? Depending on one’s point of view, she’s either an item from before she ‘sold out’ or perhaps one of the first products she ‘sold out’ with. I like to look at this figure like she’s come before all the hype, or at the start of it at least and wasn’t Good Smile Company jumping on the bandwagon but instead helping start it. While this changes nothing about the figure itself, it does cast a different atmosphere over her and in my crazy head makes the inflated prices make more sense.
With so much fan artwork out there of Miku I find it difficult to really compare GSC’s rendition to anything, as her image has a large variance in my mind. I’m also not really aware of much official artwork one can compare to as well. It seems very much like Miku’s any 2 of the following 3, a set of colours, clothes, and hair that can be applied to any model and it becomes Miku. This leaves her open for much interpretation and can make any figure seem perfectly in her likeness. Just look at “World is Mine” Miku, she looks entirely different, but you still know she’s Miku from her long twintails, the colour of those twintails, her eye colour, and even her dark thighhighs.
Despite the lack of official art to compare her to I think Good Smile Company has done the best job bringing her to the 3rd dimension, and did it with their first attempt. With no personality to build upon, the generic happy face is entirely fitting, I couldn’t see them doing much else other than the eyes closed version which does have some positive qualities of it’s own. Her pose is attractive and playful though I imagine movement in this pose due to her hair, and so her skirt appears far too static given how far out her twintails are. I’m not looking for an easy panty shot, but just something to indicate her skirt isn’t plastic would have been beneficial. Overall her sculpt seems to represent a good averaging of all the Miku variations I’ve seen.
GSC has chosen not to deviate at all with Miku’s defacto colour scheme, using what I feel to be the ‘true colours’ for Miku. Other figures such as those produced by SEGA, and Max Factory have deviated somewhat, Max Factory’s appearing slightly more green, and SEGA’s entirely blue instead of the mix, though the blue is an interesting change. GSC’s detail work is about par for the course at least with regards to average GSC craftsmanship. She doesn’t stand out with any real intricate details, but she’s not barren of detail either. There is the occasionally mistake though, on the back of Miku’s head there’s a tiny paint chip that’s not just noticeable in macro shots, but not incredibly distracting either. There’s also over paint on her finger nails, but that’s somewhat expected. The saw tooth edging on her costume also suffers from overpaint, not keeping within the lines, but they’re quite small and it’s quite acceptable to the naked eye. Miku also has a rough finish compared to some other figures, some of which is noticeable to the unaided eye. The only flaw I can see that’s not forgivable on Miku is the green mark in her right armpit, it’s far enough away from any green areas and should not have made it there. But all and all these flaws are minor and hardly noticeable.
Actually, I take that second last sentence back, there is one more flaw that’s not forgivable. Miku’s panties. They’re white, just white, and that’s not acceptable. Since as far back as I can remember, and as far back as September 25th, 2007 according to Danbooru, she’s had aqua striped panties that match the rest of her attire. How could Good Smile Company overlook this incredibly important and identifying piece of clothing? I take pride in the fact that I can identify Hatsune Miku by her panties alone, as do many I’m sure. Just look at all the posts on danbooru that are of her panties, and only her panties, yet everyone knows who she is. With plain white it becomes much more difficult. Here are some examples, all of which aren’t safe for consumption at work. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. Sadly that long list could be longer. If at some point in the future I’m able to paint well enough and straight enough I will modify my Miku to have the proper attire, until then however she will have to remain in her very un-Miku-like plain white panties.
I’m quite happy finally having GSC’s original Miku, she looks great and I love her character design. While her twintails might be too long in this figure, they frame her quite well and add some dynamism to the other wise static pose. Miku’s zettai ryouiki is in around the right ratios for my tastes, though maybe her skirt could be slightly longer narrowing the gap as well as hiding her panties a little better (what?). Her detached sleeves expose some extra skin while adding substance to her arms so as not to appear too thin, and for some reason a girl in a necktie is cute. All this comes together quite nicely in a well executed package by Good Smile Company.
I forgot to take Miku’s skirt off…
- The original (and definitive) Hatsune Miku figure
- Good paintwork
- Well produced overall
- Small paint chip on the back of her head
- Minor overpaint on the saw tooth edging of her costume
- Plain white panties, where are the stripes?
- Skirt could be a little more dynamic given the movement of her hair