We’re several days into the new year now, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 2013 and offer some opinions about it. Since this is Makigumo, I encourage you not to take any part of this list too seriously. To start, I chose this header to represent the most bizarre scene in an anime for 2013. It’s from the piano duet in Evangelion 3.33. And a scene that’s too weird for that movie is just too weird, period.
By my rough count I got 40 figures in 2013. According to MFC that’s just under 25% of the collection I’ve been building since 2010. Four years of collecting, one fourth of my collection… sounds about right. Even if we narrow it down to the figures I got in 2013, it’s tough to pick a favorite. I’ve gotten a few fantastic ones thanks to my position at Tomopop. But when we get down to it, the figures I love most will be the ones I paid my own money for:
These would be the Lineage II Dark Elves by Max Factory. I was immediately smitten by the design when I saw the prototype. I was so smitten, I bought her twice when preorders opened! Unfortunately, there was some kind of packing mistake, and the brown one came without her staff (a pretty key accessory). I did get it with the blue one, but this story would not have been as happy had I only ordered one figure. You can read my full review at Tomopop. It caught the eye of Good Smile Company’s Maritan, so that’s pretty cool.
Max Factory’s 2013 lineup has been very impressive, and the Dark Elf has everything I look for in a figure. It’s not just a sexy figure, it’s utterly beautiful. The face, hair, body, and clothing sculpts are delicate and nuanced. The paint job is excellent. It’s a great representation of the art style, and it simply never gets tiring to look at.
Most disappointing figure
Least favorite/worst tends not to bring up great discussion, so I’ll go with Vertex’s Mitsuru Kirijou as the figure I was most disappointed with. It should be a great figure; the dynamism of the design and the fact that it’s Mitsuru all make this a tough one to screw up. But Vertex really did not do a good job with the build quality. And if you’ve been reading my figure reviews, you’ll know how little I normally care about build quality. This is not an issue of stray paint (though there is some of that) – Mitsuru has glaring problems with the fit and finish. Paint rubs off. Parts don’t go together smoothly. Granted, these aren’t issues you have to deal with on a daily basis, but they’re still problematic if you like keeping your figures in immaculate condition.
Mitsuru eked out Embrace Japan’s Sigrid of the Thorn for the most disappointing title, but I feel that a list of disappointing figures should mention Sigrid. Sigrid is an absolute beauty of a design ruined by shoddy molding and poor design choices. However, my expectations weren’t as high for Sigrid, having owned other Embrace Japan figures. The end result obviously turned out a fair bit worse than what I was expecting, but at least I didn’t expect a professionally finished masterpiece (nor did I pay that kind of cash).
Best budget find
I’m not normally the type to go bargain basement hunting for figures – I preorder the vast majority of the time – but once in a while I stumble upon a deal that I can’t pass up. This was the case with Nendoroid Snow Miku, a figure I had wanted for a while but was never able to fit into my budget. I adore the design, but Nendoroids aren’t at the top of my list of priorities, so Snow Miku (at her rather high price tag) had to be cut out of my monthly purchases. After missing her in the initial order period, I had a chance to buy one at ACen from Good Smile Company… but not really. She sold out quickly, and was just outside of my budget (going for $100).
At that point, I just figured I’d never get Snow Miku, and started to accept it. Then one day, I get a notification from MFC saying a user had listed one for sale… for just $60! It seemed too good to be true, but after some hesitation and research, I bit. A few days later, the box arrived and it was perfectly legit! It wasn’t Christmas then, but certainly felt like something out of a Christmas special.
Best gear purchase
I bought a few important pieces of photography gear over the last year, not the least of which was a Canon 6D. Still, Timbuk2’s Snoop messenger bag has become my most used and most important piece of gear. Originally this was meant for use at events, where I’d need fast access to my camera and a couple of lenses. But it has since become my daily driver, being able to pack in everything I need for work along with my Rebel. It’s rugged, spacious, and the styling works in an office setting without being completely drab and boring. Most of all, it doesn’t actually look that valuable, so I’m not concerned with taking it on the road. Yes, that is a big concern, because I passed up ONA’s Brixton for this very reason.
The one caveat I’d throw in here is that you’ll need a shoulder pad. The bag comes with probably the least comfortable shoulder pad I’ve ever encountered. I fitted the strap with one from my previous bag, and the result was super comfortable. But trust me, you do not want any piece of the included pad.
Favorite new activity
If you have a hobby where cosplay is possible, do yourself a favor and go to a convention! Meet people, talk with fans about common interests, build relationships with vendors and artists, take pictures with celebrities, or better yet, participate in a cosplay shoot! It took me one con – Anime Central in Illinois – to get me totally hooked.
Favorite anime character
I didn’t watch a ton of anime in 2013; I feel the only two candidates for favorite anime are A Certain Scientific Railgun S and Attack on Titan. So I decided to go with my favorite character, and… yeah that turned out to be from Railgun S anyway.
Of course it’s Frenda, who else would it be? Mikoto? MISAKA 9982? Touma? No way! Not only does Frenda strike a great balance between adorable, psychotic, and comedic relief, she also has a bit of that underdog quality to her. She has no esper abilities, but goes into battle against a Level Five anyway. Frenda was never going to win, but she fought competently.
I was close to choosing Attack on Titan‘s Mikasa Ackerman as I admire characters that are just really excellent at their jobs, but her role in the series diminished too much for my liking. She was primed to take over as the protagonist, only to slink into the background as the chick Eren used to hang out with.
2013 saw its share of great games. There were ones that showed how blockbusters could be really mature, like The Last of Us. Some pushed the narrative ability of the medium, like The Stanley Parable. And yet others were just big budget fun, like Grand Theft Auto V. While many of these games were wonderful experiences that will stay with me (not GTA V though, I didn’t play it), none of them had quite the same crack-like addictive quality as Disgaea D2.
Disgaea D2 doesn’t sport a sophisticated narrative, deep characters, or revolutionary gameplay. It doesn’t push the medium forward. But it is insanely fun, silly, whimsical, and charming. It has all the hallmarks of a Nippon Ichi Disgaea game: risque character designs by Takehito Harada, a very meta sense of humor, and lots and lots of grinding. But the way Disgaea handles grinding is exactly what makes it awesome. There’s always something to grind for. You always have a goal, and new dimensions to the game’s systems unravel as your characters climb toward the level cap. There’s enough postgame and procedural content to keep you going for a while – I’m nearing 200 hours myself, but wouldn’t be surprised if that ticker reached 300 or 400 hours.
Most looking forward to in 2014
I’m looking forward to hitting the convention circuit for sure, especially SDCC as that was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. But even more than that, there’s a particular figure I’m looking forward to getting:
This is Rage of Bahamut‘s Dark Angel Olivia, manufactured by Kotobukiya. The design, sculpt, and paint job are jaw-dropping. Judging by the photos of the dekomasu, this will truly be a top tier effort. And given my experience with Kotobukiya figures, there’s a very real chance this could end up being my favorite figure of 2014. Max Factory’s Sheryl Nome might have something to say about that, but either way 2014 will be a good year for figures.
Bonus: your favorite posts of 2013
To close, I wanted to look at the most viewed posts on this site. NSFW figure reviews basically dominated. Oh you guys… The top post for 2013 was my review of Embrace Japan’s Diabolus Inclinatus. It’s a pretty old review, but many readers apparently still find her appealing.
Outside of the homepage, the top 10 most visited pages were all figure related – and all but one were figure reviews. All five of my NSFW figure reviews made it into the top six pages, so my readership really enjoys nudity. That’s good, though. So I guess there’s my game plan for 2014! Just kidding… sort of.