When it comes to Evangelion figures, you can’t get more generic than having a pilot in a plug suit. Asuka and Rei are very well represented, but Mari figures are harder to find. I had plenty of the other two but only a single Mari Figma. Clearly, I had to add another figure of this neglected girl to my collection. Max Factory’s take seems to be the best of them, so I was pretty happy when she arrived at my house.
The excitement quickly turned to boredom, though. While Max Factory’s figure exhibits a lot of polish, and is the most accurate to Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s design, you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen this before. Indeed, there’s no shortage of Eva pilots in plug suits out there. The critical flaw of this one is that it doesn’t capture Mari’s personality at all. She’s someone who not only enjoys piloting her Eva, she actually has fun with it. During her brief appearances, you can see that she’s slightly unhinged in the head. But what does Max Factory give us? Just a statue of her standing, smiling slightly.
It’s all very well made, and I especially like the finish on her suit. But come on. I would have liked to at least see the “beast mode” Mari, snarling and gnashing her teeth. So for a few weeks, I couldn’t decide on how to review this figure. I thought it was just too boring.
Then yesterday, my second Speedlite arrived. So there I was, with two off-camera flashes, some gel filters, and a bunch of homemade light modifiers. Why not try something? As I experimented with various ways to shoot the figure, I found that I was enjoying it more and more. Each figure has a sort of “preference” for how you shoot it. Mari’s disposition encourages you to get up close and intimate with a portrait lens, a role which my macro lens filled admirably.
Before I knew it, I had taken almost 100 photos. There’s the initial guess-and-check that comes when you’re still figuring out the ins and outs of your setup. But after that, I just kept wanting to shoot the figure, like it was my job. So Max Factory made something really strange with this Mari. The concept is unoriginal and frankly boring, but something about the execution is undeniably appealing. It excels in build quality, and I think it’s the best looking Mari figure out right now.