My apologies for the wait, but I’ve finally gotten myself to sit down and write…er type. Today I’ll be reviewing figma Kyoko Sakura by Max Factory!
This review contains spoilers for Madoka Magica.
Kyoko is the fifth and final magical girl to appear in the ever popular, yet slightly depressing, anime Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica(AKA Puella Magi Madoka Magica). Whereas the others are fairly kind and reserved, Kyoko’s abrasive personality makes her unlike the average magical girl, and difficult to get along with. This is especially the case with Sayaka, who Kyoko clashes with immediately due to the girls’ differing opinions on how magic should be used. The two fight desperately on several occasions, yet the madness and hatred is soon brushed aside as Kyoko’s past is unraveled and we learn that she lost her family after making a wish for her father’s sake and only wants to help Sayaka before she too falls victim to unending regret. Of course, Sayaka’s fate is already sealed at this point, but the two are able to understand each other at least to the point that Kyoko sacrifices herself to defeat Sayaka’s witch form and spare her from loneliness.
My feelings for each girl are roughly equal, but after watching the first two Madoka Magica movies, I was reminded more of what I like about Kyoko. Upon her debut, it’s easy to designate Kyoko as one of the selfish magical girls Mami spoke of who only wants power. Kyoko herself perpetuates this by suggesting that Sayaka wait until a familiar has killed a few people to battle it and mocking those who fight for justice. But as we learn of where Kyoko came from and the story reveals that other magical girls are not the true enemy, Kyoko’s story reminds us that being a magical girl isn’t all about cake and glitter. In fact, the horrible outcome of her selfless wish plants some of the first seeds of doubt in the integrity of the magical girl system, and teaches Madoka about the desperation, pain, and suffering with which magical girls fight for their wish, and this no doubt has some impact on her own wish. In short, I think that Kyoko is a very important character from a plot perspective and contributes to the depth that makes Madoka Magica so enthralling.
Behind her magical girl version, this is the second figma of Kyoko, and she is the final Madoka Magica figma in all. At least that’s true for now. With one more movie on the way, I get the feeling that a few more figmas are inevitable.
Kyoko’s box is a cherry red with the star design that covers all other Madoka Magica figma boxes. Inside is the usual Di:stage punch out which is yellow.
Would you believe that it has already been a year since I reviewed magical girl Kyoko? In fact, Kyoko was the second figma review I put on this blog! I’m glad to say that my photography has definitely improved since then as well as my standards for the photos at the end. You can check it out here if you’re interested.
All of the creases that come with a ponytail are sculpted into her head. The ponytail itself is accented by a black ribbon and several stray hairs.
Is ponytail height an indication of personality? Kyoko’s is at the top of her head, but I tend to put mine near the bottom…
There is a difference in execution of the ponytail between the two figma forms of Kyoko. Magical girl Kyoko had soft PVC to cover the joint and still allow it to move, but casual Kyoko’s hair is merely sculpted around the joint. Although the joint is still visible, I prefer the method used on casual Kyoko since it avoids the color discrepancy that sometimes comes with blending soft and hard plastics in hair. This means that casual Kyoko’s hair is 100% painted hard plastic!
The standard face is just that, and I tend not to like faces with gritted teeth, so for me the best is by far her doubtful face. I love seeing this kind of personality on a figma and faces like this often “make” a photo.
Also, all three faces are secure. I had no problem swapping them out and keeping them on her head.
Next is Kyoko’s hands. In fact, many of her accessories are in the form of optional hands.
Included are: open, fists, gripping(clover not included :P), relaxed, for holding candy, praying, holding an apple, and holding a crepe.
Since this is Kyoko’s casual form, each hand right hand sports a silver ring which is actually her dormant soul gem. It’s always great to see that kind of detail!
The prayer hands are a throwback to her death scene in which she invokes her ultimate attack. It’s nice to see them included, but creating the final scene perfectly is impossible without modification since Kyoko had her hair down at that point. I’d have liked to see a separate head for that.
The other hands are all related to food! This is because of Kyoko’s impulsive eating which is no doubt left over from the time when she and her family were unable to afford food. Having so much food for figma Kyoko to eat is great since it matches her character and also allows for more fun with other figmas.
The bag looks great and has all of the crinkles and creases one would expect to see in a real paper bag. Sometimes you just need to stop and admire the little things like sculpted creases in a tiny paper bag.
Umaibo is a puffy snack made of corn. It comes in flavors of all kinds and at an average of 10 yen, is very inexpensive.
The umaibo accessory comes from the scene before Kyoko and Madoka attempt to rescue Sayaka where Kyoko hands the treat to Madoka. In this scene, the umaibo can be compared to a baton in which case Kyoko is passing the baton to Madoka, but there is also significance in it being a very cheap candy which implies that Kyoko has changed for the better(remember the stolen apples?). Thanks to the Puella Magi Wiki for that bit of speculation.
Moving along, the umaibo is tiny but thankfully fits securely into Kyoko’s hand. I love how detailed it is. Not only can you see corn and the umaibo mascot on the label, there’s even readable Japanese text! Amazing!
With so few out of hand accessories, Kyoko has saved me quite a lot of time in writing this review! So now that we’ve seen Kyoko and everything she comes with, let’s move on to the photo shoot!
Overall, I’d call Kyoko’s shoot an experimental but not necessarily successful one. I tried out two sets over two days.
My first set was inspired by the imagery of Madoka Magica. Being animated by Shaft, Madoka Magica is a visually arresting series which is something that I’ve always been aware of, but am a little shocked to think that I never fully made use of. Having reviewed Mami, I can say that her scenes which I remember most are from her battle with Charlotte in episode 3. Her choreographed movements combined with the sugary imagery of cakes and other sweets left a lasting impression on me which greatly influenced my review photos, and taking a look at Mami fan art, the same can be said for many others. Mami is easy to come up with ideas for, but what about Kyoko? What is Kyoko’s most visually memorable scene? The first thing that came to mind for me was her conversation with Sayaka in the church. The image of a ruined church dyed red by the sun setting through broken stained glass and a lone red haired girl who is very much as broken and abandoned as that church stayed with me, and I wanted to recreate it as best I could. Being at home, I had to work with what was around me which is not especially helpful when trying to build a diorama of anything, let alone a church. So I decided to replicate what was most recognizable and hope that Kyoko would tell the rest of the story. My first mission was to create stained glass. I’d have been completely lost were it not for my ongoing obsession with backlighting which gave me the idea to color parchment paper and shine light through it. This was my main focus of the set. The rest was an old tile for the floor and bricks for the wall. I chose the tile and bricks not just because they suggest a large old building, but because they are predominately red which is reminiscent of the original scene having been at sunset.
This is one of my most successful pictures from the shoot. I like the way the window in the back is light, but an immediate issue(which I actually ran into with my Kagura shoot) is the ISO. In other backlighting shoots that involved a sheet of uninterrupted white parchment paper, I was able to get clear images in spite of having to raise the ISO since there was so much light. But with the bricks blocking light, it is simply too dark to get a crisp image. Because of that, these pictures ended up being very noisy, and most of the shoot was unusable.
The background noise is less obvious in this one. I like the texture from the brick. Thanks brick.
Next time I use this set or a similar one, I’ll face it towards my primary light source and shine light from a flash, lamp, or reflector through the window.
Another memorable part of the church scene was Kyoko’s paper dolls representing her family, so I tried to replicate them. This is the only photo of them that survived >_>.
You can also see my stained glass picture better. I drew angels blowing trumpets. Looking back, a geometric pattern would have worked as well…
My next idea was to play off of Kyoko’s love of food. So for the first time ever, my obsession with saving the wrappers from every Japanese candy I get paid off! I taped wrappers to a box and made a colorful wall of wrappers to serve as a backdrop for Kyoko. I figured this would help wean me off of my beloved backlighting before it becomes boring.
Kyoko Sakura isn’t just the final Madoka Magica figma *cough for now cough*, she’s another iteration of an often neglected character, and a good one at that. Kyoko is wonderful for Kyoko and Madoka Magica fans, but her casual clothing and unique candy accessories make her good for figmas fans as well. My indifference towards Kyoko prevents me from labeling her an outstanding figma in my collection, but she’s not a bad one either. Kyoko is a solid release to someone like me, so surely she is very special to her fans.