Max Factory: Narusegawa Naru

Well, this definitely takes me back! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve first watched Love Hina. I was just finishing high school back then and Love Hina was all the rage at the time. I remember going to one of the anime conventions and everyone were gobbling up all the Love Hina goodies they could find. I even bought a couple of gashapon (capsule toys) at insane prices. I don’t know what I was thinking – oh right, I probably wasn’t.

For those that aren’t in the know, Love Hina started out as a manga series (by Ken Akamatsu) and later developed into an anime series. Narusegawa is the main female protaganist in the series and at the time I thought she was pretty hot, albeit a little sadistic in the way she’s always kicking Keitaro’s ass. I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining, however. Hell, I even dated a girl (for a short while – thank God) that was a little like that. The way Narusegawa beats on Keitaro is a little reminiscent of The Girl from My Sassy Girl. Man, I love that movie! Good job, Hollywood, on butchering the beautiful plot line in your Americanized 2008 rendition.

I can’t remember what the catalyst was that triggered my search for this figure. I mean, it’s been quite some time since I’ve heard the words “Love Hina” and it was practically purged from my memory. I think I probably saw it as one of the random posts on MFC, but when I saw the name Narusegawa Naru, my mind said, “Oooooooh yeah!”.

I was surprised that there aren’t many Narusegawa figures around, given how popular this series was. When I searched for Narusegawa figures, this one by Max Factory was one of the best I saw (if not the best). I was also surprised to find some still floating around the net at the release price, especially since this figure was initially released in 2005 and has long since stopped production.

This figure of Naru is based on the Love Hina: Spring Special OAV, where she wore the leafy bikini. I really don’t recall the pink tank top and uber short jeans though. Whether if it was originally there or not, I find the top and cast-off jeans a nice touch.

The most noticeable difference of this figure compared to the character art is the fiery red hair. I’m not too sure what prompted this design when Naru’s hair is brown, but I can’t entirely say I mind. The hair looks pretty good on Naru and matches the blue and green colour of her outfit. The hair is also partly translucent, which I found great to take pictures of (shown at the end of this review). There are also very subtle glitter in part of her hair, which I didn’t even notice until I looked at the macro photos on the computer.

I can’t say the face is exactly like the original artwork, but it’s rather close -maybe it’s the colour of her hair? But you can look at this figure and know it’s Naru and at the very least the facial expression captures her personality.

The paint application is done quite well with subtle shading throughout the entire figure. The skin tone is smooth and the leaf bikini is solidly painted with a slight texture to it. While the texture and shading on the leaf bikini does make it look leafy, my beef with it is the glossy coating which makes it too reflective thus plastic looking. A matte coating would’ve yielded better results. The same goes for the jeans, clean paint job, but too glossy for a “fabric”. One thing that Max Factory did very well, however, are the nails. With exception to the pinky toe, all the pink “nail polish” are actually painted on the nail fully. No partials coverage nor overlap on to the toes and fingers! If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’d know messy nail paint work is one of my pet peeves about these collectible figures.

The cast off-able jeans is split into two pieces, front and back. It fits fairly well and isn’t so loose that it’ll just fall apart, but it does have a significant gap on both sides which is quite obvious. The pink shirt is also removable, which is less obvious but it’s quite loose. A minor tap on the shirt and it can fall out of her hand. Naru comes with a plug-in piece (the tips of her fingers) that sticks into her hand should you wish to display her without the pink shirt. The paint and material is quite different from the rest of her hand (and body), so it looks odd when you look at it. But it’s a small piece in a more obscure part of the figure so admirers may not even notice it unless you point it out to them.

As I’ve said earlier, this take on Naru has her with fiery orange hair. It’s really not as bright as seen in the pictures, but due to the slightly translucent material and the lighting, it brightens her hair up quite a bit. There is a bit of shading detail in her hair, which is always welcomed, the top part of her hair is more solid while the ends become lighter and more translucent. The hair is also well sculpted with clean, long flowing lines.

With the jeans off, Naru’s leafy bikini bottom is revealed. You get two leaf ties/ribbons to plug in to the sides of her waist to get complete the bikini look as per the original artwork. What I really like Max Factor did was sculpting the bikini as separate pieces then attaching it to the figure. It’s not all part of one mold, which often causes paint overlap and mold marks. This also adds to the realism of the outfit, but that’s a double-edged sword, as the body contains very slight gaps. It doesn’t look like the bikini (especially the bottom) is pressing into the skin, rather it has cut out chunks of her body tissue and embedded itself into her body. Well, pictures are worth a thousand words so have a look below and you should see what I’m talking about.

I rather like this pose of Naru’s, it shows her cheerful personality but best of all is the way she’s swinging her hips out. It makes for creative rear shots – especially with more dynamic lighting. I think the rear could’ve been sculpted with a little bit more roundness, but at least it’s not flat like many other figures are known for.

One last thing about this figure that I want to point out is that from top to bottom, you can see a slight seam line from the mold, it’s not easily noticed, but it’s there. Also on my figure, on her right hip is a round mold mark that wasn’t cleaned / smoothed out. I’m not sure if it’s like this on other figures or not Looks like the mark on the right leg is from the mold, I took a look around and saw that the Naru at How a Girl Figures has the same mark too. But if you have the jeans on you won’t see it – you can see the small circular mark in the below images.

This figure was fun to take pictures of, the pose is inspiring and it got the hamster wheel turning in my head. So without further ado, here are the fun shots!

And my two favourite shots, I can’t decide which I like more – probably the B&W version. :-P