Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black Lagoon's Balalaika - Appealing Ver.

Um... ur... Kapitan... ?

Goodness! They managed to design a figurine of Balalaika from "Black Lagoon" to look just about like the sister of Reika Kitami from "Bible Black". O_O Not that I have any complain about that though.

I often wondered when I first watched "Black Lagoon" years ago, about how any company could design a figurine of the Kapitan and make her look psychically appealing. ^^;

Balalaika from "Black Lagoon".

Kaitendo came out with a 1/6 scale figurine of her in 2009 (not made of resin I think), and comparing that with this new one announced by A-Label, the Kaitendo's version looks so much more loyal to the actual design of this character from the anime, but apart from her business suit and cruel smile, the hideousness of her scars as an overall look is also inherited. ^^; In my opinion, the Kaitendo's version is a very evil-looking figurine that captured Balalaika's spirit well, ...

... but it's a very ugly figurine. ^^;

Kaitendo's 1/6 Balalaika.
Image is from Hobby Search.

So how do you make a psychically unappealing character into a commercially viable merchandise? Apparently this is A-Label's answer, by showing her in her lingerie and removing the scars on her neck and chest, limiting the seemingly "unappealing" factor to be on just a portion of her face. They even throw in an option face part that would show how Balalaika would look like without all the scars.

It's so amazing if you think about it actually. For most other anime characters (or should I say almost all other anime characters), the competition is on which company is able to produce a figurine with the greatest likeness with the actual character design from the anime. For Balalaika on the other hand, that is a non-issue it seems, the character design can even be altered to make the figurine as appealing as possible. "Normal-looking" (as compared to other regular figurines) is perhaps a term I would put in to describe this future release by A-Label as well. ^^

As a result, this is perhaps the most beautiful-looking figurine of Balalaika, so beautiful it doesn't look like the actual character anymore. ^^;

As mentioned at the beginning of this posting, I have no objection to Balalaika's "plastic surgery" at all. Balalaika is a character I really like from the anime, but I can understand the difference between such support and the actual commercialization of the character. This figurine by A-Label is a very beautiful design that looks really good to me as a fan of of the anime and the character; I can also see its potential in attracting figurine collectors who never watched "Black Lagoon" before. The commercial value is definitely there, and the alteration to the character design to up that sales factor isn't too drastic that is unacceptable, so I see no problem at all.

In a way, isn't that a dilemma in the hobby industry? (If you can call that a dilemma at all) Creative ideas may be noble, but in execution, the risk of being rejected by the market, causing funding companies to lose money may be much higher than say, something that isn't too different than what the mainstream market can accept, even though the design may be old-hat with little innovation. In Balalaika's case, changing her appearance seems to be A-Label's method to match the mainstream market's expectation and to ensure a greater chance of profitability from this figurine. As a fan of the anime, I still prefer the Kapitan's fierce and mean look, but to actually release a figurine of her, I can most definitely understand why the company chose to modify her look.

The anime and hobby world is occupied by fanatic fanbases who would cry about the lack of new ideas like it's the end of the world, hoping that companies would come up with something more radical and creative, only to decry the new ideas for being too radical and unacceptable (to them) when they do get realized, like it's the end of the world again. -_- I don't know if there's any "Black Lagoon" fan who would shun this figurine for its apparent character change, but I'll turn a deaf ear to that. In this hobby world that's about how one could enjoy his or her interest without any the need for any justification, opinion is absolutely overrated. As an individual customer, I talk about the ones I like and buy them if I can afford them, and shut up about the ones I'm not sure of. That's it.

This whopping 1/4 scale figurine of Balalaika will be released in December this year at an equally whopping price of 13,440 Yen (inclusive of tax). ^^;

Images are from Moeyo.


Dennis aka Katsuden said...

Guess it hard to strike a balance for figure to be anime correct yet appealing to the mass market. It's dollars and cents after all.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about Black Lagoon, but this girl is very similar as Sniper Wolf, from Metal Gear Solid Videogame...