Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: S.H.Figuarts Honoka Kousaka

Figure Information
Manufacturer: Bandai
Origin Series: Love Live! School Idol Project
Scale: Non-scale
Height: Approximately 13cm tall
Original Price: 4,860 Yen


While being the first release on SHF's Love Live series, I was hoping that they would finally deviate from the usual packaging style but I guess not. Still taking the same and generic box design style for female figuarts that started with Cure Peace, there really isn't anything new with Honoka's box aside from having the blue curtains stage background; everything else like font placement, product shots in the left side of the front as well as the sides while the back retains your usual product shots; one weird thing though is that Honoka's first release comes with a first release bonus faceplate, it sure doesn't show it in the back nor does it have any sticker on the window like on SHF Sailormoon.

Continuing with the generic style, there is a nice silhouette of Honoka to the right of the box's top section.


Non-suit-wearing anime figuarts usually tend to just go from average to below average, so how does Honoka fair in this? I'd say somewhere in between, there are some changes from prototype pics that I actually liked while there are also some changes that felt bad. One of the bad points is the fact that in the prototype pictures, Honoka's default face was so well defined and you can definitely easily identify her mouth there, much like Cure Heart's closed mouth faceplates, SHF Honoka's default face suffers suffers the same fate as you barely can see her mouth lining which really could've been better IMO.

A good change is that they actually changed the hair color from the prototype pics, I actually think this is more close when it comes Honoka's ever changing hair color. Additionally, I like that the hair is quite well molded when it comes to showing the layers of her hair but of course, since this is SHF, the edges are still pretty rough with visible seamlines and all but at least, not as rough as the AGP ones.

This release wears her outfit from episode 3 when they performed "START: DASH!!" and having said that, there isn't much going on with the outfit as this is pretty much one of their simplest looking outfits in the anime. While generally, there's a good grasp of detail overall going on, you just can't help but see some rough work here and there and really occasional paint scuffs (especially in near the ab section in this piece) but definitely, they are pretty minor and bearable for me. 

The biggest con in this piece is that it got hit by a major QC problem such that Honoka's right boot is pretty much misaligned in its orientation, by having both her legs straight, her right foot will actually be a bit slanted to the right because of the boot. Now I tried to check if I can re-align the boot but it certainly doesn't budge so probably, to free the articulation limitation, one might have to cut off something in the right boot. I also checked other reviews to see if this was mass problem but it definitely looks like it's just a bad case of getting hit by notorious bad QC.


As for accessories, Honoka is armed with 5 pairs of extra hands to help her with all the dancing as well as 3 extra faceplates which comes in a closed eyes one, a smiling one (her excellent face plate if I must say) and then the first release bonus which is the "about to cry" face. Lastly she does come with a tamashii stage act 4 with a different beige base, I really don't get it and I really wish they just stuck with the heart bases; anyway, the base is definitely a much appreciated accessory as she'll most likely be posed dancing anyway. (which cancels out the flat feet she's got)

Articulation Points:

What really made an impression for me is the new gimmicks that Tamashii Nations did one the female body with this release, this is generally the best non-suit female frame I've seen so far. First along the improvements is putting two points of articulation on Honoka's neck, one being the original where the joint is in the top of the neck which also connects to the head and the new one being at the bottom of the neck which also attaches it to her body; with such, there's a VERY wide range for you to move around her head.

While not really intentional, they way her "collar" is attached, you can actually swivel it around to give your dance poses a more dynamic feel.

As far as arm goes, Honoka retains all the movement from older frames such that you can fully rotate her arms by 360 degrees as well as raising it sideways to a very good range; swivels also exists on the connection point of the shoulder joint and the arm. Her arms bend at her elbows which allows a quite realistic 135 degree bend.

Another surprising improvement on Honoka's frame is that you can slide out the connection ports to which the shoulder joints are attached to connect to her body; sliding this out allows Honoka's arms to an extra range when it comes to stretching her arms towards her body.

Her ab joint does minimal but it does allow you rotate the upper half of her body by a little as well allow you to bend her body outwards by a bit as well.

While it's hard to see, her waist runs on a ball joint so you can utilize that to rotate her entire body to a satisfying degree.

While Honoka's skirt is pretty solid in form, she does have very nice splits with the use of her hip joints. Thigh swivels also exist while her knees does allow you to bend to very realistic degree as well. Lastly, for her ankles, there's isn't much you can do due to how the boots are molded but you can indeed rotate her feet and use the hinge by just a little.


Posing around Honoka was definitely a fun and refreshing experience for me since I'm usually about the action and the only time I do dance poses are for some some Precure SHFs but this definitely had me going for an all dance poses. I'd definitely say the hero of this figure is the improved body and Honoka's smiling and closed eye faces because they are very expressive.

As for the bonus face, I think it looked better during the prototype but still a pretty welcomed addition so you can recreate her reaction back in episode 3 or simply just use it in an appropriate scene when playing with other figures.

Definitely, given her outfit and articulation points, Start Dash Honoka can can recreate A LOT of steps from that performance and I loved doing it. I've definitely gave it my all to try and recreate as many steps as I could from the song so for the following pictures, they are all pretty much based on their performance on Episode 3. I guess at some points, I wished she had a singing face as well but that's just a minor gripe of mine.

Final Thoughts:

Now, Honoka definitely is far from my favorites from the 9 members of μ's but handling her figuarts definitely made me happy rather than be annoyed because there really is a great room of movement in that body and after the shoot, it definitely made me regret that I didn't pre-order Star Dash Umi's SHF. Now, if you love Honoka and could care less for some paint scuffs and minor rough finishes, then definitely, this is a recommendable add to your collection even if the figma school uniform is coming out soon, I definitely believe this will still be superior in terms of articulation as this has been one of the best articulated figures I've handled so far. And as usual, before I end, this is actually a borrowed figure from my best friend, zerolelouch, who also happens to be one of the people behind Onegai Onii-chan, so, if you're a local reader and you find this interesting after my review, definitely hit them up for an inquiry if they still have this SHF in stock. 

I give Honoka a dashing 4 out of 5.

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