Ah, Evangelion. Possibly my most favourite anime, even though it’s hardly perfect. There are fervent followers and bitter haters, but you cannot deny the continued popularity and discussion this series has generated since it’s release in 1995. I’ll try not to get into discussing the series itself, since the inspiration for this figma of Rei is from the recent 2009 film Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance – the second of four planned films that will retell and expand upon director Hideaki Anno’s original vision.
While the mystery of Rei’s origins was explored with horrifying depth in the original series, we haven’t seen Rei’s pitiable beginnings yet in the films – will they be different as she seems to be (albeit in small parts)? Despite my own enigmatic comments for those who are yet to see the landmark anime, I will say that the ghostly, quiet, reserved Rei is fantastically realised physically in this figma release. The final of the three female child pilots that we know of thus far, Rei joins newcomer Mari Illustrious Makinami and the upgraded Asuka Langley Shikinami. Was the best saved for last? Well…
No, sadly. I cannot vouch for Mari just yet – since we haven’t learnt that much about her – but Asuka and Rei and equally interesting and engaging characters in their own rights. But here, as a figma, Rei is the weakest. While proportionately correct, and sculpted within an inch of perfection, some technical details and characteristics fail her as a poseable figure. Rei isn’t one for emotion – she’s a fairly stiff character, and this translates severely and literally too in this figma. The biggest issue, as we’ve seen before on the Eva figma girls, is the tight, very restrictive joints in her waist.
To ensure this figma looks as accurate as possible (not withstanding the infamous “floating boobs” matter – one with which I don’t take issue), Max Factory have had to make some compromises, like lacking a plastic ‘underwear’ part that a majority of skirtless figma use in the crotch area. Instead, from the chest to the start of the legs, it’s one piece. While aesthetically it looks great – it quickly shows error when you want to actually pose the thing. The tight, practically stuck connections on Rei’s legs will always always collide with the torso part, making it very hard to twist the legs into a more natural position.
I know Rei’s not exactly natural to begin with, but this was plain annoying. Another annoying thing is the big, amazing, but flawed Entry Plug interior. I’m still very impressed that such a thing – with multi-jointed arms, impressive detail, size, and freaking legs exists in the figma realm, but it’s a difficult object to interact with. A lot of patience and not caring for perfection is required to get by with the Entry Plug. Those legs come loose easily and thus often, Rei’s stiff legs fight against poses, the arms struggle to connect to the main part, and I snapped the tips off both of the stands when connecting or adjusting.
I’ll admit that last part was my fault – as I was quite ham-fisted in approach when they broke – and I’ve got plenty of back-up stands, as you may imagine. Like the other Eva girls, Rei has no plug in her back, instead using the included attachment which clasps around her waist. It’s not perfect, but it retains that superb sculpt on any angle. And you’ll want to, with an amazing arse to behold, a detailed “0″-marked pack on her back, and all the extra bits attributing from master character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s original and now classic creation. The glossy plugsuit is a work of art; much more that a mere flight suit, this is a timeless design that I absolutely adore.
Though resolute in expression, we have three faces to use with Ayanami. The first is the classic poker-faced Rei: devoid of emotion, she stares straight ahead with those piercing red eyes amidst her pale face and light blue hair. The second face has her glaring: focused in combat against the Angels – an entity she seems almost programmed to hate – but to what end? The final face is the rare one that’ll get fans excited: a smiling face. Showing up only on special, revelatory occasions, this sweet expression is subtle yet obvious. It almost looks unnatural, considering her character. If there was a fourth face to choose, I’d definitely ask for a surprised, off-guard expression she has shown in the anime.
But since she hasn’t made such a face in the films, we’ve missed out with this 2.0 release. A reasonable range of hand gestures is provided, including a pair of fists, a set of open hands with the fingers together, another set of open hands with the fingers spread, a pair of grasping hands, and a pair of trigger finger grasping hands to use with the Entry Plug. Finally, there’s a left hand grasping protagonist Shinji Ikari’s S-DAT player. It’s fairly detailed, with a small screen and the earphone cord wrapped around it. It exemplifies the importance this has to Rei, possibly replacing another Ikari family member’s item. Is it attraction or something more maternal?
So that’s it! Rei has the hands, faces, and the Entry Plug, nothing more. That is, unless you want to count the fancy double-jointed neck and the suitably blue di:stage extra. Is this lacking? Not really, considering the minimalist lifestyle Rei leads – if you’ve ever visited her home, you’ll know she’s not one for possessions (or cleaning, for that matter). But this expressionless, mysterious doll of a being is still interesting, despite the limitations of the figma. The sculpt – as I’ve said – is fantastic, and very much true to the original design. Sadly, those limitations will always be at the back of my mind, telling me this isn’t the figma it could have been.