Category Archives: Love Plus

All I’ve Got Are Stinking MADs

Convention season is also remembrance season. Spring is, for me, always a time to get excited. It’s when I fell in love with things like Sakura Taisen and Tsukihime and other nonsense that I can only look on fondly as memories, plastic figures, and a lost seashore of words as grounded sand by the passage of time on the internets.

I was just in the mood. And maybe you are too, to remember a couple old MADs that accompanied my recent fandom: Love Plus and the Idolm@ster. Or maybe they’re new to you?

It’s weird, because they do mark the points when I my tastes decided to change. In the Love Plus case, though, I was already playing the game around launch so maybe it was already too late.

I would like to thank the guy, who made the MAD, that made me first pay it any attention:

You can catch it at its original location on Nico (man, 2008 was not all that long ago). A high-resolution version can be found here. And, there’s sex bomb, a follow up.

The great thing about this video is that it doesn’t take much to understand what’s going on. The song is catchy, and it’s in English. The humor translates well without any meddling. It even has that iM@S feel within the concept–a gang of entertainers, being entertaining by being themselves. Sure, it’s still full of in-jokes, but that just adds to the flavor, not a requirement to get it. The follow up video is the same, too.

Less I could say about this pretty neat video featuring Love Plus (the original) and Nene the virtual girlfriend. I think it speaks for itself. And it doesn’t take an in joke to explain much anything. Familiarity with Love Plus just makes this video more striking.

You can find it on Nico and Vimeo. Only half a million views since 2010, this is pretty obscure relatively lol.

Waifu Management: Rinko Meets 765 Pro

My copy of New Love Plus arrived, and I had to oblige Rinko yet again. It’s the first time I’ve revisited Rinko’s visage since several months ago, however, the last time I played seriously was roughly in the early goings of 2011. When I realized that the latest incarnation of the same trifecta of 2-dimension mania would grace my humble abode, I had to at least do her the favor of booting it up once more before the switch, hearing her very welcoming “o hi sa shi bu ri” spelt out with every ounce of love that she can muster, which is it say, she is digital.

I suppose it was a compromise of sorts, my new Love Plus experience, as I didn’t give in to the artbook, soundtrack, and the plethera of “limited edition” goods–except for the 3DS. It’s more a blessing in disguise that I am still more immune to the call of “limited edition” than most otaku mainly because I don’t think I’ve really ever regretted about on not going the extra mile. That’s probably because I still do usually go at least some distance further than I have to. I met Rinko half way, I guess, and compromising with your loved ones is something that probably happens in every healthy relationship.

Healthy, well, is not the word I would use to describe this game. New, most definitely, as New Love Plus is indeed very New. It’s not just a more complete version of the game like how Love Plus+ was. The AR stuff and “photo kano” knocks aside, the new release of the game retooled the dating and skinship mechanism entirely, or at least enough that I’m almost at a loss as to how to fill up that kiss bar. The home study mechanism is streamlined by subject matter (ensuring that I’ll will pick 英語 or 数学 every time) and I really like how they made the date a lot more under your control; you can not only choose the venues you visit, but you can even pick between the different eat/drink stops, change the length of the date by using up less “abilities,” and much more. I also liked how they moved most of the heavy-duty touching to the confines of Rinko’s (or whichever girl of your choice) room.

Wait, that probably gives you the wrong impression. It’s perhaps just another instance where the phrase “the courage to talk about Love Plus in public” comes in play. Thanks Nisio Isin! More realistically, couples chill at their respective houses all the time anyway.

Speaking of the girl of your choice, it seems you can actually interact with the other girls in the world even after you’ve gone steady. I’ve only imported the game over (Thanks, Nintendo Store, for taking my credit card!) so I don’t know how it’s like to go through the game from the beginning. Something to do I suppose.

Back to Rinko. It’s pretty amusing how one rendering of Rinko in the DS world looks just slightly off in 3DS, prompting me trying very hard to change her skin tone and hair right off the bat. It’s also kind of neat how the game is capable of being played sideways (the way the DS games were) and the normal orientation. I guess they had to allow for it in order to utilize the 3D display. The 3D is all gimmicky but I find it much better looking than having 3D turned off at many different parts of the game.

There is a certain degree of “game-ness” to Love Plus, and even more so in New Love Plus. The mini-games aside (there’s at least one entirely new mini-game in NLP, one which Rinko always pulls off some special attack that screws me) however, Love Plus is a game where you’re not going to spend more than 30 minutes every day playing, unless you just enjoy your waifu’s company (in which case you can just leave it on the cradle and on, the whole time). That’s want 765 Pro is for.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been (responsibly, I’d think) binge playing iM@S. It’s a lot of fun even from a basic level of managing your team of idols and trying to master the mini games, and planning out your play-through (single stats? dual stats? which charms will your strategy revolve around?). Then there’s the idols themselves, enjoying the dumb banter that passes as content half the time and the pretty solid/fun anime-style stuff for the other half of time. On top of that there are the songs and the dances, and even with a party of three you can have enough variety to keep you through the how-many-times you play through the game. I think each play through the # of quintet lives have increased!

It’s not a surprise at all why the Japanese fans buy all the DLCs. I mean I can probably only stand 75% of the songs in the game, and having to play just those songs repeatedly will wear them out. You have to get the new stuff. The real problem is how even some of the DLC songs are… well. For the typical oversea Producer-san on a Playstation 3, it’s a pain in the butt given you have to buy PSN cards from some proxy (or from eBay, I guess). Not sure what oversea Producers on Xboxes have to face, besides having to get a JP Xbox to begin with…

Which, I guess, these days you can get an Xbox 360 for about as much as the surprisingly sensibly looking 3DS (as in, would be not hard to have the courage to play New Love Plus in public) that I now own. I can’t wait until Konami start to roll out the DLCs. Yeah. Right. I really. Cannot. It just makes me feel kind of weird. Like these other instances:

  • It’s like the feeling when Rinko tells you off as a lolicon.
  • It’s like the feeling, during Smoky Thrill quintet, “ARCHERS!
  • It’s like the feeling when you realize, for the first time, the spotlight is a hamburger.
  • It’s the feeling when you’re glad you’re already committed with Makoto, because Mami with glasses is quite, uh, dangerous. Or just “cheer-up cute.”
    • Well, dangerous is when Rinko pounces me with her deadly left sweep.

And it’s just like any harem anime, the weird moments will only continue to happen, the more these waifu you collect.

Konami Rinko PVC Notes, Notes on Character Designs

The other day I was thinking about shows to watch in the new season. Examining things by seeing what motivates me, basically.

It’s like going through the promo pics for Gold Saw PVC anime version and think that looks kind of like a busty version of BRS, except she looks like some psycho yandere. I probably wouldn’t buy it, despite how it looks meticulously crafted–in my mind meticulously craft kits are plenty, and the only problem with them is that they cost a lot of money, a thing I have limited amounts of. But hey, it’s GSC, they sell stuff to people who buy kits just because of how they look. And sadly the only thing Gold Saw has going for her, for me, is her chest area and the way that iconic BRS jacket looks on her.

That reminds me: every time I hear someone talking about “face” in the context of these little plastic girls I think of Snow Crash. Sure, the way the face is crafted is important in a 3D sculpt, but most anime faces are basically identical (cue the Aoi Nishimata joke image) and it’s pretty darn hard to add details to faces that isn’t

  • eyes
  • shape of mouth
  • size of nose

and still make it look like the original. It’s like if you move any of them a little you’ve basically changed the expression of the character, or even changed the character! I guess this is why Kotobukiya figures have that face all the time. And why Woody is awesome. And which is why Gold Saw is all about her namesake, her chains, her legs, her pretty nifty base, her cool jacket, and of course, that she has a large(r) bosom.

I guess this is why I’m not turned off by Rio – Rainbow Gate, to examine my motivations. Also I guess I’m not for a Snow Crash anime adaptation. Definitely not one with Nishimata’s designs.

Given all that you’d think I would be less enthusiastic about my latest purchase: Konami’s Rinko 1/8 PVC. Rinko is one of the three “girlfriend for the masses” and her appeal is partly based on her interchangeability in appearance and personality. Still, The Thing radiates quality, despite nowhere nearly as fancy as anything pooping out of Alter or GSC’s assembly line. She’s technically a video game character, so I’d compare her to my last game full-assembled figure, Alter’s Selvaria PVC. I’ve previously detailed how gaudy GSC’s  Selvaria was. In some ways it’s like if you stick Fate in a frilly military outfit and give her huge knockers, and instead of Bardiche she’s got a sword and shield and lance… Well, Rinko isn’t like that at all. She’s more like a Wave or Kotobukiya figure, where she stands in a semi-dynamic pose (in mid-motion) and there’s a lot of details, even if at a distance she looks like any other anime girl figure. In fact there’s so much details that I probably need a magnifying lens to get them all.

Rinko’s construction and paint job are not perfect, there are some blotches once you get close enough, but the flaws are within my tolerances. It’s not like copying a file; mass produced kits like this will have some flaws, especially given some of the paint job details… The biggest bone I have to pick is the way her eyes turned out. If you took a look at the MFC version of the review, the very first image is nearly a side-by-side shot along with the solicitation shot. Tell me that does not look the same…

Rinko comes with 5 different hair styles that you can put on her, a gym bag, and her mp3 player. The hair styles are:

  • semi-long with pink hairband
  • twin tails with short bangs
  • twin pigtails
  • melonhead
  • uneven long bangs, short in the back

I went with the pigtails for now, but I think all the hair choices have their charms, and each gives the figure a significantly different feel. It’s 3D proof of the Nishimata character design “theory” LOL.

If I had another hobby of photographing dioramas of anime girls I’d find Rinko’s bag pretty useful. It’s got a large strap so it probably can go on most figures easily, and it’s by far the most detailed thing that came in Rinko’s box. The only strike against it is that the bag is customized with Rinko’s chibi mascot, so it may look odd if you use it on another character. (Each of the 3 Konami Love Plus PVC figs has its bag with a respective custom mascot on it, so you will get the raccoon with Nene and the rabbit with Manaka.) The strap is soft vinyl, so it doesn’t slack as if it was rope. It looks better this way, although it might be more perilous to stretch or bend it than if it was an actual strap.

The only real problem with this kit, albeit a temporary one, is Rinko’s mp3 player. It’s just this dinky PVC loop with a mp3-player-looking rectangle attached lousily at one end. And it’s real small and not adjustable. The way to put it on her, as far as I can tell, is to remove her hair and carefully force it down her head. Rinko’s upper body is constructed so the head and the neck are one piece with the torso; you can’t remove it like most PVC sculpts in which the head is made up of 2 pieces sandwiching the neck joint. However once you install the PMP on Rinko you are all set, so it’s not a big deal. It’s just one thing that can go horribly wrong if you aren’t dexterous enough to force the loop down her head and get caught on her ears or something.

Ears, hmm, it’s not often you see ears on bishoujo figures, at least if they aren’t elves or some such. Well, the mp3 player is optional really; Rinko looks just fine without it.

The reason why Konami went with an unorthodox build with Rinko’s head (and presumably Manaka and Nene as well), I presume, is to facilitate swapping out her hair. In the packaging, the hair pieces come in a separate plastic “tray” with a matching thin cover. It looks like temporary storage but it is pretty easy to keep the hair in that thing. Each set of hair has a front and a back piece, and they are unfortunately not interchangeable (as in you can’t use one hair style’s front piece with another hair style’s back piece). That would have made this very cool, but you run the risk of not being able to remember which piece went with which hair, and it probably would limit the amount of details each hairdo contains (if not the hairdos themselves). Once you remove Rinko’s hair, you see this D-shape thing with a O-shape lock inside, at the back of her head. Each of the back hair pieces has a matching D- and O-shape  connector, so it’s easy to reassemble…sort of. Some of the longer hair styles can get in the way of Rinko’s ears or shoulder, so there’s like an angle in which you have to insert the back piece so it locks in right. For the short ones, it’s easy. The back hair pieces each also has its unique connector to the maching front piece, so you can play LEGO/Tetris/blocks with the front piece and put it all together.

In Tsukiboard/MFC style I will actually use number ranking for this review–

Sculpting: It’s well-scuplted, but it falls short of evoking a strong feeling. Rinko’s lines and features are faithfully reproduced in this sculpt, and it expresses her identity well. Probably an 8.5 or 9 for something very true to origin, artisan, but not excellent.

Painting: I’d give it 9.5 if I could, but let’s roll back to 9 just to reflect that despite the very detail paint job, the eyes, the mp3 player and a few minor flaws make this not a perfect 10.

Posing: Solid 9. It manages to be more exciting than an average Kotobukiya kit (which is kind of the measuring stick I use) and it doesn’t go overboard despite being a motion shot. There are a lot of good angles for this kit. If there’s a complaint, it’s that her skirt is too short; to some that might be a plus, since her butt does play that peak-a-boo thing with the super-short/lifted skirt, in an adorable way. Almost perfect stuff.

Base: It’s a simple plastic disc shaped in the iconic Love Plus shape. What is worth noting is that it also has the Love Plus logo pattern pressed on it. Probably just an 8. Rinko stands on it with one foot down, two pegs secures her action pose. It’s possible that it may lean, but it seems sturdy at this time and there’s no way to tell right now if it can.

Packaging: The packaging is simple. All the parts are well secured and are safe. As described the hair pieces come in a separate plastic mold tray thing, and it’s stored behind the cardboard backdrop inside the box. Nothing really special but it gets the job done. 8.

Enjoyment: Considering she’s my steady now for over a year, I have to give it a 10, right? She’s gonna kick me in the shins otherwise. ;) Do you play Love Plus? I think in the age where figure collectors don’t know the origin of their kits in and out like they used to back way back, how you feel about Rinko will be the only thing that matters when it comes to enjoyment. As objectively as I can to speak for people who don’t know her, it’s probably not worth the hassle, because these are exclusive Konami kits and they can be annoying to fetch. However if you like the designs or the illustrations, you probably won’t be too disappointed with Rinko. The hair customization is actually unique for a kit like this, and overall it is a quality product. It’s just not worth the hell and high water one might need to go through to obtain it. But if you find this in a bargain situation, please don’t hesitate to pick it up. It’s not often to find something that is rather classy and still visually pleasing, at least for a tomboyish character.

Lastly, do take a skim over at the MFC version of this review for some more tidbits. Like the TL;DR version. And pics.