Remember Joan of Arc? She’s back, in anime toy form
Welcome again to Plastic Love, the toy column. But do you mind if I take a detour into discussing the Japanese mobile game world, from which our current subject hails? Of course you don’t.
The main thing you need to know about Japanese mobile games is they all sell Jeanne D’Arc (Joan of Arc). As loosely-interpreted historical figures go, Jeanne hits a certain sweet spot of appeal that makes big spenders willing to spend any amount of cold, hard cash in hopes of recruiting her from the slot machine—I mean uh random summon draw!
Is it her unshakable resolve? Her reliable support power? Whatever it is, Japanese players go nuts for this character to the point where Granblue Fantasy—already a game that prints money—shot up a couple of spots on the iTunes sales charts after they added a “bikini version” of Jeanne for the summer.
And there’s another twist to this character that players eat up, which is that for every good and godly Jeanne D’Arc there must be an equal and opposite evil version of the character. Jeanne D’Arc Alter (Jalter, affectionately) is one of the most sought-after characters in Fate/Grand Order, boasting the highest attack power in the game and appearing only as a limited-time offer with microscopic odds. The Reddit thread where players commiserate about getting or not getting Jalter—and how much cash they spent to do so—has both the numbers of a gambling addiction hotline and a suicide hotline stuck to the top.
Thankfully you don’t need to gamble to buy toys. I paid about $80 shipped for a figma of Jeanne D’Arc Alter, which is significantly less than one,is likely to pay to summon the in-game digital avatar slash JPEG of the same character, statistically speaking. But then, I am pretty sure this action figure won’t be of any use to me in any video game I am playing. I waved it at my Switch and nothing happened at all.
Anyway, here’s a figma! The figma line almost immediately became the Japanese standard after its release, and it’s reigned with few serious challengers for a decade. If you want to feel old, the very first Figmas were from series like Haruhi Suzumiya and Fate/stay night. Max Factory simply discovered the perfect formula for poseable anime figures—figmas are playable, but they put aesthetics first. With their emphasis on good looks, face sculpts that are dead-on to the original animation, and minimal visible joints, figma has especially become the brand of choice for posable figures of anime girls.
This figure makes that philosophy apparent. Jeanne’s dark armor is beautifully, meticulously sculpted down to every engraving, and as we’ve seen previously, the sculptor (Max Factory’s Seki) makes clever use of it to conceal the many joints that the figure uses to move. The subtlety of the paint job—particularly the red gradations at the edges of her ripped clothes, like devil feathers—really jumped out to me once I had the figure under the bright lights I use to take these photos. And even straight out of the box, Jeanne’s haughty smirk immediately establishes the mood of this character.
And it’s not all good looks, either! Under that armor, an array of ingenious joints—including double-jointed shoulders—allow Jeanne to take quite a range of sword fighting poses. Though her dress appears to block her legs, the designers have made that material out of a softer, more malleable plastic that allows her some stretching room. The back of the dress is on a hidden hinge so that it can pop out and “flap in the wind”, as well as give Jeanne a little more breathing room. As is the norm for figma, the included stand is necessary for Jeanne to stand up on her armored high-heels.
Embodiment of bitter resentment that she is, Jeanne doesn’t have any “normal” facial expressions. Her second face is just an even meaner smile. For this shot’s angle I set up a jumping pose—the figma stand is plenty strong enough to hold a heavy figure like this in the air.
Her third expression is one of bored exasperation. The double-jointed shoulders go a long way towards giving Jeanne this powerful “BUT I DON’T CARE, MOM” shrug.
The big reason this figure is priced above normal is its one gigantic accessory, the battle flag that Jeanne bears. She can carry the flag unfurled or wield it as a spear, using replaceable parts.
The flag is solid plastic rather than cloth, sculpted as though waving in the breeze and suited to a grand Jalter display. Unfortunately, the flagpole, of all things, is botched—this chunk of plastic is heavy, and a stick of flimsy, hollow plastic bends under the pressure, clearly inadequate to hold it up. You’ll need to plant the sharply pointed bottom of the flagpole down firmly—probably damaging your shelf and the piece—in order to get the flag to stay up. Note Good Smile’s publicity photos.
Even so, if you decide to display this setup long-term, time will take its course and the flag will eventually spin towards the floor with a spectacular thud. Ask me how many times it happened when I was taking this picture. Ask me.
A metal rod would have brought up production costs by a few cents, but done the job significantly better. I’m sure the designers thought of this, but the figure only uses a tiny metal nib as a connector. This is unfortunately another tendency of the figma line—cheaping out at critical points. I shouldn’t be able to use the phrase “cheap out” in reference to a $80 action figure, but there you go.
Other than the flag, this figma is a fine example of the best qualities of the line. It’s got a great sculpt and paint job, clever engineering, and knowing attention to character detail. Given this level of quality, it’s not really a surprise that these figures have been running the game for a decade now.
Again, I paid $80 shipped for this figure from Amiami, which is about as low as it’s going to get unless you actually get on a plane to Japan in order to beat the shipping costs. At the time of this writing she’s still in stock, which is rare because I find the subjects of these reviews typically sell out before I’m even done with the first draft of the review. If you like this figure, remember that Jalter is passionately sought after by her fans and take the plunge as soon as possible—just try not to think about how many people have ruined their lives trying to get her in a mobile game when you gaze upon her stern visage.