There is a certain point of view among some people that when an anime series gets a lot of merchandise or figure incarnations it is ‘selling out’. I am not in this camp, obviously, as a figure collector, and when I really like an anime character, I really want a figure of them. When one of your all-time favourite anime series has no figures at all, it’s even a little upsetting. Minami-ke (The first season. Is this even worth saying anymore? Everybody knows.) is one of my favourite anime, ever…I rank it in my top 3, and although it did pretty well in Japan as far as I can tell there was never much in the way of merchandise. Two sub-par series later and Goodsmile announces a Chiaki nendoroid; you can bet I jumped on this.
Chiaki is just one of the three central characters in Minami-ke, although it’s pretty fair to say that she’s the most popular. It seems sadly unlikely that Goodsmile would make any figures of the other characters (but I’m still going to hold onto my dim hope for a Hosaka figma with cast-off ability), so poor little Chiaki will likely remain lonely. Although she makes for an adorable chibi, the thing about Chiaki is that as a character she’s just not tremendously expressive most of the time…
As you can see, Chiaki doesn’t come with much that gives much in the way of poseability. She’s got an extra set of arms, sure…but all they really do is point upwards. I guess I’ve been spoiled by so many nendoroids with such different arms and legs that give them that sense of life and posing possibilities. In contrast, Chiaki seems static. But then again…this is Chiaki. You can see that they made up for this with her other features; the cute little bag and Fujioka the teddy for example.
Her default face is, naturally, Chiaki’s default face; that blank, bored-looking gaze with the tear-drop shaped mouth. It’s very in-character, but something about the way it’s sculpted can make her look mentally retarded sometimes. But anyway. The rest of her is well-sculpted and coloured too, such as her hair. Speaking of her hair, her…unique ahoge is attached to her head with a peg. The reason for this is so you can take it out and put a different one in; the one which is connected to her school hat. This holds the hat on, and I think it’s a pretty neat idea. Some other nendoroids with hats (Reindeer L, for example, although he is a very, very early one) just have to have them sit on but fall off easily.
As you can see, her schoolbag straps slip quite easily over her shoulders (although you have to take off her head). There’s a gap between the hair falling over her shoulder and the hair at the back so that the bag is visible. I personally think the bag straps should go under her arms a little more so that it looks more natural. As for Fujioka, he comes with his own puchi nendoroid-style stand. He also has basic articulation in his head, arms and legs…but I think Good Smile blew an opportunity for not having him as an ‘item’ that Chiaki could hold. I think it’d be much better than just another ‘separate’ figure. On the topic of stands, however, Chiaki has one different to others I’ve seen. It’s on a miniature ‘swivel arm’, similar to a figma stand only a lot smaller. This seems an odd choice for Chiaki because she’s not that capable of interesting or dramatic poses. Also, even though the swivel arm technically makes an ‘airborne’ pose possible, it’s very difficult with a nendoroid due to the weight of the head so it rarely works. On to Chiaki’s expressions, then.
If you’ve watched Minami-ke you’ll know that for comedic effect there are pseudo-dramatic moments where the girls switch into a more realistic (i.e terrifying) style. (dubbed ‘Bible Black’ faces by fans). It’s a pretty funny choice for a gag face though. She could pair up with Kaito with his Urotander face (now why didn’t I get a photo of that?). I was hoping they could have included Chiaki’s deredere face instead, though (her expression when looking at her beloved Haruka, I mean).
Chiaki shows the most emotion when she’s agitated, which can be quite adorable. Since she generally makes this face when she’s throwing a tantrum, it really will be a waste if Good Smile aren’t going to make any more of the Minami sisters as nendoroids because it’s the sort of face that’s usually directed at Kana. The spare arms she comes with that stand up more are intended for using with this face, too.
Chiaki’s in all a bit of a mixed bag, but she’s adorable enough to justify purchase from a Minami-ke fan. I can make her have a tantrum-off with Shana, too. Oh, and did I mention that Fujioka’s head has the same neckjoints as other puchi nendoroids?