I have a bit of an odd relationship with the Toaru franchise, the magic-meets-science one-two punch of Toaru Majutsu no Index and Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. I was drawn into the franchise years after it’s original air date, through strong recommendations to see Railgun. As a dutiful otaku, I wasn’t satisfied jumping right into the spin-off without having familiarized myself with the original show, so I dove into Index first.
This might have been a mistake, because I didn’t end up having the most favorable opinion of Index. I did enjoy one story arc though, and that was the Sisters arc, which prominently featured Misaka Mikoto and her periphery characters that would become the focus of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. Long story short, after slogging through the rest of Index, Railgun was a breath of fresh air, and the spin-off’s own retelling of the Sisters arc elevates the series in a similar way that Fate/Zero did for Fate/Stay Night.
Despite my rocky relationship with the overall franchise, I have a lot of Toaru merchandise on my shelf (all Railgun, of course). One of my only missing pieces was Misaka herself, so when Nendoroid preorders opened up, my wallet was open and ready. On that note, I’m kind of shocked that it took so long for Railgun characters to get entries in the Nendoroid line; all of the relevant characters have had figmas for ages, and the series has been popular in Japan long enough that Nendoroids could have sold like hot-cakes years ago. I can’t imagine that the folks at Good Smile have been waiting patiently for Railgun‘s second season, but that’s what it seems like.
Anyway, finally to the review. I personally tend to collect figmas before their Nendoroid cousins, so this is the first time I’ve held the new Nendoroid box design. To me, this seems to me like an effort to establish a solid brand identity for Nendoroid; before, the boxes were designed based on the character within, with design motifs that would remind the owner of the show or game that the character came from. I’ve set Misaka’s box next to Kyouno Madoka’s from Rinne no Lagrange as a comparison.
The redesign is crisp, clean, and easy on the eyes. Despite the fact that most of my purchases are online these days, I can see it being easier now to single out a Nendoroid among all of the other boxes on a store shelf. Still, I can’t help but miss the character specific packaging that was the standard before.
Let’s liberate Misaka from the cardboard, shall we?
One thing that immediately strikes me when looking over the parts and accessories in this set, is that the sculptors really chose to highlight Misaka’s cute, girlish side. You’ll find no fearsome battle-cry expression among the swappable faces here. In a figma I would’ve found this a bummer, but for the cuteness-focused Nendoroid line, it’s a solid design decision.
If there’s no battle-cry, what can you expect for Misaka’s face plates? Right out of the box, she comes affixed with a neutral, smiling expression. Maybe it’s a trick of the eyes, but when paired with the effect parts for her signature Railgun attack, I feel like this expression exudes a bit of cockiness and confidence…
The other faces are a lot of fun, as well. She comes with an embarrassed face, complete with blush-lines and a downturned crease of a mouth. I like to accompany this face plate with her swappable arms; on the replacement arms, Misaka’s hands are balled up into cute little fists. This combination of parts suggest that she’s bashful, but also really tense.
By far, my favorite face is this embarrassed indignation expression. This is probably our substitute for the token combative expression that we usually get in swappable-face releases. The blush-lines and the angled brows soften any kind of aggressive impression Misaka might have been trying to express.
This is the most fun face to pair with the set’s accessories. For instance, Misaka comes with a swappable arm that holds her Gekota phone. This pose suggests that she might have just received an off-color text from Kuroko.
Well… maybe not quite. To create a scene like that, Misaka would need to exude a hint of impending violence as is appropriate to her typical response to Kuroko’s advances. That’s where this effect part comes in:
There we go. Misaka comes with a lighting bolt effect part that’s affixed to a swappable strand of her bangs. This piece is much more cartoony than the crackling electricity that replicates her Railgun attack, and fits the Nendoroid aesthetic very nicely. The lightning bolt piece is also a good partner to the fist arms that we were using before. She looks so cute and non-threatening (don’t tell her I said that)!
Finally, Misaka comes with a school bag and a replacement arm to hold it. The bag comes complete with a detailed little Gekota charm. These parts allow you to make this classic “going to school” pose:
Finally, there’s one detail crucial to any Misaka representation that needs to be accounted for. Let’s check the Nendoroid:
Shorts: check! Nendoroid Misaka gets a passing grade!
Overall, this set has been designed to convey a more playful, fun side of Tokiwadai Academy’s Level 5 Ace. If Railgun is a series that combines crackling sci-fi action with slice-of-life shenanigans, then Good Smile Company has focused on giving you what you need to replicate some of the best slices.
Don’t expect to recreate any epic combat scenes, though. Well… I can think of at least one…