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Masane Amaha

Witchblade
by Artemis

God bless the Japanese - they're kind of crazy, but you've got to love a culture that seems to have "Well, why not?" built into its psyche as the standard response to anything bizarre. Top Cow, who publish the Witchblade comic, occasionally flirt with the notion that the 'blade exerts a violent influence on its bearer, such that it has to be consciously reined in lest it go too far.

When the American Witchblade TV show got made, they toned down the eye candy and special effects, to make it more "street-level" and "realistic." When the Japanese got hold of it, they toned it up, making the Witchblade a bloodthirsty chain-orgasming holocaust on shapely legs who'd destroy whole city blocks at a time, climaxing loudly and continuously throughout, giving new meaning to the term "orgy of destruction." You just don't get that from other cultures - not in mainstream media, at any rate.

Sought by the greed of men since the dawn of humankind, but only bestowed upon the women whose fate it forever scars: the Witchblade - is it the righteous sword of God, or the hand of the Devil himself? Now a new bearer has been chosen, and she must discover the answers for herself. As she stands on the brink of destiny, she is forced to seek the balance between ecstasy and ruin...

The Witchblade anime (as opposed to the Witchblade: Takeru manga, which is the print comic Japanese interpretation of Witchblade, and a whole 'nother story) has pretty much all the hallmark anime elements: it's got a pop-metal theme song with hilarious half-English lyrics, it's set in the near future after Tokyo's been destroyed, there's as much nudity as you can get away with short of actually being pornography, corporations and government agencies are screwing each other over, there's lots of fight scenes with superbeings and cyborg monsters, and now and then there's lighter scenes sprinkled in with a precocious child and a comic-relief pervert obsessed with big tits. That pretty much ticks off every box - if they'd just managed to find a spot for a gigantic space cruiser of some kind, they'd have had the complete set.

Masane - our heroine - is just your ordinary everyday woman looking for a quiet life for herself and her daughter Rihoko. True, her past is a bit unusual - six years ago, when Tokyo was blasted off the map, she and Rihoko, then a baby, were found unharmed and amnesiac at ground zero, and since then Masane's had a weird bracelet attached to her wrist. Still, she's not the introspective type, so she muddles on with life, eventually heading back to Tokyo with Rihoko to try to settle down.

Then she gets arrested, attacked by cyborgs, transformed into the hyper-violent Witchblade, recruited by the Douji Group corporation to hunt rogue war machine Ex-Cons, and targeted by the shady government Neogene agency and their bio-engineered Cloneblade warriors. You know what, I'm going to suggest that if you're found at ground zero of what used to be Tokyo, don't move back there - go to Spain, or Botswana, or something. You're just asking for trouble otherwise.

Besides the bracelet and a pair of breasts you could see from orbit on a clear day, Masane isn't anything unusual, but - unlike the American version - the Witchblade changes her appearance completely. This statue depicts her as such, with flaming red hair, steel grey living armour, and brazen near-nudity - although in fact even the "uncovered" parts of Masane's body are covered by the 'blade and transformed, and when it retracts back into her bracelet, she's still wearing the full set of clothes she was beforehand.

As a realisation of the two-dimensional cartoon form... well, let's approach it this way: the facial markings aren't quite right. In the show, the two red streaks on her face come right up over her cheeks, almost to her eyes, whereas on the statue - so as to avoid being covered by the sculpted hair - they reach their points lower down, on her jawline. That aside, she might as well have just stepped out of the TV screen and onto your desk.

She stands about 7½" tall, but since she's bent over in a blatant "look at my butt" pose, most of that is legs - I'd hazard a guess that she'd be about 10" tall were she standing straight upright. The 'blade covers her right side predominantly, extending from the gauntlet up her arm, across her shoulders, down the sides of her torso, and then down her right leg where it envelops her around the knee and becomes her boot. The left boot, and the slim gauntlet on her left hand, aren't attached to the rest of the armour - although as I said, it's actually all armour, some of it just looks like flesh. Along with the gunmetal-grey primary armour, there's a dark burgundy segment running from her right shoulder down over her back and around her right hip, and a silver plate above her right breast, likely designed just to bulk out and differentiate the heavier armour on that side of her body.

The American Witchblade, especially in its early years, skirted the eye candy line with regards to how overtly sexy the 'blade looked when deployed - given that the anime turns the vague sexual subtext into blatant maintext, this version doesn't bother skirting any lines, and instead tramples all over them. The chest armour squeezes Masane's breasts together bra-like, while still leaving as much skin as possible uncovered so we can all get a good view. Likewise her backside, which is covered only by the slimmest of thong armour that extends down and around underneath just far enough to cover her vulva.

The sexualization of the design even extends to the "thong" not connecting at the front - it covers just enough to escape an X rating (with a slim silver blade standing in for the labia - they're really intent on hammering the sex/violence connection home), then stops, leaving pretty much the whole mons on display. Along with the undersides of the breasts, it's one of those rarely-seen areas that gets exposed when one wants to look explicit without actually going the full Monty. The pose is, of course, luridly exhibitionistic, but that's not out of character for the anime's Witchblade - assuming she's posing to someone behind her, flaunting her body while holding a blade to their throat is pretty typical of her attitude.

The paintwork carries its end of things admirably, with smooth airbrushed shading of the grey armour - it's predominantly a single flat colour, with just the slightest dull reflectivity, but around the elbows and knees the colour darkens, enhancing the curvy appearance of her limbs. Meanwhile the channels that run along the armour plates, which split into the jagged edges lining her bare skin, are given a very clean paint wash, just enough to make them stand out regardless of lighting conditions - they're black everywhere except for those on the breast armour, where dark red shows through between the plates instead, matching the red armour segment nearby, and visually tying into the lighter red skin markings on her face and upper chest.

The torso armour thins over her spine, where a lighter grey segment is revealed beneath the bulkier side plating, and as on her labia, the blades running down the fronts of her boots, and forming the heels, are solid silver. The Witchblade gauntlet on her right hand has a clear red plastic bulb set into it, duplicating the look of the "eye" gem that's omnipresent over all the 'blade's various forms.

Masane's skin is entirely bare plastic, for a consistent tone and mid-range reflectivity - appropriate, since she's generally panting and sweating like she's having sex whenever she's using the 'blade (from her point of view, she is). The shiny sheen, along with clever sculpting which has the skin bulging slightly where the 'blade armour grips it, enhances the soft look of her body - Masane's one of those idealised hourglass women, with a lot of soft curviness about her bust and hips (and yeah, you better believe the animators have her jiggling wherever they can).

Her mouth - pursed in a coquettish pout - is unpainted, but the cavity between her lips is quite deep, compared to what you find on most action figure faces, so it maintains a decent shadow and realism. To achieve the layered hair effect, her fringe is two pieces of soft plastic attached to her head separately to the main sculpt, so there's no interference with the paintwork of the eyes and eyebrows, even though the hair extends far enough to partially obscure them. The eyebrows are metallic red, matching the hair, finely outlined in black - her eyes are their customary metallic gold over off-white, with tiny red pupils, and more fine black filling in for lashes.

In her initial Witchblade form (she "evolves" into other forms as the series progresses - I gather more statues are on the way) the titular weapon appears as a curved blade fixed to the underside of her gauntlet, which, when necessary, extends to a dramatically long single-edged sword with a gently curved tip. To duplicate this the statue comes with two blades, one short and one long, either of which plugs securely into her outstretched right arm - the fit is secure enough that, with the slight sponginess of the PVC, even the long blade doesn't have enough weight to overcome the friction of the housing, but not hugely tight, so that there's no risk of damaging the slender limb when removing and attaching the blades. With the extended blade in place, the statue measures 9" from the tip of the blade at the rear to the farthest point of her hair at the front.

Masane comes with a 7"-diameter circular plastic base, in clear red plastic that's a good match for her. It has two pegs, which fit securely into the soles of her feet (what little of them is flat to the ground, what with the super-stilettos and all), and she's capable of standing just fine with only that supporting her if need be. However, PVC is a semi-soft material, and this statue is wildly top-heavy - to help prevent it slowly deforming and damaging itself over time, extra stands are provided, also in the base's clear red plastic.

A pair of U-shaped rods, rather like croquet hoops, plug into the base just behind the foot pegs, so that they pass over the backs of her high heels, between her ankles and the upward-projecting "tail" of the heel blades, so as to discourage her from leaning forward and bending the toes. Additionally, a pole with a shallow U-shaped head plugs in beneath her torso, where it cups her left breast and supports the weight of her body. All the supports are easily removable, so if you want her standing solo briefly for some reason - taking photos or whatever - you can strip them off, and then replace them when you put her back on her shelf for long-term display.

She's not an action figure by any stretch of the imagination, more a collectable - and not a cheap one at that. I've seen other PVC statues of similar size cost more (substantially in some cases), but if you're used to Marvel Legends and DC Direct, you're going to blink a few times when you look at her price tag. She's most definitely one for Witchblade anime fans only - unless you're just a fan of anime demon-women. Although if you don't know Masane but want her look-at-my-pussy statue on your desk, you'd probably be happier just finding a full-on pornographic PVC anime statue (there are plenty to choose from). But if you're enough of a fan of the show that this kind of collectable isn't out of the question from a price point of view, Masane is an excellent piece of work.


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