Tomoe Mami Shinobu Version (Normal Color) Review

Hello everyone and welcome to a new figure review on Tiro Finale. Following our preview earlier in the week, we are back today for a full review of Banpresto's Tomoe Mami Shinobu Version (Normal Color)! Another figure with an unnecessarily long name and designation. Fortunately, we only have to mention Mami's full designation this one time throughout the whole review. Unlike the other Mami figures that I have reviewed in the past, this would be the first Mami figure of its kind where she is seen in an outfit never before featured in the series or official artwork. That being said, I am really looking forward to the review so, let us get straight into it!
  • Manufacturer: Banpresto
  • Series: Madogatari, SQ Figure
  • Price: NA (~1,200 - 1,500 Yen)
  • Release Date: 07/2016
  • Scale: Non-scale (~100 mm)
  • Material: PVC
Front View
From the front, we have Mami dressed in an outfit that most Madoka Magica fans would not be familiar with unless they are invested in the Monogatari Series. The dress that Mami is wearing is not an original design instead, it is the same sundress worn by Oshino Shinobu during the Nisemonogatari arc of the series.
Rear View
For the most part, the sundress has been faithfully replicated down to the exposed back and ample amount of ribbons throughout the outfit. The only thing missing from the entire outfit is Shinobu's oversized straw hat which she uses to keep the sun out. More on the finer details of the dress further down in the review but, rest assured, every key detail is present and accounted for.

Side View
In contrast to the donuts that Shinobu is usually seen with, Mami has her own take on the pose with a glass of tea in her left hand. By extension, the Mami version of Shinobu has Shinobu wearing Mami's Magical Girl outfit while chomping down on a glaze donut!

When viewed from afar, the figure definitely lives up to expectation sporting a look which is identical to the ones that have been showcased in promotional pictures and expos. For many figures, including premium scales, following the prototype and showcased product so closely is indeed impressive especially when you consider that this particular Mami is a prize figure. But, the question is, does she fall apart when viewed under closer scrutiny?

Starting with the facial expression and details, we can observe that they are indeed very well done. Mami's eyes are finished in Ume Aoki's trademark hand-drawn style in a matte finish with the decals neatly applied. Moreover, the blush, gentle smile and lightly curved yet fine eyebrows are all a nod towards Ume Aoki's art style too which help to complement the entire "Mami-look". Framed by her blonde hair, Mami is instantly recognizable even with only one glance with Banpresto certainly having cut no corners in this aspect. If there was one minor complaint I would have, it would be that the pencil sketch lines in her eyes do not align. Although, in comparison to the box art and promotional pictures, this was indeed an intended feature. Not a manufacturing error on Banpresto's part.

Turn the figure around towards the back and you have Mami's hair neatly tied up in her signature twin tails. There is a little twist this time as Mami's usual floral hairpins have been replaced with cute little pink ribbons. These ribbons follow the exact same design and theme of Shinobu's sundress! These careful consideration in design consistency certainly nets Banpresto's artists extra points which really help the figure feel that much more special.

In fact, I had not noticed the ribbons in Mami's hair until only after I had un-boxed the figure! This goes to show that little details such as these, more often than not, go unnoticed when viewed as pictures or behind a glass screen. But, when you have the actual figure in the palm of your hands, it is little details like these which make the entire figure that much more unique and memorable.

This is certainly not the first nor will it be the last Mami prize figure. Compared to their previous outings in the SQ Figure series, Banpresto has learned the norm of two-and-a-half loops for Mami's twin tails and implemented it as such. The choice of color for Mami's blonde hair is also fitting with it not being too bright or dull, just the right balance. All in all, it is good to finally see some standardization of sorts for all Mami figures now that the series has fully matured.

That being said, Banpresto just seems to have fallen a little off the mark when it comes to a perfect execution of Mami's loops. While the loops on the right hand side are fine - albeit being spaced a little too far between loops - the loops on her left are far from perfect. Namely, the first loop which is far too large and wide causing a stark break of symmetry in between the left and right. On a side note, this picture also perfectly illustrates the massive head seam which is present on the figure.

Fearing that it was a manufacturing error, I once again referred to the photos on the box as well as online references. True enough, the first loop was indeed designed to be this wide. Why Banpresto went with this decision is anyone's guess. If you know, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. I would love to know the reasoning behind such a decision.

Moving down, we now shift our focus towards Mami's dress or, more appropriately, Shinobu's dress. Under normal canon circumstances, it would be unlikely that Mami would wear anything as daring as this. But in the world of Madogatari, anything can happen. For that, I am glad as we are able to see Mami dressed in a variety of other outfits outside of seasonal concept art.

In terms of the dress itself, the overall quality of presentation can be described in one word, good. The sculpt, for starters, is very good and easily the strongest aspect of the entire dress' design. The fabric of the white dress folds and creases appropriately over Mami's body lines especially around her waist and thighs where the fabric gathers up to form her sitting pose. 

A slight stain on the right strap of the figure. Fortunately, nothing that cannot be cleaned off.
Another area which sees quite a few fabric creases are the bust region. Something present on Mami that most certainly is not present on Shinobu. Mami's more prominent bust causes a stretch on the fabric which pulls the dress forward. Being a backless dress, the stretch is rather prominent especially when viewed from the side. 

Before I move onto detailing, by now, you might have noticed the ample amounts of ribbons present throughout the dress. In fact, to talk about the details of the dress is simply to point out the large number of ribbons throughout the dress. 

For starters, there are the three pink ribbons located at the front of the dress. One up top at the upper border of the dress following the pink highlights. While the other two are located at the lower one-third of the dress. Each ribbon has been individually sculpted evident from the differing shapes of each ribbon. On top of that, each ribbon is glued securely into place with no evidence of play between the ribbons and the dress. No worries about them falling off anytime in the future. 

Moving towards the back, we are greeted by two large white ribbons which serve to tie the backless dress together. Like the pink ribbons in the front, they are individually sculpted as well and have different sizes with the top ribbon being significantly smaller the lower one. Aside from the ribbons, the pink portion of the skirt is also visible from here. Just like the front, it is also sporting a creases and fold in the fabric illustrating the fabric accumulating when Mami is seated.

The exposed back of the dress allow us to take a closer look at Mami's slender shoulders and arms. The arch in Mami's back is also present which lends itself to natural shadows without the need for shading. 

A closer look at the large white ribbon towards the bottom of the dress. Just like all the other ribbons, this one is well glued to the dress meaning there is no play between the two surfaces. Truthfully, these are the only details that are present on the dress. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily as the dress is based upon an existing design. The only difference is the wearer with every other detail and pattern being an exact copy. 

If there was one complaint that I would have about Mami's dress is the finishing. When I refer to finishing, I am in no way talking about painting as that aspect is handled well enough. The colors are nice and soft with the painting fitting nicely within their outlines and borders. Rather, when I refer to finishing, I am pointing out the matte finish of the dress. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a matte finish, a semi-gloss finish would have worked much better and provided a better feel of the material of the dress. And we know this as previously released Shinobu figures donning this dress have employed a semi-gloss finished dress to wonderful effect namely, the Kotobukiya version. A missed opportunity that, in my opinion, Banpresto really should have gone for.

The only accessory that Mami comes with is a tea cup that is detachable. The color of the "tea" is rather dark reminding me more of coffee than tea. Even more so when it is finished in an opaque material rather than a clear one which would have made things look considerably more convincing. The bracelet on Mami's left arm is also part of Shinobu's outfit but, is given an opaque finish too. Just like the tea, this would have looked really good as a clear part. Cost saving measures perhaps?

At just 100mm tall, Mami is considerably shorter than most prize figures because of her seated posed. With her legs folded towards the back, Mami forms a wide stable base which prevents her from toppling over easily. As such, she does not require any connections to the base and can be move about freely.

To give a sense of scale, Mami seated fits perfectly in the palm of your hands and feels incredibly stable while doing so. The figure may be a little light owing to it being a prize figure but, the weight has not been disproportionately balanced. This is especially important for a figure which is not secured to the base as a light bump may cause the figure to fall off and in some cases off tall display shelves.

Mami's legs are bent at a rather sharp angle backwards but, you need not worry about plasticizer issues here. Even in the warm weather, there is no signs of flex or melting at Mami's legs. Having owned the figure for close to a year, it is safe to say such issues would not be a problem with this particular Mami figure. 

Aside from Mami's pose, there really is not too much to be said about Mami's lower half. The sculpt is good enough but, half of it is hidden away. So, nothing much to see there. Her toenails, like her fingernails, are not painted. Despite other Mami prize figures having it, I would not consider the omission of it a deal breaker. And yes, Mami's panties are molded too but, for a figure like this, that should be the least of your concerns. In an almost unexciting fashion, Mami's lower half is superbly competent and nothing more. 

Then, there is the base where Banpresto saw it fit to express some creative freedom. By providing only one half of the round base, it is meant to entice collectors to obtain the other half from Shinobu. Together, they form the perfect circle donut base. For now, I only have one half of the set. But, I do intend to collect Shinobu and see how they would look like together. 

Throughout the review, it would seem that I am mostly pointing out the negative aspects of the figure. Which to recap are, the awkwardly shaped hair loop, large head seam, matte dress finish and opaque tea and bracelet. 

Does this mean I dislike the figure? No, quite the opposite actually. In fact, if I were to sum up the entire figure in one word, it would be, good. From detailing and sculpting to coloring and finishing, everything is good. No one aspect stands out over the rest yet, everyone is executed to such high standards. Yet this situation leads us to pay more attention towards the negative aspects rather than the positive ones. Let us not forget, this is a prize figure which on any given day, may be purchased for a little over 1,000 Yen. Yet, the standard at which we rate figures has a tendency to become so skewed that we judge these thousand yen gems as we would grail figures which cost ten to twenty times more.

I hate to end my reviews with this phrase but, seeing no better way I must insist. In conclusion, Banpresto's Tomoe Mami Shinobu Version (Normal Color) is an exceptional prize figure which albeit slight flaws are easily overshadowed by its unique concept and superb execution. Figures such as these exist only because of the continued support for the Madoka Magica from its dedicated group of fans and I can only hope that figures like these continue to exist. 

With that, we have come to an end for this rather lengthy review of this Mami figure. I hope you have enjoyed it or, at the very least, found it informative. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. I would love to hear what you have to say. Until then, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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