Saturday, January 9, 2016

There's no going back from this.

Warning: this post contains colossal GIFs.

Like seriously, there are two 30-MB GIFs in this post, so I'm putting it behind a page break. You have been warned.  It's also mostly about a figure acquisition, and NSFW.

For months, I've been relying on Giflike to produce my GIFs.  For a browser-based service, it is - or more to the point was - an excellent little tool, permitting me to choose my frames per second and delete single frames of animation from YouTube vids to create GIFs from my PS4 captures and elsewhere.  I had very little trouble with it, when I first started using it, but in the past few weeks and months it's been a bit... finicky?  By "finicky" I mean... unreliable.  And by unreliable I mean I will go through all the steps to create my GIF, it will begin working on it... and then just never stop and never produce said GIF.

So it was time to look elsewhere.

I ended up landing on Instagiffer, a free program that can pull video straight from YouTube or a file on your computer.  It's not as user-friendly as giflike, so far - very granular, any time I make an adjustment to the framerate or size sliders, for example, it reloads the entire file, so it's a somewhat time-intensive process - but it also permits me to produce colossal, high-quality GIFs.  The above image of the final moments of Vicar Amelia from Bloodborne, for example, always bothered me.  The original GIF I'd made for a post on this most enigmatic of enemies in April 2014, but without the ability to pick and choose the GIF's resolution, and with no option to adjust the brightness, I ended up with this blurry, so-dark-you're-not-sure-what's-going-on GIF.

With Instagiffer, I can produce a colossal GIF at 640x380, and bump the brightness slightly so none of the details are lost while the atmosphere remains unharmed.

Why did I need a new GIF solution?  To show a bit of character.

Specifically, this character.

This is Katsuragi, from that brawler about magical ninja girls with huge chests.  Katsuragi is the most tomboyish character in her school, the only one who seems to be aware of how obscenely sexualized her world is, and - along with Haruka - loves it.

Shinovi Versus on Vita was one of 2015's gaming surprises, to me.  I didn't expect it to be so much damned fun, and I didn't expect to grow so attached to its heroines.  I know that the Japanese figures world - beyond being far more robust, interesting and accomplished than its Western counterpart, producing far more objets d'art of far more compelling design - can be a haven for what we will quickly denounce as, without hyperbole, the sexually perverse.  And no, I'm not going to link to any evidence thereof - just trust me and don't go looking, 'cause some things can't be unseen.

I know figure collection can lead to some bad places.  I'm aware of it.  Thoughtful of it.  Conscious of it - conscious of the fact that while I'm a far cry from this, I'm also closer to it of anyone I know - but I also love Katsuragi.

I tend to love figures which represent their source material well.  I love MegaHouse's Dragon's Crown collection because they are absolutely painstaking three-dimensional recreations of George Kamitani's concept art, and capture the character of those characters.

George Kamitani's key art for the Elf, and Megahouse's reproduction.

I never much liked the look of most Senran Kagura figures, because they never remind me of the characters I grew so fond of in-game.  They look more like the characters as rendered in Senran Kagura's key art, which are more... emotionally flat, and flatly sexual.

But that's not what I love about Senran Kagura.  I love it for how fun it is to throw hands as a girl wearing gigantic metal boxing gloves with pilebunker cylinders that compress to produce explosions that detonate from her knuckles when she lands a punch, and how endearing its characters are, and the way Katsuragi - who fights exclusively with her feet - just loves throwing down with other shinobi.

Kat's new mecha-boots in the upcoming Estival Versus.

Everything she does, she's having a great time, and if there was one Senran Kagura character I would get a figure of, it's Kat.  But most Senran Kagura figures aren't about embodying the personalities of the games' buxom ninjas - they're more about presenting them... erotically distressed, or otherwise squeezing their big boobs together for your enjoyment.  Which makes sense, in and of itself - the game is designed to titillate, but that doesn't represent what is best in it - or, at least, what I like about it.

And this is the point at which the images you're going to see may make you feel a bit... awkward...

The Chara-Ani/Toys Works Katsuragi has a revolutionary soft material for the bust!  You can squeeze 'em and they're all skooshy!

And images like this absolutely appear in the game.  They do.  But they're not who this gleeful, gold-booted martial artist is, to me.  To me, Katsuragi is... fun and funny, endlessly enthusiastic and absolutely bad ass, throwing those huge boots around like great, earth-shaking sledgehammers.  

A little bit prior to Christmas - a little bit prior to my Dad winding up in the hospital - while browsing, I happened across a Katsuragi figure that actually captured a lot of that endearing character.  Huh, I thought, and pretty much ignored it in favor of spending mad cash on Christmas presents. 

Then my Dad wound up in the hospital and life went upside down and everything is awful and sad and terrible and why am I still thinking about that Katsuragi figure?

Have some shame, woman!

It was weird.  I would be signing papers at the hospital and holding my mother as she cried and... wallowing in how horrific life can be, and the image of that figure would just pop show up in my head.  And then it just kept on happening, over the ensuing weeks.  I told Kayla about it, and she said it's probably healthy to have my mind wander to things that I enjoy, instead of living and breathing and existing entirely in and of this tragedy.  

The figure kept bouncing around in my head as I juggled life, and eventually I checked out Amazon and and AmiAmi and did some price comparisons.  The Japanese Amazon had her up for like, 250% her list price, and the figure I wanted, in fact, was produced by (bestest figure seller evarrr) AmiAmi - it shouldn't surprise me that they had the best price.  She was ¥9,600 after shipping, which put her at around eighty-five bucks Canadian - around the same price wanted to charge me before shipping, with a guarantee of shipping in two to six weeks.  F that.

Ordered on December 30th - pretty much the entirety of Japan was shut down from Dec 30th to Jan 3rd - she shipped out on the 5th and arrived on the 8th.  Ain't no fast shippin' like Japanese fast shippin'.  Around the world in four days.


The face is close - not perfect.  Kayla said she liked it, and I told her I wish she looked a bit more "cocky," but overall it's very good.  The first thing that'll jump out to most people, I know, are the breasts and the colossal cleavage, but for me this is The Katsuragi Figure That's Not About Her Big Boobs.  Katsuragi has big boobs, but what she is is a martial artist, and this is the figure that actually suggests her powerful physicality.

This is the figure where she's got a knee raised to her shoulder, coiled and ready to strike, like Muhammad Ali standing above George Foreman with that elbow cocked to fire out one more bellringer, if need be.  This is the one where she's got abs.

And yes, this is a Japanese PVC figure presenting a girl with her boobs hanging out.  I appreciate that, I acknowledge it, and I make no excuses for it.  It's all those things, and it's also the closest fig I've found that actually represent Katsuragi, the character.  

And Katsuragi the character is pretty frickin' awesome.  

[update]  Turns out I had her tie on upside-down for all of the above pics!  Here's what she's supposed to look like.

Far more modest. [/update]

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