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Adrian Agreste

Miraculous Ladybug
by Shocka

Finally, the toy we've all been waiting for: a dreamy teen boy!

Adrien Émile Gabriel Donatien Athanase Agreste is the son of wealthy fashion designer, Gabriel Agreste. Within a huge mansion, across from the Eiffel tower, Adrien has everything he could want. Everything, except an ordinary lifestyle! Since young age, Adrien's free time has been spent modeling for his father's clothing lines, under pressure to always present the perfect image. As transformed superhero Cat Noir, however, he can let his wilder side out!

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is absolutely delightful. As we put it in the Marinette review, Miraculous is the best Spider-Man cartoon you've never seen, sort of bridging the gap between western superhero afternoon and the "magical girl" shows from Japan. (Indeed, this adorable pitch video would suggest leaning into this even more than the gorgeous 3D toon we ended up with.) While the central star is Marinette and her superhero alter-ego Ladybug, her love interest Adrien is just as important a piece of the puzzle, as is his (also titular) superhero identity Cat Noir.

So, Adrien Émile Gabriel Donatien Athanase Agreste is like if Mary Jane Watson was also a superhero, with her own set of powers somewhat similar but different in tone and theme to Peter. (Wait, does that make him more like Spider-Gwen?) Regardless, the superhero theatrics clash with the kids' day-to-day lives as high schoolers, and with that comes hormones and feelings and a variety of inspirations for Rule 34 images. Part of the drama comes down to the secret identities, and not knowing who-is-who: Marinette is in love with Adrien, but not Cat Noir, whose identity she does not know, while Adrien is in love with Ladybug, but not Marinette, who he does not know is Ladybug. This leads to a confusing Marinette/Adrien/Ladybug/Cat Noir love-triangle-square-rhombus-whatever, which we've prepared a helpful chart to help you, the faithful reader, to understand.

It was a delight that Ladybug would receive proper action figures alongside the taller fashion-oriented dolls, meaning you can have various Ladybug characters in your collection alongside your Marvel and DC superheroes, but to go the next step and make figures of the plain-clothes characters is even more impressive. It makes sense to the property: much of the show revolves around Marinette and Adrien in their day-to-day life, but actually having them as toys that don't dress up is very much like having regular reporter Clark Kent and normal billionaire Bruce Wayne as action figures. Which is to say, it's awesome.

Adrien stands slightly taller than Marinette, making them nicely scaled for displays, The head sculpt here is solid, capturing the dreamy look of the young stud in his classic open white shirt and black-striped undershirt, which is often how he's seen when not Cat-Noir-ed out. The paint on the black shirt isn't as good as it should be, even for a simple line like this: it's supposed to go yellow stripe, green stripe, purple stripe, spaced out across the black of his shirt; and this toy tries that, but the yellow app is too thin to properly cover the color of the plastic, and there's an extra blue stripe between the green and purple, making them all run together into one large stripe.

The articulation here is good, sharing the same (balljointed shoulders and legs, double-jointed elbows and knees) as Marinette, but also lacking proper wrists. Also no waist or ankles, which all the others have had. This is a bummer, because Adrien features solid accessories for what is ultimately just a civilian action figure, including his blue bag with school gear and his popular cologne, Adrien, which first appeared in the Season 2 episode "Gorizilla". But only if you get the real figure; buy the cheap ones that yo's been reviewing, and you get nothing. Nothing!

Amusingly, the packaging for Adrien (which is very bright and nicely colored to match the others in the series, while displaying the toy in its bubble, a fantastic addition for Mint On Card collectors), describes the toy as "Adrien Agreste: Model Student", an amusing play on words as he is both a model student and a model, described by his best bud Nino as "Mr. Front-of-the-cover-Teen-Model-weekly" in the episode "Animan", and seen regularly in the magazine La Mode. The Ladybug action figures seem to be divided into single packs with lots of relevant accessories, and packs featuring only the figure; Adrien is technically the former but is, unfortunately, lacking his own La Mode magazine accessory. (What other good accessories might have been included here? In the original pitch, the character who became Adrien would have needed to walk with a cane, which is why Cat Noir's weapon is a staff, but that didn't make the final program. A rose, maybe? A pigeon dove? A tiny, in-no-way-in-scale Plagg?)

It is to its credit that Miraculous manages to straddle the line between teen melodrama and basic superhero theatrics to become something that ascends both, with surprising amounts of depth and worldbuilding stemming from both the conflicts of being a teenager and having to fight evildoers. One of the major themes of Miraculous is emotional abuse and how we deal with it; with Adrien's mother gone and his father, Gabriel, lost in his own grief, Adrien's homelife is depressing, with his only moments of happiness being at school during the day or superheroing at night, and both times he instantly decided the first person who was even slightly kind to him is the greatest, most important person in the world. And with that, characters like Adrien who might have been two-dimensional instead blossom with as much depth as the glorious 3D animation which Miraculous boasts from episode to episode, making him an excellent addition to your collection alongside Marinette and their superhero identities.

-- 09/17/23

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