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Ame-Comi Heroine Series
by Artemis

I wish I'd had the foresight to get this review out of the way while the spring chill was holding out. Of all the things people go on about as being important for cosplay, like accurate patterns, quality materials, good fit, confidence, you know what the most important one is? Air conditioning.

Mystical magician Zatanna Zatara has used her backward-cast spells to aid the Justice League time and time again.

So here we are, with everyone's favourite magical exhibitionist (I'm not making that up, it's DC canon), in anime form, with big eyes and a weird costume and so on. Though so far as the costume goes, for once this isn't so much out of left field - while Zee's got what passes for a "regular" costume, she's widely known for appearing in all manner of burlesque fetishy variations on her traditional top hat, tails and no pants, and what she's got on here... well, it wouldn't be the most improbable, even if she did wear it for real, not just in Ame-Comi Land.

She's got the Zatanna hallmarks, naturally, the top hat and tail coat, this time decorated by baroque-looking faux-ruffle patterns sewn into the lapels and cuffs, and on the hat's white stripe. Technically you should wear a white bow tie with a formal full evening wear ensemble (hence the nickname "white tie"), but this is far from formal (or full), and Ame-Zatanna has gone for a splash of red, a colour which is subtly continued through in the coat's lining, and a narrow band around the top of the hat's stripe. Also varying the traditional design, she's got a waistcoat with a full front, rather than the low-fronted kind that just goes around your midriff, which is just as well since all she's wearing underneath it is a lacy black bra. Racy.

The white gloves further the traditionalist look, but then things start getting a bit more eccentric. Mirroring (and rather overwhelming) the coat's tails, she's got two decorative strips of material hanging from the bottom edge of her waistcoat - they're made from quite soft plastic to avoid the risk of breakage, so they don't hold as much sculpted detail as the lapels and cuffs, but they manage a simplified version of the stitched pattern that meshes well with it overall. Extending from her high-cut thong briefs (fantastically comfortable) she's got the obligatory fishnets, but they only get to mid-thigh before being covered up by a rather remarkable pair of block heel PVC boots (nice touch, they're markedly shinier than the black of her coat), with more of the patterned white around the tops and ankles, plus a couple of buckled straps just to remind you that Zee's kinky as well as a show-off.

Her face comes quite close to capturing the look of the packaging artwork - there's something in the eyes, maybe the top inside edges, that looks a bit more girlish than adult-mischievous in solid form, but it's a subtle distinction. Her hair is blue, with the kind of bold, un-shaded "gloss" highlights you see in anime - in solid form it looks rather strange, but it's something I've become accustomed to, although I wouldn't say I've grown to like it, particularly.

The fishnet seams - why is it tights can be seamless but the ones on action figures, which aren't much smaller in weave than micronets, can't? - are strategically placed on the inner right thigh, and inner-rear left, leaving as much as possible of the displayed area seamless; her right leg, straight and slightly behind the bent left, shows the inner-rear area the left's seam is at if you look at the figure from behind. Good attention to detail there.

She doesn't have any accessories, besides the usual Ame-Comi standard disc base - since her magnificent boots have flat soles, she just has a pair of pegs to hold her in place, rather than the more elaborate connectors seen on other figures. Of course, there's the magic wand and top hat, but they're not removable, so you can't count them as accessories - they are very effective props for her, though, the wand adding a neat little topping to her pose, and the hat, with its eerie lime green flame (more soft plastic) demonstrating her magical power. As a physical representation of magic I can't say I like it as much as the wonderfully simple Women of the DC Universe mini-bust approach, where she's reaching inside the hat up to her elbow, as if rummaging around inside a cavernous interior space contained within the tiny hat - still, you can't have every (any?) Zatanna figure sticking her arm into her hat, and the flame does a decent job, partly by being such a noticeable colour contrast to her all-but-monochrome costume.

And that's about it. I don't have a regular Zatanna figure - I've got the Justice one, and the mini-bust, and there's that godawful expensive beautiful statue coming up, but I'd like to have just a plain, standard Zee for the collection (plus all the costume variations from Seven Soldiers of Victory, but that's just me being greedy), so in a way I'm a bit miffed that Ame-Comi Zatanna doesn't stick closer to the norm. Then again, the whole point of these figures is to reinterpret their characters in an anime kind of style, and she does that without mucking anything up along the way. The hair highlights are probably the clincher - if you have a look at those, and decide you can live with them, go ahead and get her.

-- 03/15/09

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