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Rena Rouge

Miraculous Ladybug
by yo go re

Look, it's a fox whose news you can actually trust!

Alya is Marinette's best friend. As head of the school blog, she strives to be a famous news reporter, always looking to sniff out the scoop! With the rise of Ladybug, she can't help herself from chasing the hero around for an exclusive interview. But getting too close to the truth could jeopardize her best friend Marinette's secret identity!

In Ladybug terms, Alya Césaire is Kamala Khan: a total fangirl who managed to get pulled into the superhero life. When the new hero Ladybug appeared in town, she was mainly interested in the story, but soon began looking up to her; they met a few times, including one when Alya got turned into the villain of the week, but eventually Ladybug trusted her with the Fox Miraculous and the kwami Trixx; and so she became Rena Rouge, the hero of Illusion.

Ladybug is a decently diverse show. Interestingly, it's illegal in France to collect ethnicity data (because it would violate Article 1 of the Constitution), so we can't speak to how well it matches the general population, but Alya, at least, has been described as a "brown-skinned Creole queen." (Her family is from Martinique.) As Rena Rouge, her identity is "concealed" by a white mask, and she gets a tall pair of ears sticking up out of her hair.

Rena is actually the third holder of the Fox Miraculous we see in the show: the first was just a drawing in a book, and the second was a scam, so Alya is still unique. Her costume is orange with a white panel down the front, long black boots and gloves, and a tail - like, a tuxedo's tail. Her top is actually a jacket, with a longer section hanging down in the back. It's white at the tip, like a fox's tail. That all means this toy gets a new torso, not the same used for the other figures - nobody else has a bit seam across their chest. It is weird that her Miraculous necklace isn't at all represented here.

Like Queen Bee, Rena Rouge is missing some paint apps. It's easy to forgive the orange paw pads that are meant to be on the soles of her shoes, but her ears should have black outlines inside them, and the tips of her hair should be white like a... tail. Wait: her ponytail falls into six separate chunks in the back, and there are two more hanging on the sides oher her face; meaning she's got eight tails on her head plus one on her costume? She's a nine-tailed fox!

It's not clear exactly when Playmates released this figure. I got it last summer, but that was at Five Bloew - like The Grossery Gang, the Miraculous figures got simplified releases at the discount store. Were they made specifically for Five Below, or did they just end up there? And how long after the full releases was that? Both the basic and simplified versions have the same articulation: a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, the smallest double-hinged elbows we've ever seen, a swivel waist, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. If you found the "real" release whenever it came out, it came with accessories, such as the magic flute that lets her use her illusion powers, but the one I had to get is empty-handed. Bummer.

In comicbook terms, Alya fulfills the Jimmy Olsen role: the person who regularly interacts both sides of the hero's identity, but doesn't know they're the same person. She's Marinette's best friend and runs the internet's premier Ladybug website, but the only reason she ever suspects Marinette may be Ladybug is that she's a good enough investigator to suspect everyone may be Ladybug. So while she's elated when she gets the opportunity to be a superhero, a lot of her ongoing arc is learning why maintaining a secret identity is important. That's good storytelling! This release not coming with her major accessory is annoying, but getting a toy of the character is welcome regardless.

-- 01/18/23

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