Hackmanite Hanami

“Blossoms in bloom, shining like crystals on a twig. Clears your soul and cleans your heart.”

Since some of the trees in my neighborhood are already starting to bloom, I decided to continue my photo streak of Hanairogoromo figures. I don’t know if those trees are cherry trees but for a guy like me, all trees with small white blossoms are basically Japanese Sakura trees.

About the figure:

This 1/8 figure of Megurine Luka was released in 2017 and is part of Strongers Hanairogoromo line, where they put various Vocaloid characters in colorful kimonos paired with floral elements. In the case of Luka, she is sitting on a blooming (cherry?) tree branch. The cool thing is, that she does this with the help of a magnet rather then a simple peg.

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Naturally a well-known character in a festive kimono is almost always an instant win and Luka is no exception. It’s a very decorative figure and I do like those translucent blossoms – especially when light shines through them. Luka isn’t the only figure of this series that includes pink blooming tree branches but because of her hair color it suits her the most. I wished they would have been more creative with the other characters, by using different kinds of blossoms or flowers to have a better match. The figure itself isn’t too ornate but of course the print on her kimono makes up for any lack of details.

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When this figure was released more than two years ago, the price for those Hanairogoromo figures was fairly decent but now, if you check the aftermarket, some of them got really pricey. Now that I’ve seen those numbers, especially for the ladies, I kinda regret that I only ordered Miku and her.

About the series:

Did you know that Luka was originally intended to be the first Vocaloid? Or at least that Miku Hatsune could have looked like her? If you are a fan of Crypton Future Medias creations, this might be old news to you but for me, who is only enjoying the beautiful figures this was totally new. Megurine Luka later became the third vocal character and was using Yamahas Vocaloid 2. Her singing voice was created by taking samples from the Seiyū Yū Asakawa. She was also designed to be capable of singing both English and Japanese vocals.

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Thoughts about the picture:

Since I already did a picture for the Hanairogoromo version of Miku Hatsune I thought it would be only natural to continue the theme of traditional Japanese elements and architecture. For Miku I created one of those red moon bridges and for Luka I decided to finally build a torii – a task that seems inevitable for a figure photographer. But since Luka must be shot from a lower angel, I thought a tall, narrow structure like a torii would be perfect. In addition to that I also crafted a few of those traditional wood lanterns that can be found in Japan near temples and shrines. Because I didn’t know about the exact proportions of those elements, I started with styrofoam models, before creating the final pops, made out of painted wood. The green grid inside the lanterns is some of the plastic mesh that was originally used to hold the stone tiles in place when I bought them.

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I was unsure if I would use the PVC tree that comes with Luka or if I will let her sit on some root wood. As you can see, I went with the original tree. For one it’s an essential part of this figure and it wouldn’t be easy to find the right piece of wood as an alternative. If I would have chosen to use real wood, I also had to figure out a way to replace those crystallized blossoms from the original tree.

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For the background of this composition I was able to borrow some plants and bonsai trees from my local garden center. They were kind enough to let me take the picture at their shop. Therefore, most of the lighting in this picture comes from natural light since it was a sunny day and I shot this in a greenhouse.

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Honestly the hardest part of this picture was (like so often) to come up with a clever name for it. Since the translucent plastic blossoms on the tree reminded me of some sort of crystals or gem stones, I’ve looked up if there is a pink gem stone that starts with the letter “H” to create a tautogram with Hanami – the Japanese practice of watching the (cherry)blossoms. Hackmanite is a gemstone that according to crystal healing is useful when you need to understand other people’s feelings. I don’t know if this is also true to the character of Luka but it would be neat.

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Sony Alpha 7R II, 55mm lens / ISO 100 /Exposure time 1/50 sec. /aperture: F/7.1

Uhr

Time and effort: The torii and the lanterns took some time to build and also the base plate with the stone structure is fairly detailed, even if you don’t see that much of it in the final picture. Since it was an outdoor shoot it also took me a little longer to set up the scenery. From start to finish this picture took me about 30-35 hours.

Costs

Costs of the props: Basically, zero because I had all the materials already on stock. The most expensive thing though might be the pouch of model grass I had to use for the base plate. That stuff isn’t cheap and you need a lot when your working scale is 1/8 and not 1/87.

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