Friday, 13 July 2018

First Impressions: Ultraman R/B

Ultraman R/B

One of the best things about being an Ultraman fan in the past three years has been each new series simulcasting on Crunchyroll complete with official English subtitles, in addition to all the past shows from the franchise that have also been added to the site in this time. So you can just imagine the uproar when Ultraman R/B – the latest instalment in Tsuburaya Productions' long-standing tokusatsu series appeared absent after its Japanese premiere. Not to worry though, as the bilingual Ultraman fandom has banded together to create a user-created subtitle track for Tsuburaya's own YouTube stream, which will stay online until the next episode has aired (at which point a fansub will likely become available). It's not ideal, but credit to the amazing efforts of the fandom where it's due. Ultraman R/B is the 30th Ultra Series overall and introduces two new lead Ultramen – Ultraman Rosso and Ultraman Blu.

Update 15/07/2018: It seems Tsuburaya have now got rid of the YouTube subtitles and region-locked the stream, so discount most of that introduction. There are vague details of an English-language version "coming soon", so fans will just have to wait and see.

Monday, 9 July 2018

First Impressions: Cells at Work!

Cells at Work!
Cells at Work! is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll 

It's a widely agreed fact that Osmosis Jones is an often-overlooked piece of brilliance from the world of animation, so much so that you have to wonder why more creators haven't tackled the idea of depicting the inner workings of the human body in such a way. Cue the release of Cells at Work!, a new anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name by Akane Shimuzu. The series is being animated by David Production and directed by Kenichi Suzuki, both of whom are best known for their work on the various JoJo's Bizarre Adventure instalments. Given how absurd and frenetic that show can be at times, something as hopefully off the wall as Cells at Work! will be right at home here!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

First Impressions: Planet With

Planet With
Planet With is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

A new anime season is upon us once again, and for the first time in ages I seem to have found myself without any clear choices on what to follow for the next 12 or so weeks. So when all else fails I do the first thing that usually comes to mind - scour the list of newly airing anime and pick out the ones with a giant robot in the promo image. And it's this exact tactic that brought me to Planet With, the first anime work from popular mangaka Satoshi Mizukami (whose previous works include Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Psycho Staff and Spirit Circle) and animated by studio J.C. Staff. Of course, for those (like me) unfamiliar with Mizukami's previous works these are just names. But don't let that put you off Planet With, because boy is this show a trip.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious


Release Date: June 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

When S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive was released earlier this year, there was only one character Ultraman fans were waiting for. Well two to be precise, but the most important thing is that you can't have the son without the father. The second Ultraman Geed figure to be released in the line is none other than S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial Atrocious - the fallen Ultra's new Fusion Rise form harnessing the powers of the Dark Lugiel and Alien Empera along with the Alien Sturm abilities of Kei Fukuide. Rather predictably for a form that only appeared in the final episodes Belial Atrocious is a Tamashii web exclusive release, however with the absence of any other retail Geed releases after Primitive it's a little disappointing that Bandai Tamashii Nations have jumped straight into exclusives. Nevertheless, Belial himself has finally arrived on Earth and he's here to conquer!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Twin Tail


Release Date: June 2018 
RRP: 7560 yen

With S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack now on the market it's time for Bandai Tamashii Nations to continue their journey through The Return of Ultraman with some monsters! While this series might not have quite as many recognisable faces as Ultraman or Ultraseven do, the fourth instalment in the Ultra Series still has a fair few monsters and aliens just crying out for a figure. Bandai are kicking off right at the beginning of the series with episode 5 "Two Giant Monsters Attack Tokyo" and the release of S.H. Figuarts Twin Tail! A prehistoric monster reawakened in 1970s Japan, Twin Tail not only faces off against Ultraman Jack but its eternal rival and predator Gudon. The pair of kaiju have gone on to appear in a number of Ultra shows, with their rivalry particularly paid homage to in Ultraman Mebius.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Blood Stalk


Release Date: May 2018 
RRP: 5184 yen 

Every so often Bandai Tamashii Nations will make some baffling choices when it comes how they choose to release S.H. Figuarts, and more often than not these can be put down to how characters can be perceived at the very start of a series. In its early episodes Kamen Rider Build featured Night Rogue as its main villain so he subsequently gets a mainline release, followed by Blood Stalk arriving later as a Tamashii web exclusive. Fast-forward some episodes later, and the Night Rogue suit has all but vanished from the series and Stalk has been revealed as the true mastermind – with that suit hanging around far longer until its eventual upgrade/replacement. But the important thing here is that the wait for S.H. Figuarts Blood Stalk wasn't a long one, nor is it a typical one – with the figure also coming packaged with some rather nifty Tamashii Effects steam cloud effect parts.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo Bike Gamer Level 0


Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations might now be getting into full swing when it comes to Kamen Rider Build S.H. Figuarts, but as far as Tamashii web exclusives are concerned there's still plenty of room for more Kamen Rides Ex-Aid releases! After previously appearing in the line in both his level 2 and level 5 forms, everyone's favourite medical examiner comes back from the dead as S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Lazer Turbo Bike Gamer Level 0! Following his resurrection by Kamen Rider Cronus, Kiriya Kujo adopts this as his default Rider form - appearing as an opponent to the CR Kamen Riders before double-crossing the Genm Corporation President and revealing that his loyalties always lied with Emu Hojou

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Anime REVIEW: Cutie Honey Universe

Cutie Honey Universe
Cutie Honey Universe is available in streaming form on Hi-Dive

2018 celebrates 50 years of Go Nagai's work as a writer and manga artist, and given the influence of his back catalogue it's not surprising that his most famous works have been undergoing a resurgence lately. The Devilman franchise has reached an all-new audience with mega popular Netflix exclusive Devilman Crybaby, while the original Mazinger Z anime received a proper sequel over 40 years later with the Mazinger Z Infinity movie. So where does this leave Nagai's high-action, lowbrow magical girl series? An influence to the pantheon that followed, Cutie Honey returns for its first animated outing since 2004 with the release of Cutie Honey Universe. Closely patterned in both story and character design after the original manga series, Cutie Honey Universe was animated by studio Production Reed (who until 2007 were Ashi Productions) and ran for a total of 12 episodes.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Minipla Pat Kaiser


Release Date: April 2018 
RRP: 1980 yen (1 complete figure, 5 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case, 12 boxes) 

With the phantom thieves on the loose, the Global Police Force aren't that far behind! Bandai continue the Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger minipla line into its second wave with the release of Pat Kaiser – the Patrangers' law-enforcing equivalent of the Lupinranger's Lupin Kaiser. This mecha combines the Patranger's three Trigger Machine vehicles together with the Goodstriker – the sentient piece of the coveted Lupin Collection that's happy to ally himself with both Super Sentai teams.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Series REVIEW: The Return of Ultraman

The Return of Ultraman

Although Ultraseven was originally intended to mark the end of the Ultra Series, Ultraman's popularity was just too much for Tsuburaya Productions to ignore and the franchise eventually returned in 1971 with its fourth instalment – The Return of Ultraman. However much had changed in the three years since Ultraseven's conclusion, with Eiji Tsuburaya passing away in 1970 and his son Hajime taking over the company until his own death in 1973. Originally planned to see feature the original Ultraman returning to Earth, The Return of Ultraman was later restructured to star a new hero – Ultraman Jack, though he would not actually receive this name until much later in 1984. The change also allowed for both the original Ultraman and Ultraseven to appear in the show, marking the first time a shared universe was introduced into the Ultra Series canon.