Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Ryugen Yomi Yomotsuheguri Arms

Bandai Tamashii Nations seems to be doing its best to hold onto it as long as it can, but there aren't all that many Kamen Rider Gaim characters left to release in the S.H. Figuarts line. All the main characters will all be out by the end of the year, and from there it'll just be the case of the movie characters and alternate versions of already released ones (some being more important than others of course - here's looking at you Overlord Baron). However one of those variant suits surprisingly made it out before the last remnants of the main cast, which is pretty surprising when you consider that the suit only appeared in two episodes at the end of the show and then was never heard or seen from again. But at the same time, it isn't all that surprising when you consider that it's also one of the main four characters. After a few months break, the second Gaim release for 2015 is Kamen Rider Ryugen Yomi Yomotsuheguri Arms - the experimental and highly dangerous form Mitsuzane Kureshima takes in an attempt to defeat Kouta once and for all.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Solid Snake MGS2 Ver.

Poseable video game figures seem to be all the range these days. We've got Bandai covering Super Mario rather nicely with their S.H. Figuarts line, Max Factory dipping into various Nintendo franchises with Figma, and Square Enix's Play Arts doing their usual thing and covering various franchises when they're not too busy doing Marvel, DC and Star Wars variants. Metal Gear Solid however is a franchise that has never really been short of toys, but it's arguable how many of those are actually good. MacFarlane Toys made a good effort back in the day, and since then Play Arts and Revoltech have taken over the fray. Now Figma are stepping up to the podium with their own version of Solid Snake based on his appearance in the 2001 game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for Playstation 2. With a price tag of 7222 yen he's a bit more expensive than your average Figma, but with this release balancing both the Revoltech's articulation and the Play Art's sculpt it's fair to say his announcement caused quite a buzz amongst the figure collecting community.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Anime REVIEW: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Even the most casual fans are probably familiar with the name Haruhi Suzumiya. Back in 2006 the then-still-relatively-new studio Kyoto Animation made their mark with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and after two seasons and a movie the show (based on a series of light novels by Noizi Ito) went on to become something of a phenomenon in both Japan and in the West. Figure collectors will also probably know that the Haruhi cast were a key part of the early Figma line up. Now after five years since the release of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya the franchise has returned to the anime world once again, but this time in a slightly different form. Formerly a stoic humanoid interface for the Data Integration Thought Entity, Yuki Nagato takes centre stage in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, an alternate universe tale which reimagines the cast in a more "normal" setting. The series saw the main voice cast all return to their respective roles, however this time animation duties were handed over to Satelight.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Anime REVIEW: Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon Crystal

Mention magical girls to any anime fan (or even just animation fan in general) and there's one name that'll usually spring immediately to mind more than most. While she wasn't the first entry into this long and illustrious genre, Sailor Moon certainly played a big part in defining it. Following the franchise's 20th anniversary back in 2011, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon has received a revival of sorts - however this hasn't just been limited to a surge in new merchandise. Over the past year Toei Animation have been carrying out their own celebration with Sailor Moon Crystal - a reboot of the series intended to be more accurate to Naoko Takeuchi's original manga. Despite a rather strange schedule of new episodes twice a month, the series was simulcast worldwide on Niconico and covered the first two arcs of the manga across a total of 26 episodes.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Mach

Kamen Rider Drive may have broken the mould by being the first on-screen Rider to forgo a bike in favour of a car, but that doesn’t mean all the Riders in the series have followed suite. After Mashin Chaser’s twisted-metal biker appearance proved the perfect foil to Drive Type Speed’s sleek sports car finish, the show’s secondary Rider has gone a bit Evel Knieval – which shouldn’t be surprise given the powers were created over in America. Go Shijima aka Kamen Rider Mach (or MA-HA if you’d prefer) joins the S.H. Figuarts line as the third mass release figure from the series, neatly completing the main trinity of characters before Tamashii Nations push forward with the various alternate forms still to come.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

First Impressions: Ultraman X

Ultraman X

These days when people think of iconic Japanese superheroes their minds probably immediately go to Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, but there's one hero that definitely stands above them in terms of legend status - Ultraman. Starting way back with Ultra Q way back in 1966, Tsuburaya Production's Ultra Series has spawned a whole host of intergalactic silver-faced heroes. However some might argue the franchise doesn't quite have the pulling power that it used to. Individual series have been getting shorter and less regular, with Ultraman Ginga feeling like little more than a blip despite being the 50th anniversary celebration of Tsuburuya. Even on a more personal note my relationship with Ultraman isn't quite as familiar as I'd like - having only finished Nexus and only getting about two thirds of the way through Ginga before losing steam with it.

However Japan's legendary hero is back again in the form of Ultraman X, and this time a global takeover seems more likely than ever. With anime streaming site Crunchyroll already doing a massive service to toku fans worldwide by streaming classic Ultra shows Max, Mebius, 80 and Leo, they've also gone and announced that they will also be simulcasting this latest entry into the franchise on a worldwide scale (though sadly not in Asia).

Monday, 13 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 6

These days my favourite months of the year are always the ones that bring along a new box of 66 Action candy toys. With the Ultraman selection strangely quiet at the moment (there's been no new announcements since wave 2 hit a few months back, so hopefully something come forth once Ultraman X hits screens), the series that started this wonderful little line is back for its sixth wave. This time the selection of Kamen Riders Bandai have on offer include Kamen Rider Mach, Kamen Rider Accel, Kamen Rider Kuuga and Shadow Moon.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

First Impressions: Gatchaman Crowds insight

Gatchaman Crowds insight

When the legendary Gatchaman franchise made its grand return to screens in 2013, it wasn’t exactly in the way people expected. Though it most certainly retained the spirit of the original, Gatchaman Crowds was almost an entirely different beast – doing away with the “Science Ninja Team” monicker and recreating it into a superhero show with some interesting commentary on social media and a rather polarising lead character. The show also suffered from an incredibly underwhelming, which was later rectified with an OVA ‘director’s cut’ episode which drastically improved things. Crowds also proved to be a successful reboot for the franchise, with Tatsunoko Production bringing it back for a second season under the new name of Gatchaman Crowds insight.

Bird on! 

Monday, 6 July 2015

First Impressions: Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super

After 18 long years, Dragon Ball is well and truly back. Sure it's had a few OVA moments in that time, but thanks to the success of recent movies Battle of the Gods and Resurrection F the franchise has finally returned for a brand new series. And with original creator Akira Toriyama back in tow for character design and original story concept, it's a pretty big deal. Like many others my first experiences with anime as I know it today was coming home from school every day and watching Dragon Ball Z on Toonami, so the though of having a new episode to week every is making my inner child scream. Thank you Toei Animation, thank you for the gift that is Dragon Ball Super.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

First Impressions: Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX

If you'd told me back in 2012 that Senki Zesshō Symphogear would go on to have at least three seasons, I'd have probably laughed at you. While the first season was certainly interesting, I doubted it's staying power to become a fully realised franchise. But then in 2013 it completely defied my expectations, not only returning for a second season in the form of Symphogear G but also boasting considerable improvements all round. So building upon that success once again Encourage Films and Satelight have brought the show back for a third season -  this time under the monicker of Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX. Hopefully this is a good sign that the Symphogear formula will continue to be refined and perfected, but at the very least it's the assurance of another 13 episodes of thumping beats, mecha-style magical girl powers and ass kicking action.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Revoltech Fraulein Yoko Sailor Uniform Ver.

Although Gurren Lagann has received some pretty spectacular figures in the last few years courtesy of Sentinel and Bandai Tamashii Nations, I can't help but feel it came out at a pretty bad time for poseable figures. The only line to complete the various forms of the titular robot (as well as do some of the other Gunmen that appeared in the show) is Kaiyodo's Revoltech line, which was pretty great at the time but has now dated horribly thanks to its insistence on using its trademark revolver joints for everything. Revoltech also produced a Yoko Littner figure for their anime girls-orientated Fraulein sub line, but even that is a far cry from the likes of Figma or S.H. Figuarts. Yamato also produced their own Yoko figure a few years ago, but other than commanding a pretty high price tag there's also plenty of stories of it being a rather flimsy and breakable piece.

Anyway, nearly seven years after its original release Fraulein Yoko has made a surprising return - but this time with a twist. Limited to only 5000 pieces and bundled with the third volume of the present-day school themed Gurren Lagann Otoko Doahou! manga spinoff (which itself is an adaptation of a trilogy of previously produced drama CDs), this version of Yoko ditches her trademark bikini top and hot pants in favour of a Japanese sailor school uniform. In this universe Yoko's full name is actually Yoko Utsuwa, and is a member (and even president) of every club in Dai Gurren Academy. As well as being the gunner for Dai Gurren of course. Some things never change.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles "Batman: The Animated Series" Robin

Joining the Joker as part of wave two of DC Collectibles new range of figures based on Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures is the Boy Wonder himself, Robin! More specifically, the original Dick Grayson variety. Although Robin made regular appearances in the first half of B:TAS, he really came into his own in the later half - at which point the show became titled The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Just how much of the show falls under this banner is up for debate - production wise there are only two seasons (with the second using this name) but the DVD releases split it up into three, with only the third using that name. Either way it doesn't really make a whole lot of difference, because this line isn't acknowledging the name or logo change anyway. I can kind of understand since it isn't a major difference like the huge change between Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, but it would have been nice to get it acknowledged somewhere.