Monday, 30 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Heaven Sent

Doctor Who s09e11 - Heaven Sent

It’s been a rather great run of Doctor Who episodes this year, but unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end. And that end is nigh, as we reach the penultimate episode of series/season nine – Heaven Sent. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay (who previously directed last year’s finale two-parter Dark Water and Death in Heaven), this episode is a particularly interesting case as the only speaking role is the Doctor himself. With no other actors to bounce off of this episode is truly the Peter Capaldi show, and as the Doctor quite rightly says to himself here “the room is yours, so work it.”

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Anime REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

In terms of iconic anime franchises, it’s hard to get much bigger than Ghost in the Shell. Though originally a manga series by Masamune Shirow, the perhaps better-known 1995 anime film adaptation directed by Mamoru Oshii proved heavily influential and is widely recognised as one of animation’s greatest offerings. The film also spawned a sequel, as well as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – a separate continuity television series that ran for seasons and had a few movies of its own. Partly in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the franchise, Production I.G. produced Ghost in the Shell: Arise, a brand new retelling by Tow Ubukata (who created the similarly cyberpunk Mardock Scramble) spanning four OVA films. These films were also re-released as a 12-episode series bearing the name Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture, featuring two brand new episodes to lead into yet another movie – this time simply bearing the name Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 3

Who’s that guy! 

Super Hero Taisen GP may not be a particularly good film, but it will undoubtedly go down in infamy for bringing one lost piece of Kamen Rider history to the silver screen. After initially appearing in a 1972 manga story battling against General Black, Kamen Rider 3 made the leap to the onscreen Rider universe in 2015 when he was reimagined as Shocker’s timeline changing ultimate weapon. This version of the character was F-1 racer Kyoichiro Kuroi, who defeated Riders 1 and 2 to alter the timeline. Forever burdened with guilt from his victory over the heroes, with the help of Kamen Rider Drive Kuroi eventually turned to the side of justice – helping defeat Shocker before fading out of existence.

Kamen Rider 3’s return to the franchise was suitably hyped prior to the release of GP, and his significance is also marked by the fact that Bandai Tamashii Nations actually made his S.H. Figuarts a mass release item. While not the first movie exclusive character to receive such a thing, it’s still a fairly exclusive club nonetheless.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms

It’s beginning to feel like the Kamen Rider Gaim train will never end. It’s been over a year since the series came to a close, yet it seems to still be going strong in the form of the various Gaim Gaiden DVD/BD specials and accompanying merchandise. Bandai Tamashii Nations is still yet to squeeze out the entire main cast in the S.H. Figuarts line as well, but the end of 2015 sees them coming pretty close. Finally rounding off the initial quartet of New Generation/Energy Riders, the next character to join the line is the devious Lockseed dealer Sid – aka Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms! Another Tamashii Web Exclusive, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for the character to get released despite Sid appearing right from the start of the show. Still, when you’ve got a cast as big as Gaim’s it’s no surprise that some releases are going to come later than others.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Face the Raven

Doctor Who s09e10 - Face the Raven

It's only a matter of weeks until this year's series of Doctor Who draws to a close, so now it's time the stakes start getting raised. We've seen the Doctor and Clara face off against the Daleks, ghosts, Zygons and more, but as audience we have known that Clara's time in the TARDIS is slowly drawing to a close. That time has now come in Face the Raven - a story penned by series newcomer Sarah Dollard that also brings back a few familiar faces. Making their return are Rigsy (played by Jovian Wade, who previously appeared in the excellent Flatline) as well as Maisie Williams' Ashildr/Me, who appeared earlier this year in the episodes The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived. Doctor Who has been building up to this for quite a while now - it's time to say goodbye.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Movie REVIEW: Garo: Gold Storm

Garo: Gold Storm

Earlier this year Garo fans were treated to a brand new live-action series by the name of Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-, which saw Ryuga Dougai return as the titular Golden Knight along with Makai Preist Rian – both of whom previously appeared in Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. While the series was fairly standalone, some non-Japanese viewers may have been confused by the appearance of new supporting characters without any sort of introduction. This is because the series was actually preceded by a feature length movie, simply going by the title of Garo: Gold Storm. As well as acting as a precursor to -Sho- and debuting Ryuga’s new Garo Sho armour, the movie is also one of the several projects announced in 2015 to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.I.C. Kikaider (CR Kikaider S.I.C. Version)

While today Bandai's S.I.C. (which stands for Super Imaginative Chogokin) toy line is most reserved for "monstrous" and more detailed redesigns of the various characters from the Kamen Rider franchise, it didn't start out that way. In actual fact, the first five figures in the line (along with many other entries in its early years) were actually from Kikaider. Now 17 years later, the two-coloured android hero has returned. Based on the redesign that appear in the CR Kikaider S.I.C. pachinko machine, this is a brand new Kikaider figure that shows just how far the line has come in that time. No more minimally articulated figures that easily fall apart, these days the line gets the full Tamashii Nations treatment and stands proudly as the S.H. Figuarts older and more alternative brother. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Sleep No More

Doctor Who s09e09 - Sleep No More

Once upon a time "found footage" felt like a new and exciting style of filmmaking. But ever since films such as The Blair Witch Project it's been emulated by horror films time after time, and now for every decent attempt at it you get at least five really awful ones. But while the horror genre may be absolutely flooded with them, a found footage style episode is definitely a first for Doctor Who. Penned by series regular and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, Sleep No More is quite unlike any Who episode that has come before it - bringing the show into that not-so-exclusive club of media that has attempted such a hit or miss tactic. Was it a success? You'll have to read on to find out, but you better make sure you're good and rested before continuing...

Friday, 13 November 2015

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider 4

Kamen Rider 4

Let’s be honest – there are a lot of problems with Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3. But perhaps one the strangest ones is the fact that the film ends on a huge unresolved plot point – namely the death of Gou Shijima/Kamen Rider Mach. After a pretty explosive death scene that’s overlooked by most of the characters fighting in the battle against Shocker, the story then concludes with Shinnosuke and Kiriko mournfully getting on with their lives without him. This wasn’t just lazy writing though, as these events then tie into Kamen Rider 4 – an internet mini series released in accompaniment.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts War Machine Mark 2

With Bandai Tamashii Nations slowly running out of “main” Kamen Riders to produce for the S.H. Figuarts toy line, the last few years has seen the line expand into a number of different properties. And among the various other tokusatsu, anime and Star Wars figures, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be a particularly serious source of inspiration. We’ve so far had figures from both Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, followed this year by the core Avengers as they appeared in Age of Ultron. Bandai show no signs of stopping there though, with both Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armour and Ultron himself due next year as well as a number of other figures (most importantly including Hawkeye and Black Widow) revealed at the Tamashii Nations 2015 event. But before we get to any of those, the first Tamashii web exclusive figure from the Avengers sub line is in fact War Machine Mark 2 – who in reality only appeared in the movie for a couple of minutes at the most. However with James “Rhodey” Rhodes becoming a key Avenger at the end of the film who will likely play a key role in Captain America 3: Civil War, this is as good an opportunity as ever to show just how much WARMARCHINEROX.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Movie REVIEW: Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger; 10 Years After

There are few Super Sentai series that can say they were so popular that they supposedly almost got a second series. In fact, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger may in fact be the only one that can. After a handful of the cast made a brief return for a cameo appearance in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the alien-busting police themed Sentai celebrate their 10th anniversary with a one-off V-cinema release. In the same vein as the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 Years After special released back in 2013, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After reunites the cast of the beloved show for a brand new case. Roll back the clocks and pretend for a moment it's still 2005, because it's judgement time once again.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Zygon Inversion

Doctor Who s09e08 - The Zygon Inversion

Zygons, Zygons everywhere! Last week this newest season of Doctor Who really hit its stride with The Zygon Invasion, as the human/Zygon ceasefire dating all the way back to The Day of the Doctor began to crumble. The Zygon invasion had already begun, Kate Stewart was at the mercy of a Zygon in Mexico and the Doctor and Osgood were about to be blasted out of the sky but none other than Clara Oswald. Of course, it wasn't actually Clara but in fact a Zygon duplicate by the name of Bonnie. Now we pick things up in part two of the story - The Zygon Inversion, written again by Peter Harness but this time with the added input of Steven Moffat. There will be truth, or there will be consequences.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Darth Maul

Between all the hype surrounding The Force Awakens and Disney seemingly giving merchandising rights away to anyone who wants it, it's safe to say that the world is in the grips of Star Wars fever right about now. And for toy collectors S.H. Figuarts are right at the heart of this, as Bandai Tamashii Nations seem to be putting their all into an expansive range of figures that cover the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy and the forthcoming Episode VII. After warming up the line with favourites in the form of Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and Luke Skywalker, Bandai are tackling the prequels for the first time with the character a lot will have been looking forward to see - Darth Maul. Now say want you want about the overall quality of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but you can't deny that Maul was one hell of a cool character. Underused and ultimately inconsequential yes, but with that horned, tattooed head and double bladed lightsaber he still managed to leave one hell of an impression. So much that he was even resurrected as a recurring villain for the Star Wars: Clone Wars CGI series. As easily one of the most popular elements of the prequel trilogy, Maul was pretty much a no-brainer to one of the first characters from that side of the franchise Bandai tackled.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la is perhaps one of the most surprising offers from Tamashii Nations yet. As a movie-exclusive rider from five years ago with a total screen time of about 10-15 minutes, the character has somehow defied all odds to not only come out before the main series Rider her design is based on (Kamen Rider Kiva) but also be the first female character from the franchise to receive a mass release figure. Quite unexpected, but when you consider that Kamen Rider Abyss managed to do a similar thing a few years back it just goes to show that Bandai/Japan really love Kamen Rider Decade. Kamen Rider Kiva-la appeared in the movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie War 2010 as the Rider form of series regular Natsumi Hikari, as she uses the power of Kiva-la to fulfil her role as the one to defeat the Destroyer of Worlds.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Zygon Invasion

Doctor Who s09e07 - The Zygon Invasion

Despite having only appeared in one story in the classic series its amazing how the Zygons have stood the test of time to become one of Doctor Who's more memorable monsters. Their appearance in 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor was a nice way of bringing them forward into the modern era, however there was a bit too much going on in that episode to really give them the focus they deserved. However the episode sowed the seeds for The Zygon Invasion, the first of a two part story which also addresses another plot point that has arisen since then. Written by Peter Harness (who also wrote last year's Kill the Moon), this episode also sees the return of Osgood - the UNIT scientist with a penchant for dressing up in the Doctor's old wardrobes.