Monday, 31 July 2017

Series REVIEW: Ultra Q

Ultra Q

Back in 1966 before the days of Kamen Rider, Super Sentai or even Ultraman, there were still kaiju. Thanks to the success of the original Godzilla in 1955 and the subsequent films that followed, giant monster fever was about to hit an all-time high. While continuing his work on the Godzilla films with Toho studios, special effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya and his company Tsuburaya Productions teamed up with the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) to create Ultra Q, an episodic fantasy series pitched as Japan's answer to The Twilight Zone and The Outer LimitsUltra Q was the very first entry in the long-running Ultra Series, with the original Ultraman starting only two weeks after it's 28-episode run. The rest of course is history. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange

Release date: June 2017
RRP: 6480 yen (Japanese Edition), $84.99/£99.99 (Western Edition)

Bandai Tamashii Nations' journey through the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with the release of S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange! Although coming quite a while after the release of the character's film debut last year, the figure does time nicely with the growing hype for Avengers: Infinity War next year when the character (as played by Benedict Cumberbatch) will interact with the rest of the MCU for the first time. As well as releasing as a Tamashii web exclusive in Japan, Doctor Strange was released officially in the West as part of an exclusive set which also includes a number of flame effect parts.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mikumo Guynemer

Release Date: June 2017 
RRP: 5940 yen 

Bandai Tamashii Nations have given the Macross franchise a lot of love in the past few years, but in the usual fashion that love is usually reserved for the various Valkyries and other mecha that feature in the show rather than the characters themselves. However that's all about to change, as poseable Macross figures finally become a reality with the release of S.H. Figuarts Mikumo Guynemer. The first of the five Walküre girls to appear in the line, the "Mysterious Venus" of Macross Delta was a mass release figure - with Freyja Wion following suit in July. While there's still no word on the release of Kaname, Makina and Reina, prototypes at the very least have been produced so hopefully one day the group will be complete. But for now, it's time to see what the Kumo-Kumo has to offer.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts King Joe

Release Date: June 2017 
RRP: 7560 yen 

Ever since the Ultra Series found its new home with S.H. Figuarts the line has gone from strength to strength, limited not only to the Ultramen themselves but also aliens, kaiju and even an alternate version of the original Ultraman suit. This year marked the line’s jump to Ultraseven, with Bandai Tamashii Nations’ third release from the show adding another staple opponent to the ever-growing line-up of Ultraman creatures. To Ultra fans King Joe needs no introduction, originally making its debut in episodes 14 and 15 of Ultraseven before going on to reappear (albeit sometimes in different colours) in Ultraman Max, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, Ultra Galaxy Legend, Ultraman Ginga S, Ultraman X and more.

Monday, 24 July 2017

First Impressions: The Reflection

The Reflection
The Reflection is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

Surely the combination of Stan Lee, Studio DEEN and director Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi, Detroit Metal City) is a recipe for success right? This summer anime fans will find out with the release of The Reflection, a new collaborative effort between Studio Deen and Lee’s own Pow! Entertainment. This isn’t the first time Stan Lee has dived into the world of anime, but with an increase in superhero shows thanks to the success of Tiger & Bunny, One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia the competition is pretty stiff these days.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Anime REVIEW: Atom: The Beginning

Atom: The Beginning
Atom: The Beginning is available in streaming form via HIDIVE

Astro Boy is a name synonymous with manga and anime. Even if you’ve never read a single chapter, watched a single episode of the various iterations spawned over the years or even heard of its legendary creator Osamu Tezuka odds are that the seminal series has influenced your favourite shows in some way. Since 2014 his son Makoto Tezuka has collaborated with Tetsuro Kashara and Masami Yuki on Atom: The Beginning – a prequel manga which tells of a time before the creation of Mighty Atom (aka Astro Boy). In 2017 the title was adapted into a 12-episode anime series, created in collaboration between studios OLM, Inc., Studio I.G. and Signal.MD.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Accel

Release Date: June 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

Last year the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line made its first foray into villains and secondary Riders with the release of N Daguva Zeba and Kamen Rider Gatack, but as expected both figures came as Tamashii Web exclusive releases. However with S.H. Figuarts premium offshoot now covering the immensely popular Kamen Rider W, Bandai Tamashii Nations are shaking things up a bit. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Accel is the first secondary Rider in the line to be released at retail, with Kamen Rider Skull arriving later in August as its first movie Rider.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Zelda Twilight Princess Ver.

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 5556 yen

Figma Twilight Princess Link is a fantastic figure, but there are sure to be collectors out there rolling their eyes at the prospect of another Link variant. And understandably so – in five years of Legend of Zelda toys from Good Smile Company we’ve had five different Links across two toy lines (three Figma and two Nendoroids) but only one Zelda Nendoroid. However the wait is finally over, as Princess Zelda has finally joined the Figma line as she appears in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This release has been a long time coming, and finally offers Figma/Zelda fans something other than Link as well as another entry in GSC’s growing Nintendo range.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Link Twilight Princess Ver. DX Edition

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 5093 yen (Standard Edition), 6000 yen (DX Edition)

Between the two Figma and two Nendoroid figures released over past five years, it’s fair to say that Good Smile Company know that a Legend of Zelda Link figure will usually go down pretty well. So it’s no surprise to see that 2017 will see a new variant in both lines, with Figma opting for a Twilight Princess version spurred on by the game’s HD remake last year. Much like the A Link Between Worlds version this Link also comes in standard and DX editions, however unlike before this DX Edition isn’t limited to just the GSC and partner stores. On top of that it also released the same month as the long-awaited Figma Princess Zelda, making May 2017 a particularly special month for Zelda fans.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

First Impressions: Ultraman Geed

Ultraman Geed
Ultraman Geed is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

The last few years have seen a big return to form for Tsuburaya Productions and the Ultra Series, and with the help of Crunchyroll's simulcasting across the globe the success of both Ultraman X and Ultraman Orb were more far-reaching than ever. Now Tsuburaya are pushing forwards with another instalment in the long-running franchise - the hotly anticipated Ultraman Geed. As well as introducing a brand new Ultra hero, this series continues the struggle between Ultraman Zero and his nemesis Ultraman Belial previously seen through Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends The MovieUltraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial and Ultra Zero Fight.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Amazons (Season Two)

Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2

There are two reasons why a second season of Kamen Rider Amazons was inevitable. Obviously the popularity of the Amazon Prime-exclusive spin-off (which later even received an edited television run) was a factor, but more importantly there was no way that Toei were going name each episode beginning with a different letter of the alphabet and then just stop at 13. So yes, Amazons is back for another 13 episodes of downbeat, colour-filtered gore and savagery – kicking things off with a hefty time skip, new protagonists and a few other surprises as well.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Dino Force Brave

When an image of the Kyoryugers in slightly altered suits turned up online last year no one quite knew what it was. Some thought V-cinema, others thought it might be part of the next Super Hero Taisen release and some simply brushed it off as a high quality cosplay shoot. What no one expected though was it to be a sequel the 37th Super Sentai series, spurred on by the success of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger in South Korea (where it was released as Power Rangers Dino Force). Produced by Sentai’s Korean distributor Daewon Media (who despite the Power Rangers banner have no affiliation with Saban) and filmed in collaboration with Toei, Power Rangers Dino Force Brave is a 12-episode series featuring an all-new cast and modified mecha designs. The series was also released in Japan under the name Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Brave, with Shigeru Chiba, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Haruka Tomatsu and Ai Orikasa returning to reprise their roles as the narrator, Torin, Canderrilla and Luckyulo respectively.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

First Impressions: Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ

Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ

It’s that time again as everyone’s favourite group of armour wearing, weapon-wielding singing girls are back again for a fourth season. That’s right – Senki Zesshō Symphogear has returned! With each previous season having continually refined the formula and constantly upped the ante in terms of action and spectacle, Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ should hopefully suggest big things and comes on the back of plenty of fan anticipation. The anime and music franchise from Satelight and Encourage Films has built a firm following over the past five years, elevating it from a show that could have very easily been a one-time thing into something to always look forward to.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x12 - The Doctor Falls

Doctor Who 10x12 - The Doctor Falls

After 12 (mostly) fantastic weeks, but the time has finally come for Doctor Who series 10 to come to an end. Along with that comes goodbye to Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Michelle Gomez as Missy, Steven Moffat as showrunner and quite likely Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas as Bill Potts and Nardole too. Well, this is true for some of those anyway as we already know Capaldi and Moffat will both be returning for the Christmas special before handing the reins over to new showrunner Chris Chibnall and the currently unknown new Doctor. But regardless regeneration is in the air, and following the sheer horror of World and Time Enough there's two Masters, a newly born army of Cybermen and Bill's transformation into a Cybermen to deal with as The Doctor Falls...