Thursday, 19 April 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger

Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 2484 yen

When the original Pacific Rim film was released back in 2013, one of the biggest questions on collectors minds was "why don't Bandai Tamashii Nations have the licence to this?". Instead fans had to deal with the subpar offerings from NECA, many of which suffered easily broken joints, poor articulation and shoddy paintwork. However with the release of Pacific Rim Uprising the dream is finally being realised, with Tamashii Nations launching a double assault on wallets. For the high-end collectors there's the original film Jaegers coming in the coveted Soul of Chogokin line, while the smaller scale buyers have the new generation of mecha to look forward to as part of the Robot Damashii (aka Robot Spirits) line. But that's not all either, as Bandai aren't just launching an attack on their competitors in terms of quality - they're doing it in terms of pricing as well. All of the Uprising Robot Damashii figures sport notably lower prices than usual for the line, with Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger leading the way at an unbelievable 2484 yen ($20 or £25 if you're buying domestically). 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

First Impressions: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

After 12 years even the most dedicated fan could give up hope of their favourite show ever returning. However for Full Metal Panic! fans 2018 is already looking to be a pretty fantastic year, as the franchise finally returns for its first new anime instalment since 2006. Better still, Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory has been confirmed by its creator Shoji Gatoh to not only be a continuation but also "not contain any expository episodes" and "be full throttle from the get-go". Animation is once again handled by Xebec, and all of the original cast have returned to reprise their roles. Could you ask for much more than that?

First Impressions: Steins;Gate 0

Steins;Gate 0
Steins;Gate 0 is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

As I previously mentioned in my Persona 5: The Animation piece a few days ago I'm a fairly lazy gamer. I love video games and have every intention to play them, but life gets in the way far too often. So naturally one of the most anticipated shows to be starting this season for me (along with many other people) was Steins;Gate 0. The original Steins;Gate remains a firm favourite, and after being treated by an anime-exclusive OVA and movie to get a psuedo-sequel all these years after feels like a dream come true. But yes the gang are all back once more, with White Fox returning to handle animation duties as they adapt the visual novel of the same name from 5pb. and Nitroplus.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

First Impressions: Cutie Honey Universe

Cutie Honey Universe
Cutie Honey Universe is available in streaming form on HIDIVE

With 2018 celebrating the 50th anniversary of Go Nagai as manga artist, there's been a pretty noticeable revival of his most famous works in the past few months. The original 1972 Mazinger Z anime series received a continuation in the form of the Mazinger Z Infinity movie, while Devilman became the talk of the town after Netflix launched the Devilman Crybaby remake back at the beginning of the year. The only one missing from the trifecta is of course Cutie Honey , the 1973 manga turned anime series which had a huge influence on the magical girl genre and spawned numerous sequels, remakes and reboots. This spring season sees Nagai's fanservice favourite return in Cutie Honey Universe, a brand new series from Production Reed (the studio formerly known as Ashi Productions).

Monday, 9 April 2018

First Impressions: Persona 5: The Animation

Persona 5: The Animation
Persona 5: The Animation is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll 

Phantom thieves are all the rage these days. Lupin III is back for a new series this season, 2018's Super Sentai series is Lupinranger vs Patranger, and then of course there's also Persona 5. One of last year's most popular video games is now receiving its animated adaptation courtesy of A-1 Pictures, who previously handled both the Persona 4 series and the Persona 3 movies. Though Persona 5: The Animation will inevitably be a heavily condensed version of the game focussing on the main storyline, it presents the perfect entry point for viewers interested in the story that might not have 100+ hours to dedicate to the game itself.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Anime REVIEW: Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Super is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

In 2013 Toei Animation shocked fans with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods - a brand-new feature film that not only directly followed on from Dragon Ball Z, but was also written by creator Akira Toriyama himself. Its success led to Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' two years later - a direct sequel reviving the franchise's most popular villain and again written by Toriyama. There was no denying that Dragon Ball had well and truly returned, but it wasn't until Dragon Ball Super was announced that it really sunk in. Running for an impressive 131 episodes, this was the first proper Dragon Ball series since Dragon Ball GT all the way back in 1996. And with the advent of simulcasting in its absence, one of the most popular anime franchises on the planet could now reach a worldwide audience faster than ever before.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

First Impressions: Gundam Build Divers

Gundam Build Divers
Gundam Build Divers is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll and Youtube

While all Gundam shows are designed to sell model kits to some extent, it wasn't until Gundam Build Fighters came along that Bandai and Sunrise built a whole spin-off around it. While not the first gunpla-centric instalment in the franchise, the passion Build Fighters exuded for all things Gundam turned it into something much more than the generic tournament/product placement show it seemed from the outset. It's success led to sequel series Gundam Build Fighters Try in 2014, and now its returned once again for a third edition. Combing the worlds of Gunpla Battle and virtual reality gaming, its time to get those high grade kits ready once again as we dive into the world of Gundam Build Divers.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Build Rabbit Tank Form

Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 3456 yen

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the S.H. Figuarts line, and while you might think a milestone like that should persuade Bandai Tamashii Nations to finally release Kamen Rider Kiva in the line for now it seems like the ways they plan to mark it are a lot more low key. February 2018 saw the Kamen Rider Build range kick off a little earlier than usual with the release of S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Build Rabbit Tank Form, available for the special price of 3456 yen. While that's not quite the price the very first Figuarts (Kamen Riders 1 and V3 from Kamen Rider the Nextretailed for all those years ago (2310 yen), it's still far more reminiscent of this than the prices some fetch today. Build isn't the only Figuart to be getting this special treatment either, with a renewal edition of Dragon Ball Z's Son Goku also releasing later this year at a similar price point.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

First Impressions: FLCL Alternative

FLCL Alternative

If there's anyone who knows how to pull a good April Fools joke, its Adult Swim. In past years they've brought back Toonami for one night only (eventually leading to the programming block making a proper return), as well as air the Rick and Morty season 3 premiere months months ahead of its official release. So of course all eyes were on them for their 2018 rendition, and in a move that feels both surprising and somewhat expected all at once, this year brought along a sneak preview of the long-awaited FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) sequel. Just why they decided to go with FLCL Alternative (which acts as the third season and due for release in September) rather than FLCL Progressive (which airs in the summer) is anyone's guess, but that's just part of the fun.With Gainax properly out of the picture for these sequels the animation is solely handled by Production I.G., in a joint venture with both Toho and Adult Swim. As such, the dub will be airing alongside the Japanese version in the States - the latter of which was the version on show for this teaser.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive

Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

The release of Ultraman Orb last year brought hope to collectors that Bandai Tamashii Nations would begin to tackle the modern generation of Ultra heroes in tandem with their journey through the franchise's history, and that hope has now been answered with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive! As well as kicking off the Return of Ultraman range later this year with Ultraman Jack and Twin-Tail, Bandai will also be covering the latest Ultraman series with a number of figures from Ultraman Geed. And of course there's no better place to start than right at the beginning, with Primitive - the base form of Ultraman Geed and a "Fusion Rise" of both the original Ultraman and the evil Belial.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Anime REVIEW: Time Bokan: The Villains Strike Back

Time Bokan: The Villains Strike Back
Time Bokan: The Villains' Strike Back is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

In 2016 Tatsunoko Productions' Time Bokan series made its grand comeback with the history perverting Time Bokan 24, tearing textbooks to shreds as it revealed everything they taught us to be a lie. After ending with the promise that it would be back for more and some successful television ratings, the series was true to its word and returned at the end of 2017 with Time Bokan: The Villains Strike Back. What ensured was another 24-episode joy ride into the past, with Tatsunoko once again teaming up with Level-5 for more semi-educational chaos.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Anime REVIEW: Junji Ito Collection

Junji Ito Collection
Junji Ito Collection is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Junji Ito is a name synonymous with horror manga. Often heralded as the "master of horror manga", the artist has produced countless works stories that depict both the grotesque and the supernatural – many of which have been adapted into feature films Among the more notable offerings are Uzumaki, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack as well as the Tomie series. Ito was even set to be a collaborator on Guillermo Del Toro/Hideo Kojima's ill-fated Silent Hills, perhaps a further sign of the respect his work commands. So when Studio DEEN announced they would be animating a selection of his stories into the Junji Ito Collection anthology series, naturally hype and expectations were rather high. Not only did this present an opportunity to finally see these stories in motion, but also introduce newcomers to the twisted works of Junji Ito.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Anime REVIEW: Pop Team Epic

Pop Team Epic
Pop Team Epic is available in streaming form subbed by Crunchyroll, Hi-Dive & (in Australia and New Zealand) AnimeLab, as well as dubbed by Funimation

Animation is such a wonderfully diverse medium. It can be educational, comedic, heartwarming, all of the above or so much more. On the other hand, there's Pop Team Epic. Originating as a four-panel webcomic by Bkub Okawa, the series quickly shot to fame and it wasn't long before the internet was awash with out-of-context images of the two schoolgirls. If you've spent any time in the anime/manga circles of discussion boards or social media, you've probably encountered the likes of "your life ends 30 minutes from now" or "doesn't get it at all" at some point. So of course it was only a matter of time until Pop Team Epic arrived to conquer the world of anime, with the long-awaited adaptation kicking of 2018 and nobody quite sure what they were getting themselves in for. Calling it "unique programming" would probably be putting it lightly...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Eternal

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 7884 yen

If there's one series the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has shown a particular dedication to in the last year or so, it's Kamen Rider W. That isn't all that surprising really, given both the show's popularity and its surprise semi-revival last year with the ongoing Kamen Rider W: Fuuto Detective manga. First came Kamen Rider Double CycloneJoker at the end of 2016, followed by Kamen Rider Accel and Kamen Rider Skull last year. Now Bandai Tamashii Nations are kicking off 2018 with the last of the show's Riders - the villain of its summer movie Kamen Rider W Forever: A to Z/The Gaia Memories of Fate. However unlike the others S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider Eternal was unable to escape the fate of being a Tamashii web exclusive, making him a little pricier than the others. But as you'll see further down in this review, the figure has a few surprises in store to try and justify this cost.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Anime REVIEW: Land of the Lustrous

Land of the Lustrous
Land of the Lustrous is available in streaming form on HIDIVE

The prevalence and use of 3D CGI in Japan is perhaps one of the biggest ongoing debates you'll find in the anime fandom. Despite the medium coming a long, long way in recent years and resulting in both notable films and shows, you'll always find that sect of fans that argue that it doesn't hold a candle to traditional 2D animation. However if there's one show that can hopefully change this, it's Land of the Lustrous (Hōseki no Kuni). Based on the manga series by Haruko Ichikawa and animated by CGI specialist studio Orange as their first lead project (though their vast repertoire includes the likes of Accel World, Macross Frontier, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, KanColle and more), Land of the Lustrous was one of the hottest shows of the 2017 fall anime season - and with very good reason.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-60 Overlord

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 9180 yen

It was a sad day in the Transformers fandom when it was announced that TakaraTomy wouldn't be continuing with the Legends line as Hasbro moved into the Power of the Primes range - instead bringing over the US versions without any changes as part of a wider brand unification. Many (including myself) will miss Takara's more cartoon-inspired decos, but at least the beginning of 2018 has some pretty hotly anticipated releases. Amongst them is Transformers Legends LG-60 Overlord, a brand new version of the Decepticon general from the second Japanese-exclusive anime series Transformers: Super God Masterforce. The original toy was an exclusive release to Japan and Europe, however with Overlord gaining new popularity thanks to the Last Stand of the Wreckers and other IDW comics the time has finally come for this fan favourite to receive an updated figure. This figure is an extensive remould of Leader class Titans Return Black Shadow, however as that was not released as part of the Legends line this is the first time the mould is making its way over to Japan. And honestly, its better suited to (and arguably intended for) Overlord in the first place.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Para-DX Perfect Knock Out Gamer Level 99

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 6480 yen 

As anyone who has collected S.H. Figuarts for a while will tell you, Bandai Tamashii Nations will make some truly strange decisions sometimes. Just as the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid range was getting into full swing, Kamen Rider Para-DX in both his Perfect Puzzle and Knock Out Fighter Level 50 forms at various events and the Tamashii showroom in Akihabara. Getting no concrete release information with these displays is pretty common, but as time went on the figures disappeared and were never heard from again. Then all of a sudden S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Para-DX Perfect Knock Out Gamer Level 99 was announced as a Tamashii web exclusive release, completely skipping over the Bugster Rider's previous two forms. Even as the line continues into the later Ex-Aid forms there's still no sign of them on the horizon, suggesting that the pair may have indeed been sentenced to Tamashii purgatory. But for those who need their Parado fix at least there's this version, which not only encompasses both games he fights using but is arguably his definitive version going forwards into the epilogue movies and V-cinema releases.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending

Although Kamen Rider summer movies have been tying themselves into their respective series for some years now, when one comes along with a name like "True Ending" that immediately suggests that it isn't going to be another parallel universe tale like the pre-Decade Heisei years were known for. Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending serves as the final conclusion to the 27th Kamen Rider Series, though given that both a crossover film and numerous V-cinema releases from that the title has become somewhat moot since then. But as far as Ex-Aid's time in the spotlight goes this could indeed be considered the end, and what better place to do than on the big screen. Not only was the film released as part of double-bill with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack, it also received a special Playstation VR preview which allowed fans to check out some of its fight scenes in glorious 360° vision.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Movie REVIEW: Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death

Thunderbolt Fantasy: The Sword of Life and Death is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

If there was one thing that stood out among Crunchyroll's simulcast offerings in 2016, it was Thunderbolt Fantasy. A 13-episode collaboration between Gen Urobuchi, Nitroplus, Good Smile Company and Taiwan's Pili International Media, the series was an assault of unique styles and visuals that brought the art of Taiwanese glove puppetry to a wider audience. 2017 remained a fairly quiet time for the show as fans patiently wait for its second season, however it capped the year off with the arrival of Thunderbolt Fantasy: A Sword of Life and Death – a direct to video movie that explores the time both prior to and following on from the series with some of its key characters.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-04 Moma & BB-04EL Elephinx

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 2678 yen/$21.99

Last year a little Chinese company by the name of 52TOYS rocked the world of transforming robot toys with their Beast Box line - affordable robot animals which all share an alternate cute mode. The line kicked off with the cute but deadly BB-01 DIO (followed closely by the remoulded BB-02 Ghost Dog as well as Police and Clear repaints), with BB-02 JOJO (along with flame and clear variants) coming some months later. That might not sound like many releases, but the line certainly made up for it in charm and ingenuity. Now they're kicking 2018 off with the third mould from their mechanical menagerie - BB-04 Moma! The mighty mammoth is currently available in three different variants - standard, clear and BB-04EL Elephinx.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Color Ver.

Release Date: January 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

When Mikumo Guynemer and Freyja Wion were released last year it seemed like the time of Macross S.H. Figuarts had finally arrived. Sadly that time came and went in a flash, with the remaining members of Walküre sentenced to Tamashii Nations limbo alongside the likes of Char Aznable and a whole host of Super Sentai and Metal Heroes characters. However even Bandai weren't going to let the 35th anniversary of the Macross franchise go uncelebrated, and in an act of equivalent exchange Macross Frontier's galactic fairy has escaped from said limbo to arrive as S.H. Figuarts Sheryl Nome Anniversary Special Colour Ver.!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler

Release Date: January 2018 
RRP: 7020 yen 

Not content with simply exploring the early years of Tsuburaya Productions' legendary franchise, Bandai Tamashii Nations kicked off their range of modern-era Ultraman S.H. Figuarts last year with a number of releases from Ultraman Orb. Of course no Orb display would be complete without Gai's friend turned enemy turned usually-begrudging ally (it's a fairly complicated relationship to say the least), which is why they've kicked off what will hopefully be another great year of Ultra releases with S.H. Figuarts Jugglus Juggler. Based upon his monster form which made its debut in episode 10 of the series, the figure is a Tamashii web exclusive item as well as the first Ultraman Orb Figuart to not simply be a remould of the titular character.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6480 yen

The Shinkocchou Seihou range of S.H. Figuarts is the cream of the crop. The best of the best. So far it's given birth to a wide selection of Kamen Rider figures that were desperately in need of an update, a main Rider that's been missing from the lineup for far too long and later this year will begin to venture outside of the Kamen Rider franchise. So after the end of another successful year, it makes sense to round it off with the one that helped start it all. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 was one of Bandai Tamashii Nations' final releases of 2017, alongside S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo as the perfect partner piece.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

First Impressions: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger

Now that Uchu Sentai Kyuranger has properly broken the mould with its 12-member team, it's time for Super Sentai to really start experimenting with its format. 2018 is going to be a huge year for the franchise, as for the first time in its 43 year history it will be debuting not one, but TWO different Super Sentai teams in the same series. This year it's all about cops and robbers with Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, capitalising on Japan's love for the "phantom thief" character archetype popularised by the likes of the Lupin III series and (more recently) Persona 5. Of course where there are dashing thieves the law enforcement isn't too far behind, which means the two teams will likely be butting heads even as they face off against a common enemy.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Series REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

After Zyuohger marked the 40th anniversary of Super Sentai with a celebration of the format and tropes it had built up over the years, it only felt right that the franchise try something new with its 41st series. So when it was announced that Sentai would be heading out into the stars with the space-faring Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, things felt a little different. For the first time ever the series would be kicking off would an incredible nine different rangers (taking that number all the way up to 12 by its end), with each suit showing off more unique attributes outside of their designated colours. The production side of things also saw some change as TV-Asahi took on greater involved in the form of a chief producer role, Bandai of America participated in the early design stages and midway through Super Hero Time moved to a brand new timeslot. After 41 years change may be long overdue, but was it enough to usher in a new era of Super Sentai?

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6264 yen

From the second it was first revealed at the 2016 Tamashii Nations event, S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo was a figure that was sure to get everyone talking. All of a sudden affordable articulated figures of Kamen Rider civilian forms didn't just seem like a pipe dream, igniting the hope that maybe one day other Riders would receive similar treatment. Of course the trouble with Tamashii Nations events is that not every figure seen at these events is going to definitely see release, but if one figure felt like it might eventually see the light of day it was this one. Jump forward to the end of 2017 and Bandai Tamashii Nations capped off the year with a trifecta of iconic tokusatsu heroes in their civialian guises - kicking off with Ultraseven's Dan Moroboshi before moving onto Space Sheriff Gavan's Retsu Ichimonji before finishing off with Hongo himself. Not just the perfect way to end another year of S.H. Figuarts, but the perfect partner piece to the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 released in the same month.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Red

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 6296 yen

Good Smile Company has been dabbling with Pokémon figures in the Nendoroid line for some time now, but 2017 marked a big moment for collectors as Max Factory got involved with the Figma line. Capping off what has undoubtedly been a strong year for toys no matter what your preferred fandom or toy line is something that always felt like a possibility, but never quite felt like it was going to be reality. And with the year also marking the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise it couldn't have come at a better time. He's conquered the eight Kanto gym leaders, beaten the Elite Four to become the Pokémon league champion and filled all 151 slots of Professor Oak's original Pokédex. But now, Figma Red has finally arrived to tackle collections across the globe.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Toybox REVIEW: NX Edgestyle Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 3780 yen

2017 marked Gurren Lagann’s 10th anniversary, and though Gainax aren’t really in much of a position to give it the celebration it deserves at least there were at least some notable merchandise releases to mark its birthday. Myethos kicked off the year by finally releasing their 1/8 scale Nia Teppelin Wedding version statue, while Bandai Tamashii Nations closed it off with a double bill of surprise releases. Following on from November’s Proplica Core Drill was the release of NX EdgeStyle Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – adding the titular mecha’s final form to Bandai’s growing range of super-deformed articulated robots. Bandai choosing Tengen Toppa over regular Gurren Lagann is a little surprising, but given the scarcity of other figures for the various forms (the only other articulated figure is the 2008 Revoltech) it’s far from unwelcome.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Ash Ketchum (Satoshi) & Pikachu

Release Date: December 2017
RRP: 4630 yen

Ever since Good Smile Company first released their original Red Nendoroid way back in 2014 it seems that there's finally a good selection of Pokémon trainer figures on the market. Nendoroid have continued to chip away at characters from all generations of the video games, Kotobukiya and Megahouse have the static figure side of things covered while S.H. Figuarts and Figma finally answered fans prayers for some articulated action figures. To celebrate their 800th Nendoroid release Good Smile finally made the leap from games to anime with a figure not only highly desired, but one that couldn't have been timed any better given the 20th anniversary franchise celebrations. To Japan it may be Satoshi, but to me (and certainly many others reading this review) it's none other than Ash Ketchum together with his partner and best friend Pikachu.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Movie REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack

Even though it wasn’t released until December, 2017 was a year that was surrounded by Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi hype. So much so that the film even unexpectedly showed up as a sponsor of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger as the release date drew closer. However that wasn’t the only link that could be drawn between the film franchise and the 41st Super Sentai series either, with Kyuranger giving it a few obvious nods in its summer movie – Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver's Counterattack. In typical fashion the movie was released alongside Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending in cinemas, taking place roughly between episodes 22 and 23 of the series itself.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

First Impressions: Darling in the Franxx

Darling in the Franxx
Darling in the Franxx is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Given that the studio was founded by the people that helped bring Gurren Lagann to life, it's amazing that only now Trigger are creating a full-length mecha anime. Maybe it's just that trying other things were higher up on their priority list, because Darling in the Franxx still isn't a straight production. Instead Trigger have teamed up with A-1 Pictures (The Idolm@ster, Aldnoah.Zero), bringing together a number of notable staff members. The show is directed and co-written by Atsushi Nishigori (The Idolm@ster) with Naotaka Hayashi (Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes) along with action directing by Hiroshi Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill) and mechanical design by Shigeto Koyama (Star Driver, Captain Earth). That's quite the list of talent straight off the bat.

Friday, 12 January 2018

First Impressions: Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is streaming in selected territories on Netflix

There are a number of extremely strong offerings amongst the 2018 winter anime season, but undoubtedly one of the most hotly anticipated shows kicking off this new year of anime is Violet Evergarden – based on the light novel series by Kana Akatsuki. As well as being the latest show from acclaimed studio Kyoto Animation (Haruhi, K-On! and more recently A Silent Voice), the first episode has also been premiered across a number of anime conventions last year to drum up anticipation. Now with Netflix simulcasting the series across a number of different territories (but surprisingly not the US), the streaming service properly enters the anime game on the same playing field as its genre-specific competitors.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Anime REVIEW: Macross 7

Macross 7

Macross 7. Those words alone are enough to make a certain section of Macross fans shudder. Despite the six-part Macross II: Lovers Again OVA arguably being the black sheep of the franchise, it’s undoubtedly Macross 7 that has the most mixed response amongst its English-speaking fans. But in its home country the success of Macross 7 cannot be understated, spawning a 49-episode television series, three OVAs, 12 home release minisodes, a five-part sequel OVA, a ton of albums, manga spin-offs and even a movie created solely as an advertisement for the Blu-ray remasters. So if Japan love Macross 7 that much, surely the show can’t be all that bad can it?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Series REVIEW: Ultraman Geed

Ultraman Geed
Ultraman Geed is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

After making a comeback in a big way over the past few years, Tsuburaya Productions continued the new generation of Ultra heroes in 2017 with Ultraman Geed, the newest entry in their signature Ultra Series. After briefly making his debut at the end of Ultra Fight Orb, Geed introduces the titular Ultraman properly to a worldwide audience thanks to the continued simulcast deal with Crunchyroll. The series also continues the fight between Ultraman Zero and Belial, which first began in Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends and continued through Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial and Ultra Zero Fight.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

First Impressions: Pop Team Epic

Pop Team Epic
Pop Team Epic is available in streaming form subbed by Crunchyroll, Hi-Dive & (in Australia and New Zealand) AnimeLab, as well as dubbed by Funimation

If you've ever spent a prolonged period of time in the anime/manga circles on social media, chances are you'll have had some sort of encounter with Pop Team Epic (or Poptepipic as its also known by). The four-panel webcomic/digital manga by Bukubu Okawa quickly rose to the ranks of memedom, thanks to its surreal humour and references to various other anime/manga/gaming titles. Given its popularity it was only a matter of time before an anime adaptation was green-lit, with the show finally arriving as part of the 2018 winter anime season. Such is its popularity that the show has been made available on multiple streaming sites, with both CrunchyrollHi-Dive and (in Australia and New Zealand) AnimeLab simulcasting the show whilst Funimation tackle a simuldub.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

First Impressions: Junji Ito Collection

Junji Ito Collection
Junji Ito Collection is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

A new year means a new anime season has begun, so over the next few days expect a number of first impressions pieces on some of the shows I've decided to dedicate my time to for the next few months. The first of these is the Junji Ito Collection - an anthology series based on the works of famed horror manga artist Junji Ito. While I am personally unfamiliar with the source material, I am aware of Ito's reputation among manga fans and the idea of a horror anthology sounds like an appealing prospect for a series. Junji Ito Collection is being animated by Studio Deen (whose extensive resume includes the likes of the original Fate/Stay Night anime, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? and more recently The Reflection) and is already confirmed to run for a total of 12 episodes and two OVAs.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Anime REVIEW: Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2

Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2
Love Live! Sunshine!! is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

With the immense juggernaut that is the Love Live! franchise showing no signs of retiring any time soon, the reveal that Love Live! Sunshine!! would be returning for a second season was anything but a surprise. After all, why would ASCII Media Works, Lantis and Sunrise give up on their premier money-spinner while the story of Aqours is still only half-finished? With the show’s first season establishing the nine new girls as a group looking to follow in μ's footsteps, it’s the second that aims to take them beyond that and make a proper name for themselves.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Deadpool [DX Ver.]

Release Date: November 2017
RRP: 8333 yen (DX ver.), 7222 yen (standard version)

After getting somewhat of a head start with their Avengers figures, Figma seemingly dropped out of the Marvel Comics game fairly quickly - leaving rivals S.H. Figuarts to tackle the Marvel Cinematic Universe while Kaiyodo played around with the comic designs. However Max Factory are back at it once again with their highly awaited Deadpool figure. First revealed at a Wonderfest some time ago, it's taken a little while for this figure to get off the ground - with some buyers continuing to hold out as similar scaled figures were released in different lines. But as has become a recent trend with the line, Figma have marked the occasion appropriately and released the 'Merc with a mouth' in two different variants - a standard edition as well as a slightly more expensive DX Version including additional accessories.