Friday, 5 October 2018

Anime REVIEW: Cells at Work!

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

Anthropomorphism – the one thing that will ensure that anime never runs out of ideas. From monsters and countries to guns and warships, the act of turning things into marketable moe has always proven to be particularly popular. Now 2018 has shown that won't be changing any time soon with the release of Cells at Work! (Hataraku Saibou), adapted from the ongoing manga series of the same name by Akane Shimizu. This time it’s the turn of the human body, turning the millions of cells inside of us all into a whole selection of memorable characters. Running for a total of 13 episodes and animated by JoJo's Bizarre Adventure maestros David Production, Japan's answer to Osmosis Jones might just be the series you didn't know you wanted but secretly have always needed.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Divers

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

Sometimes there's no shame in shameless consumerism, and with Gundam Build Fighters both Bandai and Sunrise seemingly found the perfect formula for creating a Mobile Suit Gundam entry that's thoroughly enjoyable despite being primarily created to shift boxes and boxes of gunpla. Following the sequel series Gundam Build Fighters Try in 2015 this specific subset of the franchise went pretty quiet other than a few OVA-style specials here and there, but in 2018 it came back in full force under the new name of Gundam Build Divers. The game may be a little different, but it's still business as always when it comes to building customised Gundams and battling them across a series chock-full of franchise references and homages. But does it manage to capture the same magic as the original Build Fighters?

Monday, 24 September 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease


Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 6264 yen

It's an unfortunate truth of the S.H. Figuarts line these days that no matter how much of a main character a particular Kamen Rider may be, the way Bandai Tamashii Nations release these figures its almost certain that someone will end up as a Tamashii web exclusive rather than a general retail release. Kamen Rider Build got off to its odd decisions pretty early with the standard Kamen Rider Cross-Z being an exclusive while the less prevalent Cross-Z Charge was a general release. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Grease is the latest Build character to join the line, with Hokuto's own Kazumi Sawatari kicking off what will most likely be a string of Tamashii web exclusives from here on out.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Movie REVIEW: Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!

Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!

Although for the most part heroes never fully retire in the world of tokusatsu, it can often be a bittersweet moment when one series comes to an end and the baton is passed onto a new hero. However there's always one last farewell in the form of a movie, and Ultraman Geed's story is no exception as the 2017 Ultra returns in Ultraman Geed the Movie: Connect the Wishes!. As per previous entires Tsuburaya Productions' latest Ultra Series film instalment also acts as a crossover with 2016's Ultraman Orb - a hero that has continued to stay in the spotlight since his original series thanks to an Amazon Prime exclusive prequel series, a biography-style recap series and more recently a dark version of the titular character's powers appearing in the currently airing Ultraman R/B.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Movie REVIEW: Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix

Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix

The realisation that Engine Sentai Go-Onger came out ten years ago might be making some fans pretty old right now, but there is one silver lining to this reminder of just how quickly time can pass. After both Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger and Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger reunited for special V-Cinema releases a decade after their original appearances, it's now time to go at full-throttle mach speed once again as the 32nd Super Sentai team return for Engine Sentai Go-Onger: Ten Years Grand Prix. So grab your Engine Souls and get ready to 'met on once again, as all seven team members are back for one last adventure.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" Set


Release Date: August 2018
RRP: 8100 yen

Although the latter half of 2018 will be going full force on modern Ultra Series releases with both the long awaited Ultraman X and Ultraman R/B figures, Bandai Tamashii Nations still have plenty of love to give to the classic era of Ultraman. This year may have seen the S.H. Figuarts line move ahead into The Return of Ultraman but there's still plenty of room for releases from both the original series and Ultraseven - with this particular one being extra special. The vanguard of the Alien Ghos and the final opponent of Ultraseven, the twin-headed monster has finally arrived! S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" set celebrates the two-part finale of the 1967 series, arriving as a Tamashii web exclusive release.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Build

Kamen Rider Build

After the Kamen Rider aesthetic was taken a little bit off course in 2016 with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, things fell back into a bit more familiar territory with the series that followed. The compound eyes make a natural return, and the hero's two-part red and blue costume wasn't just a callback to the similarly styled Kamen Rider W – the colourscheme also harked back to heroes like the Kikaider brothers and Metalder. Welcome to Kamen Rider Build – the 19th entry in the show's Heisei period run and the 28th series in the franchise overall. Notably written in its entirety by Shogo Muto and with Ryuta Tasaki as lead director, Build is also the first (and possibly only) of the post-Decade series to take place in a parallel universe.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Zi-O


The end of the Heisei Era has arrived, and to celebrate the 20th and final entry in this chapter of Kamen Rider a new king has risen who is heir to the power of all Riders. His name is Kamen Rider Zi-O, and 10th anniversary series Kamen Rider Decade his series will commemorate all of the previous Heisei Riders to date. This comes not only in the form of the Ride Watch gimmick line and Ride Armour forms, but also cameo appearances from past actors, Rider-themed monsters and more. Heading the writing and directing of the series are Kento Shimoyama (Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Kikaider REBOOT and most recently the Gorider miniseries) and Ryuta Tasaki (a man involved in nearly all of Heisei Rider, as well as both Super Sentai and Power Rangers) respectively. Its opening theme "Over Quartzer" is performed by Shuta Sueyoshi and ISSA – the former having previously performed "Climax Jump" for Kamen Rider Den-O and the latter "Justiφ's" for Kamen Rider 555. Even before you get into the series itself, there's plenty of callbacks going on here.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Anime REVIEW: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

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

Good things eventually come to those who wait, and given that fans have been waiting nearly 13 years it's fair to say they were long overdue a new season of Full Metal Panic!. The military-charged mecha series by Shoji Gatou finally returned to television screens in 2018, for a new 12-episode season entitled Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. But despite all that time away it seems very little has changed for the franchise (other than some sharper animation and CGI mecha designs) - animation duties may have now moved from Gonzo and Kyoto Animation to Xebec, however the original cast have all returned to reprise their roles.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders

It's only a matter of days until the premiere of Kamen Rider Zi-O, the latest Kamen Rider series that marks both the 20th anniversary and the end of the Heisei Era in the franchise. But when it comes to their movies, Toei perhaps jumped the gun a bit when it came to the last entry in the annual Movie War series. The 2017 crossover between Kamen Rider Build and Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was titled Kamen Rider Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders, and as the name suggested also brought along a few older faces. Also returning for this movie (complete with their original actors) are Kamen Rider Ghost, Kamen Rider Gaim, Kamen Rider Fourze and Kamen Rider OOO.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge


Release Date: July 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

S.H. Figuarts release patterns can be confusing at the best of times, but every so often Bandai Tamashii Nations will go and do something truly baffling. After announcing the first Kamen Rider Cross-Z suit as a Tamashii web exclusive, S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Cross-Z Charge was almost immediately revealed to be a retail release. At the time this made sense given that the first Cross-Z suit was quickly replaced as Ryuga Banjou traded his Build Driver up for a Sclash Driver, but in hindsight makes a lot less sense as the Charge suit was quickly sidelined for good as the original Cross-Z returned - eventually being replaced by the Great Cross-Z and Cross-Z Magma suits (both of which are also web exclusives). But all that aside, Kamen Rider Cross-Z shows up in Kamen Rider Build as the action heats up and the war between Touto, Seito and Hokuto begins. Utilising the experimental Sclash Jelly, Ryuga finds his reason to fight - but will this be enough to overcome the dangerous side affects these new powers are having on him?

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Megabox MB-01 Alien


Release Date: May 2018
RRP: $29.99

52TOYS' Beast Box line has been going from strength to strength with its own fantastic cube animal designs, but now that the line has gained some traction it's also turning its attention toward some more iconic figures in popular culture. Enter Megabox – an offshoot of the Beast Box line which so far has revealed to be covering the likes of the Alien franchise, Predator and even Getter Robo. The first release in this line is known as both a Xenomorph or the Big Chap, but to most of the world is probably just best known as the Alien. Based on the design from the first Alien film, the Megabox MB-01 Alien kicks off 52TOYS foray into licensed designs in a big way.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Beast Box BB-05 Delta


Release Date: July 2018 (International)
RRP: 2678 yen (Japan)

Not so long ago Beast Box was simply this charming but obscure little selection of robot dinosaur figures most collectors would simply come across on Chinese social media posts, but thanks to a wider release on both Japanese and American website 52TOYS fun little range of transforming animal cubes has gathered quite the fan following. We've had a dinosaur, a gorilla and a mammoth, and now it's time to go back to the age of the dinosaurs once again with the release of BB-05 Delta. The fourth mould in the Beast Box line, Delta is initially available in his standard blue and white colourscheme, a TRON-line neon deco and an orange rescue repaint named Vanguard.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

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


Release Date: August 2016 
RRP: $25.99/£22.99

Of all the Batman: The Animated Series characters you'd expect DC Collectibles to release in their highly anticipated yet also highly repeatedly delayed and widely criticised line, Zatanna probably wasn't one of them - until you remember just how much of a fanboy Paul Dini is when it comes to her. What's perhaps stranger though is the fact Zatanna was a single card release, while far more characters and designs would later be shunted off into highly overpriced collectors' sets (looking at you especially B:TAS Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy). Still, one of the main charms of this line has been some of the more left-field choices there's been when it comes to releases, and Zatanna is definitely one of the best among them. Appearing solely in the episode "Zatanna", this version of Zatanna has no apparent magic powers (until her reappearance in Justice League Unlimited that is), but goes back a long way with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Or as she knows him, "John Smith".

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Anime REVIEW: FLCL: Progressive

FLCL: Progressive

When an anime studio announces that it's going to make a sequel to a cult classic 18 years after its release and without the assistance of one of the key studios originally involved, that's bound to create some skepticism. But that's exactly the case for FLCL: Progressive, the first of two 2018 sequels to the modern classic from Production I.G. and Gainax. Production I.G. have gone solo for these two instalments, co-producing them with both Toho and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. As a result of the latter's involvement, the show made it's premiere as part of the programming block - with the dub airing throughout June. The Japanese audio version will follow in September, with both FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative receiving theatrical screenings across Japan.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Garo (Saejima Kouga)


Release Date: June 2018
RRP: 9990 yen

The 2014 Tamashii Nations Event was notable for announcing the long-awaited return of GARO to the S.H. Figuarts line, but while the releases of both the Ryuga and Leon figures followed fairly swiftly there was one key figure that took much longer to show up again. However after nearly four years of waiting S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo (Saejima Kouga) has finally arrived - the first figure in the S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line that doesn't hail from the Kamen Rider franchise. As the name suggests this is the armour worn by Kouga Saejima, the first Golden Knight from the franchise and lead character of both the original series and Makai Senki. S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Garo (Saejima Kouga) was released as a Tamashii web exclusive, and at 9990 yen is certainly one of the most expensive standard sized Figuarts released thus far.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Minipla Wave 03 VS Vehicles


Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 3780 yen (1 case = 10 boxes, 2 complete sets)

The third wave of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger minipla arrives has arrived, and with some time to spare until the debut of Lupin X/Patren X and his X-Emperor this selection is dedicated to the various Lupin Collection VS Vehicles both teams have picked up in the series so far. Spread over five boxes, the wave features the Cyclone, Scissor and Blade Dial Fighters as well as the Biker, Crane and Drill Trigger Machines.

Monday, 23 July 2018

First Impressions: Attack on Titan Season 3

Attack on Titan season 3
Attack on Titan season 3 is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll 

If there's one mistake the phenomenally popular Attack on Titan anime adaptation has made since its debut all the way back in 2013, it's probably the five hiatus there was between the first and second seasons. And then if there's two mistakes the show has made, the other would be the decision to cut that second season short at a mere 12 episodes (compared to the first's 25 episodes). It seems that Studio Wit are well aware of this fact, as not only does Titan's third season arrive just a year later than its predecessor but has already been guaranteed to run for a far more agreeable total of 24 episodes. After the big revelations that took place at the end of the previous season, what will this batch of episodes have in store for Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi and the rest of the Survey Corps?

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Anime REVIEW: Darling in the Franxx

Darling in the Franxx is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

After the success of shows such as Kill la Kill, Space Patrol Luluco and Little Witch Academia, anything involving studio Trigger usually comes along with some fanfare. But their first mecha outing, and one as a collaboration with A-1 Pictures subsidiary CloverWorks, was definitely one to keep an eye on. This is Darling in the Franxx, the first of Trigger's three original works teased at their Anime Expo 2017 panel. Running for a total of 24 episodes (along with three special "making of" episodes), the series was spear-headed by Atsushi Nishigori (The Idolm@ster, as well as involvement in numerous Gainax projects) with character designs by Masayoshi Tanaka (AnoHana, Anthem of the Heart) and mechanical designs from Koyama Shigeto (Star Driver, Captain Earth). Though the exact split in the workload isn't entirely clear, it's largely understood CloverWorks oversaw most of the visuals while Trigger's involvement mainly came from the action side of things as well as a few select episodes.

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.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figure Complex Amazing Yamaguchi Carnage


Release Date: May 2018 
RRP: 7452 yen

Once upon a time Kaiyodo's Revoltech line ruled the roost when it came to collector-orientated affordable, articulated figures from Japan. But with the rise of competitors such as Figma and S.H. Figuarts, Revoltech's trademark clicky revolver joints began to lose their charm for many buyers. However the line never stopped, and in recent years Revoltech technology has branched off into a number of lines under the "Figure Complex" umbrella. The most popular of these has been the Amazing Yamaguchi line – where sculptor Katuhisa Yamaguchi gives his take on various characters from the Marvel Comics universe. Its latest release is another addition from the Spider-Man family, logically following on from the success of its Venom figure with the release of the symbiote's murderous offspring. With a design evocative of 90s comic edginess and all manner of possibilities when it comes to posing and accessories, Amazing Yamaguchi Carnage is the perfect addition to Revoltech's big comeback.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 2


Release Date: May 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

Following the release of S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 1 at the end of last year it was fairly obvious just where Bandai were going to go next. Since you can't do one without the other, so the next Kamen Rider to receive a much needed update in Tamashii Nations premium Figuarts range was of course the original's direct successor - Kamen Rider 2, aka Hayato Ichimonji.  A simple release but one that's essential for any completed Rider lineup, S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider 2 is the second Showa era Rider to join this highly regarded line.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Live Robo


Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 4536 yen

When Bandai released Super Mini-Pla Daizyujin last year its creators expressed interest in expanding the line into other Super Sentai instalments, particularly mentioning Chojuu Sentai Liveman. With mecha that haven't had toys since their original DX counterparts way back in 1988, this was particularly exciting news to fans and now, true to their word, the line continues with Super-Minipla Live Robo! The core robot of the series comprising of three Live Machines, this fan-favourite is the first pre-Zyuranger mecha to be released in any form by Bandai in some time – making this one of the most notable Super Mini-Pla (as well as Super Sentai in general) releases for some time.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Mizuki


Release Date: April 2018 
RRP: 6296 yen 

Even though it took long enough to finally get to making one, there was no way that Max Factory was going to stop at just one Pokémon Figma. Good Smile Company have got a rather extensive little cast going with the Nendoroid line now, but when it comes to their articulated cousins where do you go after Red? After starting at the very beginning, it's time to jump to the latest generation of Pokémon games with the release of Figma Mizuki - aka the female trainer of Pokémon Sun & Moon. After travelling the islands of Alola, helping Lillie and Cosmog from the threat of Lusamine and the Ultra Beasts and becoming the first trainer in the region to tackle the Pokémon League, Mizuki now takes her place as the second Pokémon character to be part of the Figma line.

Monday, 4 June 2018

First Impressions: FLCL Progressive

FLCL Progressive

It's been 18 years and as unlikely as it may have ever seemed, FLCL is back. Thanks to a push from Cartoon Network programming block Adult Swim, the 2000 off the wall OVA series from Gainax and Production I.G. has returned for a further two seasons - FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative. While fans briefly got a taste of Alternative when the first episode ran as Adult Swim's April fools joke, it's now time to properly dive into Progressive head first as the series begins its six-episode run. Gainax are out of the picture, so animation is handled solely by Production I.G. in a production collaboration with both Toho and Adult Swim. Curiously, the Japanese language version won't be making it's debut until both Progressive and Alternative receive Japanese theatrical runs in September - making the English currently the only way to experience the show. That's right, the dub is airing months ahead of the Japanese version. What crazy times we live in.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Freeza -Resurrection Ver.-


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5616 yen

You know that a toy line has hit a high point when it's releasing reissues and renewals of previously released figures alongside a steady string of brand new moulds. That's been the case for the Dragon Ball S.H. Figuarts range for some time now, and now that Dragon Ball Super has finished airing collectors are clamouring for those hard-to-get older releases more than ever. Bandai Tamashii Nations have now answered these cries with the release of S.H. Figuarts Freeza Resurrection Ver., giving the Emperor of the Universe a shiny new paint job along with some new accessories to reflect his appearance in the latest series. Better still is that this new Freeza is also a general retail release, whereas the original final form Freeza and Golden form Freeza figures were Tamashii web exclusive figures.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

Even though it might not be celebrating its 50th anniversary for another four years, Bandai Tamashii Nations' journey through the Ultra Series continues with its annual cycle as the S.H. Figuarts line delves into 1971's The Return of Ultraman. Though it may have been the first Ultra series produced without the leadership of creator Eiji Tsuburaya, the series is notable for being the first to introduce a shared continuity to the franchise – with both Ultraseven and the original Ultraman appearing by the show's end. As you'd expect the best way for a new range of Ultraman Figuarts to kick off is with its hero, as S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Jack joins his fellow Ultra Brothers as a retail release figure.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab


Release Date: April 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

It's been nearly two years since the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman and since then the line has moved onto the casts of Ultraseven and The Return of Ultraman (in addition to covering newer shows like Orb and Geed), yet by way of miracle Bandai Tamashii Nations still seem dedicated to the original Ultraman series. The latest invader to join the ever-expanding line is deceptive Alien Zarab, who first appeared in episode 18 "Brother from Another Planet" and is notable for being the first alien to actively intimate an Ultra hero after deducing the identity of SSSP member Shin Hayata. S.H. Figuarts Alien Zarab was another Tamashii web exclusive release, which is likely to be the fate of any original series character as the Figuarts line moves forwards into future franchise instalments.

Monday, 21 May 2018

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


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

This year the Super Sentai formula has truly been shaken as police and thieves go head to head in Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, but from a collectors' perspective two teams appearing simultaneously can only mean one thing - more toys! This year of minipla candy toys first yield two four-piece main mecha sharing the same core component, starting with the Lupinrangers' own Lupin Kaiser! This is the combination of the Lupinrangers' three signature Dial Fighters, together with the GoodStriker - a sentient piece of the Lupin Collection that's happy to align itself with both sets of heroes. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Soul of Chogokin GX-77 Gipsy Danger


Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 27,000 yen

When Bandai Tamashii Nations announced that they would finally be getting their long-deserved shot at the Jaegers of Pacific Rim, they certainly didn't take any half measures. While the cast of sequel film Pacific Rim Uprising are getting the highly affordable, highly articulated treatment from the Robot Damashii line, the originals are getting the premium treatment they've long deserved. That's right - Soul of Chogokin Gipsy Danger is finally a reality. At 27,000 yen it's not the most expensive entry in Bandai's "best of the best" mecha line, but it's still certainly one for those whose wallets run pretty deep. Gipsy is currently the only Jaeger released in the line, but with a Crimson Typhoon already on show at events it may only be a matter of time before the rest of the kaiju-busting robots join her.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending - Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer

First Kamen Riders Brave and Snipe had to face the revival of Lovelica and Saki. Then Para-DX and Poppy fought back against a mysterious Parado clone and the revenge of Dr Pacman's daughter Saiko Yaotome. Now the grand finale of the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid V-Cinema trilogy arrives with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Genm vs Lazer. Not only have the previous two films been building up to this confrontation, but Genm vs Lazer (for the time being anyway) also acts as the final chapter in the Ex-Aid story. As well as sharing a long and chequered rivalry, both Riders have also previously held the title role in their own spin-off specials. The Kamen Rider Genm special showcased the Legend Rider Gashats whilst also acting as a prequel to Heisei Generations, while the Kamen Rider Lazer Hyper Battle DVD saw the Bakusou Bike Rider return once more prior to his permanent resurrection by Kamen Rider Cronus.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending - Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy

After casting the spotlight on Kamen Riders Brave and Snipe in its first instalment, the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid V-Cinema trilogy now turns its attention to CR's benevolent Bugsters in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Para-DX with Poppy. While this is the first time Poppy Pipopapo has received her own title story in the series, Parado more recently featured as the star of the show's second Televi-kun Hyper Battle DVD. The DVD also acted as a lead in to the Another Ending trilogy – not only being referenced in the films but also concluding with Kuroto's escape from his digital prison.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending - Kamen Rider Brave & Snipe

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Another Ending: Kamen Rider Brave & Snipe

When Toei said that "the game is forever", they sure weren't joking around. Not content with just ending Kamen Rider Ex-Aid through the series itself and the True Ending movie, the 2016-2017 Kamen Rider series has returned once again for a trilogy of V-Cinema releases – rather appropriately titled Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Another Ending. Like previous post-series V-cinema entries these movies each focus on a pair of Riders from the show's expanded cast rather than Ex-Aid himself, however unlike the others these three films also tie together into an overall plotline. Kicking off the trilogy is Kamen Rider Ex Aid: Another Ending – Kamen Rider Brave & Snipe, featuring arguably the two most prominent of the show's other Riders. This isn't the first time either Rider has had the spotlight either, with Brave previously taking centre stage in the Let's Survive! Revival of the Beast Rider Squad! special and Snipe's back story being uncovered in the Episode ZERO prequel miniseries.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Robot Damashii Obsidian Fury


Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 3564 yen

When Bandai Tamashii Nations announced that they would be producing figures for Pacific Rim Uprising, they certainly didn't mess around in releasing them at a steady pace. Three of the six main Jaegers preceded the film's release in February 2018, with the remaining three coming the following month just as Uprising landed in cinemas across the globe. As well as receiving a global release, one of the biggest appeals of these Robot Damashii (aka Robot Spirits) figures was a significantly lower price point - with Gipsy Avenger leading the charge at an incredible 2484 yen. Although the price of its fellow Jaegers such as Obsidian Fury here a slightly higher 3564 yen, they're still far more affordable than your average Robot Damashii figure. A mysterious rogue unit that attacks the PPDC council meeting in Sydney, Obsidian Fury is a Jaeger that's not just a force to be reckoned with but also houses a dark secret - revealing that humanity's battle with the kaiju and their alien Precursor masters isn't over yet.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Anime Review: GARO: Vanishing Line

GARO: Vanishing Line
GARO: Vanishing Line is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

Over the past few years GARO has gained some real traction in regards to Western recognition, an achievement that's certainly partly thanks to its spinoff into animated media. No longer the niche franchise known only among the tokusatsu fanbase it once was, the GARO anime are simulcast, dubbed and (in the US at the very least) released on physical disc – with the live-action series now following suite thanks to a number of Blu-ray releases by Kraken-Releasing as well as streaming on Hi-Dive (again, unfortunately US only). Last year saw the franchise return for its third anime outing – GARO: Vanishing Line. Like previous shows The Carved Seal of Flames and The Crimson Moon, Vanishing Line is a completely standalone series – starring an all-new cast and moving the action to a modern city setting.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Alien Guts


Release Date: March 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

Bandai Tamashii Nations' impressive dedication to the Ultra Series and its inhabiting creatures continues with the release of S.H. Figuarts Alien Guts! Undoubtedly one of the most iconic aliens from Ultraseven, Alien Guts also hails from some of its best episodes – the two part story "The Seven Assassination Plan". After carefully analysing Ultraseven and his human disguise of Dan Moroboshi, a squad of Alien Guts were able to successfully defeat, capture and crucify the hero. It was only thanks to the efforts of the Ultra Garrison that Seven was eventually freed and able to defeat them. More recently the race have also appeared in the Ultraman Orb movie, as well as being a key character (albeit in a VERY different form) in the second season of moe monster girl spinoff anime Kaiju Girls.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Anime REVIEW: Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is available in streaming form on Netflix

With the world's biggest streaming platform now with anime firmly in its sights, 2018 is set to be a big year for Netflix anime content. As well as kicking things off in a big way with the release of Devilman Crybaby, Netflix is also making waves with Violet Evergarden – the latest series from Haruhi and K-On! maestros Kyoto Animation. Based on the (Kyoto Animation award winning) light novel series by Kana Akatsuki, the series immediately garnered attention through its strange release pattern – simulcasting weekly in some territories but then surprisingly being held back in the US until the series was complete. But wherever you may reside its now here for you, complete with a selection of different language options. Being an anime fan has never been easier.

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 now 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).