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 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.