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.