Friday 30 August 2013

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ryu Ranger

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

With Zyuranger now safely covered until the remaining four members (plus power up form) are released, it's time to move on to the next series we saw in Akibaranger...which funnily enough is also the next Super Sentai show chronologically. Representing Gosei Sentai Dairanger we finally have Ryo of the Heavenly Fire Star, aka Ryu Ranger, available in S.H. Figuarts form. Power Rangers fans will note that these are the only post-Zyuranger costumes to not have appeared in the show (save for Kiba Ranger), as only the mecha footage was adapted. However if the trailers are anything to go by, these costumes may finally be appearing in the forthcoming Power Rangers Super Megaforce.

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii NationsSH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

Admittedly I feel the packaging is a little on the boring side, but it's very in-keeping with the early nineties look of the show. It's mostly muted-red colourscheme is decorated by gold lettering and images of the figure, the spines opting for black-outline designs. The back is perhaps the best part, it it features a Chinese dragon drawing as the background for the obligatory "various poses" images. Due to the sheer amount (and size) of accessories Ryu Ranger comes with, the insides features two plastic trays.

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii NationsSH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

As far as costume design goes, Ryu Ranger could easily be a dud. Despite being a predominately red suit with gold highlights, its broken up by an entirely white torso with a multicoloured badge logo. On paper that sounds pretty ridiculous, but as you can see in execution it actually looks rather lovely.  The gold highlighting is great, but particularly pops on the helmet where it has the black visor and silver mouthplate to work against too. The articulation is what you'd come to expect of a typical Super Sentai Figuart (i.e. very very good), but there is a little mould change worth talking about. While the shoulder joint remains the same, the plastic covering is noticeably bigger, matching the baggier shoulder parts of the Dairanger costume. It doesn't photo very well and looks a bit off, but in person it looks much better and actually works better than the standard shoulder. It rolls around the joint much easier, and the enlarged size actually makes it look all the more convincing.

An additional deco worth praising is the tampographed Dairanger logo on the right holster, which could easily be missed if you aren't paying close attention.

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii NationsSH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

So earlier I mentioned that the box contents actually came on two trays. Why's that? Because Ryu Ranger includes a REALLY impressive array of weapons and accessories. Altogether we have 14 alternate hands, 2 Star Swords (full-sized and holstered), 2 Star Cutters (full-sized and holstered), Dai Buster, bladed Dairen Rod and finally his two Dairinken . That's a grand total of EIGHT weapons to play around with. The only minor gripe would be the lack of detachable blade on the Dairen Rod, and it was often used without it. Still, it's hard to complain when you can pull off this much variation when having fun with your Ryu Ranger.

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii NationsSH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Bandai Tamashii Nations

Of course being an Akibaranger release that also means bonus accessories! What's even better is that Ryu Ranger's are a little more substantial than the ones included with Dragon and Tyranno Ranger. After the Akibarangers mysteriously become an official Super Sentai series at the beginning of season two, Gosei Sentai Dairanger is shunted off to the depths of obscurity - becoming restaurant mascots China Sentai Chinaman! Included in an alternate China Red head, featuring the painted on eyes also seen in the original Dairanger concept art, and a different badge for the vest. The badge perhaps wins the award for smallest Figuarts accessory yet, with Bandai even taping it inside the packaging to make sure it doesn't get lost. For fans of Akibaranger these are some really great bonuses and the kind of thing that would make you buy the figure even if you haven't seen Dairanger...or just buy him twice I suppose.

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Chinaman Akibaranger Bandai

SH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Chinaman Akibaranger BandaiSH Figuarts Ryu Ranger Dairanger Super Sentai Chinaman Akibaranger Bandai

S.H. Figuarts are REALLY spoiling us Super Sentai fans lately. I thought the Zyuranger figures were near-perfect, but then Ryu Ranger came along and set a new standard for the line. In reality, other than your preference of suit/series the only thing better on the figure itself is the shoulders, and unfortunately that's probably not something that can be incorporated into other Sentai heroes. What REALLY makes this package is the superb amount of accessories, which is something making it really special for both Dairanger and Akibaranger fans alike.

Funny, I had absolutely no intention of getting all six Dairangers but after handling this guy I'm REALLY eager to see how the remaining five turn out. Guess we'll find out with Kibaranger incoming at the end of September!

Monday 26 August 2013

Character Building Doctor Who Microfigures Series 3: Madam Kovarian and Judoon Trooper

It's taken months for me to complete the set, but here are the last two figures in series 3 of the Character Building Doctor Who microfigure collection. Both of these figures are rare releases, with Kovarian perhaps being the rarest of the entire wave (judging by the prices she commands on eBay). So without further delay, here are Madam Kovarian and the Judoon Trooper...

Madam Kovarian is the big bad of season 6, and despite being a pretty forgettable character managed to wrangle her way to "rare" status. Oh well. The figure itself isn't particularly special, predominately black and without any additional accessory. I'd go as far to say she's the least interesting figure in the entire line, but unfortunately a must-have for completists like myself.

The Judoon Trooper is very similar to the uncommon Sontaran, in that it is also a helmeted release with the rhino head not included. However if this is how you prefer your Judoons to look, there should be one coming as part of a monster multipack somewhere down the line. The Judoon has some really nice paintwork for a figure this small, with detail even on the back portion that's covered by the body armour! The dominant black colourscheme is broken up by bits of grey and silver, and also included is a bright red handgun for extra colour. 

Not the best two figures to round off on, but pretty good nonetheless. With series 4 still unannounced, next up with be the 50th Anniversary wave with new costumed versions of all 11 Doctors!

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Anime REVIEW: Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. (Season 2)

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kirino

Despite its slightly incestuous overtones and overly bitchy main character, the first season of Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai proved somewhat of a surprise hit with me. However its unrequited love story between several of the main characters was left unfinished, and so the series has returned for a second season (which has exactly the same title, only with an added "." at the end). Once again it takes the format of a 13-episode television series, with 3 ONA episodes following later to provide a "true" ending to the series.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kuroneko Kyosuke
You know it's love when there's a costume change.

Kyosuke and Kirino are back for more life advice sessions and adventures with anime, manga and eroge games. However this season expands to focus closely on his growing relationships with the others around him - the quiet but kind Saori, goth otaku Kuroneko, Kirino's best friend Ayase, wannabe idol Kanako and childhood friend Manami. All five girls are vying for Kyosuke's affections in their own way, but in the end only one can win out. How will this affect Kyosuke's life and ultimately his relationship with Kirino?

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Saori
Hooray for backstory!

Though Oreimo has, is and always will be centrally about Kirino, the majority of the second season actually plays to the biggest strength (and more underused aspect) of its predecessor - the side characters. Saori finally gets the back story she so sorely lacked, and very slowly rises up to be more than just the "less extreme leader of the otaku crew". Meanwhile Kuroneko (or Ruri as she's more often referred to now)'s relationship with Kyosuke and its after-effects is one of the main drives of season 2, adding a lot more depth to her as a character as both her family and more "normal" personality is explored. Even Ayase and Kanako are given much more reason to be here than before, with Ayase's story suddenly concerning Kirino less and less. The only side character to suddenly be given less attention is Sena, and she was such a tacked-on character to begin with nothing of value is really lost.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Ayase
I'm still not an Ayase fan.

Kuroneko's episodes certainly take the prize for the most emotionally investing episodes, but even if these don't hit you the same way they did me it's unlikely you'll come out of this show without a pairing you especially want to root for. Certainly the otaku humour from the first season is still present, but in much more smaller doses. The relationships taking centre stage may on the outset make Oriemo suddenly seem like a more generic series, but its setting makes sure it's anything but that.

But as I said earlier, this show will always come back to Kirino. While Kirino is very much still the irritating, bitchy girl she was for the majority of the first season (perhaps even worse in some cases), it's very much evident that the bond between her and her brother is constantly growing. As such, Kirino becomes a much more acceptable character and her good nature begins to shine a bit more.

If you're adverse to spoilers, this is now the place to stop reading.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Manami
I have misjudged you Manami.

But no matter how good the 13 television episodes are, the real talking point is the ONA episodes and to make the romantic feelings between Kirino and Kyosuke explicit. Before now the incestuous overtones could be somewhat explained away by a very strong sibling love but no, the show pretty much goes all the way it can without straying in adult territory. Whatever your feelings might be on this decision, these episodes are among the most tense and dramatic the show has to offer. It approaches the topic of love between siblings with a sense of realism, the two acknowledging that they can never be a public couple and how the two would be branded if people were to find out. The harsh truths are brought about in the best possible way with Manami - the character that throughout the show has been a boring girl who doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone, bringing them with physical (quite literally) impact. The choice to have her out of all the characters deliver these was a fantastic choice, as the one that's been behind Kyosuke all along suddenly stands up for herself and what society considers normal behaviour.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kirino Kyosuke

The truth is, Oriemo season 2's ending is going to divide people, there is absolutely no escaping that. However without taking the last three episodes into account, this show does a lot of things right. It provides a more equal footing for all of its cast members, and is capable of provoking joy, laughter, disappointment, shock and (potentially) disgust. While Oriemo may ultimately be a comedy, it does handle its subject matter in a relatively "serious" fashion and while I certainly don't like or approve of the route it took, I found it an engaging watch nonetheless. If a show can make me feel all these feelings in just the space of 16 episodes, then surely I can call it a success?

Sunday 18 August 2013

Movie Review: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum

Kamen Rider Fourze & Wizard Movie Wars Ultimatum W OOO Accel Birth Nadeshiko Meteor

Though this is only the fourth entry in the series so far, the Kamen Rider Movie Wars films are rather mixed. While W and Decade's Movie War 2010 was a pretty good film with some weak elements, OOO and W's Movie War Core was pretty terrible all around. On the other hand, Fourze and OOO's Movie Wars Megamax is one of, if not the, best Kamen Rider films around. Even though that's a hard thing to follow up, it'll be interesting to see how Kamen Rider Wizard and Fourze's Movie Wars Ultimatum does on the grand scale of things.

We start the film with Phantom's Medusa and Phoenix working alongside demons known as the Akumaizer 3 (characters based on an old series by Kamen Rider creator Shotaro Ishinomori) on a machine that can create an infinite supply of monsters using four gates. However their plan needs an extra element added, so one of the Azumaizers, Eel, travels five years into the future. This is where our story begins...

Fourze Portion

Movie Wars Ultimatum Kamen Rider Club Gentaro Ryusei Tomoko J.K. Shun Miu
Club is back in session.

The Kamen Rider Fourze section of the film takes place five years after the events of the series, with the cast now having left school and taken on (rather impressive) jobs. Kengo is now a scientist working on a way to communicate with the Presenters, Yuuki is an astronaut, J.K. a journalist, Miu a model, Shun a professional American Football player, Tomoko a novelist and Ryusei an Interpol agent. Gentaro on the other hand has continued his mission to befriend everyone by becoming the latest teacher at Amanogawa High. But when a Zodiart appears and is manipulating students with their own special powers, the Kamen Rider club must reunite to face this final threat.

After an exciting opening fight sequence where we see Ryusei and Inga Blink (from the Fourze movie) take down a team of genetically-enhanced soldiers in South America, this part of the film gets off to a pretty slow start. Ignoring just how Gentaro has the qualifications to become a teacher in a mere five years after leaving High School (the same goes for the whole cast really, so it's best just to roll with it), the set-up of conflict between Gentaro and his four "Neo-human" students is lengthy enough without an added chase sequence that seems to go on forever. Once the Kamen Rider Club is rounded up and together again (including a new freshman member who doesn't do all that much until the very end), things really begin to pick up. We see a maturer Kamen Rider club kick ass together, with even Miu, Kengo and J.K. getting in on the fight action.

After an impressive middle section, it's a shame to see this third of the film fall into mediocrity once again. It's resolution concerning the Fourze Driver is touching and makes sense, but shoots itself in the foot a bit since the thing is needed once again five minutes later. The leader of the Neo-Human students, Saburo, also evolves into another classic Ishinomori hero - Inazuman. Unfortunately, his inclusion feels rather tacked on and kind of takes the spotlight away from the returning heroes.

All in all it's a semi-serviceable end to Kamen Rider Fourze, but certainly not the one the Kamen Rider Club deserved.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Inazuman
A fun cameo, but really necessary?

Wizard Portion

Movie Wars Ultimatum Kamen Rider Wizard & Poitrine
Bringing the style

Next the Kamen Rider Wizard section of the film takes us back into the present, with Haruto, Rinko, Shunpei and Koyomi arriving at the Akumaizer base to save the captured Gates. Uninterested in helping the Akumaizer trio, the Phantoms tell the group that they will need to enter the Gates' underworld in order to save them. Wizard dives in, with Rinko and Shunpei unwittingly following. Here they discover a world where the same day is repeated over and over, and the key to getting out lies with a mysterious magical girl that goes by the name of Poitrine.

Once again the film serves as a dumping ground to homage a past Ishinomori hero, only this time its Bishoujo Kamen Poitrine of the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series. While her appearance has much more plot relevance than Inazuman's inclusion, it's still difficult to care about this pretty obscure character who's suddenly been thrust into the limelight. The plot of needing Poitrine to choose to stop reliving the same day over and over is pretty unoriginal in itself, which only serves to bring the section down even more.

However Kamen Rider Wizard is a very flashy series by nature, it so certainly puts on a good show as far as the visuals go. Even a spectacularly bad CGI ostrich/chicken...thing can't detract from Wizard's flashy attacks and brilliant fight choreography. It also wins point for having Rinko be useful and actively engage monsters (since y'know, she's a cop and carries around a gun), something the series seems to avoid as much as it can.

Personally I found this section to be a little weaker than the Fourze one, but there wasn't a whole lot in it. It's low on plot but high on eye candy, so a pretty average score all-around.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Poitrine
Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight...?

Movie Wars Ultimatum

Kamen Rider Fourze & Wizard Movie Wars Ultimatum W OOO Accel Birth Nadeshiko Meteor
*Obligatory "Haha Nadeshiko is riding Accel" comment*

Finally the Movie Wars Ultimatum section of the film sees the two Riders, along with Meteor and Nadeshiko (who turned up right at the end of the Fourze section) come together in order to stop the Akumaizer and save both Poitrine and the world itself. They are joined by the previous Neo-Heisei Riders W, Accel, OOO and Birth for an all-out attack with explosive results and brand new power-ups.

While the section does indeed include a total of eight Riders, don't expect a whole lot from them. Eiji makes a brilliant cameo saving Koyomi outside of the underworld and prompting the whole thing, but the Riders that appear inside the underworld are constructs rather than the actual Riders. This isn't explicitly stated, but I assume it's the case because a) they don't transform and b) W turns into FangJoker, which would require both Shotaro and Philip to be present at the battle. This is possibly due to the production team being unable to get all the actors back for a cameo/voice clips, and while it's nice to see all these Riders together they do offer little more than glorified backup.

Most of the portion itself is taken up by a tanker chase with the Riders pursuing on their bikes. This does put the "Rider" back in Kamen Rider, but the sequence itself is far, far too long with several bad camera angles. Wizard and Fourze get a really great fight sequence against the Azumaizers in their Cosmic States and Flame Dragon forms, before receiving all new power ups to battle the obligatory final CGI threat. These are "Dragon Rush style" and the long-winded "Meteor Nadeshiko Fusion States"...both of which are pretty underwhelming. The former is essentially a sneak preview of the underused All Dragon Style (with slightly different colouration) and the latter is Fusion States with rockets and skis. Despite the disappointing forms the action itself is top notch, provided you don't mind Toei's rather noticeable CGI in over-abundance.

So once again it's a portion that delivers on the flash, but has very little substance behind it. What does deserve to praised however is the brilliant twist ending to Poitrine, which saves the film from a horribly cliché ending and provides the best laugh of the whole thing.

Movie Wars Ultimatum Wizard Dragon Rush & Fourze Meteor Nadeshiko Fushion

Final Thoughts

Movie Wars Ultimatum is no Megamax by any stretch of the imagination, but thankfully it's no Core either. None of the sections really stand out, each having just as many flaws as positives, if not more. Still, it's a perfectly fun way to kill two hours if you just want to see a crossover between two particularly flashy Kamen Riders, just don't go in expecting a satisfying conclusion to Fourze or a particularly engaging plot.

Friday 16 August 2013

Anime REVIEW: Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari Koyomi Araragi Vampire Shaft

Based on a series of light novels by Nisio Isin (Medaka Box) and animated by the studio Shaft (who also worked on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, among other things), the Monogatari series is arguably one of the most popular anime franchises that's around at the moment. It's also one that's taken me far too long to actually give a try. The first in the series, entitled Bakemonogatari (a clever pun that works in Japanese and English, as it translates to "Ghostory") ran for a total of 15 episodes (the final three released as ONAs) back in 2009.

Bakemonogatari Hitagi Senjōgahara Crab Shaft
The crab.

Bakemonogatari tells the story of Koyomi Araragi, a third-year high school student who partly human again after becoming a vampire in events prior to the series. One day, his classmate Hitagi Senjōgahara, falls down the stairs into his arms. He discovers that Hitagi unnaturally weighs next to nothing. Despite being threatened by her to keep away, Koyomi offers his help and introduces her to Meme Oshino, the one who cured him of being a vampire. Once Koyomi helps solve Hitagi's problem, she agrees to become his friend and, later, his girlfriend.

As the series progresses Koyomi encounters various other girls, each plagued by their own supernatural oddities. Unable to keep away, Koyomi vows to help each girl - turning to both Meme and the vampire that attacked him (who is now in the guise of an 8-year old girl named Shinobu) for help.

Bakemonogatari Mayoi Hachikuji Snail Shaft
The snail.

The "apparitions" that plague the characters of Bakemonogatari each take the shape of a different animal, and along with this comes several visual cues that relate to each character/arc. Despite the range of relatively "safe" animals these spirits take (a snail for example), visually the show couldn't get much more twisted than it already is. Behind each character is some sort of trauma, and even if the show doesn't explicitly display these traumas in its own unique way it'll provide you with enough info to paint your own images. While the supernatural plays a very heavy part on how everything unfolds in the series, the actual tension and drama is mostly drawn out from these very human events.

Bakemonogatari Suruga Kanbaru Monkey Shaft
The monkey.

Even though the supernatural element of the show is a huge draw that a lot of the drama hinges on, the Bakemonogatari wouldn't be what it is without its cast of lovable characters. The hapless but good-natured Koyomi, sarcastic and sexualised Hitagi, humourous schoolkid Mayoi, perverted tomboy Suruga, good natured class president Tsubasa and...the slightly less interesting Nadeko - each one brings different traits to the table resulting in an excellent variety of exchanges. Even the mute Shinobu will have you considerably impressed by the time the final episode is through.

Once you become invested in the characters, it becomes clear how much they stand above the various animal apparitions that plague each of them. Suddenly the overly long sections of dialogue become engaging banter, and the episodes that have little focus on the supernatural become among the strongest the show has to offer.

Bakemonogatari Nadeko Sengoku Snake Shaft
The snake.

The final thing that needs to be said about Bakemonogatari is that it is an absolute artgasm. Seriously, this is one show that REALLY needs to be seen in high definition to get the full experience. The show places just as much emphasis on visuals as it does on narrative, with varying styles using to depict different sequences. The most common is blank cards with single words or phrases appearing onscreen, often differing from the dialogue but adding to it. Some parts move so fast that you won't take it all in, but the effect still remains. Backgrounds are often stripped down to the bare essentials and single colours in order to make the characters stand out, while monochrome photographs and papercut sequences (think the witches in Madoka) are used to illustrate the show's chilling flashbacks. Bakemonogatari is a visual tour de force, presented in a style that only Shaft truly master.

Bakemonogatari Tsubasa Hanekawa Cat Shaft
And the cat.

Admittedly Bakemonogatari's individual arcs often get off to a bit of a slow start and the heavy dialogue does sometimes borderline on the pretentious, but these small flaws are easily to overlook because of just how amazing everything else is. Shaft proves themselves to be kings of the artistic, weaving the outstanding visuals with compelling characters and a story line that cleverly balances it's light and dark elements. I don't know personally whether the later seasons show the same level of quality (I'll find out soon enough), but even as a standalone piece, Bakemonogatari will quite easily be a series that anime fans fondly remember for years to come.

Friday 9 August 2013

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Akiba Yellow (Season Tsuu Ver.)

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

Didn't we see this figure back in August last year? Well yes, we did - only know we can enjoy S.H. Figuarts Akiba Yellow in glorious Akibaranger Season 2 edition! Yumeria Moegi is back, newly married and now going by her real name of Yuko Yokoyama. Once again Akiba Yellow has been lucky enough to receive a mass release, only this time sharing the same July 2013 release month as Akiba Blue rather than coming a month later.

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger BandaiSH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

Akiba Yellow follows the same packaging pattern as the previous two releases from Akibaranger Season 2, featuring plenty of images of the "new" costume. As promised, I can now also give a vague idea of what the text printed on the box says! While I still don't have any idea what it says specifically, my Japanese-speaking friend has informed me that Red and Blue's were descriptions of their characters, so I assume the same can be said here.

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger BandaiSH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

One of the best things about the Akibaranger girls is how Blue and Yellow aren't simply just the same figure in different colours. Sure the overall body might be the same, but the considerably different helmets and different skirt types (Yellow's is a more traditional style one as opposed to Blue's cut skirt) make them feel a lot more different than they actually are. The clashing yellow, black and white colours really make for an effective and striking design, making Akiba Yellow the one that brings out the best in the overall design. Unfortunately the skirt does hinder some of the leg articulation, but Bandai made sure to make it out of two pieces so it does have a little bit of flexibility.

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger BandaiSH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

Like Akiba Blue the differences between this figure and the season one edition are small, but noticeable. The most obvious difference is the new helmet, which swaps out the twin pigtails for ribbon buns. It's a small change, but I was surprised to realise how much more mature it makes the overall suit. - which is kind of fitting for Yuko's newfound status as a married woman. Speaking of which, the second change can be found under the skirt - quite literally, as the kanji for "married woman" is now printed on her suit panties.

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger BandaiSH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Season 2 Tsuu Akibaranger Bandai

Akiba Yellow may share the same standard accessory set as her teammate, but this still feels like a massive step up from what the season one version came with. Included are 10 different hands, 2 swappable muffler pieces and the MMZ-01 weapon in doll and gun modes. One minor gripe I have is that I wish the figure came with a peace sign for the left hand to made it a little more varied from the original release, but there are a few brand new hands bundled with this release. Sadly not as many as Akiba Blue (who came with 14 hands) which is a shame - Yuko is just as expressive a character as Luna is and the original was pretty short on dynamic hands too.

SH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Akibaranger Dairen BomberSH Figuarts Akiba Yellow Akibaranger Dairen Bomber

As an added bonus, Akiba Yellow also comes packaged with the remaining Inordinate Power for season two - the Dairen Bomber. This Dairanger themed hand-rifles can be combined into a larger cannon that (in the show) fires a replica of the Dairangers Qi-Power Bomber attack. The guns are nicely detailed, but are however an absolute nightmare to get a figure to hold properly.

SH Figuarts Akibaranger Inordinate Bazooka BandaiSH Figuarts Akibaranger Inordinate Bazooka Bandai

With three new weapons in hand, that can only mean one things - Inordinate Power combination time! Season two's weapon is the Inordinate Bazooka, which is a much thinner ultimate weapon than season one's offering. The weapons are quite easy to put together (and if you get stuck a guide is included with Akiba Blue), however once again its a nightmare to get figures to hold properly. The best way to go about it is to put the hands on the Dairen Bomber, connect the hands to the figure and build the bazooka around it.

But that's not all, as fans of the show will know that these three Inordinate Powers can also be combined with those from season one (Deka Red's Deka Wapper, Bouken Red's Bouken Scooper and Red Hawk's Jet Winger) to form the wonderfully named Inordinate Cannon Bazooka! As the first full-sized combinable weapon to appear in the Super Sentai Figuarts range (and any that follow aren't going to be this big), the Cannon Bazooka is a really impressive piece. Getting the three figures to support its weight by themselves will be no easy task, so have a Tamashii stage on standby ready to give it some extra support.

SH Figuarts Akibaranger Inordinate Cannon Bazooka BandaiSH Figuarts Akibaranger Inordinate Cannon Bazooka Bandai

While I found the original Akiba Yellow to be a better figure over all than the season 1 Blue, I don't feel the same way the second time around. Maybe it's just because a lot more effort went into the Blues to make one feel like Mitsuki and the other Luna, but here it does just feel like a lot more of the same. If you already own the season 1 Yellow, it would be difficult to recommend this figure - the new headsculpt is a lot nicer, but is it enough to make it worth buying the figure twice? It all comes down to how much you want the Dairen Bomber really - it's a hefty accessory, and absolutely integral to forming two different ultimate weapons. And you'll be hard pressed to get it on its own anywhere, so my advice is to just suck it up. Akiba Yellow is still a great figure, so why not own two?