Monday 29 December 2014

Anime Review: Kikaider 01: The Animation

Kikaider 01: The Animation

In the live-action tokusatsu version of the Kikaider franchise, Jiro's story ends with the defeat of DARK and Professor Gill - with his older brother Kikaider 01 taking up the fight against the revived Hakaider and the forces of evil organisation SHADOW. However Shotaro Ishinomori's manga series takes a different approach to things, with Jiro remaining the main focus of the story as he meets his brother and fights against this new threat. The four-part OVA sequel to Kikaider: The Animation continues Jiro's story in the same way, however like the live-action sequel switches the name to Kikaider 01: The Animation to mark this new instalment in the story.

Friday 26 December 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Last Christmas

Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special - Last Christmas

The annual Doctor Who Christmas special has been a staple part of the UK (and many other parts of the world) festive season, but despite this arguably each year the offering can be of varying quality. Since the show first returned in 2005, we've had everything from fun snow-filled romps to big game-changing stories introducing a brand new Doctor. This year's instalment comes after a pretty dramatic season finale for the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald, which saw them separate on rather ambiguous terms. However proving you can never keep a good pairing down they're reunited for this episode, which goes by the name of Last Christmas. Wham song reference purely coincidental I'm sure...

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Anime REVIEW: Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass has been one of the bigger anime hits of recent years, and 2014 seems to have been the year that its creators took that success and used it to full advantage. Not only did the original series receive a special edition rerun, but also a sequel series and a feature-length movie due for release in early January 2015. But before that we have this season's Psycho-Pass 2, which was quite different to its predecessor in quite a few ways. Not only is it considerably shorter (running for a mere 11 episodes), but also featured an almost entire staff change (possibly due to Gen Urobuchi and Production IG being preoccupied with the movie). Tatsunoko have taken over animation duties, with Tow Ubukata (Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Murdock Scramble) heading up writing.

Monday 22 December 2014

Anime REVIEW: Android Kikaider: The Animation

Android Kikaider: The Animation

While the Android Kikaider tokusatsu series wowed audiences onscreen in the early 70s, on paper creator Shotaro Ishinomori took the series in a darker direction with the accompanying manga published in a variety of children's magazines. In 2001 the manga was brought to life as a 13-episode anime series, straightforwardly titled Android Kikaider: The Animation. Animated by Studio OX and the now defunct studio Radix, the Kikaider anime even received an English dub and aired as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. So for many American fans, this is perhaps the Kikaider that they are most familiar with.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Custom Figure: The Christmas Tree Dalek

Custom Christmas tree Dalek

It's been a while since I last did a custom painted Dalek - not so much because I've had no desire to do one but more that the much nicer to paint 5" figures are becoming harder and harder to find cheap. However after being linked to a custom Christmas Davros figure over on Facebook, my girlfriend suggested to me the idea of making my own Christmas Dalek as a present for her mother (a fellow Doctor Who fan who I have many a discussion with). So that got my brain ticking on how I could successfully mash Daleks and the holiday season, and here is what I came up with...

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Femme

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Femme

The Kamen Rider Ryuki figures have been among the best ever produced in the S.H. Figuarts toyline, but after three years of steadily releasing its vast array of Riders it's time for Bandai Tamashii Nations to move on to new things. Well, it would be if there weren't numerous Contract Beasts still absent (as well as a Blank Form Ouja for all you hardcore completists out there), but as far as the actual Riders go we've reached the end of the line. And what better character to end with than Kamen Rider Femme, the first officially named female Kamen Rider and exclusive character to Ryuki's alternate universe movie Episode Final.

While many have been chomping at the bit Miho Kirishima in Figuarts form for a while now, truth be told my love for this character/design has very little to do with Ryuki. She never really grabbed me as a particularly interesting character in Episode Final and with that being her only prominent role she felt all too fleeting. However Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (which I fully recommend if only to see how wildly different a toku adaptation can be) featured the suit in a prominent (and in my opinion, better) role, under the name Kamen Rider Siren. But no matter which version you prefer, the important thing is that no one can resist a badass swan-motif Rider.

Monday 8 December 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2

With an alternate colour version of the New Cyclone motorcycle coming out in October 2014 to accompany the Rider 1/New Cyclone 2-pack, the trifecta was going to look rather incomplete without a re-release of Takeshi Hongo's comrades in arms. So also making a return that month is a reissue of the original S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 2 figure, based on the "Shin" version of the character that appeared later in the original series and then any subsequent crossovers. This Rider's real identity is freelance photographer Hayato Ichimonji, who was captured by Shocker and transformed into a cyborg in an attempt to defeat the original Kamen Rider once and for all. However before the brainwashing could be completed, Hongo manages to save him and the two have fought alongside ever since.

When Hongo leaves Japan to fight Shocker overseas midway through the series, Ichimonji becomes his successor and defends Japan from Shocker's evil schemes. Eventually Hongo returns to Japan, with the two continuing the fight alongside as the Double Riders.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 & New Cyclone

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider 1 & New Cyclone

The S.H. Figuarts line is getting closer and closer to releasing all of the main Kamen Rider heroes, so in order to keep the line going strong and steady Bandai are also going back and revisiting some old favourites to fill in some gaps. And in terms of the Showa era Riders, the biggest of these gaps is of course their motorcycles (after all, they are Kamen Riders). But rather than just release the bikes for those collectors clamouring to make their collection more "complete", Tamashii Nations is also giving fans a second chance to get these classic characters with two-pack releases with their respective Rider or reissues to accompany those single pack bike releases.

Now I'm not usually one to collect the bikes - there's a whole lot of Riders out there and I simply don't have room for everything. But when it came to a 2-pack of Kamen Rider 1 & the New Cyclone, I just simply couldn't pass it up. If any Kamen Rider figure in my collection deserved his motorcycle, it's the original.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Top 5 Picks from Tamashii Nations 2014

Bandai Tamashii Nations 2014

Around a month ago Bandai held their annual Tamashii Nations event in Japan. This is where they showcase a huge variety of figures from their various Tamashii Nations lines (S.H. Figuarts, Robot Damashii, S.I.C. and more), along with revealing ones that are due for release next year and beyond. As per usual the 2014 event unveiled an incredible amount of figures, not just from tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, but a whole host of new series and licenses. These included Avengers: Age of Ultron, Dragonball GT, Ranma 1/2 and even Disney's Frozen.

So what I've decided to do is put together a short list of my top five things from the event, which was a lot harder than I expected given that I want almost all the things that were on show. Honourable mentions include the likes of S.H. Figuarts Kikaider REBOOT, S.H. Figuarts Super Saiyan 4 Goku and Kamen Rider Drive, but read on to find out which releases beat these to the top spots...

Saturday 29 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger Minipla Hyper Ressha TeiOh

Minipla Hyper Ressha TeiOh

With 2014 quickly drawing to a close, the last of the Ressha Sentai ToQger toys are currently trickling out even though the show will have a month or so left in it next year. As far as the minipla line goes it has been a pretty good year for Super Sentai, although the rest of the toys and the show itself seem to have been met to a rather mixed reception from Western fans (that's a discussion for another review). Rounding off the line we have Hyper Ressha TeiOh - gigantic steam train that almost doubles as a mini-playset, offering compatibility with all the previous trains released in the line so far. Surely nothing could go wrong with a set that offers so much right?

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Satsuki Kiryuin

Nendoroid Satsuki Kiryuin

Just over a year ago studio Trigger burst onto the anime scene with their first full-length series Kill la Kill, and instantly won over fans with its signature brand of over the top craziness and homages to the hot-blooded shows of old. What the show has received in terms of poseable figures since has admittedly not been a whole lot, but what has come out so far has certainly left an impression. Perhaps most notably has been the entries in Good Smile Company's Nendoroid line, which continues with its third Kill la Kill release - Satsuki Kiryuin. As a huge Satsuki fan, it's about damn time she had a figure.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Link (The Wind Waker Ver.)

Nendoroid Link (Wind Waker version)

Don't you find it a strange coincidence that all these Nintendo characters that feature in Super Smash Bros. are coming out around the same time as the new games, despite the figures themselves being from their original appearances and having little to do with Nintendo's giant fighting crossover? That aside, Good Smile Company continue the fantastic work they've done so far with the eagerly awaited Nendoroid Link from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This just happens to be one of my favourite games of all time (I bought the Wii U version on release despite not owning the console just to get that limited edition Ganondorf statue), so finally getting a decent Toon Link was a dream come true for me. After suffering a few months of delays, this figure was first released in October 2014.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kurokage Matsubokkuri Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kurokage

If the Tamashii Nations 2014 event taught us anything, it's that there's still plenty of Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts releases to come that will take us well into 2015. But as far as this year is concerned, we're beginning to wind things down with the last few releases from this series. The original generation Sengoku Driver armoured Riders are almost completed, and here we get a little bit closer to a full set with the release of Kamen Rider Kurokage Matsubokkuri Arms (aka pinecone arms). This figure was a Tamashii web exclusive, originally released at the end of October.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Movie REVIEW: Mechanical Violator Hakaider

Mechanical Violator Hakaider

These days giving the bad guys the lead focus is all the rage in films, but the Kikaider franchise got there all the way back in 1995 with the movie Mechanical Violator Hakaider. Directed by Keita Amemiya of Garo fame, this film doesn't have the classic two-toned hero in sight and instead focuses on a brand new interpretation of Hakaider in a futuristic dystopian setting. Of course, no matter which version of Hakaider you're dealing with you're guaranteed death and destruction. It's not just his nature, it's in his name as well.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Series REVIEW: Kikaider 01

Kikaider 01

In a time before Super Sentai and still the early years of Kamen Rider, there was another Shotaro Ishinomori hero winning children's hearts across Japan. And with the original Android Kikaider proving a success, it's no surprise that it was immediately followed up with a sequel series. Kikaider 01 saw a brand new two-toned robotic hero take up the fight against evil, running for a total of 46 episodes between 1973 and 1974.

Friday 14 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Hakaider

S.H. Figuarts Hakaider

2014 has marked the year that the S.H. Figuarts toyline has truly started to delve into some of the great tokusatsu relics of the past, and if the news from the recent Tamashii Nations event is anything to go by this will be continuing long into 2015 and beyond. But before the line begins to properly dig into the world of Metal Heroes, there's another iconic series that's in need of a few more releases. Hot on the heels of S.H. Figuarts Kikaider comes the android's eternal rival Hakaider, based on his appearance in the original Android Kikaider series. Like Kikaider this was also a Tamashii web exclusive, originally released at the end of October 2014.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Mega Blaziken

S.H. Figuarts Mega Blaziken

With the last Pokémon S.H. Figuarts release being Lucario and the D-Arts Charizard figure commanding some rather insane aftermarket prices, I'm sure to many collectors expected Bandai Tamashii Nations to continue going down the Super Smash Bros. route and have Greninja as the next release. But it seems Bandai had different plans, and one that ties in nicely with another imminent game release. Just a month before the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire comes Mega Blaziken, also marking the first mega evolution in the D-Arts turned Figuarts line.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Death in Heaven

Doctor Who s08e12 - Death in Heaven

The big finale has finally arrived! Danny Pink is dead! Missy is the Master! There are Cybermen pouring out of St Paul's Cathedral! As the Doctor and Clara face Earth's darkness hour, they'll both be presented with some incredibly hard decisions. The Cybermen have revealed that with Missy's help they now have the power to pollinate the dead, UNIT return and the Doctor is made President of planet Earth in the crisis. As the Doctor has every army under his command to defend Earth against this Cyberthreat, Clara meets Danny again in a way she never expected. But what is Missy's end goal? It's time for Death in Heaven.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Red

Nendoroid Red (Pokémon Trainer)

When you consider how big of a franchise it is, it's rather surprising that Pokémon hasn't received all that many higher-end poseable figures over the years. Sure Bandai have done some pretty great D-Arts and S.H. Figuarts releases recently, but the wide spectrum of trainers from both the games and the anime have been left untouched. Until now that is! Following a completely unexpected announcement, Good Smile Company have released Red, the original Pokémon trainer, in their popular Nendoroid line (based on his appearance in the Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green games, as well as the Pokémon the Origin anime miniseries). However the big catch is he was released as a Pokémon Centre a Store exclusive in Japan, only available from the few physical stores and And with buyers being limited to one figure per person, it's also a figure to have evaded many a middleman service. So it's just as well I managed to get one when I did!

Monday 3 November 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kachidoki Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kachidoki Arms

When I first laid eyes on the promotional images for S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Kachidoki Arms, I knew that going the extra mile to buy form changes for the Kamen Rider Gaim figures was the right decision to make (possibly not for my wallet, but that's a different story). After Jimber Arms started dabbling in the Gaim suit evolving into something a little more than an orange-flavoured samurai, Kachidoki Arms takes this and runs with it even further by turning Kamen Rider Gaim into a one-man army of badassery. Make no mistake the orange theme is still very much alive in this form, but Gaim has gone full Shogun with heavy armour that covers almost his entire body.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Dark Water

Doctor Who s08e11 - Dark Water

The end is in sight for Doctor Who season eight. After ten weeks of learning the new side of the 12th Doctor and Clara Oswald becoming a character rather than a plot device, the season finale has finally arrived  - Dark Water. Danny Pink is dead, and Clara wants the man she loves back. After showing the Doctor just how determined she is, the two head off to find out just where people go after they die. As Danny's past resurfaces as he struggles with his death, the Doctor and Clara find themselves in 3W - a strange organisation that houses the dead in strange tanks. As the two explore a chilling prospect of what happens to us after we die, they not only uncover a Cybermen plot but also come face to face with the mysterious Missy. As she reveals her true identity, the Doctor is in for quite a shock...

Thursday 30 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Akaranger

S.H. Figuarts Akaranger

Bandai Tamashii Nations has been doing some pretty neat things with the S.H. Figuarts line in 2014 by releasing a fair few figures that fans either assumed were never coming or ones that have been in the prototype stage for years. On the other hand, other fans have lamented the obvious decline in Super Sentai figuarts as the line seems to turn its attention elsewhere with so many teams left unfinished. So here's a release that's both been a long time coming and proves that the Super Sentai side of things isn't quite dead yet! While September/October is usually the time we'd be seeing the most recent Red (so in this case, ToQ #1), this year that slot has instead been taken by the original red ranger - Akaranger of Himitsu Sentai Goranger!

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Captain America

Figma Captain America

It was a long time coming, but after much hype Figma's Avengers lineup is complete! Well, sort of anyway - we know a prototype Hulk has been made but whether Max Factory are going to release it or jump into the realm of larger body figures in general is anyone's guess. There was Thor, then we had Iron Man and now finally we have the first Avenger himself - Captain America, as portrayed in film by actor Chris Evans. Being based on his appearance in The Avengers this is the blue modern-style suit he wears, rather than the WW2 era one that appears in both Captain America films. This figure was released in September 2014, the same month as Iron Man (who had been delayed from his proposed August release).

Sunday 26 October 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: In the Forest of the Night

Doctor Who s08e10 - In the Forest of the Night

Say, have you been enjoying the fact that because Clara and Danny now work in Coal Hill School that a lot of these episodes have featured children in some form or another? Because if you haven't, you really aren't going to like In the Forest of the Night. This week, rather than just one or two kids we have a whole class of them, as Clara and Danny navigate a class through a huge forest that has inexplicably grown all over the world overnight. Even the Doctor doesn't seem to have an answer for why this has happened. As humanity attempts to rid the world of these mysterious flame-proof trees, the Doctor seeks help from a young girl who seems to be seeing more than those around give her credit for.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Biorider

SH Figuarts Biorider

The S.H. Figuarts toyline seems to have been on a bit of a Kamen Rider Black/Kamen Rider Black RX kick over the last year, with the renewal Black swiftly followed by a renewal Black RX, and even a renewal Shadow Moon announced for early next year. But between then, Bandai Tamashii Nations have also treated Kotaro Minami fans to two other long-awaited figures that previously hadn't seen any form of release - Black RX's other two forms. First came the rather disappointing Roborider, and now it's been followed up with a Figuarts version of the 'Prince of Sadness and Prince of Flames' - Biorider. Some might also know this form as Masked Rider Super Blue from the Saban adaptation Masked Rider.

Monday 20 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Iron Man Mark VII

Figma Iron Man Mark VII

It's hard to believe its been over two years since Max Factory first announced that they would be adding the Avengers to their Figma line, but now three out of the four announced figures are finally available for collectors to get their hands on (whether we'll actually get Hulk is anyone's guess right now). Iron Man was originally meant to follow Thor in August 2014, but thanks to typical Good Smile Company delays was released in late September after Captain America (but because he's Figma 217 and Cap is 226, he gets reviewed first). Obviously this figure is modelled after Iron Man's appearance in The Avengers film, based off of the Mark VII armour he dons for the battle against Loki and the Chitauri. 

Sunday 19 October 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Flatline

Doctor Who s08e09 - Flatline

Jamie Mathieson clearly had a good time writing last week's Mummy on the Orient Express, because the former Being Human writer is already back with another entry for Doctor Who - this time the episode going by the name of Flatline. This time the Doctor takes a bit of a backseat as he becomes trapped in a shrinking (well, on the outside anyway) TARDIS - it's power being siphoned away by an mysterious alien entity. It's up to Clara to take up the role of the Doctor and investigate, connecting it with the disappearance of a number of people in the estate they've landed in. After discovering that the threat is not of the third dimension - Clara learns first hand about what it's really like to play the Doctor.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kikaider

S.H. Figuarts Kikaider

The S.H. Figuarts line is in a pretty interesting state right now. We're a handful away from having every main Kamen Rider released, Super Sentai characters are becoming few and far between and Bandai seem to be showing an increasing interest in various anime properties. This doesn't mean that's it for tokusatsu characters though, as Tamashii Nations have finally turned their attention towards some of the other popular franchises Toei have spawned over the years. And what better place to start at than the beginning, with one of legend Shotaro Ishinomori's earliest henshin heroes - Kikaider of the 1972 series Android Kikaider. This figure was released as a Tamashii web exclusive at the end of September 2014.

Friday 17 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Jimber Lemon Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Jimber Lemon Arms

Back in my Roborider review in August, I briefly mentioned how there were two Kamen Rider shows with figures being released this year where I was prepared to break my personal "only buying the Rider's base form" rule. One was obviously Black RX, and the other was of course Kamen Rider Gaim. With the series being as good as it was, there was just no way I could pass up some of the amazing designs they pulled off for the titular Rider's upgrade forms. The first of these was S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Gaim Jimber Lemon Arms (also spelt Jinba/Jimba, but I'm just going with Bandai's official spelling here), which saw the Arms designs begin to stray away a little bit from the straight fruit motifs the earlier ones had. This is also the only of Gaim's 'upgrade' forms to be released as Tamashii Web Exclusive, with the succeeding Kachidoki and Kiwami Arms coming as mass release figures. However Gaim Pine Arms will also be a web exclusive, making it likely that Ichigo (Strawberry) Arms will follow suit when it's announced.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bravo Durian Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Bravo

Kamen Rider Gaim may be over and done with in terms of the television series, but as far as the S.H. Figuarts line goes Bandai Tamashii Nations have still got plenty of ground to cover. September was a pretty big month for the series with a total of three releases - two web exclusive and one mass release. Well, two of them were Gaim forms so in reality there was only one character to get REALLY excited about. And that of course was none other than the ex-militant, master pastry that is Oren Pierre Alfonzo, aka Kamen Rider Bravo. One of the most memorable characters in all of Gaim, Bravo comes as the only Lockseed Arms he wore in the show - Durian Arms

Monday 13 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Ryuko Matoi

Figma Ryuko Matoi

It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since Kill la Kill first starting airing in Japan and there's been barely any poseable figure releases. Nendoroid Ryuko and Mako did fill in a little bit of the gap, but they're still a long way off a properly poseable release. So naturally the ones to fill that gap are Max Factory's Figma line, who released their version of the show's protagonist at the end of September 2014 (following a month delay). Unlike the Nendoroid this version of Ryuko Matoi in full synchronisation mode with her Kamui Senketsu. So as you can expect, it may be a little bit risqué for casual figure collectors...

Sunday 12 October 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Mummy on the Orient Express

Doctor Who s08e08 - Mummy on the Orient Express

You know how last week I said I was looking forward to how the Twelfth Doctor was going to act in an episode that didn't feature Clara Oswald at his side? Well it seems I might have jumped the gun a bit on that assessment, as Mummy on the Orient Express picks up some weeks after the events of last week's Kill the Moon. Written by another Doctor Who first time writer Jamie Mathieson, this episode places the duo on a rather silly but appropriate setting for a good old fashioned murder mystery adventure.

Friday 10 October 2014

First Impressions: Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass 2

It's only been a few weeks since I wrote up my review of the "New Edit Edition" of the original Psycho-Pass, but we're finally back again for the brand new second season of the series - appropriately titled Psycho-Pass 2. It's been two years since the original first aired, and since then writer Gen Urobuchi has been a rather busy man so head writing duties have been passed on to Tow Ubukata (whose works include Mardock Scramble and Ghost in the Shell: Arise). Animation duties have also been handed over to Tatsunoko Productions, taking over from Studio I.G.

Thursday 9 October 2014

First Impressions: Garo: The Animation

Garo the Animation

Not content with keeping its ever growing onscreen presence to the realm of live-action tokusatsu, the GARO franchise has made it's first foray into the world of animation with Garo -Honō no Kokuin- (which translates as The Carved Seal of Flames). What's even more surprising is the show has even received licensing in the West, with Funimation picking it for simulcast as part of their subscription service. Simply dubbed Garo: The Animation here, the show will be completely unrelated to previous franchises entries and is written by Yasuko Kobayashi - a tokusatsu regular whose anime works also include the likes of Attack on Titan, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Casshern Sins.

First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters Try

Gundam Build Fighters TRY

If you'd told me just over a year ago that a series based around popular model kits and advertising them would turn around to be one of my favourites in recent times, I'd have probably laughed in your face. But then Gundam Build Fighters happened, proving to be an incredibly enjoyable experience for newcomers, casual fans and hardcore fans of the Gundam franchise as well as turning me on properly to the art of Gunpla and all the great kits Bandai have produced. Clearly 25 episodes wasn't enough to contain the awesomeness, as the show has returned again in the form of Gundam Build Fighters Try. This sequel series is once again part of the franchise's 35th anniversary celebration, and is being streamed for free with English subtitles on the GundamInfo Youtube channel.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Anime REVIEW: Space Dandy

Space Dandy

There have been quite a few extremely popular anime shows that have aired in the past year, but I don't think any have sparked off as much interesting conversation as Space Dandy. One of the latest ventures from prolific studio Bones, this show also features famed Cowboy Bebop (plus others) director Shinichirō Watanabe at the helm. But on top of those already pretty impressive credentials, Space Dandy is also part of that very exclusive club of shows that has received a simuldub. That's right - as the Japanese language version was being released, we Westerners were also getting a full English version via Funimation and Adult Swim. Now I'm usually a sub man myself, but considering this rather impressive venture I thought it obligatory I checked out the dub. And rather unexpectedly, that's also the version I ended up sticking with.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

First Impressions: Ai Tenchi Muyo!

Ai Tenchi Muyo!

It's something that hasn't really come up at all on this blog, but I'm a massive fan of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise. It was one of my first experiences with anime at I time where I was old enough to recognise Japanese animation as a medium, and since then has firmly remained one of my all time favourite franchises...even if I'm blasphemous in thinking that the Tenchi Universe TV series timeline is superior to the more-convoluted but canon Ryo-Ohki OVA one. So you can imagine my excitement when AIC announced that they would be working on a brand new Tenchi series, which will be the first since spin-off series Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (Saint Knight's Tale or War on Geminar as it was later released in the US) in 2009. Ai Tenchi Muyo is set to run for an impressive 50 episodes, the downside being that they're only going to be five minutes long each. Boo!

Monday 6 October 2014

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Drive

Kamen Rider Drive

Motorbikes are so 1971, 2014 is all about cars! That's right, Kamen Rider Gaim is over and its time for a new Rider that does things a little bit differently. 2014-15's Rider goes by the name of Kamen Rider Drive, swapping out the franchise's signature motorcycle completely in favour of a car (yes Kamen Rider Black RX had a car, but he still had a bike at the same time). The 16th Heisei era Kamen Rider series and 25th overall sees Rider veterans Riku Sanjo and Ryuta Tasaki return as lead writer and director respectively - something they last did on 2009-10's Kamen Rider W.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Kill the Moon

Doctor Who s08e07 - Kill the Moon

It seems like trying to kill Hitler wasn't enough for Doctor Who, as this week it comes back with the even more ridiculously titled Kill the Moon. Penned by Who newcomer Peter Harness, this episode also takes the action out of Wales for once for some filming in Lanzarote. With sadly no relation to 1984's Planet of Fire. Boo!

Saturday 4 October 2014

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Super Megaforce

Power Rangers Super Megaforce

In a move that hadn't been attempted since the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers moved into its second season way back in 1994, Saban Brands surprised fans by announcing that the latest series celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise would be adapted from two different Super Sentai series. While the first half, Power Rangers Megaforce, would be based off of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the second would adapt the following series Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Titled Power Rangers Super Megaforce, this is arguably the "true" part of the anniversary celebration as the source was the 35th anniversary Sentai series and thus also suitably jazzed up for the occasion.

Friday 3 October 2014

First Impressions: Gundam Reconguista in G

Gundam Reconguista in G

2014 marks the 35th anniversary of the Mobile Suit Gundam, and as you can probably imagine one of (if not the) most iconic mecha franchises in the history of anime knows exactly how to throw a party. If the brilliant Gundam Build Fighters wasn't enough, we also have a second season of that, comedy shorts Gundam-san, Gundam: The Origin OVAs and (arguably the most important of them all) the long-awaited release of S.H. Figuarts Master Asia to enjoy/look forward to. But the main event is of course the brand new series, that goes by the rather wordy title of Gundam Reconguista in G, or simply G-Reco for short. But simply being made for the anniversary isn't the only big deal about this show, it's also the first one to be written and directed by franchise creator Yoshiyuki Tomino since Turn A Gundam back in 1999. THAT is a pretty big deal.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger Minipla Safari GaOh

Minipla Safari GaOh from Ressha Sentai ToQger the Movie

200 toy reviews already? Wow, I clearly need to find better things to spend my money on.

Jokes aside, I'm kind of glad that my 200th toy review got to be a Super Sentai minipla/candy toy set, as they've become a favourite of mine to do over the last few years. Sure I do other toylines and the review count is predominantly S.H. Figuarts these days, but English minipla reviews aren't all that common so I like to pretend they're something a bit more unique to this blog. Either that or I'm clearly not looking in the right places.

Anyway, what we have here is Safari GaOh, the movie exclusive mecha for Ressha Sentai ToQger's summer movie - Galaxy Line SOS. As is the case most (but not all) of the time, the movie exclusive is a remould of the series' core robot, with ToQOh's components decked out with animal faces and various other new bits and pieces - including a new head for the robot.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Series REVIEW: Garo: The Makai Flower

Garo: Makai no Hana

2014 has proved to be quite the year for Garo, as its rise from adult tokusatsu oddity to full-blown franchise reaches new heights with a number of iterations hitting throughout the year. It started with the six-part Zero: Black Blood  miniseries and will next be jumping into its own anime adaptation as well as a follow-up movie for the cast of spin-off/side story The One Who Shines in the Darkness. But before those Zero was followed up by a proper 25-episode series named Garo: Makai no Hana ("The Makai Flower") which saw Garo creator Keita Amemiya return to the helm after a brief absence.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Gaim

Kamen Rider Gaim

That time has come once again where we say goodbye to a Kamen Rider series, only to say hello to a brand new one in the following week. So just before we start our engines and "drive the Kamen Rider", it's time to give one last hurrah to the fruity warlords of Kamen Rider Gaim we've loved and followed for the last year. Written by anime hot topic Gen Urobuchi (who's had more than a few mentions on this blog recently) and his first foray into writing both Kamen Rider and tokusatsu as a whole, Gaim has been a hotly talked about series thanks to its imaginative gimmicks, multiple riders and multi-layered story - especially on this side of the pond. But of course, the question remains - is it actually any good?

Sunday 28 September 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: The Caretaker

Doctor Who s08e06 - The Caretaker

Much like how Russell T Davies time as Doctor Who show runner brought us a Doctor-light episode each season, each of Steven Moffat's seasons have brought us a "Doctor does alien things in a human environment". So far we've had The Lodger, Closing Time and The Power of Three, which each of them an excellent job of developing how different the Doctor is to humans and/or fleshing out the companions or co-stars. Writer of the first two of those stories Gareth Roberts is back for a third outing this week in The Caretaker, which sees the Doctor posing as Coal Hill's new caretaker in an attempt to prevent a disaster caused by misplaced alien super weapon the Skovox Blitzer. However fitting in isn't the Doctor's only problem (well, it wouldn't be if he was actually that interested in trying to fit in) - he also has a rather confused and irate Clara to deal with. And of course, that first meeting with her new boyfriend Mr Pink...

Friday 26 September 2014

Anime REVIEW: Psycho-Pass


Futuristic settings have always been a brilliant playground for anime titles, and the kind that tender to garner quite a bit of attention since they can count renowned classics such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell among them. In 2012 anime hot topic Gen Urobuchi (who's works reviewed on this blog include Madoka Magica and Gargantia) made his contribution to the genre with Psycho-Pass, a 22-episode series that aired on the esteemed Fuji-TV Noitamina programming block and has gone down quite a storm since. Carefully timed with the new season set to start next month, the original briefly returned as Psycho-Pass Extended Edition, which saw it reedited into 11 40-minute episodes. A perfect opportunity for me to find out what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin Melon Energy Arms

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin Melon Energy Arms

After five impressive releases of original Sengoku Driver Armoured Riders, the Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts line is now briefly turning its attention to towards the Genesis Driver wielding Energy Riders of the Yggdrasil Corporation. The first of this next generation of Riders to be released is Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin Melon Energy Arms, a suit that had a much bigger impact in the series than the simple power-up many originally expected it to be. Starting out as an upgrade for original Zangetsu Takatora Kureshima, the Driver and its powers later moved on to his younger brother Mitsuzane, making it the only suit in the series (other than the Kurokage troopers) to have been used by more than one person.

Monday 22 September 2014

Anime REVIEW: Captain Earth

Captain Earth

When people think of studios that specialise in mecha series the likes of Sunrise and Gainax are naturally the first ones to come to mind, but with the likes of RahXephon, Eureka Seven and Star Driver under their belts Bones are managing to creep up that list by combining their own formula for the genre with the high quality animation the studio constantly delivers. Taking that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude, their newest entry for the genre is Captain Earth - a 25-episode series that aired between April and September 2014.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Time Heist

Doctor who s08e05 - Time Heist

Doctor Who seems to be trying as much variety as possible this season. So far we've had horror, a back-to-basics Dalek story, a comedy romp and horror without a monster. So this week writers Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat turn their attention towards big scale crime capers with Time Heist. Clara's second date with Danny is put slightly on hold when she and the Doctor are roped in by the mysterious Architect to rob the Bank of Karabraxos - the most impenetrable bank in the universe. They won't be on their own though, as their little team of thieves is filled out by augmented cyborg hacker Psi and shafeshifting mutant Saibra. The only problem is all four agreed to a memory wipe after accepting the job, so all are entering without any knowledge of why they're actually doing this.

Saturday 20 September 2014

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

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Hibiki

Bandai Tamashii Nations have been painfully close to releasing every single main Kamen Rider in the S.H. Figuarts line for a while now, but 2014 is definitely the year that's seen them draw even closer to that goal. The Showa era has seen some pretty surprise figures in the form of Kamen Rider Shin and (the forthcoming) Kamen Rider ZO, while the Heisei era Riders are still missing two of their key players (though Kiva's Emperor Form has admittedly been produced). However launching off the back of the special renewal Kamen Rider Kabuto figure, the line's biggest gap is finally closed.  Kamen Rider Hibiki has at last arrived!