Wednesday 30 April 2014

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

SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Kabuto Renewal

My opinions of Kamen Rider Kabuto as a series may be pretty low, but if there's one thing I couldn't fault it on it's how fantastic the suit designs were - taking the core insect design of the franchise and taking it to the next level. However its been nearly six years since the original Kabuto S.H. Figuarts figures were released, so naturally Tendou and co. are really beginning to show their age when stacked up next to some of the newer releases in the line. But of course, the man who walks the path of heaven isn't going to settle for sub-par figure, and so Bandai Tamashii Nations have created a brand new renewal version of the show's titular Rider under the banner of 'Shinkocchou Seihou'. This isn't just a simple upgrade like Kamen Rider Black got though - Bandai have incorporated all new sculpting techniques and joint systems to make this higher-priced-than-usual Figuart something REALLY special...

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Kabuto

Kamen Rider Kabuto

Continuing my journey through the extensive history of the Kamen Rider franchise, my next stop is 2006-2007 with the Heisei era's seventh series (and 16th overall) Kamen Rider Kabuto. It's also a landmark title for Kamen Rider as a whole, celebrating its 35th anniversary as well as being the first instalment to be broadcast in high definition. More recently, the titular Rider also had a brand new renewal S.H. Figuarts release, which isn't part of my reason for choosing this now to watch at all...

Sunday 20 April 2014

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kyoryu Gold

S.H. Figuarts Kyoryu Gold

Once upon S.H. Figuarts buyers felt confident that if one group of Super Sentai characters (other than the Reds of course) was safe from Tamashii web exclusive status, it was the sixths. After the mass releases of Shinken Gold, Gokai Silver and Dragon Ranger, they seemed pretty safe. However that certainty has been dashed over the past few months, with not only Kiba Ranger getting the TWE treatment but also the sixth ranger of the latest Sentai show. The third Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger release in the line, Kyoryu Gold follows on from the Blue/Green 2-pack and comes just before the Black/Pink set - making it (currently) the only single figure web exclusive release for the show.

Thursday 17 April 2014

First Impressions: Kanpai Senshi After V

Kanpai Senshi After V

With sadly no Akibaranger around this year to fill the void of Super Sentai parody in our lives, a new contender has stepped up to the plate in 2014! While Kanpai Senshi After V (roughly translating as Cheers! Warriors After Five) may not have the official Toei backing that Akibaranger had, that doesn't make its influences any less clear. In fact, looking at this picture alone you'd think that the Showa era of Sentai had risen again.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger Minipla ToQOh

Minipla ToQOh from Ressha Sentai ToQger

It's a brand new year (well, four months into), brand new Super Sentai series. And a brand new Sentai series naturally means a brand new selection of toys! So far Ressha Sentai ToQger's toyline has proven to be rather divisive, with many not a fan of the seemingly back to basics approach of the costumes and the main mecha itself - ToQOh. Personally I've loved the simple design of rainbow robot from the very beginning, and after the disappointment of last year's Kyoryuger offerings I was excited to see what 2014's mini-pla candy toys would have to offer. And thankfully, it seems elbows are back in fashion.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Series REVIEW: Zero: Black Blood

Kicking off the year of GARO is...a miniseries that doesn't actually feature Garo at all? That's right, the franchise's first 2014 entry is a story about everyone's favourite secondary Makai Knight - Rei Suzumura, aka Zero the Silver Fanged Knight. The six-part miniseries, titled Zero: Black Blood was also released in Japanese cinemas as a film duology - with the two parts being named White Chapter and Black Chapter respectively.

Friday 11 April 2014

First Impressions: Garo: The Makai Flower

Garo Makai no Hana

2014 is undoubtedly the year of Garo. This once small toku production has progressively grown into a full-blown franchise over the past few years, with this year giving us the widest variety of new productions yet. On top of the recently completed Zero spin-off (look forward to a review of that hitting the blog soon), we also still have a The One Who Shines in the Darkness movie to look forward to and even a Garo anime. But before then we have Garo: Makai no Hana ("The Makai Flower"), which sees original creator/writer/director Keita Amemiya return to the fold after a brief absence. And that's not the only exciting thing the show has up its sleeve either.

Thursday 10 April 2014

First Impression: Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers

Disk Wars Avengers

Marvel Comics has always had a bit of an odd relationship with Japan. The old 1978 Spider-Man tokusatsu series from Toei was a piece of sureal genius, while the more recent quartet of Marvel anime shows (Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men and Blade) ranged from forgettably average to mind-numbingly bad. So cue 2014 when the world is still very much in Marvel hype mode thanks to the shared movie universe, and the company has teamed up with Toei once again. This time its something a little more Japanese though, as Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers takes a typical children's toy-driven anime series and gives it a Marvel comics twist.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

First Impressions: Soul Eater Not!

Soul Eater Not!

It seems Captain Earth isn't studio Bones' only heavy hitter for this anime season, as this Spring also sees the return of one of their more popular titles. Soul Eater Not! is a comedy spinoff of Soul Eater (obviously), based on the manga of the same name. When I began watching the original Soul Eater I liked it a lot, but unfortunately being one of the shows based on a (then) ongoing manga series the story progressively suffered more and more as it went on. The Soul Eater Not! manga is also currently ongoing, so will this show end up suffering the same fate? Either way its time to make a long overdue return to Death City.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

First Impressions: Brynhildr in the Darkness

Brynhildr in the Darkness

The Spring 2014 anime season just keeps getting better and better, as Captain Earth isn't the only new show on offer from the makers of some of my absolute favourites. Brynhildr in the Darkness (or Gokukoku no Brynhildr if you prefer) is a brand new show based on the ongoing manga by Lynn Okamoto - author of a little title that goes by the name of Elfen Lied.

Monday 7 April 2014

First Impressions: Captain Earth

Captain Earth

With the more juvenile series out of the way, let's get talking about one of the REAL mecha shows making its debut this anime season. Captain Earth is the brand new show from Bones, written by Takuya Igarashi and directed by Yōji Enokido - both of whom worked on Star Driver. Those two aren't the only Star Driver staff returning, with artists Shingeto Koyoma and Takayuki Yanase (both of whom also worked on Eureka Seven and its sequel Ao) handling mecha duties. Mentioning these two series is pretty important, as prior to airing some referring to Captain Earth as "Eureka Seven meets Star Driver". With those being two of my favourite anime series of all time, Captain Earth was probably my most anticipated show for this season.

Sunday 6 April 2014

First Impressions: Daimidaler the Sound Robot


Welcome to the first of my brand new set of "first impressions" posts for the brand new Spring 2014 anime season (plus the new Garo series that's about to start). After I spent last season mostly watching continuations from 2013, this is the first time this year I'm diving into a bunch of brand new titles. And comedy/mecha/ecchi series Daimidaler the Sound Robot couldn't have been a stranger place to start. Initially I was going to overlook this manga adaptation (where it has its full title - Kenzen Robo Daimidaler) from TNK, but then I saw this very short (and straight to the point) synopsis on Wikipedia and thought otherwise:

Friday 4 April 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 5" The Other Doctor

The Other/War Doctor, choose a name.

Most of my Doctor Who figure reviews these days are opened with my lamenting the demise of the long-standing 5" scale line in favour of the newer 3.75" scale, but for once here's a review of a brand new figure that isn't a remould or re-release! Even if this scale is on its way out (and those signs are increasingly pointing to 'yes'), Character Options and Underground Toys have conjured up one last hurrah with a figure that would sorely be missing from people's collections had it not been made. Appearing in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor and played by the legendary John Hurt, here is the long awaited 5" Other Doctor figure. Of course, the "Other Doctor" is a stupid name that's being used on all his merchandising, so for the rest of the review I'll be referring to him by what most fans call him - the War Doctor.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Anime REVIEW: Gundam Build Fighters

Gundam Build Fighters

As I previously mentioned in my G Gundam review, I'm a bit of a slacker when it comes to the Gundam franchise. However I've now resolved to eventually work my way through it from start to finish, all thanks to a 25-episode series that recently finished airing named Gundam Build Fighters. Kicking off the franchise's 35th anniversary which will continue throughout 2014, this new alternate universe series is notable for taking a look at the real thing that's helped keep the franchise afloat for so many years - model kits! This isn't the first time Sunrise and Bandai have animated this massive hobby - that would be 2010's three episode OVA Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G. However being part of an anniversary the scope was much bigger here, and with Bandai streaming the series for free on Youtube it was something you can tell they really wanted people to enjoy.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Anime REVIEW: Kill la Kill

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt are two of my favourite anime series, and both share a number of things in common. Not only are they both from Gainax, but are also both directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi. However Imaishi has now left the Gainax fold, starting up his own studio - Trigger, with other former Gainax employee Masahiko Ohtsuka. After wowing audiences with their debut short Little Witch Academia, Trigger reunited some of the staff behind Gurren Lagann (including writer Kazuki Nakshima) for their first full-length, two-cour series. The end result is Kill la Kill, and it was teased to do for high-school battle anime exactly what Gurren Lagann did for mecha. To say anticipation was high is an understatement.