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!

Thursday 18 September 2014

Anime REVIEW: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

After the overwhelming success of shows such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, it's no surprise that writer Gen Urobuchi is a hot topic in the world of anime. Despite only being responsible for a handful of episodes and the overall concept, having his name attached to Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia) has no doubt brought it to people's attention. A 13-episode series from the studio Production I.G., Gargantia first aired in 2013 and has since spanned a further two OVAs - with a two-part OVA sequel also set for release later this year.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Mako Mankanshoku

Nendoroid Mako Mankanshoku from Kill la Kill

Where Ryuko Matoi goes, her best friend Mako Mankanshoku isn't far behind - and the Nendoroid toyline is no exception! Rather than make Kill la Kill fans wait any longer, Good Smile Company opted to release both characters at the same time, with Satsuki Kiryuin following shortly afterward in October. With her over the top personality and expressions, Mako seems like a perfect character for the Nendoroid line so here's hoping the figure can live up to her potential!

Monday 15 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Ryuko Matoi

Nendoroid Ryuko Matoi from Kill la Kill

It's been almost a year since Kill la Kill first graced Japanese television screens, yet only now are figures of Studio Trigger's first full-length series beginning to hit retail. There's plenty to choose for both poseable and non-poseable fans, witth Good Smile Company, Max Factory, Phat Company and Medicom among some of the companies bringing out figures in the next few months. However my first Kill la Kill toy review moves towards the chibi side of things, looking at the endless juggernaut that is Good Smile Company's Nendoroid line. The end of August saw a double bill-release of the first two characters to grace the line, so we start things off with the main protagonist of the show - Ryuko Matoi.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Listen

Doctor Who s08e04  - Listen

After a jovial forest romp last week, Steven Moffat returns to the writing chair this week to do what everyone agrees he does best in Doctor Who - straight up horror. Listen sees the Doctor and Clara embark upon their own little investigation (rather than stumble into trouble like they usually do) when the Doctor hypothesises that every living being has a constant companion - the creature they dream hiding under the bed. Unfortunately the Doctor drops in on Clara straight after her first date from hell with fellow teacher Danny Pink (last seen in Into the Dalek), leading them to become wrapped in his own timeline as well. As the pair search for the answers about the thing that goes bump in the night in both the past and future, Clara meanwhile tries to repair her relationship with Danny. The big question is whether there's really something hiding, or is a little boy just afraid of the dark?

Thursday 11 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 3.75" Classic Dalek (from 'Genesis of the Daleks')

Doctor Who 3.75" Scale Classic Dalek (Genesis of the Daleks)

With Doctor Who finally back on television screens, its time for the merchandising train to continue on full steam once again. The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay will reopen from its "regeneration" in a few weeks time, and both the 3.75" action figures and Character Building mini figures are back for brand new waves. The subject of this review is particularly special, as it marks the new scale's first foray into the classic series. This Classic Dalek figure hails from the 1975 story Genesis of the Dalek, released as part of wave 3 of the new figure line. In the US, it is also a Walgreen's exclusive figure.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Series REVIEW: Android Kikaider

Android Kikaider

Having dived through a fairly extensive array of both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai shows but still having plenty left to watch, I decided it would be good to take a little break from the "big two" franchises and take a look at some of the lesser known tokusatsu heroes Japan has to offer. And having just received a reboot movie and guest appearance on Kamen Rider Gaim the Kikaider franchise seemed like the perfect place to start. Despite probably not being quite the household name Rider and Sentai are, Kikaider (again created by the the late great Shotaro Ishinomori) is still an incredibly popular hero and actually one of the more successful non-adapted heroes outside of his home country. Due to his huge popularity in Hawaii both live-action series have received an official DVD release, while the anime adaptations were also aired on Adult Swim.

Anyway there's no better place to start than the beginning, so my journey through the Kikaider franchise starts with the 43-episode series Android Kikaider (Jinzō Ningen Kikaidā), which aired between 1972 and 1973 (making it the oldest Toei series I've watched so far).

Monday 8 September 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Robot of Sherwood

Doctor Who s08e03 - Robot of Sherwood

Another week has passed, so naturally it's time for another look at the latest season of Doctor Who. Episode three sees the TARDIS flying to Sherwood forest to the times of Robin Hood, after Clara tells the Doctor she's always wanted to meet the legendary hero. Eager to prove that Robin Hood doesn't exist, the Doctor is naturally rather surprised to find both him and his merry men almost instantly when they land. So while the Doctor gets caught up in trying to prove that this Robin Hood is a fraud, they all also get caught up in a plan involving robots, gold and of course - the Sheriff of Nottingham. The episode is titled Robot of Sherwood, and was written by Doctor Who regular and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Toybox REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger Minipla Build DaiOh & Drill Ressha

ToQger Minipla Build Ressha/Build DaiOh

After brief detour into the world of additional armaments, the Ressha Sentai ToQger minipla candy toy line returns with its third mecha. The team now has its sixth member in former Shadow Zaram who has now taken the name Akira Nijino. After seeing a rainbow he left the Shadow Line to become a Rainbow Line maintenance worker, eventually becoming the appropriately themed/coloured ToQ #6. So naturally an orange construction themed ranger needs an orange construction themed train, which Akira gets in the form of the Build Ressha - an impressive double-decker train able to transform into the giant robot Build DaiOh.