Sunday 27 December 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Husbands of River Song

The Husbands of River Song

Christmas. A time for family, gifts, lots of food and of course the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special. These specials have ranged from festive romps featuring robot Santas to emotional goodbyes (and an energetic hello) to previous versions of the Doctor, comfortably asserting themselves as a staple of British festive television. The 2015 edition sees the return of an old face, as Professor River Song makes a surprise return in The Husbands of River Song.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Knuckle Kurumi Arms

Back in May 2014 when Bandai Tamashii Nations released the first of the Kamen Rider Gaim S.H. Figuarts figures, fans wondered just how long it would take them to get through the rather extensive cast. Just look at the similar sized Kamen Rider Ryuki for example, which had the first of its 13 Riders released in August 2011 but wasn’t completed until November 2014 (and still has a few Contract Monsters missing here and there). But although Gaim still has a few movie exclusive Riders, bit-part characters and monsters left untouched or without a release date, the main cast was neatly rounded off at the end of November 2015 with Kamen Rider Knuckle Kurumi Arms. Another Tamashii Web Exclusive, Knuckle returns Gaim to its roots with another standard armoured Rider, following on from the completion of the New Generation Riders with Kamen Rider Sigurd in the previous month.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Toybox REVIEW: LEGO Ideas Doctor Who Set

Ever since the LEGO brand started snapping up licensed properties left right and centre getting an official Doctor Who LEGO set has felt like a bit of a pipe dream. Things seemed less and less likely when Character Options started producing their own LEGO-esque sets and figures in the form of Character Building, but that didn't stop fans from hoping and various suggestions on the LEGO Ideas website from getting considerable buzz. Those prayers were finally answered in 2015, when a Doctor Who set was officially unveiled alongside the franchise joining DC Comics, Jurassic World, Portal, The Simpsons and more in the LEGO Dimensions video game. The Doctor has finally arrived in LEGO form, and while it may not be as a fully fledged range just yet this could easily be the start of something great.

Friday 18 December 2015

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden: Duke & Knuckle

Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden - Duke & Knuckle

Some people say that you can never have too much of a good thing. These people have clearly never seen Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden: Zangetsu & Baron. After the Kamen Rider Gaim series impressed audiences with its cleverly woven (though admittedly Urobuchi-trope ridden) storyline and fantastic characters, these V-cinema side stories came along feeling like a pure money spinner – offering weak stories that raised further questions while shoehorning in new Armoured Riders and Lockseeds derived from already existing suits. However both Bandai and Toei must have clearly got what they wanted out of this, because it wasn’t long before a second Gaim Gaiden was put into production and released – this time focusing on Kamen Rider Duke and Kamen Rider Knuckle.

So with zero expectations and extreme trepidation, I ventured back to Zawame City to see if these offerings were much of the same or whether they were able to once again capture what made Kamen Rider Gaim so engaging in the first place.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Nendoroid Mako Mankanshoku Fight Club-spec Two Star Goku Uniform ver.

Despite ties with Good Smile Company and proving to be a popular series on both sides of the world, Kill la Kill hasn’t had all that much luck on the articulated figure front. Two Figma and a handful of Nendoroids is about all that’s been mustered, and even scale statues have largely been relegated to ones of only Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin. However among these slim pickings were some real gems, and Nendoroid Mako Mankanshoku was one of them. GSC obviously agreed, since the character then made a reappearance in the line this year as their Summer Wondefest exclusive (although that title is less special now that GSC sell the figures at any cons they attend worldwide). This figure however is Mako Mankanshoku Fight Club-spec Two Star Goku Uniform ver., based on her appearance in episode seven of series where she fights against Ryuko in order to protect her family’s new found wealth.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Toybox REVIEW: The Night of the Doctor Eighth Doctor

Doctor Who may have unfortunately wrapped up for the year once again (although this year it’s only a matter of weeks between the season finale and Christmas special), but there’s plenty to get excited about when it comes to the toys. The 5.5” scale figures from Character Options and Underground Toys has been reborn in the form of a collector orientated toy line, and the releases of the Twelfth Doctor and Missy have been followed by a line of rereleases exclusive to Toys R Us and Forbidden Planet in the UK. But among these reissues is also a brand new figure – the Eighth Doctor himself as he appeared in 50th Anniversary prequel The Night of the Doctor. Once again portrayed by Paul McGann, this mini-episode featured a whole new look for this version of the Doctor before he boldly regenerated into the War Doctor.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider J

Kamen Rider J

Every time there's a big Kamen Rider crossover movie (and for better or for worse, that's annually these days) there's one Rider that definitely sticks out from the others. He never does very much and is usually beaten relatively quick should he manage to get a fight scene, but being giant sized is bound to get you noticed. This is Kamen Rider J, the star of the one-off 1994 movie of the same name. This film was released during the period of time where Kamen Rider was off Japanese television screens, and along with Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue and Kamen Rider ZO makes up a trilogy of films that neatly round off the franchise's Showa era (although all three actually came out during the Heisei period). Like ZO before it the film was directed by a pre-Garo Keita Amemiya, and is also notable for starring Yūta Mochizuki in the title role - having previously portrayed Geki/Tyranno Ranger in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Hell Bent

Doctor Who s09e12 - Hell Bent

It's been an entertaining ride, but the end of Doctor Who's ninth series/season (I need to decide on a word and stick to it really) has come to an end. In true Doctor Who style though, that end will of course be with a bang. Finale episode Hell Bent sees the Doctor finally make his return his home planet of Gallifrey - an event that has been years in the making and (with the exception of a few little detours) a first for the modern iteration of the franchise. The episode also serves as our proper goodbye to Clara Oswald, with actor Jenna Coleman having stepped down from her role as companion after serving for an nearly three years. The episode was once again directed by Rachel Talalay, and of course written by show runner Steven Moffat.

Monday 30 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Heaven Sent

Doctor Who s09e11 - Heaven Sent

It’s been a rather great run of Doctor Who episodes this year, but unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end. And that end is nigh, as we reach the penultimate episode of series/season nine – Heaven Sent. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay (who previously directed last year’s finale two-parter Dark Water and Death in Heaven), this episode is a particularly interesting case as the only speaking role is the Doctor himself. With no other actors to bounce off of this episode is truly the Peter Capaldi show, and as the Doctor quite rightly says to himself here “the room is yours, so work it.”

Sunday 29 November 2015

Anime REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

In terms of iconic anime franchises, it’s hard to get much bigger than Ghost in the Shell. Though originally a manga series by Masamune Shirow, the perhaps better-known 1995 anime film adaptation directed by Mamoru Oshii proved heavily influential and is widely recognised as one of animation’s greatest offerings. The film also spawned a sequel, as well as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – a separate continuity television series that ran for seasons and had a few movies of its own. Partly in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the franchise, Production I.G. produced Ghost in the Shell: Arise, a brand new retelling by Tow Ubukata (who created the similarly cyberpunk Mardock Scramble) spanning four OVA films. These films were also re-released as a 12-episode series bearing the name Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture, featuring two brand new episodes to lead into yet another movie – this time simply bearing the name Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider 3

Who’s that guy! 

Super Hero Taisen GP may not be a particularly good film, but it will undoubtedly go down in infamy for bringing one lost piece of Kamen Rider history to the silver screen. After initially appearing in a 1972 manga story battling against General Black, Kamen Rider 3 made the leap to the onscreen Rider universe in 2015 when he was reimagined as Shocker’s timeline changing ultimate weapon. This version of the character was F-1 racer Kyoichiro Kuroi, who defeated Riders 1 and 2 to alter the timeline. Forever burdened with guilt from his victory over the heroes, with the help of Kamen Rider Drive Kuroi eventually turned to the side of justice – helping defeat Shocker before fading out of existence.

Kamen Rider 3’s return to the franchise was suitably hyped prior to the release of GP, and his significance is also marked by the fact that Bandai Tamashii Nations actually made his S.H. Figuarts a mass release item. While not the first movie exclusive character to receive such a thing, it’s still a fairly exclusive club nonetheless.

Monday 23 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms

It’s beginning to feel like the Kamen Rider Gaim train will never end. It’s been over a year since the series came to a close, yet it seems to still be going strong in the form of the various Gaim Gaiden DVD/BD specials and accompanying merchandise. Bandai Tamashii Nations is still yet to squeeze out the entire main cast in the S.H. Figuarts line as well, but the end of 2015 sees them coming pretty close. Finally rounding off the initial quartet of New Generation/Energy Riders, the next character to join the line is the devious Lockseed dealer Sid – aka Kamen Rider Sigurd Cherry Energy Arms! Another Tamashii Web Exclusive, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for the character to get released despite Sid appearing right from the start of the show. Still, when you’ve got a cast as big as Gaim’s it’s no surprise that some releases are going to come later than others.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Face the Raven

Doctor Who s09e10 - Face the Raven

It's only a matter of weeks until this year's series of Doctor Who draws to a close, so now it's time the stakes start getting raised. We've seen the Doctor and Clara face off against the Daleks, ghosts, Zygons and more, but as audience we have known that Clara's time in the TARDIS is slowly drawing to a close. That time has now come in Face the Raven - a story penned by series newcomer Sarah Dollard that also brings back a few familiar faces. Making their return are Rigsy (played by Jovian Wade, who previously appeared in the excellent Flatline) as well as Maisie Williams' Ashildr/Me, who appeared earlier this year in the episodes The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived. Doctor Who has been building up to this for quite a while now - it's time to say goodbye.

Friday 20 November 2015

Movie REVIEW: Garo: Gold Storm

Garo: Gold Storm

Earlier this year Garo fans were treated to a brand new live-action series by the name of Garo: Gold Storm -Sho-, which saw Ryuga Dougai return as the titular Golden Knight along with Makai Preist Rian – both of whom previously appeared in Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. While the series was fairly standalone, some non-Japanese viewers may have been confused by the appearance of new supporting characters without any sort of introduction. This is because the series was actually preceded by a feature length movie, simply going by the title of Garo: Gold Storm. As well as acting as a precursor to -Sho- and debuting Ryuga’s new Garo Sho armour, the movie is also one of the several projects announced in 2015 to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.I.C. Kikaider (CR Kikaider S.I.C. Version)

While today Bandai's S.I.C. (which stands for Super Imaginative Chogokin) toy line is most reserved for "monstrous" and more detailed redesigns of the various characters from the Kamen Rider franchise, it didn't start out that way. In actual fact, the first five figures in the line (along with many other entries in its early years) were actually from Kikaider. Now 17 years later, the two-coloured android hero has returned. Based on the redesign that appear in the CR Kikaider S.I.C. pachinko machine, this is a brand new Kikaider figure that shows just how far the line has come in that time. No more minimally articulated figures that easily fall apart, these days the line gets the full Tamashii Nations treatment and stands proudly as the S.H. Figuarts older and more alternative brother. 

Sunday 15 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Sleep No More

Doctor Who s09e09 - Sleep No More

Once upon a time "found footage" felt like a new and exciting style of filmmaking. But ever since films such as The Blair Witch Project it's been emulated by horror films time after time, and now for every decent attempt at it you get at least five really awful ones. But while the horror genre may be absolutely flooded with them, a found footage style episode is definitely a first for Doctor Who. Penned by series regular and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, Sleep No More is quite unlike any Who episode that has come before it - bringing the show into that not-so-exclusive club of media that has attempted such a hit or miss tactic. Was it a success? You'll have to read on to find out, but you better make sure you're good and rested before continuing...

Friday 13 November 2015

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider 4

Kamen Rider 4

Let’s be honest – there are a lot of problems with Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3. But perhaps one the strangest ones is the fact that the film ends on a huge unresolved plot point – namely the death of Gou Shijima/Kamen Rider Mach. After a pretty explosive death scene that’s overlooked by most of the characters fighting in the battle against Shocker, the story then concludes with Shinnosuke and Kiriko mournfully getting on with their lives without him. This wasn’t just lazy writing though, as these events then tie into Kamen Rider 4 – an internet mini series released in accompaniment.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts War Machine Mark 2

With Bandai Tamashii Nations slowly running out of “main” Kamen Riders to produce for the S.H. Figuarts toy line, the last few years has seen the line expand into a number of different properties. And among the various other tokusatsu, anime and Star Wars figures, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be a particularly serious source of inspiration. We’ve so far had figures from both Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, followed this year by the core Avengers as they appeared in Age of Ultron. Bandai show no signs of stopping there though, with both Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armour and Ultron himself due next year as well as a number of other figures (most importantly including Hawkeye and Black Widow) revealed at the Tamashii Nations 2015 event. But before we get to any of those, the first Tamashii web exclusive figure from the Avengers sub line is in fact War Machine Mark 2 – who in reality only appeared in the movie for a couple of minutes at the most. However with James “Rhodey” Rhodes becoming a key Avenger at the end of the film who will likely play a key role in Captain America 3: Civil War, this is as good an opportunity as ever to show just how much WARMARCHINEROX.

Monday 9 November 2015

Movie REVIEW: Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger; 10 Years After

There are few Super Sentai series that can say they were so popular that they supposedly almost got a second series. In fact, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger may in fact be the only one that can. After a handful of the cast made a brief return for a cameo appearance in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the alien-busting police themed Sentai celebrate their 10th anniversary with a one-off V-cinema release. In the same vein as the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 Years After special released back in 2013, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After reunites the cast of the beloved show for a brand new case. Roll back the clocks and pretend for a moment it's still 2005, because it's judgement time once again.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Zygon Inversion

Doctor Who s09e08 - The Zygon Inversion

Zygons, Zygons everywhere! Last week this newest season of Doctor Who really hit its stride with The Zygon Invasion, as the human/Zygon ceasefire dating all the way back to The Day of the Doctor began to crumble. The Zygon invasion had already begun, Kate Stewart was at the mercy of a Zygon in Mexico and the Doctor and Osgood were about to be blasted out of the sky but none other than Clara Oswald. Of course, it wasn't actually Clara but in fact a Zygon duplicate by the name of Bonnie. Now we pick things up in part two of the story - The Zygon Inversion, written again by Peter Harness but this time with the added input of Steven Moffat. There will be truth, or there will be consequences.

Friday 6 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Darth Maul

Between all the hype surrounding The Force Awakens and Disney seemingly giving merchandising rights away to anyone who wants it, it's safe to say that the world is in the grips of Star Wars fever right about now. And for toy collectors S.H. Figuarts are right at the heart of this, as Bandai Tamashii Nations seem to be putting their all into an expansive range of figures that cover the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy and the forthcoming Episode VII. After warming up the line with favourites in the form of Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and Luke Skywalker, Bandai are tackling the prequels for the first time with the character a lot will have been looking forward to see - Darth Maul. Now say want you want about the overall quality of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but you can't deny that Maul was one hell of a cool character. Underused and ultimately inconsequential yes, but with that horned, tattooed head and double bladed lightsaber he still managed to leave one hell of an impression. So much that he was even resurrected as a recurring villain for the Star Wars: Clone Wars CGI series. As easily one of the most popular elements of the prequel trilogy, Maul was pretty much a no-brainer to one of the first characters from that side of the franchise Bandai tackled.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva-la is perhaps one of the most surprising offers from Tamashii Nations yet. As a movie-exclusive rider from five years ago with a total screen time of about 10-15 minutes, the character has somehow defied all odds to not only come out before the main series Rider her design is based on (Kamen Rider Kiva) but also be the first female character from the franchise to receive a mass release figure. Quite unexpected, but when you consider that Kamen Rider Abyss managed to do a similar thing a few years back it just goes to show that Bandai/Japan really love Kamen Rider Decade. Kamen Rider Kiva-la appeared in the movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie War 2010 as the Rider form of series regular Natsumi Hikari, as she uses the power of Kiva-la to fulfil her role as the one to defeat the Destroyer of Worlds.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Zygon Invasion

Doctor Who s09e07 - The Zygon Invasion

Despite having only appeared in one story in the classic series its amazing how the Zygons have stood the test of time to become one of Doctor Who's more memorable monsters. Their appearance in 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor was a nice way of bringing them forward into the modern era, however there was a bit too much going on in that episode to really give them the focus they deserved. However the episode sowed the seeds for The Zygon Invasion, the first of a two part story which also addresses another plot point that has arisen since then. Written by Peter Harness (who also wrote last year's Kill the Moon), this episode also sees the return of Osgood - the UNIT scientist with a penchant for dressing up in the Doctor's old wardrobes.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 5.5" Scale Missy (Purple Dress Variant)

It's taken a bit of time to find its footing again, but collectors can rejoice in the knowledge that the 5.5" line of Doctor Who figures has made its grand return. Now being billed exclusively as "collectors series"figures, these are something a bit more special than your average Who figure and the way this particular one was revealed proves it. Announced as part of a web broadcast with lead product designer Al Dewar and then sold exclusively via Character Options' website, the next character to join the 12th Doctor is none other than Missy! The latest incarnation of the Master (played by the fantastic Michelle Gomez) was released in two variants - a purple dress version with hatted-neutral expression and a black dress version with hatless grinning face. Both versions are limited to only 4,000 pieces each, although the word is that the black dress version is the rarer one as the purple variant is also to be released in the US.

However since I can't afford both and the purple dress is arguably more iconic, that's the variant I decided to go for!

Anime REVIEW: The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

The last few years of anime have truly been dominated by the phenomenon that is the idol industry. Although they've been around since the 80s with the likes of the original Macross series, the dominance of shows such as The Idolm@ster and Love Live! have provided a boom that's thrust them back into the spotlight once again. And with the latter of those shows currently leading the way, it's no surprise that Idolm@ster has returned once again to compete with its closest rival. Though we said goodbye to the girls of 765 Productions in the Beyond the Brilliant Future movie, the mantle has been passed onto a new generation of girls as we move on to spin-off series The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls. The show is based on the free-to-play rhythm game of the same name, and once again produced by now-Idolm@ster regulars A-1 Pictures.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Thor

It's perhaps taken a lot longer than many collectors would have thought, but we finally have a complete line up of the core Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Bandai's S.H. Figuarts line. Whether we'll ever get the likes of Hawkeye or Black Widow is anyone's guess, but for the time being it's great to finally have the main gang together. Following on from Captain America, Hulk and multiple versions of Iron Man is the god of thunder himself Thor, based on his appearance in Age of Ultron played by Chris Hemsworth. With Figma's version of the Hulk not due out until May 2016, Bandai haven't just got them out way before their rivals will - they managed to get them out in a matter of months while it'll take Figma nearly two years.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Woman Who Lived

Doctor Who 09x06 - The Woman Who Lived

When is a two-partner not a two-parter? When it's two stories connected merely connected by a common thread (in this case a character) but are otherwise standalone! Following on from last week's The Girl Who Died is the similarly titled The Woman Who Lived, moving things forward in time as the Doctor reunites with a now immortal Ashildr (once again of course played by guest star Maisie Williams). This was also penned by a different writer to the previous episode - Catherine Treganna, who is a newcomer to mainline Doctor Who but has previous experience with four separate episodes of Torchwood.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Double Machine

It's been one hell of a good run, but it looks like we've come to the end of the Kikaider S.H. Figuarts for the time being. With Kikaider REBOOT still without any release details (fingers crossed we hear something at the Tamashii Nations event at the end of this month), the release of Kikaider 01's Double Machine motorcycle marks the last of the confirmed figures for this series. Maybe one day we'll get Bijinder and Waruder to finish off the main cast, but in the meantime getting both heroes and five different versions of Hakaider in a seemingly short space of time has been a pretty nice treat. Like the majority of the Kikaider figures, the Double Machine was released as a Tamashii web exclusive.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Kuuga

Kamen Rider Kuuga

With the way the Kamen Rider franchise now constantly renews itself year after year, it’s hard to believe that there was once a time where it was off the air in Japan. Following the end of Kamen Rider Black RX in 1989 the franchise was completely absent from television throughout the 90s, kept alive through a trilogy of standalone movies from 1992-1994. Following that things went quiet as the Super Sentai and Metal Heroes franchises led the way for Toei, until Kamen Rider made its grand return in 2000. Dubbed with the tagline “A New Hero. A New Legend”, Kamen Rider Kuuga was a lot of firsts. It was the first Kamen Rider show since the death of creator Shotaro Ishinomori two years earlier, it was the first one to be broadcast in widescreen format and, most importantly, it is officially the start of the Heisei era for the franchise.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Girl Who Died

Doctor Who s09e05 - The Girl Who Died

Other than the promised return of Daleks and Zygons, The Girl Who Died (along with it's companion story The Woman Who Lived) has probably been the most talked about and anticipated story of this season of Doctor Who. As well as co-starring Game of Thrones superstar Maisie Williams, this is another one penned by Jamie Mathieson - the man behind previous season highlights Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express. However there is also another interesting secret behind this episode. Co-written by Moffat himself, The Girl Who Died is the first of a two-part story which also features a different co-writer behind the next part. Intriguing and ambitious - two things I definitely want out of a Doctor Who episode.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Hakaider Squad (Red Hakaider/Blue Hakaider/Silver Hakaider)

It’s been a pretty good couple of years for Android Kikaider fans. Last year saw the character revitalised in the form of the Kikaider REBOOT movie, while Bandai Tamashii Nations turned to the original 1972 series and produced S.H. Figuarts figures of both Kikaider and Hakaider (as well as their bikes). This year (as far as the figures go anyway) it’s been the turn of Kikaider 01, but this time Bandai have gone a little bit further than just the title character and his arch nemesis. Released as a limited edition exclusive three-pack, the Hakaider Squad have arrived! Comprised of Blue Hakaider, Red Hakaider and Silver Hakaider, these three were former DARK scientists reborn into cyborg bodies to serve Gill Hakaider. Together the four Hakaiders are able to combine and form the mighty Gattaider (who looks much more impressive in the anime than the live-action show), and were 01’s main enemies before their eventual defeat and the arrival of SHADOW.

Thursday 15 October 2015

First Impressions: Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

Last year the world was introduced to a brand new unendorsed Super Sentai (and tokusatsu in general) parody by the name of Kanpai Senshi After V (Cheers Squadron After V). While the show hardly broke new ground and proved somewhat divisive among Western toku fans (some of whom were probably expecting a faster-paced Akibaranger style comedy), it was a fun little show that lovingly poked fun at the franchise we all know and love. So it’s great to see that it’s now returned for a second season, this time going under the slightly altered title of Shin Kanpai Senshi After V (New Cheers Squadron After V). Time to pour a beer and raise a glass to our heroes’ victories once more!

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: 66 Action Kamen Riders Wave 7

It's been a little while since we last saw them, but Bandai's ever popular 66 Action candy toy line is back for a brand new seventh wave of mini-scale articulated action figures! This time the line bids its grand farewell to the reign of Kamen Rider Drive, as well as throwing in another two key Riders from that all important Heisei era lineup before throwing in a little surprise at the end too. So if you're a fan of Kamen Rider Chaser, Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Agito or even Kamen Rider 3 - this is one wave that you'll definitely want to check out.

Monday 12 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Ninja Slayer From Animation

Ninja Slayer From Animation

Once upon a time if you ever had a completely over the top idea for an anime series, Gainax were probably the people you needed to give a call though. Times change though, and following their breakthrough success with Kill la Kill most anime fans will probably agree that Trigger are now the first ones that spring to mind (though in a fairness, a sizeable portion of their staff is ex-Gainax anyway). So when it was revealed that the schlocky cyberpunk ninja novel series Ninja Slayer was getting an animated adaptation, Trigger felt like something of a perfect fit. An original net animation (ONA) which was broadcast via the Niconico streaming website, Ninja Slayer From Animation ran for a total of 26 episodes, with each one averaging about 15 minutes long. It will however be receiving a television airing in Japan sometime in 2016, with the episodes re-edited in what will likely be a 13-episode block.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: Before the Flood

Doctor Who s09e04: Before the Flood

When we last left the Doctor and Clara in Under the Lake they had become part of a ghostly encounter in the underwater mining facility the Drum. After the Doctor deciphered the message that each of the ghosts were mouthing, he set off in the TARDIS to 150 years previously to discover the source of the situation. Meanwhile as Clara and the remaining crew members stayed in the year 2119, a new ghost suddenly appeared - the Doctor himself. Now the story splits into two different time periods for the conclusion of the latest Doctor Who adventure from writer Toby Whithouse - Before the Flood.

Saturday 10 October 2015

First Impressions: Garo the Animation: The Crimson Moon

Garo: The Crimson Moon

While perhaps not to the taste of many long time GARO fans, last year's Garo: The Animation (or more specifically Honō no Kokuin/The Carved Seal of Flames) was a pretty big deal in that it at least provided a tangible link legally between the franchise and its fanbase outside of Japan. It also must have proved a success, because following the end of Gold Storm -Sho- is franchise is embarking on yet another animated outing. Taking place in a whole new setting with a brand new cast of characters, this chapter in the chronicles of the Golden Knight goes by the name of The Crimson Moon (Guren no Tsuki). Funimation's simulcast simply refers to it as Garo: The Animation 2, but that's nowhere near as catchy now is it?

Thursday 8 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Lucina

Good Smile Company continue to expand their coverage of Nintendo properties with the long awaited arrival of Figma Lucina! After several months of delays, the time-travelling star of Fire Emblem: Awakening and fighter from the latest Super Smash Bros. was finally released in August 2015. While many other collectors (be they Fire Emblem or Smash fans) were probably hoping for different characters, considering Max Factory’s penchant for female figures and their insistence of covering the latest game in the series Lucina seems like a no-brainer for the line. So anyone desperate for a Marth figure will have to settle for the forthcoming Nendoroid instead.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

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

The Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line of S.H. Figuarts has managed to make a massive impact despite only having a handful of releases to it's name, with the team at Bandai Tamashii Nations pouring in all their efforts to make of the best Kamen Rider action figures that have ever been produced. Not only has it brought us one step closer to having all the lead Heisei era Riders with Kamen Rider Hibiki, but also brought us fantastic renewals of some of the oldest figures in the mainline - namely Kamen Rider Kabuto and Kamen Rider Kuuga. Continuing with that trend and also fittingly following on from Kuuga is Kamen Rider Agito Ground Form - the second of the Heisei Riders and another character in desperate need of an upgrade.

First Impressions: Attack on Titan: Junior High

Attack on Titan: Junior High

The final anime season of 2015 brings some good and bad news. The good news is that Attack on Titan has finally returned! However the bad news is that this return isn’t the season two that many were hoping (and still waiting) for. Instead this season marks the debut of Attack on Titan: Junior High (Shingeki! Kyojin Chūgakkō) – a comedy reimagining of the franchise based on the parody manga of the same name. Production I.G. are fully spearheading animation duties this time around, with Studio WIT seemingly ducking out for the time being. It might not be a season two, but will this fill the void in the meantime?

Tuesday 6 October 2015

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost

It's the beginning of October, and that means Halloween is almost upon us. And in what can only be considered as a piece of absolutely perfect timing, the newest Kamen Rider probably wouldn't look out of place at a Halloween party either. Now that Kamen Rider Drive has come and gone, the latest entry and hero of the long-running franchise goes by the name of Kamen Rider Ghost. Once again Toei are getting some fresh faces on the staff for the show, with the head writing duties being handled by Ultraman Max/Ultraseven X sub writer Takuro Fukuda. In the directors chair is Satoshi Morota, who's work on the franchise dates all the way back to Kamen Rider Hibiki in 2005.

Monday 5 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX

Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX

Although the Macross franchise is not due to make its return until the beginning of next year, anime studio Satelight found the perfect musical-themed action series to fill the void with. Since debuting back in 2012, Senki Zesshō Symphogear has gone from strength to strength, returning the following year for a sequel in the form of Senki Zesshō Symphogear G. Now two years later, the relic-powered armoured magical girls are back once again for a third sequel – this time under the name Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX. And with a tagline like “Believe in Justice and Hold a Determination to Fist”, it sounds to be just as ridiculously over the top as ever.

Sunday 4 October 2015

First Impressions: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

If there's one thing I have to commend the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise for, it's its tenacity. Despite original creator Yoshiyuki Tomino-helmed and 35th anniversary celebration series Gundam Reconguista in G not going down quite as well as hoped and firmly dividing fans, the mecha juggernaut is back a year later with a brand new series as if nothing phased it at all. This new series, entitled Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (but also referred to as G-Tekketsu), is a rather curious beast being the brainchild of Tatsuyuki Nagai and Mari Okada - the writer and director team behind AnoHana of all things. While this isn't either's first foray into the world of mecha (Nagai previously directed Idolmaster: Xenoglossia while Okada worked on Aquarion Evol), but it does set a rather interesting precedent on what to expect from this latest instalment of Japan's landmark mecha franchise.

Reviews in Time & Space: Under the Lake

Doctor Who s09e03 - Under the Lake

After two-parter The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar kicked the latest season off with a bang, this week sees Doctor Who move back into more familiar territory with a good old fashioned "base under siege" story. Under the Lake was written by Being Human writer Toby Whithouse, who's previous forays on Who include the episodes School Reunion, Vampires of Venice, The God Complex and A Town Called Mercy. Certainly an interesting resume, which quite a variety of episodes. School Reunion however happens to be a particular favourite of mine.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Anime REVIEW: Gatchaman Crowds insight

Gatchaman Crowds insight

When Tatsunoko Production announced back in 2013 that legendary anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman would be receiving a revitalisation, I don't think anyone quite expected the end result. Instead of a nostalgia-fueled series about bird-motifed heroes, Gatchaman Crowds was a very different kind of superhero story - vivid, insightful and with a very clear message. It wasn't without its faults (the main one being a terrible final episode only rectified by a "director's cut" version), but it quickly gained a firm fan following and arguably broke out of it's namesake's shadow. 2015 saw the series make it's grand return under the title of Gatchaman Crowds insight, bringing with it once again it's unique blend of aliens, superheroes and incredibly relevant political and social commentary.

Friday 2 October 2015

Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Drive

Kamen Rider Drive

Give a Kamen Rider cosmically powered switches or transforming fruit armour and only a few people will bat an eyelid. Give him a car instead of a bike however and suddenly the world has been turned upside down. Although not the first Kamen Rider show to give their lead character four wheels instead of two (that would be Kamen Rider Black RX), Kamen Rider Drive is the first series to make it exclusively that Rider’s mode of transportation. With the series having just come to an end in Japan, it’s time to take a look back at the past year of Kamen Rider before things start afresh again with Kamen Rider Ghost in a few days’ time.

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Iron Man Mark 45

Unlike the rest of Marvel's Avengers, Bandai Tamashii Nations are no strangers to Iron Man figures. In fact the character has been a pretty integral part of the S.H. Figuarts line since his first figure back in May 2013, prompting a number of different releases from both Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 - as well as a special black and gold release of the Mark 6 armour for the Tamashii Nations exhibition in the same year. Despite skipping over the first Avengers film Bandai have the character back in full force for Age of Ultron, joined by his main team mates for the very first time. While technically the Mark 43 armour was the first release from the film, as a repaint of Iron Man 3's Mark 42 it perhaps wasn't quite as notable as what followed. The Mark 45 on the other hand is a different story - a brand new mould and the latest addition in Tony Stark's ever growing hall of armours.

Tuesday 29 September 2015


It's been a pretty big summer for Power Rangers Dino Charge. As well as returning from a lengthy hiatus on US television, the latest instalment in the Power Rangers franchise has finally hit the UK in full force - currently airing POP, which is also currently the home of many other iterations of the show. The series has received a pretty big amount of promotion over here, with the rangers appearing at the London MCM Comic Con in May before going on tour across the country over the summer. It's fantastic to see a Power Rangers series gathering this much hype again, especially one that's as good as Dino Charge. You won't be seeing a full series review on this blog for a while yet, but believe me when I say it's well worth checking out.

But the big question is how are the toys? Thanks to the great team over at Bandai UK, this extra special post is going to answer that question! I was shocked to find this parcel waiting for me when I got home yesterday evening, and even more shocked at what I found inside. Curious? Keep reading and get ready to be charged up!

Sunday 27 September 2015

Reviews in Time & Space: The Witch's Familiar

The Witch's Familiar

Last week saw the premiere of Doctor Who's ninth season (or series, whichever you prefer to use) and boy did it start with a bang. After revealing the surprise return of a dying Davros, The Magician's Apprentice ended with the Doctor witnessing both Clara and Missy being exterminated by Daleks before the TARDIS is destroyed. In the very last scene, the Doctor returns to where he met Davros as a child and pointed a Dalek gun at him, claiming he is going to "save his friends in the only way he can". It was a pretty incredible first episode and has set the bar pretty high for it's second part, cleverly titled The Witch's Familiar. Odd sounding titles for Davros/Daleks may be, but pretty clever (at least in name anyway) when you realise what they are referring to.