Saturday 30 April 2016

Movie REVIEW: Shuriken Sentai Ninninger vs. ToQger

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger vs ToQger

The annual Super Sentai Versus Series team up movie is more than just a tradition, it's an event. The fact they come around every year might mean that crossovers aren't all that scarce or special in the tokusatsu world, but they all act as an end point for two shows that have (hopefully) captured audiences for the past two years. For the the current team it may only be until they return next year for a second crossover, but for the returning one this truly could be the end so its always important to make it a good one. 2015's entry into the series is Shuriken Sentai Ninninger vs. ToQger: Ninja in Wonderland, bringing ninjas and trains together in a film full of flash and imagination.

Monday 25 April 2016

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Beerus

Thanks to the likes of the Battle of Gods and Resurrection F movies along with the ongoing Dragon Ball Super series, Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation’s Dragon Ball franchise is back in full swing. And although its successful revival can be attributed to seeing the return of fan favourites such as Goku, Vegeta and Freeza, it’s also thanks to the franchise’s two newest characters – the god of destruction Beerus and his attendant Whis. Since making their debut in Battle of Gods, these characters have more than earned their place among the show’s leads. As such it was only a matter of time before Bandai Tamashii Nations added these two to their S.H. Figuarts line, with Beerus released late March 2016 and Whis set to follow in August. However what’s more surprising is that Beerus was actually a mass release figure, a rarity for Dragon Ball Figuarts in Japan – there had only been four previously, and two of which were Goku!

Friday 22 April 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)/Spider-Carnage

The 90s were a pretty weird time as it is, but for Spider-Man they couldn’t get much weirder. 1994 brought along the infamous two-year-long Clone Saga arc, which ended with Peter Parker, given the news that he in fact may actually be a clone, leaving to begin a new life with Mary Jane as a new Spider-Man took over duties in New York City. This Spider-Man was Ben Reilly, the former Scarlet Spider originally perceived to be a clone. Of course this being comics the status quo didn’t last forever and Peter one day returned (with confirmation he was the original), but Ben’s time as the Scarlet Spider/Spider-Man and eventual sacrifice has made him a favourite amongst fans despite considerable backlash at the time. Now Hasbro have added the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, complete in his rendition of the costume, to their Marvel Legends line – complete with alternate parts to create Spider-Carnage, the twisted mix of Reilly and the Carnage symbiote.

Monday 18 April 2016

Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Though a constant influence and staple in the anime world for over 35 years, right now Mobile Suit Gundam seems to be enjoying quite a boom. Between the endless supply of model kits, multiple television series and OVAs mecha fans are in no short supply of new material from the genre-defining franchise. And although the Yoshiyuki Tomino-led Reconguista in G proved divisive among the fanbase, it wasn't long before Gundam was back for a brand new instalment in the form of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans (also abbreviated to simply G-Tekketsu from it's full Japanese title). Adding another alternate timeline into the franchise's long and varied chronology, Iron-Blooded Orphans comes from director and writer team Tatsuyuki Nagai and Mari Okada - the pair famously behind AnoHana as well as many other notable anime works of the past few years.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Anime REVIEW: Garo: The Crimson Moon

Garo: The Crimson Moon

In 2013 the GARO franchise made a surprising leap to animation, and perhaps what’s even more surprising is the Western acknowledgement that came with it. GARO’s first anime series, simply entitled Garo: The Animation (or Honō no Kokuin/The Carved Seal of Flames in Japan), clearly struck a chord with the anime fanbase – not only receiving simulcast subtitles from Funimation but also a forthcoming DVD/BD release complete with English dub. Immediately following a return to the live-action format with Gold Storm -Sho-, this expansion of the GARO mythos in a new format continued in 2014 with Garo: The Crimson Moon (or Guren no Tsuki). Though another animated offering from studio MAPPA, The Crimson Moon is another standalone series that moves the Golden Knight to feudal Japan.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

First Impressions: Garo: Makai Tales

Garo Makai Retsudan

While Garo may still seem like a newcomer when compared alongside other main player tokusatsu franchises like Ultraman, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, what once felt like a highly-acclaimed oddity has actually been a fully fledged franchise for over 10 years - with new instalments starting up as soon as the previous one has run its course. Naturally in that space of time Garo has managed to build up a pretty sizeable backstory, featuring a wide variety of Makai Knights and Makai Priests in a universe that's branched out into numerous different timelines and stories. While many of these characters have battled alongside the titular Golden Knight, they all also have their own stories to tell. That's exactly what the latest series, entitled Garo: Makai Retsuden (or Makai Tales) looks like it's set out to do - featuring a variety of stories from across the Garo universe.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Minipla Zyuoh King

A brand new year means a brand new range of Super Sentai toys for fans to enjoy, and with the franchise celebrating its 40th anniversary this year Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger is a series that will likely be seeing even more attention than normal. This year’s series combines an animal motif with a transforming cube gimmick, with the components stacking in a totem pole fashion before transforming into robot mode. The DX toy of the team’s first mecha ZyuOh King has already been met with mixed reception by fans due to its simplicity, however as usual Bandai have a smaller, cheaper and more articulated alternative on offer as part of their annual minipla candy toy line. Kicking things off is the standard version of ZyuOh King, made up of Zyuoh Eagle’s Cube Eagle, Zyuoh Shark’s Cube Shark and Zyuoh Lion’s Cube Lion, with the auxiliary Cube Giraffe mecha thrown in for good measure.

Saturday 9 April 2016

First Impressions: Kiznaiver


Studio Trigger may have already established a name for themselves thanks to the ex-Gainax staff that helped form it and critically acclaimed projects such as Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia, but in terms of original properties they are a studio still very much in their early days. The total number of big productions they've tackled in the past four years can still be counted on two hands, and among those only three of them are non-adapted works - the aforementioned two and the unashamedly ridiculous Inferno Cop. However 2016 is a big year for the studio as they launch two entirely new products this anime season. We've already seen Hiroyuki Imaishi continue his own brand of insanity with Space Patrol Luluco, but on top of that there's also Kiznaiver - a full length series from director Hiroshi Koboyashi and writer Mari Okada (Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, AnoHana).

Friday 8 April 2016

First Impressions: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

While Attack on Titan fans are undoubtedly still waiting for season two with baited breathe, they’ll have to sadly wait a little longer as Studio Wit return this anime season with a series of their own design. Promising industrial revolution era swordsman, guns, trains and zombies, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri) was almost instantly tipped to be one of the “must-watch” shows of the season. Its draw has even managed to get Amazon Prime fully on board with the anime streaming game, with the series being a surprise simulcast for them in certain parts of the world.

Thursday 7 April 2016

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Amazons

Kamen Rider Amazons

2016 is a pretty big year for tokusatsu. Ultraman is celebrating his 50th anniversary, the Kamen Rider franchise its 45th, Super Sentai it's 40th (technically it's 41st, but it likes to go by series rather than year) and Garo continuing its 10th anniversary celebrations from last year. With all this going on it's no surprise that Toei have dubbed 2016 as "Super Hero Year"- using this monicker for what will hopefully be a number of Rider and Sentai projects. Things kicked off with the return of Takeshi Hongo in the Kamen Rider 1 movie, but what followed was perhaps an even bigger surprise than seeing Hiroshi Fujioka reprise the role once more. Kamen Rider Amazons - an Amazon Prime (yes, they went there) exclusive series offering a modern, adult-orientated reimagining of 1974's Kamen Rider Amazon. At 13-episodes long with each running at around 45-minutes, this is quite the new format for Kamen Rider - something that makes this venture all the more exciting.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

First Impressions: Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3

Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3

The first two seasons of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal are essentially a crash course in how not to handle a highly anticipated manga-accurate remake of a hugely popular anime series. Rather than simply just cutting the filler, Crystal somehow managed to cut everything that made the characters remotely memorable – leaving only a husk of a series that sped through events at breakneck speed. Shoddy animated and awful scheduling didn’t really help matters either. However the Sailor Moon juggernaut is one that can’t be stopped even in 2016, so Toei Animation have brought it back for another try. Thankfully Sailor Moon Crystal season 3 (also known as the ‘Death Busters’ arc) should have a little more coherency to it – sporting new staff behind it and a weekly airing schedule.

Monday 4 April 2016

First Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Space Patrol Luluco

If there's one anime director these days you can guarantee will turn heads it's Hiroyuki Imaishi. Responsible for Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Kill la Kill and more, this man has branded anime with a distinct style of over the top weirdness for many years now - whether it be with the team at Gainax or in his new home at the head of studio Trigger. Last year's Japan Animator Expo short Sex & Violence with Machspeed showed that Imaishi is far from losing his touch with the absurd, and he's hopefully set to follow that up this year with Space Patrol Luluco. While Kiznaiver may be the full-length Trigger series this anime season that everyone's talking about, Luluco instead offers rapid bursts of comedy in short 10-minute episodes. And there's room for both on any fan's watchlist.

Sunday 3 April 2016

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney

How exactly there's been five years since the release of the first Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban) game and only now the hugely popular franchise from Capcom is getting an anime adaptation I don't know, but most fans will probably agree that it's better late than never. Yes, 2016 is the year Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, Maya Fey and co. finally make the jump to an animated series, courtesy of A-1 Pictures. In Japan, the series goes by the full title of Gyakuten Saiban: Sono "Shinjitsu", Igiari!, with the tagline roughly translating as Turnabout Trial: I Object to That "Truth"! As you'd expect from a game hugely popular on both sides of the pond, the series is currently being simulcast via Crunchyroll - along with two subtitle tracks that include both the original Japanese and the Western localisations of the character names. How considerate.

Friday 1 April 2016

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

Kamen Rider releases in the S.H. Figuarts line might not be as frequent or as plenty as they once were, but the Shinkocchou Seihou sub-line releases have ensured that they're still the ones everyone still talks about. Despite only a handful of releases in the past three years, Shinkocchou Seihou offers the very best Bandai Tamashii Nations have to offer - combining the usual Figuarts quality with improved sculpting and accuracy to create perfect replicas of the onscreen suits. With the exception of Kamen Rider Hibiki (who was a brand new entry), the releases have all followed a specific pattern as well - mirroring the release of the main Riders as they originally debuted in the S.H. Figuarts line. First came Kabuto, followed by Kuuga and then Agito - and now it's the time of the Destroyer of Worlds and tenth Heisei era Kamen Rider - Kamen Rider Decade.