Sunday 30 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x03 - Thin Ice

Watch Doctor Who for long enough and you'll inevitably start to see patterns forming, but even then this current season definitely feels like a throwback to when the show first returned back in 2005. Not only is Bill Potts probably the closest proxy there's been to Rose Tyler since her departure, but now her experiences with the Doctor are pretty similar so far as well. After their initial meeting on present day Earth, both were flung off to the far future before returning to Victorian England for their third adventure. Thin Ice (not to be confused with the Big Finish audio story of the same name) was written by Sarah Dollard, who made her Doctor Who debut last series with Face the Raven.

Friday 28 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-01 DIO (Police Colour & Neon Blue Versions)

Release Date: March 2017 (Japanese release)
RRP: 1512 yen

Although there may only be two different characters in 52TOYS Beast Box line thus far, that hasn’t stopped the Beijing-based company from maximising their product with the one thing every transforming toy embraces – repaints! In addition to their BB-01 DIO and BB-02 Ghost Dog releases, 52TOYS have also released Police Colour and Neon Blue variants of mascot character DIO – bringing this first wave of Beast Box toys up to the healthy number of four. By the looks of it a few other colourations have been released in China as well, but these were the ones deemed worthy enough to be included in line’s long-awaited wider distribution.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 24,840 yen

It’s been a long time since TakaraTomy released the original Transformers Masterpiece MP-05 Megatron way back in 2007. In that time the line has gone through quite a few changes – a new scale, a closer adherence to cartoon accuracy and a dive into the worlds of Beast Wars and Japanese-exclusive G1 characters. With Optimus Prime having been redone in this new scale way back as MP-10 in 2011, it was high time that the leader of the Decepticons had the same treatment. There may have been a number of third-party “Masterpiece” style figures over the past few years – Xtransbots’ Apollyon, DX-9’s Mightron, Maketoys’ Despotron (all of which I won’t pretend to know anything about because I’m not a third-party person), but the MP-36 Megatron is the real deal. An official, cartoon-accurate, transforming G1 Megatron. That’s the stuff that dreams are made out of.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: 52TOYS Beast Box BB-02 Ghost Dog

Release Date: March 2017 (Japanese release) 
RRP: 1512 yen 

Following a release through Japanese hobby stores such as Amiami in the past month, Chinese company 52TOYS’ adorable line of Beast Box transforming figures are now readily available to any collector who’s happened to come across one of the various pictures and stop-motion videos being shared of these little things. The line is still very much in its early days with only two numbered releases to its name – BB-01 DIO (who as the “mascot” figure is available in standard, police and neon variants) and BB-02 Ghost Dog, a remould of the BB-01 dino figure with a brand new head sculpt. What’s the meaning behind the name “Ghost Dog”? Who knows, but it’s pretty cool though.

Sunday 23 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x02 - Smile

Doctor Who 10x02 - Smile

After dodging alien puddles and being introduced to the weird and wonderful world of the Doctor in last week's Doctor Who episode The Pilot, new companion Bill Potts is now ready to take her first proper journey in the TARDIS. The second episode of this year's series is entitled Smile, and written by children's writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce. This episode is Cottrell-Boyce's second Who outing, having previously penned In the Forest of the Night back in 2014. With that particular episode meeting very mixed reviews from both fans and critics, many were especially interested how this one would turn out.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla GaoGaiGar

Release Date: March 2017
RRP: 4104 yen (1 complete figure, 4 boxes)

Super Mini-Pla is a relatively new candy toy line from Bandai that takes their basic minipla range and enhances it with the qualities of their larger model kits and gunpla range. In typical Bandai fashion to line has centred around Sunrise' back catalogue of classic robots, counting the likes of the Ideon and Combat Mecha Xabungle amongst its early releases. Now the line has dived into the popular Brave franchise to bring fans the King of Braves GaoGaiGar! This combining model kit is split into four different boxes, each containing a different component of GaoGaiGar. Unlike other minipla/candy toy lines where a case will likely contain multiples of each box, a case of Super Mini-Pla will only contain one set of the assigned figure - making it much easier for collectors to buy online without having to worry about ending up with multiples.

Thursday 20 April 2017

Anime REVIEW: Michiko & Hatchin

Long before director Sayo Yamamoto helped take the anime world by storm in 2016 with the figure-skating series Yuri!!! on Ice, she was already making a new for herself heading a number of notably female-headed shows. Before working on Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine in 2012, she made her directorial debut in 2008 with a 22-episode series by the name of Michiko & Hatchin. As well as boasting a unique South American-inspired setting, the show starred noted Japanese actresses Yōko Maki (The Grudge) and Suzuka Ohgo (Memoirs of a Geisha) in the title roles and was animated by the now-defunct studio Manglobe (responsible for Samurai Champloo, Deadman Wonderland, Samurai Flamenco and more). Adding to this all-star staff list was legendary anime figure Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), who worked on the series as its music producer.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

First Impressions: Atom: The Beginning

Atom: The Beginning
Atom: The Beginning is available in streaming form via Amazon Prime’s Anime Strike service in the US, and AnimeLab in Australia and New Zealand 

Even if you’re relatively new to the anime scene, chances are you’ll have heard about Osamu Tezuka in some way. Whether it’s via some of his most famous works (Astro Boy, Black Jack, Jungle Emperor Leo and more) or simply his iconic art-style, the “Godfather of Manga” remains one of the most influential figures in anime and manga history. His legacy continues today with Atom: The Beginning, a prequel series to Astro Boy written and illustrated by Tetsuro Kashara alongside Masami Yuki and Tezuka’s own son Makoto Tezuka. While the manga series has been ongoing since 2014, this year it has been joined by an anime adaptation – a joint collaboration from studios OLM, Inc., Production I.G. and Signal.MD.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Reviews in Time & Space: Doctor Who 10x01 - The Pilot

Doctor Who 10x01 - The Pilot

After a year's absence Doctor Who has finally returned to television screens for another full series (its tenth since the show's relaunch in 2005, and 36th in total), and it's already promising to be a year of both hellos and goodbyes. While this newest set of episodes introduces brand new companion Bill Potts (played by Pearl Mackie) to the Whoniverse, by the end of its Christmas special Peter Capaldi's time as the Doctor will be over and along with it Steven Moffat's time as show runner. But it's a good few months until Chris Chibnall's reign begins and we still don't know who's going to be cast as the 13th Doctor, so in the meantime let's just focus on the series at hand. This year kicks off with the cleverly titled The Pilot, which not only references the story itself but also seemingly acknowledges the "fresh start" approach a new companion often brings to the show.

Thursday 13 April 2017

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Sentai Gorider

Kamen Sentai Gorider

Ever since the Super Hero Taisen series became an annual thing, a lot of tokusatsu fans will probably tell you that a huge crossover film featuring both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai isn't necessarily a good thing. However one good thing that came out of 2015's Super Hero Taisen GP was Kamen Rider 4 - a web miniseries that expanded on events following the film as well as giving Kamen Rider 555 some much needed closure. With the release of Chou Super Hero Taisen in 2017 Toei are at it again with Kamen Sentai Gorider - another three-part internet miniseries featuring the aforementioned Rider/Sentai fusion team. More importantly it also features a number of returning Riders, including Kamen Riders Lazer, Blade, Baron, Marika, and Another Agito.

This review contains spoilers for Kamen Rider Agito, Blade, Gaim and up to episode 23 of Ex-Aid.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla KyurenOh Set 01

Release Date: February 2017
RRP: 2268 yen (1 complete figure, 6 boxes), 4536 yen (Full case: 2 complete figures, 12 boxes)

After 40 years of relatively following the same format, Super Sentai has decided to go big this year with Uchu Sentai Kyuranger. As well as boasting an initial total of nine rangers (which looks to quickly be bumped up to 12), the suits are more unique than ever before – each sporting their own unique shapes and/or flourishes. Of course a new Sentai means a new year of minipla candy toys, and Bandai are kicking things off in style with the first of two KyurenOh sets. This first set includes the Shishi, Ookami, Oushi, Chameleon and Kaijiki Voyagers, with the remaining four held back for the following wave.

Monday 10 April 2017

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2

Kamen Rider Amazons Season 2

For tokusatsu fans one of the most pleasant surprises of 2016 was Kamen Rider Amazons, the Amazon Prime-exclusive series with an aesthetic loosely derived from 1974’s Kamen Rider Amazon. Offering a grittier, less gimmick-driven Kamen Rider, the series quickly became popular and arguably succeeded in areas attempts such as Kamen Rider The First/Next and Kamen Rider Shin had failed. Now after an eight month break (and subsequent TV-airing) the show has returned for a second 13-episode season, taking place sometime after the conclusion of the first season and introducing an all-new cast. However fans need not worry, as Haruka, Jin and all the other previous characters will also be appearing in due course.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Anime REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 2

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 2
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans season 2 is available in streaming form via Daisuki

The past few years have seen Mobile Suit Gundam go from strength to strength, enjoying a steady flow of series, OVAs, blu-ray releases and of course model kits. Part of this recent success can of course be attributed to Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, the latest entry in the long-running mecha franchise which concluded its first 25-episode series mid-2016. The show’s dub also marked the first time in over a decade that Gundam aired in the US on Toonami – the programming block that helped popularise Gundam in the West back in the 90s with Gundam Wing. After a short break Iron-Blooded Orphans returned for a second season in October 2016, running for a further 25 episodes until April 2017. As before the series was helmed by Mari Okada and Tatsuyuki Nagai – a writer/director combination that had previously collaborated on AnoHana in addition to other popular works.

Thursday 6 April 2017

Series REVIEW: Zero: Dragon Blood

Zero: Dragon Blood

After several months of silence following the release of Makai Retsuden and the Ashura special, the GARO franchise made its triumphant return in 2017 with the release of Zero: Dragon Blood - the second spin-off series following fan-favourite Rei Suzumura aka Zero the Silver Fanged Knight. In addition to Ray Fujita reprising his role as Rei, Mary Matsuyama also returns as Makai Priest Rekka, with series creator Keita Amemiya once again in the directors' chair. The 13-episode series was written by Sumiko Umeda, who had previously written episodes for Yami o Terasu Mono, Makai no Hana and Gold Storm -Sho-.

Monday 3 April 2017

Game REVIEW: Weiss Schwarz Love Live! Sunshine!! Range

RRP: £18.99 per deck, £4.95 per booster (8 cards) 
Where to buy?: Available from your friendly local game shop! 

Move over µ's, there’s a new idol group in town. Last year we saw the girls of Love Live! School Idol Project hand over the torch, a new generation of idols in Love Live! Sunshine!!, who will be returning to screens later this year for a second season. In the meantime Weiss Schwarz developers Bushiroad are continuing the success of their multi-anime franchise card game with a brand new range of Love Live! Sunshine!! cards starring Chika, You, Riko, Kanan, Dia, Mari, Yoshiko, Hanamaru and Ruby – aka Aqours

Once again thanks to the wonderful team at Esdevium Games (the UK distributor for Weiss Schwarz, the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cardfight Vanguard and a whole host of other card and board games) we’re taking a look at the Love Live! Sunshine!! trial deck, along with four packets of booster cards to help bolster your deck.

Sunday 2 April 2017

First Impressions: Attack on Titan Season 2

Attack on Titan Season 2
Attack on Titan season 2 is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

It's been nearly four years since the final episode of Attack on Titan's first aired, but that wait has finally come to an end. With a premiere date of April 1st it all felt like Studio Wit could be playing one cruel joke on us all, but the show's second season has finally arrived! It's easy to get worked up about how this season is only going to be 12 episodes long as opposed to the original's 25 (and how that will affect the show's very glaring pacing problems) but right now it just finally feels good to have the show back at long last. Will 2017 finally be the year non-manga readers find out what secrets are hiding down in Eren Jaeger's basement? Or will this be another year of thrilling action painfully cutaway to further flashbacks and exposition?