Monday, 29 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zi-O


Release Date: February 2019 
RRP: 3240 yen

It's not just a 20th anniversary celebration for the Kamen Rider franchise, it's the end of an era. With this series we say goodbye to the Heisei era that began with Kamen Rider Kuuga back in 2001, and usher in a new era as the Reiwa period begins in Japan on May 1st. It's only fitting that Kamen Rider go out on a high, and between the time travelling antics and Rider alumni returning for Kamen Rider Zi-O it's fair to say it's doing just that. Bandai Tamashii Nations are also getting in on the celebration, most notably of all finally release Kamen Rider Kiva to complete the Heisei line up but also a number of other S.H. Figuarts releases in and around the final Heisei series. Kicking off with S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Zi-O himself.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Anime REVIEW: Ace Attorney Season 2

Ace Attorney Season 2
Ace Attorney is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

When compared to the numerous other video game anime adaptations that have come and gone over the years, Ace Attorney (or to those in Japan, Gyakuten Saiban) fared surprisingly well. Though at its best it was merely a "serviceable but not stand out" adaptation of the first two games in Capcom's beloved legal drama visual novel series, it didn't miss the mark like so many others have in the past. It also must have done fairly well because two years later and its back for a second season. Phoenix, Miles, Maya and the rest of the gang are all back for another 23 episodes from Cloverworks (who have now parted ways with A-1 Pictures), with this season dedicated to the third game in the Ace Attorney series – Trials and Tribulations.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 6" General Grievous


Release Date: March 2019
RRP: £30/$30 

Releasing a toy line at a single price point is a great idea when it comes to affordability, but it does beg the question of what you do when certainly characters don't quite fit into that fairly rigid mould. The Star Wars universe features characters of all shapes and sizes, many of whom wouldn't be done justice at the standard price point of the 6 inch Black Series line. But rather than go all Marvel Legends on collectors and introduce a build-a-figure to each wave, Hasbro have instead introduced a new "deluxe" range of Black Series figures – ones that can have the size, materials and price point they need to do them properly. Kicking off this new range is a character that's been on many collectors' want lists for some time now – the Separatist droid general and feared Jedi hunter General Grievous. Despite Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith being his sole movie appearance, Grievous' popularity also stems from his appearances in the two Clone Wars animated series as well as various other bits of expanded tie-in media.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki

As the final farewell to Heisei era of Kamen Rider, there was no way that Kamen Rider Zi-O wasn't going to go all out in celebrating the past 20 years of the franchise. The time travelling series has paid tribute to both the past and potential future of Kamen Rider, with numerous special guest actors returning to reprise their roles from their respective series. But when it comes to the obligatory spin-offs the show has, no one could have expected Rider Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki – a three-part miniseries that serves as a sequel to 2002's Kamen Rider Ryuki. Airing exclusively on Japan's Video Pass streaming service, the miniseries was written by original series co-writer Toshiki Inoue and brings back several members of the original cast to reprise their roles.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Anime REVIEW: Steins;Gate 0

Steins;Gate 0
Steins;Gate 0 is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

In 2011 the anime world was taken storm by Steins;Gate – a series based on a 2009 visual novel from famed developers Nitroplus. Its popularity led to a follow-up OVA and movie, both of which were original material that continued the story beyond that of the original game. When a sequel game was released in 2015, it was only a matter of time before it also received an anime adaptation. Fast forward to 2018 and Steins;Gate 0 was unleashed upon the world, presenting fans with a familiar but very different world to the ones they were previously used to. The series ran for a total of 23 episodes, along with a bonus OVA released shortly after its completion.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X


Release Date: March 2019 
RRP: 6264 yen

Despite still arguably taking up the majority of the S.H. Figuarts line's tokusatsu slots, Kamen Rider releases have become a lot less predictable than they were a few years ago. It's April 2019, and the final forms for the titular Riders from the last three years are still surprisingly absent. However you can always rely on Bandai Tamashii Nations to throw out a few surprises, and with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid's popularity still going strong one of their latest ones was S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X. Poppy Pipopapo's well-deserved ascent to Rider status was a very popular move by the series, however despite her being a main character she didn't transform nearly enough as she should have. But getting a Figuarts release is still more than Ex-Aid Hyper Muteki has achieved so far, even if it is a Tamashii web exclusive.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Anime REVIEW: ULTRAMAN

Ultraman is available in streaming form on Netflix

Although the franchise has always remained a staple of Japan's superhero culture, Ultraman has been enjoying something of a revival on a worldwide scale in the past few years thanks to a number of different factors. Legal subtitled streaming options and Tsuburaya Productions finally taking full control of global distribution after years of legal difficulties might be key ones, but not all of Ultraman's modern recognition has come from onscreen. In 2011 an ongoing manga series written by Eiichi Shimizu and illustrated by Tomohiro Shimoguchi began publication, serving as a direct sequel to the original 1966 series. Eight years and 12 volumes later, ULTRAMAN now has its own 3DCG animated adaptation. Originally announced in 2017 alongside the production of SSSS.Gridman, the series has been co-produced by Production I.G and Sola Digital Arts and is available exclusively on Netflix.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 6" Hera Syndulla


Release Date: September 2017
RRP: £20/20

It's proving to be a rather arduous process, but slowly but surely Hasbro seem to be working their way through the cast of Star Wars: Rebels. Though there doesn't seem to be any clear plans for Zeb, at the very least Ezra and Chopper will both be coming out later in the year to round out the main crew. But before then cast your minds back to late 2017, when ace pilot, captain of the Ghost and rebel leader Hera Syndulla was finally added to The Black Series. A Twi'lek and central figure in the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance, Hera is a particularly interesting character in the modern Star Wars canon - with her ship having made a cameo appearance in Rogue One and her being retroactively confirmed (albeit offscreen) to have participated in the battle of Endor during Return of the Jedi.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series 6" Sabine Wren


Release Date: November 2016
RRP: £20/$20

The Star Wars universe is one that inhabits movies, animated series, books, comics, video games and more, but as far as the Black Series collector toy line goes its the films that naturally take priority. However every so often Hasbro will throw fans of the extended universe a bone, and in 2016 produced a handful of figures to coincide with Star Wars: Rebels. First came Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano, but they were soon followed by the show's resident graffiti artist and Mandalorian heroine Sabine Wren. Prior to her release Sabine had come second in Hasbro's fans' choice poll in 2015, which is all the more reason why her release was so hotly anticipated.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Thunder Gridman


Release Date: November 2018
RRP: 6480 yen

With the original series celebrating its 25th anniversary last year and returning to television screens in animated form with SSSS.Gridman, tokusatsu fans are currently experiencing a Gridman revival. But while Good Smile Company are off creating new merchandise for Trigger's anime series, Bandai are also capitalising on the hype as the original Denkou Chojin Gridman line-up joins the Super Mini-Pla range. The first big name Gridman toys to be produced since the Ultra-Act releases back in 2012, the Super Mini-Pla Thunder Gridman set offers a fairly comprehensive look into Tsuburaya Productions' 1993 classic. Included in this four piece set are Gridman himself, along with the three Assist Weapon vehicles – the Thunder Jet, Twin Driller and God Tank.