After watching the trailers for Zetman, and perusing some of the art from the manga source material by Masakazu Katsura, I was seriously excited to check out a series that looked to be a throw back to titles like Guyver, Devilman and Casshern. Not only did the characters look suitably moody and monstrous (except for the angelic Alphas), but the overall theme seemed to be inline with these legendary series. Unfortunately what we get is a pale intimation which suffers from serious pacing issues and a serious lack of substance. 

Rich-kid Kouga and street-rat Jin are best of friends and partners in crime, well, the prevention of crime. Accompanied by Kouga's tag-along little sister, Konoha, they scour the streets, purging the city of n'er-do-wells. Fate draws them apart until the cross paths again as fully fledged fighting machines, the monstrous Zet and scientifically enhanced Alphas. The pair combine forces to do what they do best - bash stuff.

This series sometimes comes across as a combination of Guyver and Tiger and Bunny. While this may seem like a good thing, it's not exactly the match that you'd think it would be. Granted, there are tonnes of battles and angry, morphing bad guys as well as a smattering of angst between the two main protagonists but it all counts for nought when neither of the characters are particularly likable. Frankly, I didn't care in the slightest whether any of the characters were successful in their grand missions or ultimately bit the big one. With no real connection to characters the stakes, whether high or low, may as well be non-existent. While Kouga at least shows a little personality, Jin is so cold and devoid of personality that it is all but impossible to connect with him. You can only push the angst angle so far.

The animation supplied by old hands, TMS Entertainment, is generally quite solid. Fight scenes are explosive and dynamic while the urban backdrop is unobtrusive and pretty well polished. The characters too are distinctive in both art style and design. Certain elements, such as the heavy lined top lip and defined noses seemed reminiscent of Yoshiki Takaya's Guyver but never to the point of seeming to be any more than innocent homage. The character design while distinctive, was a little reminiscent of designs found in Guyver, Go Nagai's Devilman and even various tokusatsu series.

The story starts off promisingly enough with characters who appear to be rather likable in their younger forms, only to grow up into far less palatable young people. Writer Atsuhiro Tomioka seems to have gone to great effort to introduce the bulk of Masakazu Katsura's story into the first few episodes, promising a grand pay-off that never truly eventuates. Some of the most intriguing and seemingly important characters are left unexplained and unfulfilled in the whirlwind final episodes which try to tie up all loose ends with little success.

Perhaps it's my own fault for going into the series with rose-coloured glasses from my halcyon days on but Zetman never really seems to address any of the underlying stories that are constantly hinted at instead settling for being a derivative good guy vs bad guy slug fest. It's not awful, but it's certainly not great either.

- Ryan
Zetman Series Collection is available on DVD now from Madman

Welcome to the first installment in our all new column, "ASK MADMAN!". This column give YOU the opportunity to, well, ASK MADMAN the kind of things that you usually only get the chance to ask at conventions. Think of us as your proxy-Madman convention panel and ask away instead of waiting 12 months to get your question answered.

In this volume YOU asked questions and Madman have responded. Follow on for news on Kill la Kill, J-Drama, Ghibli releases, merchandise and more!

Madman's own Sylvester Ip, Daniel Chlebowczyk and Christian Were are on hand to answer your questions.

Olly: Is there any chance of seeing a Madman Screening Room app for PS3, or something similar? Its great that Madman is streaming new shows, but it would be even better on a TV.

Sly: We have considered apps for a number of platforms, but no plans currently to develop anything. You can actually already access the Screening Room via the PS3 browser, although we are aware that this doesn’t always work well for every user – which is something we’re working on fixing. There is also tonnes of anime content available on both the PlayStation and Xbox Live video stores.

N: Have you ever considered licensing Asian DRAMA? I know you've licensed live action films like Gantz and Rurouni Kenshin (for example and thank you!), but since quite a fair bit of live action Japanese dramas are based off the original manga counterpart (i.e. xxxHolic, Hana Yori Dango, Gokusen etc) obtaining legitimately licensed JDRAMA DVDs in Australia is quite hard! So, to please both anime/manga/live action fans like me, are you planning in the future to license Asian (Japanese) dramas as well? Thanks!

Christian: We’re certainly open to the idea of it and we’ve looked at this at various times in the past.  It’s a combination of finding the right show and one that has rights available for releasing on DVD, as not all of them do.

Cubbieberry: When will l Madman release DVD/BluRay of The Wind Rises? Will Madman return/ re-include the different subtitle options that they excluded in "Up On Poppy Hill" DVD? [why was there no English subtitles for the English Dub?] (I've heard the North American Version via Viz Media had ALL the subtitle options).

Dan: It’s still a little early to say when we’ll release The Wind Rises – as it’s still playing in cinemas – and also exactly what our release will contain, although it will definitely include both the English dub, and Japanese language with English subtitles. This is standard for pretty much all of our Studio Ghibli titles. As for English dub subtitles, I’m assuming you mean subtitles for hard of hearing? These are usually part of the package of materials we obtain from the people we license the release from, but unfortunately, they aren’t always made available to our territory, or occasionally, aren’t available at the time we release to DVD/Blu-Ray. We do include them where possible though, and are certainly endeavouring to include them on The Wind Rises.

Anna: Have you thought of licensing some Asian Dramas for streaming or DVD release.

Christian: We’ve looked at a few in the past.  I think if the right one comes along we will definitely give it a try.

Kamen Banana: Will you be releasing Kill La Kill? When? (Best. Screen name. Ever! - Ryan)

Sly: We sure will, and we seriously can’t wait - although there are a few factors that dictate when we can release it here.
1. The series has only just finished airing in Japan on TV.
2. Interesting to note that in Japan the DVD releases also have updated footage. This is commonplace with big series’. Scenes are sometimes redrawn and upgraded in-between broadcast and DVD and this process can sometimes take a few months to complete.
3. Naturally, the DVDs also have to be released in Japan first before the materials are then made available to us for English language localisation. So in short, we don’t have a specific date set yet, but it is likely to be next year.

Anita: I know conventions already have celebrity guests however I was wondering if it was quite possible to bring in some guests who are famous on YouTube such as Parle Productions or even Twinfools to Sydney as a fair few people would love to meet them. Also can we get panels for just cosplayers in general an example would be a Sailor Moon Panel or a CardCaptor Sakura panel?

Sly: Some great ideas here! Ultimately, what goes on at each convention is up to the convention management – so it’s worth sharing with them as well - but we always love to hear new ideas on how we offer fans new and interesting experiences. 

Blake: How has streaming effected business? Has it attracted more interest to anime?

Sly: We’ve seen a pretty tangible increase in sheer volume of people getting into anime and streaming content from the Madman Screening Room, which is great! We think people are prepared to take a gamble and sample shows they might be less likely to investigate if they had to purchase a DVD outright.

Mad Man: Why don't you sell things like OST's, shirts and figures? I think you'd sell heeps (sic).

Sly: We actually did sell all these things not so long ago. However, to be honest the effort often ended up outweighing the demand and we chose to put it on hold. We are doing more special edition releases with limited items, as well as events - like the Evangelion and Sword Art Online Exhibitions – where a good range of merchandise has been available for sale. We’re always exploring opportunities too, so you never know, in the future we may do more of these things! J

Sherlock Gomez: Are you ever releasing Crows Zero 2?

Christian: With the new Crows: Explode film releasing in Japan this month, it might be time to think about a trilogy!

Gohan92: When will REEL ANIME be for this year? What will be there?

Sly: We are still considering options for a REEL ANIME program in 2014. However, we will be offering more one-off, special event REEL ANIME branded screenings throughout the year – like we did recently with the Madoka Magica films.

That's it for our very first volume of ASK MADMAN! Thanks to those who awesome questions, the great folks at Madman for answering them and if you want your question answered, just head over to our ASK MADMAN form and fill out the details. 
Right off the bat you can tell that Home Brew Vampire Bullets (HBVB) is a labour of love from all of the home-grown Australian contributors involved. HBVB is a quarterly anthology pulp book inspired by the likes of Tales from the Crypt, 2000AD, Métal Hurtlant and Ozploitation Movies. It’s a beautifully created piece of material that tantalises and leaves you wanting more.

The second issue gets quite an increase in size from the first issue at 162 pages, and is chock full of amazingly written prose from a massive line up of highly accredited writers and creators. It features a superbly in your face cover by Sacha Brying, and a foreword by none other than Australian comedic legend Tony Martin.

The material inside is not for the faint of heart with the books own website giving it a "75% R" rating, but if you're a fan of this type of genre you'd know this already. It’s available both digitally and in print form. As much as I'm trying to embrace the digital path of reading, this anthology warrants being purchased in print form as it really feels like a piece of art.

All the work in this tome is fantastic and it would be too hard to choose a favourite. That being said, I did check out some of the articles and pieces from new comers to the HBVB family first. Dr Emma Beddows’ investigative piece on the misogyny in Aussie Geek Culture was intriguing and informative, especially given it has been a hot topic in recent years; Johnny Fuckface by Dean Rankine had me grinning from ear to ear and then laughing out loud on the bus; Kellie Gollings’ Abando series of photographs were hauntingly beautifully, and had me staring at them for quite some time; and Laura Crawford’s prose piece on the Aussie indie gaming scene had me realise little I know about a medium I love.

Some notable mentions of creators returning to the fray include Aftertward: On ‘The Hobbit’ by Arran McKenna, Clive Parma & The Rainbow Serpent by Matthew Dunn, and Watch What You Eat by Justin Hamilton and Garth Jones.

Organising all of the incredible creators in the one book is the talented Garth Jones. As editor he has made this a rather unique book and quite the pleasure to read. Do yourself a favour and jump on their website and buy a copy.

- Billy

EB Expo is back and promises to be better than ever! 

With only a week until tickets go on sale, EB has confirmed that not only will the Expo be bigger than previous years, physically, but also that the legendary UK TV show Robot Wars will be there in all of there steel shredding glory.

Follow on after the jump for the official press release. 

EB Expo 2014: Major Publishers + Legendary UK TV Show “Robot Wars” Confirm Attendance

The EB Expo is back bigger than ever in 2014 with today’s announcement that all the major Australian gaming publishers have confirmed their attendance. The event will be held October 3-5 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. Tickets go on sale next Thursday 24 April at 10am AEST – only 1 week to go.

The EB Expo continues to be the premiere event for all leading and emerging publishers to showcase and introduce unreleased blockbuster games to the Australian public.

Attendees can play, watch, connect and experience gaming on a whole new level. The EB Expo is the public's chance to experience the latest releases from Activision, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, PlayStation, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, XBOX plus many more.

This year the Expo will be even larger than last year, with a brand new pavilion expanding to a massive 35,000sqm. The pavilion will feature never-before-seen attractions including the famous Robot Wars UK exclusive to the EB Expo all the way from the Northern Hemisphere.

Included EB Expo admission is the opportunity to get up close with robots weighing in at a whopping 100kg each. The robot’s sheer power and size has to be seen to be believed and will be demonstrated at free sessions, Q & As, and photo opportunities in every session.

“The EB Expo is a video game mecca with the big draw card being hands-on game play with the hottest unreleased games. Add all the live shows, awesome attractions and a night time fireworks and pyrotechnics show – it truly is a gaming utopia,” said EB Games National Brand, Events & Engagement Manager Debra McGrath.

“Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or someone who just likes to play with your family, you’ll be spoilt for choice over the weekend. We’ve kept everyone’s favourite events and live shows from last year and planning heaps of new exciting content that will make this year’s EB Expo the biggest and best ever.”
The EB Expo is the perfect place to kick off the school holidays with the new discounted Multiplayer Pass and the Friday Daylight Session now offering a schedule suited to teens and their families.

Last year’s sold out Family Day is back. On the Sunday families can enjoy major attractions like the Video Game Hero parade, meet the stars of the ABC show 'Good Game', or enjoy free activities like face painting, balloon twisting and more. Joining the line up is the new Tumbletown playground area, Family Zone Café and the Lovesac Handheld Lounge & Stage where attendees can relax, win prizes or battle it out to score the Mario Kart champion title.

Building on the success of last year’s Retro Gamer Garden, this year we introduce Free Play City. Relive gaming through the ages in Retro Central Park, have the chance to hold the highest score in The Arcade, get serious in the Console Business District (CBD) and experiment with PlayStation®4 (PS4™) and Xbox One in The NXT Gen Lab.

A detailed schedule of sessions and events can be found at the EB Expo website

Tickets go on sale 24 April 2014.
Darkest Night: Act Three is the latest chapter in Hayden Fryer's dark and brooding comic book drama series.

Concluding the first story arc, 'Love', the issue is both written and illustrated by Fryer. While reading this latest installment I almost had to pinch myself: could this series really be from the same guy that brought us Billy Demon Slayer, a story that featured a teen's chainsaw-handed rampage through heaven?

Don't get me wrong I love Billy for what it is, but Darkest Night represents something much more sophisticated. It's single minded in both visual and narrative tone, intricately paced and dialogue is used sparsely for the most part, but to great effect. This series has proven to be a real master-class in effective visual storytelling with this latest installment being no different.

Act Three opens with protagonist Caleb Marcus catching up with his mates for some beers, the culmination of the positive note that Act Two left us on. The evening soon takes a turn for the worse when an attempt at a casual hook-up reminds Caleb of his ex-girlfriend, Carlie, and sends him spiraling back down into despair. Let the brooding commence. Caleb soon returns to his old ways of obsessing over Carlie and her new boyfriend, seemingly stuck in a sort of emotional limbo. Despair soon turns to anger when Caleb finds himself confronted by Carlie's new boyfriend upon attempting to reconnect with her.

Before I knew it I found myself intoxicated by the drama. Believe me when I tell you no one is able to convey an overwhelming sense of despair quite like Fryer. Through generous use of silent panels and clever choice of images Fryer deliberately keeps the issue at a snails pace, a tribute to his visual story telling skills and mastery of the comic-book format. All the while he slowly and methodically builds his way to a heart wrenching climax in the books closing pages.

Act Three is a generous issue coming in at a whopping 44 pages, about double the usual single issue page count. These extra pages allow Fryer to take his time, culminating in a really satisfying slow burn. The icing on the cake is the stunning painted cover that perfectly captures, the mood of this latest installment.

It's shocking, surprising but most importantly the perfect ending to this first chapter in what continues to assert itself as a stand-out independent series. Fryer's distinct drawing style and generous use of shading make for a book visually like no other. Although I'm pretty sure I said this about the last two issues, Fryer's art continues to improve issue to issue. It's become more technically sophisticated while continuing to stand out stylistically.

Darkest Night: Act Three, as well as Act One and Two, are available through the Siberian Productions website. Darkest Night: Act One and Two are also available via Comixology.  

- Christof

You can guarantee that every convention blessed by Madman's attendance will receive news regarding their recent acquisitions and Supanova Melbourne is no different. In fact, it seems a though they went out of their way to announce a bumper crop to their homeground audience! While details are scant (but not as scant as the clothes in Maken-ki), we'll keep you up to date when further information comes to hand.

Noucome - My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy

What would you do if every one of your actions was dependant on a limited set of parameters, like multiple choice for instance. Furthermore, what if those choices were perverse, sadistic and downright weird? 

Kanade Amakusa – a boy cursed with the mental power who will turn any multiple-choice quiz he thinks about into a reality. 

However, one day in school, he is given another choice: a beautiful girl will fall before him or he will fall from the rooftop in female clothes. Although he chooses the first option and it comes true, he and his new-chosen love – Chocolat – are in for a hilarious multiple-choice adventure.

Yuushibu - I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job.

Seriously? What's with all of these lengthy anime titles of late? Moving on. Imagine that your lifelong dream was to be a hero, only to have that possibility ripped from possibility. Well, meet Raul.

Raul had always wanted to be a hero, but failed the exams necessary to become one. He reluctantly took a job working at a small electronics store called Magic Shop Leon. 

His life is dull but busy until a new girl comes applying for a part time job. She’s the daughter of the demon king who defeated him in his exam.

Blaz-Blue Alter Memory

Based on the fighting game series which is responsible for an almost infinite number of rage quits (from me), Blaz-Blue Alter Memory promises to expand on the already kick arse story (pun intended).

Long ago, the world was saved from a monstrous creature known as the Black Beast by a group of heroes wielding a powerful combination of magic and science. 

Now, a rebel named Ragna the Bloodedge—who happens to be the most wanted man on the planet—finds himself in the middle of a mysterious plot that’s somehow connected to the Black Beast’s resurrection and the possible end of the world.

Haganai NEXT

More Haganai? Don't mind if I do. Encompassing volumes 4 to 8 of the light novel series by Yomi Hirasaka the "Neighbour's Club" continues to prosper as they learn more and more about each other. Needless to say, comedy ensues.

Yozora, Sena, and their misfit band of sorta-friends return in Haganai NEXT! 

The members of the Neighbors Club are still trying to figure out what friendship really means – even as their bonds are tested and relationships begin to change.

Inari Kon Kon

If the description of Inari Kon Kon below is anything to go by, we're looking at the love child of Fruits Basket and Ah! My Goddess and no part of that is a bad thing. 

Inari is a cheerful girl in Kyoto who has a crush on one of the coolest guys in her middle school, but she can’t seem to confess her feelings to him. 

After saving a beautiful goddess’s familiar, the deity blesses Inari with the ability to shapeshift—much to the chagrin to the rest of the spiritual world. Will love bloom for the newly empowered girl when the spirits intervene?

Maken-ki 2 

Like fanservice? Well you're in luck because Maken-ku returns for a second outing. 

The busty babes of Maken-ki! are back in a follow-up to the hit first season! When Takeru enrolls in Tenbi Academy, he discovers that he has a magical power called “Maken.” 

The hornball might end up a great fighter—if he can keep from being distracted by all the gorgeous girls running around his new school.