NerdSpan’s coverage of Loot Anime x Crunchyroll begins with the subscription service’s ninth crate, “Squadron,” which subscribers were told would include the following anime and manga franchises: Gate, Gundam, Anti-Magic Academy, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Common to all of these narratives is the idea that battles and wars are not fought and won by heroes alone, but by tight-knit groups that win or lose by the strength of their camaraderie.

The big surprise in this box is that there is not just one excellent Gate item, there are two. Gate is such an eclectic brew of the military, fantasy, and parallel world science fiction genres that it must be reassuring to fans when designers and merchandisers can put their fingers so easily on the substance of the story and create such satisfying products. In this case, A Crowded Coop manufactured not only a stylish Gate t-shirt, but a Gate multi-tool that fans of drinking age can use to open their IPA beers.

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The Gate tee-shirt displays the flag emblem of the Saderan empire, but to fans of the show and the Earthly interlopers of the Japan Self Defense Forces, it no doubt looks like a red dragon in in a gun’s cross hairs. It’s a striking symbol in a classic fashion color combo of gold and red on a a charcoal base, and the shirt is supple and comfortable as well. While this is a stunning shirt that will look good on anybody, these colors are especially flattering to red-heads like myself, and as such, it is my favorite item this month.

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The Gate Multi-tool is not only a steel carabiner, but also a bottle opener, a hex tool, and a five foot paracord. Few fandom collectibles have practical utility other than their intrinsic entertainment value, although there is a growing assortment of churchkeys of a nerd/otaku stamp, and this one adds even more utility.

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If the weather was a little cooler, I would probably consider the exclusive Anti-Magic Academy Scarf from Bioworld the outstanding item in the “Squadron” collection, as the replica of Mari Nikaido’s neckwear has a unique color palette and its all-acrylic manufacture tends to a snug fit. It’s a sharp looking winter accessory longer than I am tall (6’2”), although in a collectible scarf race it would probably lose by a nose to my Fourth Doctor scarf—itself c. half the length of Tom Baker’s actual 12′-14′ prop scarf.  Compared to real world scarves, however, this item has copious volume and a comfortable fit for nearly any head and shoulders.

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The Assault Kingdom Gundam figure from Bandai has sixteen different varieties that Looters could luck into. Pictured is the MSZ-006 Z Gundam.

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This month’s theme tie-in item is Loot Anime Labs’ “Squadron” phone charm, which is crafted to look like dog tags that read “Agent 9 / Loot Anime / July 2016.”

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This Arpeggio of Blue Steel Vol. 1 manga from Seven Seas Entertainment has a Loot Crate exclusive cover.  It’s an intriguing cover that gives the reader the conceit that they’ve stumbled upon two of the series’ characters, as they’re either studying or reading leisurely from a pile of books.and a tablet that is much too chunky to be an iPad.  It invites the reader to open the book and quickly discover that the contents of the volume are nothing like this idyllic candid moment, though the book was nonetheless enjoyable, and I recommend it to the other Looters that are curious about their copy.  It’s science fiction of the military sub-genre set in a near-future world in which artificially intelligent warships—dubbed the Fleet of Fog—prevent travel between the world’s continents and islands.  It’s a great premise and a good read, though the otaku book and cookie picnic on the cover can be found nowhere within.

Overall, this was an outstanding collection of anime and manga goodies, including product from two franchises—Gate and Anti-Magic Academy—that as of yet it can be hard to find one well-made item, let alone three. If you liked the items in this month’s Loot Anime x Crunchyroll, unfortunately the “Squadron” crate has left the hangar, but episode ten is available now.  While the theme of episode ten hasn’t been officially revealed, there may be a clue on the Loot Anime page, as it advises Looters to be the “first in class [ital. mine] to subscribe.”

Loot Crate provided the review copy.

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