Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gundam Build Fighters

There is a criticism that Gundam anime series usually suck because Bandai's main objective is to sell Gunplas and the anime series are just mere gimmicks to advertise the model kits. Gundam Build Fighters completely fits into this stereotypes. In fact, it takes it further with featuring Gundams from other existing series and modify them specially for the anime. It made me a skeptics and I was only interested to watch this because of Bearguy III Double Happiness version that I bought during the Gunpla Expo this year.

Watching the first episode is like discovering a beautiful pearl inside a clam. It is unexpected good pleasure. I have to say that the whole idea of Gundam Build Fighters is bloody genius. The story features people building Gunplas for hobby (which is realistic) and thanks to the discovery of Plavsky particles, it creates a mechanism to make these Gunplas into a game in which the Gunplas really can move around and battle one another (which I consider to be the 'augmented reality' part). The reality and the 'augmented reality' are blended very well that the whole setup feels believable.

For Gundam fans, whether the anime series or the Gunpla, it is always our imagination to be able to control Gundams whether for games or for real battle. No doubt the series hits us on our soft spot very well. However, the flip side of resembling reality very closely, the actual plot is quite boring and draggy for a 25-episode series. The main character, Sei Iori, is an avid Gunpla builder, inspired by his father who was the runner up of the 2nd Gunpla Battle World Championship. Although Sei builds an excellent Gundam, he is a poor fighter. He has little chance of following his father's footsteps until one fateful day when he meets Reiji who can fight with Gundam well. Together they form a team to aim to be the World Champion.

Throughout the 25 episodes, we follow their journey from the regional tournament until eventually they reach the World Championship. After a few of the Gunpla fights, the fights get quite boring. The conflict presented feels very forced. Sei and Reiji are constantly being sabotaged by the tournament organiser. The main antagonisth, Chairman Mashita, is actually a thief from Arian colony who steals a treasure from the castle, gets teleported to earth, and create Plavsky particles. Reiji turns out to be a crown prince of Arian and Mashita is very worried that Reiji knows his identity and will capture him. The whole Arian colony and teleportation thing sort of destroys the whole realism that the series have and I feel kinda mess up the whole thing.

The whole setup for the final battle is quite bizarre too. The giant exploding Arian crystal under the stadium makes the Gundam battle setup a reality and suddenly the giant asteroid base (and the mobile fighters inside) becomes a reality above the stadium. The kids have to use their Gunpla to destroy everything before everything becomes a reality. It makes the final battle resembles actual fights from other Gundam series but the realism is simply thrown out of the window. Having said that, I still think it is one of the most intense fight in the series.

There is plenty of fanservice for Gundam fans with people cosplaying as or resembling characters from previous Gundam series as well as characters sharing same names and saying quotes of Gundam characters. To take note of the fanservice component from each episode is a nice thing on its own. I am glad my favourite Gundam Wing (Fenice) is one of the stronger Gundams here and I was very happy to see Mercurius being piloted by a character which resembles a female version of Heero Yuy.

Void of truly evil characters and killing, Gundam Build Fighters is really a feel good Gundam series. It is quite sad that this series is quite overlooked. Even finding an image to put here is a big challenge and the picture I put on top is a screenshot from website. Jeez. Anyway, I am looking forward to the sequel, Gundam Build Fighters Try. I don't expect much but if it can be give a good feeling just like Gundam Build Fighters, that is good enough for me.

I almost forget but the opening and closing songs are great and complement the atmosphere of the series very well. The animation for the opening and closing is great too. I usually skip the opening and ending songs but I did not skip them when I watched this. That is quite a feat. The other series that have such impactful songs are Natsume Yuujinchou. So yeah, it is an accomplishment because usually Gundam opening and end songs can be quite 'randomly' done.
Opening 1

Opening 2

Ending 2

I can't find just the ending 1. Lol.
I don't usually put fanart picture but this is a perfect tribute of Gundam Build Fighters for the previous Gundam series :D

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