Quick Look: Gunpla Build Fighters

1402d9307b5ed406209f369b4f6dbd4d1372742686_full

Gunpla Build Fighters
5/5

Name: Gunpla Build Fighters (ガンダムビルドファイターズ)
Genre: Shonen, Action, Mecha, Comedy,
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Written by: Yousuke Kuroda

I myself am not a huge fan of “Gundam” series, though I do collect a lot of SD plastic models. After the most recent disappointment with the Level 5’s “Mobile Suit Gundam Age (2011)”, I was actually surprised to notice that the next Gundam series,. “Gundam Build Fighters” appears to be a total opposite to what Gundam Age offered us. No more space drama, no more gaint robot, no more needless bloodshed, but rather a story of regualar teenagers and their “Gunpla” modeling hobby.  Therefore, I’m looking forward to this series. So far,  this apears to be a promising series despite its look.

Gunpla Build Fighters deals with the “Gunpla” hobby, which a plastic modelling hobby and worldwide trend related to a famous mecha  “Gundam” franchise, which people buy, build, and modify scaled sizes humanoid robots. In the fantasy aspect of the series, a Gunpla battler creates a model and use it in a combat simulator that allows the player to pilot their “toys” as if they are alive and real. This concept isn’t something new. Back in 2010, Bandai releasd 3-episode OVA series of “Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G” in 2010 to mark 30th anniversary of the Gundam series and to increase the sells of plastic models. Basically, Gunpla Build Fighters is an expasion of the OVA into a full-time television series, featuring its own cast and setting.

Similar to Clamp’s Angelic Layer (2001), Gundam Build Fighters resolves around middle schoolers building and customizing a toy robot to enter “Gunpla Battle” world tournament, and win the title of the best Gunpla battlers. The show focuses on two protagonists: Sei Iori, the blue haired, regular Gundam loving and easy going kid who has exceptional modelling ability but lack any skill in an actual Gunpla battle, and Reiji, the red haired, mysterious and aggorant combat prodigy who lacks any interest in making a model. The two meet an establish a unique relationship where they have to cope with each other’s differences and overcome. The story is lightheart and idealistic story dealing with how characters fight off challenges and strengthen their friendship bonds as they climb their ways to become the best of the bests. It is particularly interesting how the developers handle the two protagonists, Sei and Reji, as they are totally different in appearance and personalities, and there’s also the fact that they have to function as a team to make any progress.

The thing thats make Gundam Build Fighters superior to Gundam Age is that the story is intentionally made to be a lightheart, parodic, and idealistic story that they are good at making rather than a mixbag of idealiism, child soldiers, and mass genocide Unlike Gundam Age, Build Fighters doesn’t pretend to follow a war-smoking “tradition” of Gundam at all. Instead, the show is designed to appeal children and collectors that can easily associated themselves with the show. Children can enjoy its comedy and battle sequences, and long time Gundam fans and modelliers can discuss the robots, jokes, and references toward older series. Similar to G Gundam (1994), Gundam Build Fighters does not hestitate to be a black sheep of the series, and so far, it pays off really well.

So far, Gunpla Build Fighters is a promising show, being a funny and lightheart show with good actions. Gunpla modeling can attract both children and old school collectors. Of course, this promote consumerism, but at least you do get some good laughs and morality out of it. Crunchyroll allows viewers from some region to steam the series for free with English subtitle. The show is highly recommended.

Advertisements

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (2003)

4.5 Four_Five

Name: Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
Japanese: マーメイドメロディーぴちぴちピッチ
Genre: Shojo, Magical Girl, Music, Fantasy, Comedy-drama, Romance
Length:: 52 episodes
Director: Yoshitaka Fujimoto
Developers: We’ve, Synergy SP, Actas Inc.
Author: Junki Takegami
Based on a manga written by Michiko Yokote

Mermaidcast2

When creativity team decides to make an adaptation of Han Christian Anderson’s classic tales of Little Mermaid (1837) by fusing it with a magical girl plot, adding songs, and putting in more characters and drama, here you have Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, a shojo anime series that is not only dramatically remind us how we enjoy the legends of mermaid, but the show is also kid friendly, cute, fun, and hilarious.

Lucia Nanami is a mermaid princess of the North Pacific Ocean’s undersea palace. Seven years before the event of the series, she sneaked out of her palace and saved a human boy named Kaito Domoto from drowning as a tsunami was hitting the ship he was on. To preserve his life, Lucia sacrificed her precious magical pearl and went back to the sea. Present day, Lucia, now an teenager, must go back to the surface to reclaim her magical pearl, Lucia proceeds to find her first love, knowing that he’s still holding on to her treasure. Meanwhile, a sea demon group called “Marine,” sends in a sea monster to capture mermaid princesses and plague the world with chaos. Lucia reunion with Kaito, and desperately tries to get him to notice she’s the mermaid that saved his life because of a taboo that prevent her from telling him directly, and meanwhile she has to battle with sea monsters with the help of her two princess mermaid friends Hanon Hosho and Rina Toin… using the power of music.

Mermaid Melody plays a very typical Magical Girl shows like Sailor Moon or Pretty Cure. The story progresses like a typical monster of the week show. Characters have a problem; they try to solve it, they run into monster; fight them; solve their problems; repeat. With magical pearls the three main characters (Lucia, Hanon, and Rina) have, they can transform into singing idols and use their music to scare away the four quirky female sea demons whose intimidating levels are only a bit higher than Team Rocket. Minor episodes are fun to watch, and major episodes provide satisfying drama, plot twists, and character developments for typical magical girl anime’s standard.

pichi_pichi_pitch_pageimage

Characters of Mermaid Melody are very stereotypical, right down to stock character types: an extremely dizzy and lovestruck protagonist, a cool and handsome love interest, an overactive best friend, an anti-social girl, a cute series mascot, etc. What make Mermaid Melody’s characters better the others? It may be because the great characterization that makes these characters very much lovable and not too annoying. While Lucia is stupid and mope around at times, there are many occasions that she funny and heroic. Her awkwardness from her relation with Kaito is actually engaging. This is because Mermaid Melody plays with the secret identity plot in an interesting way when it’s comes to the “Love my alter-ego” kind of triangle relationship. Human Lucia loves Kaito, but Kaito loves her mermaid form, so Lucia desperately tries to make him realize she is a mermaid on his own since she can’t tells him directly. Kaito is a rather believable love interest. He is smart, playful, and a bit jerkily, but also caring and protective toward his girlfriend. Hanon and Rina are sort of bland in their normal times, but several incidents can make them shines greatly.

While the animation of Mermaid Melody is rather okay, the focus of the show is, of course, singing. As the show’s plot device, The series makes sure the music’s quality is great. The songs are repetitive at first, but they glow varieties as the story progresses and the heroines get their power ups. The only one problem with the voice actress I have is Lucia’s VA, Asumi Nakata, sounds more like a soft spoken boy rather than a girl, nevertheless, her performance in singing is very great, and I got used to her voice quite easily.

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is ripe with stereotypes and stock plots, but how to developers put their hearts in the show’s characters and story and how they based these magical girls are based on a classic such as the Little Mermaid make it very notable show with fun characters, engaging romance plot, and in additional, the beautiful songs. If you like Magical Girl genre, you will want to watch this particular series

Akazukin Chacha (1994)

5 Five

Name: Akazukin Chacha
Japanese: 赤ずきんチャチャ
Genre: Shojo, Magical Girl, Fantasy, Comedy
Length: 74 episodes (1994-1995)
Author: Min Ayahana
Developers: Nihon Ad Systems and Studio Gallop

Image

    Akazukin Chacha is a slapstick comedy television anime series which is based on a manga under the same name. The show itself can be seen as Japanese’s attempt to make a parody series out of the original concept of the fairy tale about a happy and naive young girl wearing a red hood and a wolf who tricks the girl into eating her and her grandmother. While the series does contain signature characters from the original tale, the creators made a lot of changes that the casts are now their own characters. By adding more wacky characters and situations along the ride, Akazukin Chacha is a showcase of Japanese’s silliness that work beyond imagination and it results in funny, memorable experiences, as well as smiles across audience’s faces.

    Chacha the Little Red Riding Hood is a lighthearted, fantasy tale resolving around three young children: the titular Chacha, an extremely clumsy and ditzy witch trainee under the powerful magican named Seravy; Riiya the Werewolf, a heroic, friendly werewolf neighbour with a cuddling wolf form; and lastly, Sheene, a tricky wizard in training under Seravy’s ex girlfriends, Dorothy. The initial episode concerns the certain Demon Lord who wants to conquer the world, but is unable to do so because of Seravy the Magician. In response, he sent Dorothy the cursed mirror that turns her evil, and captures the magician. With Chacha’s, Riiya’s, and Sheene’s afford, and the magical artifacts that temporary turns Chacha into a powerful Valkyrie-like warrior, Dorothy’s curse is lifted and the day is saved. The Demon Lord acknowledges the hidden power the three children possess, and changes his target to them instead, setting up the plot of the whole series where he sends a minion of the week to annihilate Chacha and her two best friends

The basic idea of Akazukin Chacha is a slice of life story about Chacha and her friend’s wacky and hilarious adventures in everyday life as the Demon Lord tries to send his minions to sabotage their activities. Most of these villains are a bunch of weirdoes like moles, vampires, gigantic bears, and joker twins who have rather unique ways to carry out their missions, mainly by using pranks and lies, similar to how the original Big Bad Wolf deceives the Little Red Riding Hood, and the consequences the children face can be threatening; however, due to the show’s nature, the heroes usually find a way to solve the problems hilariously.

While the villains are easily eccentrics, everybody else in the show itself seems to as eccentrics as they are. In Akazukin Chacha, we have characters like a whip wielding, scary looking, but kind and sensitive teacher, an absent minded headmaster, a stalking, shapeshifting mermaid with a crush, a jealousy Little Black Hood, a pink, little kunoichi, and many others whose personalities and traits are intentionally exaggerated for a comedic purpose. There’s also a daily bickering between Riiya and Sheene’s love toward Chacha, and some other girls who involve in the love triangle and end up with hilarity. While the characters are not as original and wacky as those in the show like Ranma 1/2, most characters related to Chacha are much less grubby and less questionable in term of moral values. This makes the show a lot more family friendly and cute to watch. While the show has a huge amount of randomnesses similar to Ranma 1/2 and Keroro Gunso, they are kept at a considerable amount to allow good laughs and an innocent yet sensible journey. People do not watch Akazukin Chacha because of panty shots or half-wit crab hunting contests, they watch the series to observe how these innocent children living their everyday life, how they getting into crazy adventures, and how they trying to get out of the messes with teamwork and their trusts between each other.

Image

That is to say; even though large portion of the is a mind-bogging slap stick comedy, Akazukin Chacha is still an idealistic series that deliver practical ideas and morals to audience, and the show can get pretty serious when it needs to. Usually, this is invoked during a confrontation with a villain or a controversial situations where the main characters have to decide their actions.. Unfortunately, these moments can be a bit jarring with the ridiculous situation surrounding the characters, and simply doesn’t fit. For example, when Chacha starts to give a speech on how she trust her friend and then said friend start making puppy eyes on the audience while his face’s all bruised up. While I do appreciate the serious moments in the show; it doesn’t work very well, to say the least.

Another weak point of Akazukin Chacha is its tradition to end an episode with Magical Princess Holy Up, or the magical Valkyrie’s transformation battle against a villain of the week. Powered with three magical accessories that draw a link between Chacha, Riiya, and Sheene, Chacha can transform from the Little Red Riding Hood into the Magical Princess, an attractive Valkyrie with magic abilities to vanquish the Demon Lord’s minion in one hit. The main problems with the transformation are that, firstly, it is running on the same stock footage every time it happens, and it gets longer and longer and Magical Princess Chacha receives new abilities, and secondly, it seems not so crucial to the plot at all. It turns out that the transformation section was exclusively added to the anime adaptation of the manga to pay homage to a magical girl series; this is one of a very few things that doesn’t work well with the show thanks to its nature as a parody series. Because of the execution, the whole 2-3 minutes of the process seems like filler than anything, and the developers could have come up with a better mean to deal with an episode’s ending.

    Akazukin Chacha does itself the best for what it is: a family friendly slap stick comedy-parody. It has all the elements they can make a fun out of the original Little Red Riding Hood characters and theme, it has lists of creative and unique characters. The plots are crazy and over-the-top ridiculous yet lovable; and finally, it’s very funny and it’s safe for everyone at every age to watch. There are some serious moments in the show, but sadly those moments are sometimes misplaced. The magical girl element added in the story is also not very effective because how repetitive and how unnecessary it is. Akazukin Chacha is a great story with a very few flaws, and it guarantees to make you laugh and smile at these children’s innocence and craziness. The show is highly recommended.