Gunpla Build Fighters
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.