Series Recommendation: Gundam Build Fighters – A Dream Realized

Gunpla is freedom!

After Gunpla Builder Beginning G, Bandai saw some interest in the “non-war” Gundam series. Furthermore, Bandai’s core fanbase is getting on in their years, so they want to get some “new blood” in – particularly kids and young students. Thus born the Gundam Build Fighters – a series about building gunpla and taking them into simulated battles. It’s not just Gunpla anymore – but Gundam – proving that this series isn’t just a passing hobby shill – but rather a serious attempt at showing the new generations a new perspective about Gundam – a franchise primarily involving bloodshed and war.

Build Fighter follow the extreme duo Sei Iori and Reiji Asuna – an exceptional builder but lacking fighter and a “prince” whose hobby is to throw hands with whoever bother his friends. Sei want to join a Gunpla Battle Championship with his skillfully built Gunpla – one of the most important qualities for a top-tier model – but his fighting skills are less than formidable. Then a mysterious boy with flaming red hair suddenly “appeared” out of nowhere, with battle sense more than adequate – and the pair quickly form a team and head for their ultimate goal – the Gunpla Battle World Championships!

+ Plot: The series essentially turn the Gunpla Battle we saw in Beginning G into a full-blown combat sport without actually harming the players – but rather the Gunpla instead. It’s a nice way to put in some “stakes” without going the “bloody” route since the series is aimed at kids. While so, it is not entirely unfit for more grown-up audiences, as their are a lot of mature character development, some drama and romance as well, and a pretty new view towards Gunpla building as a hobby. Sei and Reiji each represent a different aspect of Gunpla Battles – the building and the battling. Sei is a master craftsman that put his all into perfecting his models as well as showing great care and pain when the kit is damaged. Reiji is a more action shounen type that is determined to become the very best at Gunpla Battling. These two very different aspects were shown to intertwine very closely in the series.

Animation: Despite being literal Toy Story WWE, the battles in GBF isn’t “kiddy” at all. They are blazing hot and fiery battles with all-out 2D animation. There are scenes that will make you think this is an actual Gundam war battle and not just a sport. Furthermore, seeing new renditions of beloved Mobile suits from the franchise with some very new mechanics really give us new flavors. Imagine a Crossbone Gundam with Satellite Cannon, or F91’s MEPE versus Exia’s Trans-Am. It’s a massive crossover of animations and effects that we can never see in other conventional series.

Mecha Design: The “customs” in the Junichi Akutsu, Junya Ishigaki, Kanetake Ebikawa, Kenji Teraoka, and last but not least, Kunio Okawara. They give new “flavors” to the original design with modern aesthetic and fun gimmicks. Most of the gimmicks are combination of different era’s technology or extra mechanics like new backpack unit that can operate as their own etc…For Build Fighter, the main character’s unit is based on the Strike Gundam – which is very fitting since the Strike is basically a 2000s RX-78-2 – the root of the franchise. And so a “modernization” of the unit as the main char’s Gundam is totally reasonable. Many other iconic units also either make cameos or becoming plot-important unit in the series.

Music: BACK-ON provides the opening for the series with their energetic J-Pop/Rock style that really hit the young teen sweet spot. The ending songs by Airi and Hyadain are also quite chill and gentle. Definitely fitting to de-stress after a very serious sport match. They also reuse the other’s series sound effect for the fights (and some new ones) to both hit the nostalgia button as well as making new excitement.

+ Conclusion: Gundam Build Fighter was meant to be an incentive and elaborate commercial to attract new fans, but it has more than that to its story and character, as well as action scene. Build Fighter manage to make the franchise interesting even without the r/pol and the bloody conflicts. It has also managed to find a brand new type of audience for Bandai/Sunrise to cater to (and milk). Even so, while not a conflict-filled series, Build Fighters has an engaging plot and awesome battles!

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