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Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episodes 23-24

Mar 30 // Josh Tolentino
If you were thinking that Sunrise would be using up two of the season's last three episodes for the battle everyone's been waiting for - the championship bout between Celestial Sphere and the Try Fighters - you'd be wrong. Episode 23 is all prep work, which feels a little bit ludicrous. Don't get me wrong: I'm no fan of overly drawn-out fights, but honestly, the kind of pep talks and character building and introspection involved in episode 23 hardly merits taking up all the allotted time. If I were in charge, I'd have compressed the sequence to the first half and spent the second half and the rest of episode 24 on the fight proper. For better or worse, though, I'm not in charge, and episode 23 reiterates a number of points we've heard before, including the not-exactly-new revelation that Sekai considers himself an amateur, unqualified to truly call himself a "build fighter" (title mention!) due to his inexperience with the building and Gundam lore aspect of the Gunpla Battle scene. That seems a bit at odds with Build Fighters' "enjoy Gunpla however you like" philosophy, but it does stand to reason that the idealized Gunpla Battler would be someone who's at least willing to try engaging with Gunpla on its most involved terms. Let's remember that even if Reiji never watched a Gundam episode in his life, even he got to building his own Gunpla. Besides the brief episode introducing Minato Sakai, Sekai's yet to fly his own work, content to win in Sei, then Yuuma's assemblies.  But of course, now's not the time to play snap-build, because there's fightin' to be done and championships to be won, and while I have my issues with the pacing of the episodes (and the series as a whole), there's no denying that this final battle is one of the most intense Sunrise have delivered for the franchise to date. Going above and beyond the previous encounters, everyone involved in the championship match gets a moment to shine, as well as work together as a team. There's something for every kind of battling fan here: For the teamplay enthusiasts, seeing everyone cooperating, doing combo attacks, and actually using tactics is a treat. Fans of one-on-one dueling and precious drama get that in spades too, as Fumina, Yuuma, Adou, and Shia all take each other out of contention with all the theatrics and epic, trope-filled Gundam gloriousness expected of a marquee mecha show. Heck, Adou and Yuuma even experience the classic "pilot's face dissolves into a white outline" mecha-explosion "death" moment, and it's great. In the end, though, there can only be one (against one), and it's Wilfrid and Sekai that close out the proceedings with a sudden death overtime match, their gunpla cobbled together from the parts of their partners' devastated machines. I can't help but wonder if Bandai will be selling Sekai's Try Burning Frankenstein's Monster, because that'd be a pretty good opportunity to sell gunpla fans on the modular nature of the GBF model kit line. Universal polycaps are almost literally the key to victory in the fight to end all the fights, and even enable Sekai to pull off some truly inventive combinations using the features of the Lighting, Winning, and Burning in complement.  As expected, though, it's the Try Fighters that come out on top, ending the Gunpla Academy's six-year winning streak, rewarding fans with the only glimpse of Sei Iori we're likely to get, and hinting at potential future seasons as the Try Fighters prepare to resolve their respective subplots. After all, Fumina at least has to beat down her heroine, Lady Kawaguchi, right? Then again, there is still one last episode to go. I doubt that this is a thread Build Fighters Try intends to tie off, but you never know what can happen in a denouement.
Gundam Build Fighters photo
Fun, Isn't It?
Welcome to the latest installment of Annotated Anime, brought to you by the Church of GunplaBattology. In the header you can see the benefits being a Build Fighter™ can bring to your life. Our two latest recruits have g...

Gundam Origin photo
Gundam Origin

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin II is up to bat

Looking good, sounding bad
Mar 17
// Hiroko Yamamura
I have to admit that I wasn't blown away with the first Origin OVA. I think I might have built the whole thing up in my head a bit too much, and was hoping for some more juicy Char history. There's something about the style ...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episodes 21-22

Mar 14 // Josh Tolentino
Despite the entry of Granada's team Von Braun, and the building up of Lucas Nemesis as a highly-skilled spoiler angling to take a crack at Sekai (and who isn't?), it's team Celestial Sphere and the Gunpla Academy kids that get the luck of the draw and treating viewers to a look at battle the way the pros do it. That's episode 21 in a nutshell, showing off a fight between two fully coordinated, committed teams. No offense to the Try Fighters, but in many ways, our three protagonists are essentially lucky amateurs, getting by on talent, heart, and the protection of narrative import. There's no denying their skill, but they're there as upstarts. Both Celestial Sphere and Von Braun, on the other hand, have been training for these kinds of moments for years, and it shows. In fact, Lucas may have been training for it for much of his childhood, judging by the way he name-drops his inspiration, Aila Jykiainen.  That isn't to say the passion is absent from the battle, but there's a coldness and almost clinical precision to the fight that even the hot-blooded antics of Adou and his Gundam-eating Gunpla can't dispel. Even the way Wilfrid wins his final clash with Lucas, after Celestial Sphere scuppers Von Braun's tactic of feeding Lucas' custom-tuned Crossbone extra Plavsky fuel, carries a kind of fatalistic air. There's no moralizing or speeches, no dirty tricks or discussions of philosophy in this match: Just two teams fighting to end each other the best way they know how. And Celestial Sphere comes out on top, thanks almost entirely to skill, and a bit of technical gimmickry, from Shia's highly convenient built-in Haro-powered repair system, and Wilfrid's own version of the Burning Burst System (it's the new hotness in heroic Gunpla action!). They certainly earn their victory, but the battle feels almost preordained. Contrast that to the next episode, featuring the duel between the Try Fighters and Minato Sakai's Build Busters, which is all hot-blooded passion, speeches, and the most bad-ass gunpla fighting you can ask for. The passion in question is Yuuma's. Minato  resents his eastern rival because he thinks Yuuma's a wishy-washy putz who can't commit, either to Gunpla Battling or Gunpla Building. And he has a point, Yuuma himself said as much, so one can hardly blame Minato  for his burning desire to be the blue-haired boy's...rival. Yes, rival. Just...rival. But again, it's all about passion. Minato 's passion to kindle their burning rivalry, Yuuma's passion to prove himself after being such a putz for so long, Fumina's passion to see herself and her boys take that Winning Road, the other Build Busters members' passion to have some good memories to leave high school with, and of course, Sekai's passion just to have a good fight. It's all hot, and all on display as the Try Fighters take on the Tryon 3 and its super duper mega ultra zebra Plavsky robot powers. Minato accuses them of not having respect for the romance of super robots when they try to interrupt the Build Busters' transformation sequence, but, c'mon, both teams are playing to win and you know that once a super robot gets its "gattai" on, winning gets a lot harder for the other guys. But this is (finally), Yuuma and Minato 's show, which provides Build Fighters Try another opportunity to display how weirdly dangerous Sekai's "Assimilation" gimmick is, after Tryon 3's Boomerang Stagger strikes the Try Burning in the spine. And it practically cripples Sekai! I can't wait to see what happens should team Celestial Sphere decide to kick the Try Burning in the crotch! The Try Fighters, thanks again to Fumina's incredible building skills - seriously, she's still admiring Sei Iori when from any reasonable standpoint, she's surpassed him in nearly every respect - survive the Tryon 3's ultimate attack, leaving Yuuma to finish the fight in a knock-down-drag-out brawl reminiscent of last season's duel between Sei and Reiji and Fellini. There's no draw, this time, though: Yuuma takes the win with a surprise beam burst that silences one of the only true Super Robots in Gundam history. Ye shall be missed, Tryon 3! These episodes seem designed to showcase two sides to the kind of passion people can bring to competition. Celestial Sphere's utter skill and professionalism as the incumbent champions, and the Try Fighters pluck, gumption, and other youthfully heroic passions. Now the two are set to clash soon, as the final match of Gundam Build Fighters Try kicks off.
Gundam Build Fighters Try photo
Ah, whiskey and pocky: The snack of champions. Gunpla Battle champions, that is! With the latest installments of Build Fighters Try out of the way, the road has been paved to the finals, with the buildup handled by two of the better engagements in the series' run so far. 

Anime photo

Right Stuf reveals Turn A Gundam and Please Teacher's release date

Two announcements are better than one
Mar 12
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be a little behind on this thing, but I thought that this set of announcements were worth mentioning around here. For the first order of business, Right Stuf and Sunrise have announced that Turn A Gundam Part 1 com...

Impressions: Gundam The Origin I: Blue-Eyed Casval

Mar 01 // Josh Tolentino
Of course, Char's real name, Casval Rem Deikun - and his status as the lost sun of Zeon founder Zeon Zum Deikun - were plot points that have been known for coming on forty years now, when they were revealed in the original TV series.  The difference, though, is in the details, and this episode's aims are as telling as its that the title, "Blue-Eyed Casval". Not only does it refer to Char's true name, but also his eyes, which in most Gundam fiction, he takes pains to hide behind masks and hilarious wraparound shades. As might be imagined, we spend most of this hour in a period never before visited in the Universal Century: Char Aznable's life before he became "Char Aznable". And it looks like the word for that life is "rough". Not to say that he was by any means poor, but being the son of an embattled politician carries its own costs. The near-messianic aura of Zeon Zum Deikun, and his sudden death at the podium, hangs over the Deikun family for the whole episode, coloring every experience Casval and his sister Artesia (the future Sayla Mass) go through in the aftermath. "Blue-Eyed Casval" also steps in early to draw battle lines between the future Char and his enemies, the Zabi family, as well as establishing his extended "family" of allies in the form of a younger Ramba Ral and other Zeon loyalists. Given Gundam The Origin's status as a refinement of the original TV series' plot, the fact that Sunrise have opted to start adapting this story arc first (it originally appeared much later in The Origin's publication timeline) means that this story may well be the accepted "canon" for the foreseeable future.  [embed]33588:4546:0[/embed] That said, though Casval is the title character of the episode, he and his sister are still just children, and their lot in life is to be shuffled around by the schemes of both the malicious and well-meaning. Ramba Ral and the Zabis, by comparison, have far more to say and do as things fall apart in the Republic of Munzo, and both factions end up humanized a great degree by the end of the hour. Dozle, Ramba, and Kycilia Zabi in particular get moments and motivations that make their future deaths seem all the more tragic. Stylistically, Sunrise has gone harder on the retro angle here than they did for Gundam Unicorn. Where Unicorn was a fairly modern Gundam anime with faux-retro character designs, Gundam The Origin includes callbacks not only to the faces of yesteryear, but its sense of humor as well. With all the orchestral swell and the weight of history behind it, you wouldn't expect a whole scene of Ramba being flustered by Artesia's admiration and getting himself mauled by the Deikuns' pet cat. You also wouldn't expect Gihren, the arch-villain, to play a hilariously elaborate game of computer Go during a portentous conversation. But they do, and it's a relief to be disarmed so, especially given modern Gundam's reputation for self-seriousness. Given its premise, the episode is somewhat light on hot mecha action, which is understandable. That said, what is in there, like a lavish view of the Battle of Loum, and a Guntank brawl later on, is satisfying to watch. Sunrise's CG work is impeccable, and conveys speed - a critical requirement for portraying the Red Comet - in a fashion unlike the usual stereotypes of awkward anime CGI. It's also a treat to see the Black Tri-stars in their first outings. It remains to be seen just how far this adaptation of Gundam: The Origin will go, but if this episode is any indicator, future installments will make this series a look back that's worth taking.
Gundam The Origin photo
Red Comet, Blue Eyes
Char Aznable. In all of Mobile Suit Gundam's long history, there's perhaps no better icon of the franchise (besides the Gundam itself) than the Red Comet and his trademark mask. In fact, Char himself has become a fixture of G...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episodes 18-20

Feb 25 // Josh Tolentino
It's true. In pretty much every respect except being able to blow up the world the way Sekai does when gets really hot under the collar, Fumina is the star that guides Build Fighters Try. Not only is she the team captain and the girl who started this whole thing, but she's got the most creative gunpla, and of the three of them has been the most adaptable and tactically minded. Her display against the SD-R triplets and demonstration of the Star Winning Gundam's secret technique - the ability to transform into a frickin' real-type Gunpla (i.e. a Gunpla with standard, non-chibi proportions) cements her as a builder that's equal to or exceeding the show's designated craftsmen: Makoto and Yuuma. And even during the following two episodes, which pitted Sekai against his power-mad fellow student, Junya Inose, it was Fumina who exploited her Gunpla's versatility to pull off the most creative kill of the match. Yes, I'm calling it the most creative kill, even after Sekai got himself powered up to deploy his ultimate...something, a strange Jigen Haoh School mega-attack that had more than a few shades of a Gunpla-themed version of Cloud Strife's Omnislash move. After all, it's not every day that you beat down a guy shooting lasers from weirdly-proportioned legs you just grew out of your robot like it weren't nothin' special. But, these really have been Sekai's episodes so far, and while they haven't disappointed - who could be disappointed by the Shining Finger finally making a Build Fighters debut? - the lingering disappointment over the issues caused by Build Fighters Try's uneven pacing continues to cast a shadow over everything that's happened. If nothing else, we've got at least two big fights left until the Try Fighters set up to take on the Gunpla Academy. Yuuma has yet to make himself really stand out as an equal member of the team, and their match against Makoto and his Super Robot needs to be the stage where that happens. And now, with Junya's departure, Sekai's got a new guy to take on: The thoroughly intimidating Lucas Nemesis, who's finally been officially confirmed as the grandson of Team Nemesis' owner from back in season one. The kid really took Aila's advice to heart, and also seems to know that the Crossbone Gundam really IS the coolest Gundam.  
Build Fighters Try photo
Mirror Match!
It's been a while since we last checked in with Gundam Build Fighters Try, but being able to watch the last few episodes in quick succession as I caught up to the latest developments has led me to one, inescapable conclusion: Sekai might be the Try Fighters' ace, but Fumina is their MVP.

Gundam: The Origin photo
Gundam: The Origin

Watch 7 minutes of the Red Comet in Gundam: The Origin

Watch the veritable Red Comet in action!
Feb 17
// Red Veron
Fans of the Red Comet, rejoice! We finally get to see Char Aznable in action in this new trailer for the upcoming first part of the OVA adaptation of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. The trailer features Char Aznable laying w...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 17

Feb 08 // Josh Tolentino
Speaking of knowing better, the Try Fighters begin their battle the trap-happy triplets from Toritsu in Team SD-R by playing right into the little punks' hands. Having fought another team that wins through battlefield control, you'd think they'd have the good sense not to walk into the very obvious Castle of Doom. Heck, with all the Plavsky magic at their disposal they could probably just level the whole building to smoke the siblings out, but I suppose that kind of cheesing wouldn't fly with the "hero" team. Maybe they'd have been in less trouble if they'd gone with the Try Fighters B-Team of Sekai, Gyanko, and Shia: But what's done is done, and the trio are trapped in the death cave with SD-R's otherwise identical SD Gunplas, the Dragonagel, Giracanon, and Snibal. And thanks to the trailblazing work of Sei and Reiji in previous years, their Plavsky magic is top-class, complete with beam and particle absorption pinning down Yuuma and Sekai. Dumb kids will be dumb, though, and their rookie mistake is leaving the team captain in a hole with nothing but a time bomb as company. This is Fumina's moment, and she and the Star Winning Gundam save the day in truly badass fashion.  Let's take a moment to appreciate just how great Fumina is: For one, she built her own, original Gunpla. Even the best custom builders on the scene use a base of some kind. Look at Yuuma, who's supposed to be the Try Fighters' best builder. He built the Lightning Gundam off a Re-GZ. But for Fumina, all the evidence points to the Winning Gundam being almost a complete custom job, with no clear base model. That is nuts. In many ways, its she who is the true disciple of Sei Iori, with all that unbridled creativity on display. The triplets are no slouches, either, though, since their Gunpla leverage the SD Gundam franchise's calling card of wacky transformation gimmicks to form a triple-combo hydra, revealing their trump card just in time for the episode to week.  It's a bummer that we'll have to wait until next week to see the Try Fighters come out ahead, but it's also exciting, because given the amount of new-fangled wizardry Fumina's managed to stick onto the Star Winning (including gun bits that turn into funnels that turn into fangs), it'll be a treat to see just how her "Winning Road" trump card has evolved. [Catch Gundam Build Fighters each week on the Gundaminfo Youtube Channel!]
Build Fighters Try photo
The Florence Nightingale of Plastic Robots
It's worth pointing out that among many similarities to other episodes in the series, this week's installment of Build Fighters Try is the second time they've spent the opening minutes on the puppy-love angle between Fum...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 16

Jan 29 // Josh Tolentino
Indeed, the Build Busters and their ZZ-based Gunpla, Tryon 3, bring the burning spirit and hot-blooded heart of Gundam's Super Robot forebears to the competition. The triple-machine assembly, complete with flashing logo and coordinated screaming, is absolutely a tribute to the mecha shows of a bygone age, which is kind of hilarious considering the crowd's stunned reaction to his victory. Has Gundam so thoroughly dominated popular entertainment that people had forgotten what Super Robots are? In a world ruled by Gunpla and Gundam, is there any place for three animal robots that combine into a bigger dude-shaped robot? The answer, of course, is yes, as Minato's robot is frickin' awesome. I still don't quite agree with some fans' assertions that he should've been the lead character - perhaps he might be the best lead for the job if Build Fighters Try were more like the original Build Fighters - but he's certainly the most characterful of the Try Fighters' rivals so far. That's not to say that Adou, Wilfrid, and Shia - Team Celestial Sphere - are exactly slouching, though. Shia's just-completed G-Portent, a seeming fusion of the 00 Gundam and the fan-favorite Sakibure, is a marvel, dancing through clouds of missiles and literally surfing on laser beams. It manipulates Plavsky Magic in a way that I imagine might make Niels Nielsen Yajima proud. The unfortunate victim of Shia's reluctant wrath (she seems to hate "hurting" others' Gunpla) is Kei Karima and his mobile armor, the Vagan Gear K. Looking as weird as it does (Sunrise even used CG to animate it, in a break from the usual pattern), I had to look it up, and it seems to be based on a Gundam AGE villain. Given many fans' low opinion of AGE (deserved or otherwise), perhaps it was for the best that poor Kei get the knockout.  The rest of the tournament is host to its own moments, including the creepy triplets in Team SD-R, with their emphasis on traps and ambushes, as well as a proud showing by the White Wolves, who I had earlier dismissed as being too plain to last beyond their debut. Given that I quite like their Zaku-based Gunpla trio, I'm glad that I was wrong on that count. Better still, they even acquit themselves well by demolishing a squad of hilarious ninja-themed Gunpla. Other cool takeaways this week include the first mention of Sei Iori in, like, forever. It seems he's alive and well, and watching the tournament on or something. I hope we'll actually see him at some point, though. The Meijin may be the "key" Season 1 character here, but surely it'd be good to hear from the elder hero sometime, yes? [Catch Gundam Build Fighters Try on Bandai's Gundaminfo Youtube channel!]
Gundam Build Fighters photo
Tryon Harder!
Despite its reputation for grit and mature storytelling about deep subjects like war and..stuff, the extended Gundam franchise is host to a great many ludicrous and silly things. For me, one of the silliest things about ...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 15

Jan 21 // Josh Tolentino
Mirai might have been chosen as the tourney's mascot, but if there's anyone who represents the soul of Gundam Build Fighters, it's Meijin Kawaguchi and his partner in theatrics, Lady Kawaguchi. Seriously, right at the opening they launch into this spiel and act like they're rallying the troops...with no one around to watch. It seems we were all wrong when we thought that Gunpla Battle prowess was the defining feature people look for when selecting the next Meijin. By this performance, the quality Bandai wants in its Meijins is being crazy and in-character 24/7, a Stephen Colbert of Gunpla, if you will. Wilfrid's going to have his work cut out for him if he intends to succeed the title - he's not nearly absurd enough. You know who IS absurd, though? Minato Sakai, Osaka builder maestro. It seems that mastering the Gunpla Shingyo School of building involves becoming a ridiculous person, as his dreams of a properly dramatic rivalry with Yuuma are hilarious and one-sided. His amazing triple-animal mega-Gunpla is based on the ZZ Gundam, which is appropriate, as the ZZ is the most super robot-like of the heroic Gundam suits. Big guns, bulky physique, and a thoroughly cartoonish series to inhabit make for a properly nutty building job. As for our heroes, they and everyone else are gunning for the leaders: The Gunpla Academy team, and are bringing the upgrades to prove it. Yuuma's been sensible as ever, adding a mega-backpack to the Lightning Gundam Full Burnern, referencing 0083 Stardust Memory's Zephyranthes upgrade, and making his Gunpla capable of outrunning a trans-am-empowered enemy...without transforming. That's fast. Fumina adds a pair of funnels and a gunblade to make the Star Winning Gundam, giving her something to do other than bust off her parts to attach to her teammates. And Sekai? It seems that they've noticed that everything is better if you do it while on fire, and the Try Burning Gundam takes that philosophy to its logical extreme. Poor Ohtkosk Academy of South Hokkaido are the first to feel the Try Fighters' upgraded wrath, which is a minor tragedy considering that their leader's Gunpla was named "Salty Kyrios". Names like that deserve victory, dammit!
Build Fighters Try 15 photo
Getting Ready To Rumble
It hasn't even been 24 hours since the last Build Fighters Try recap, but let's get this train going. After all, we've finally arrived at...THE NATIONALS. Let's fighting!

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 12

Dec 27 // Josh Tolentino
As expected of a three-time consecutive World Gunpla Battle Championship winner, the Meijin cockblocks all of Saga's best shots with his Amazing Red Warrior, which besides being red is a pretty cool tribute to 1982's Plamo Kyoshiro, the granddaddy of Build Fighters' "gunpla as videogame" conceit. But Alan stops the battle short just before he can unleash his ultimate move, the Plavsky-powered Dead End...something, we'll find out when Yuuma takes him on in the Nationals, presumably. We do get to see the full, cape-free form of the Gundam The End, and it looks as weird as its name implies, complete with a strange set of rainbow-hued "eyes" that, when open, make it look a bit like Ryuko Matoi from Kill la Kill in her combat outfit. The body reminds me of Gundam 00's Seraphim Gundam, that sub-suit that formed the "face" on the back of Tieria Erde's Seravee, but otherwise it seems like an original creation. [embed]33400:4369:0[/embed] Saga, predictably, wants to go on to the World Championship and take on the best of the best, namedropping season 1 folks like Ricardo Fellini, Luang Dallara, and Greco Logan. Considering the new team-based structure of Gunpla Battle, I wonder who those three have teamed up with... For his part, Sei collapses from the stress of whatever "assimilation" is (it seems even Mr. Ral knows about the phenomenon), and he gets taken to the clinic to sit out the episode while Yuuma abandons the arena in a fit of angst. Again, I can't help but bring up how petty his issues seem, but I do remember getting riled up and emotional over dumb bullshit when I was a teen, too, so I can't exactly hold it against him. What these kids need, it seems, is a dose of hands-on therapy, courtesy of the Meijin and the mysterious blonde bombshell, "Lady Kawaguchi", inheritor of the Kawaguchi name. Given that Yuuki Tatsuya is still the Meijin, I have to wonder just what that means. She's too old to be Yuuki's daughter, and they don't seem to be married, so the "Kawaguchi" must have to do with the position of Meijin. Did she beat Yuuki to become next in line for the title? It's been seven years since Build Fighters, which means that the Meijin lost the World Championship at least three times, so he could've lost to her. Maybe she's the Meijin's teammate, part of a "Team Kawaguchi" that competes in the championships? Anyway, both Fumina and Yuuma learn about what they're missing through the power of getting their asses handed to them in battle.  The Meijin proves the Lightning Gundam's potential by using it to beat Yuuma, who gets the privilege of piloting the Amazing Red Warrior himself. Yuuma realizes he's been fighting not to lose, when the key is to, er, fight to win. It's a lesson not unlike the last one Reiji taught to Sei, where the reason Sei sucked at controlling his Gunpla was that he loved his models too much to risk damage in pursuit of victory. On a side note, it's a goddamn crime that the Amazing Red Warrior's "Total Intensity" statistic is anything less than MAXIMUM. Please fix this in the disc versions, Sunrise.  Lady does the job in her SD-model Zero Gundam. It seems a bit sexist that all the women are fighting in SDs right now, but the Zero Gundam appears to be in stock configuration, so I doubt that's what she'll be using when the chips are down. Despite putting on a good show - and showing off the immense amount of gimmicks packed in the Winning Gundam, like a buzzsaw shield and a V-fin crossbow - Fumina can't quite grasp what she's missing. Until she does, but we'll have to find out exactly what that is next week. If I were to hazard a guess, it's that she's built her Gunpla to enable Sekai and Yuuma, rather than fight for herself. Worse, she can't handle most of her own gadgets, despite a valiant effort to use the Winning Launcher with her own beam rifle. Fumina certainly gets the need for a team's captain to hold up her members, but has been doing so by sacrificing her own role. There is such a thing as being too selfless (see: Shirou Emiya), and Fumina is that, at the moment. The coming weeks would be a good time for her to have a rethink on the Winning Gundam, or to prove that she isn't the weak link in the team. And what of Sekai? He gets to meet the obligatory mysterious beauty, right before the credits, as well as, through his absence, affirm that he's the poster boy for Build Fighters Try's philosophy. He's not in need of any particular attitude adjustments. On the contrary, both his friends end up (or will end up) improving themselves by being a little more like him. It's a bit of an odd message considering that another core theme of Build Fighters is that everyone enjoys Gunpla (and by extension life) in their own way, but there's no denying that of the trio, Sekai's had the least in the way of baggage. Maybe it's part of the martial arts training or something, but he's been copacetic so far.
Build Fighters Try photo
Let's Get Amazing!
Another week, another installment of my third-best anime of 2014. But as a fitting Christmas Eve present (the episode went live on December 24th), we get to unwrap the lovely gift that is the timely arrival of Meijin Kawaguchi III, and his legendary Gunpla, the Amazing Red Warrior.

Gundam 00 photo
Gundam 00

Asians and Swiss get a merry Gundam Christmas

And just them, pretty much
Dec 24
// Josh Tolentino
While not everyone celebrates the Christmas season, the occasion has become widespread enough that most companies usually trot something out to commemorate the holiday. The fine folks running the website have done...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 11

Dec 22 // Josh Tolentino
But first, how about that reference? It's absolutely adorable to hear Sekai and Fumina singing along with the most eighties-ass '80's anime theme ever made, Gundam ZZ's "Anime Ja Nai": [embed]33378:4362:0[/embed] It's as charming as watching the Girls und Panzer girls sing along with "Katyusha", and I wish it could go on forever. But alas, the story must move forward, and the Try Fighters get their first glimpses at the next level of competitive Gunpla Battle at Yajima Labs, the top-tier training and research facility run by none other than Nils "Samurai Boy" Nielsen Yajima, former world championship competitor and current top-class husband. I'd really have liked to see how the missus turned out in the intervening years, but there are many episodes left in the show, so I'm holding out hope. We also check in with the prospective competition must first check in with the competition, which initially seems to be team White Wolf, who that took down the G-Masters last year with their Zaku II-based gunpla, and all the skill and bravado of four-time national contenders. Which means, of course, that they're far too plain to be the real rivals. This prophecy proves all too true, as they quickly get slapped down in a three-on-one match with none other than Gunpla Academy's Saga Adou, the very guy that traumatized Yuuma into quitting Gunpla Battle for two whole years. The revelation, and Yuuma's hot-blooded, rage-fueled intervention, ends up unintentionally hilarious, given that the root of Yuuma's grievances are that Saga was mean to him after winning a match. Talk about a fragile ego! But of course, this is a good excuse to show how outclassed the Try Fighters are in the face of a dude who goes to a school built specifically around the idea of winning Gunpla Battle tournaments. Both Sekai and Yuuma get their butts kicked by Saga's Gundam The End, which seems to be an unholy fusion of Devil Gundam, Gundam Deathscythe, and Gundam 00's Regnant and Throne Zwei, all done up in a "masked gunman" theme. It's kind of nuts. During the fight, Saga gets to drop some hints that there are others in the upper tiers of competition who know how to use the Jigen Haoh School with a Gunpla. Just who is this "Junya" fellow?  But thankfully, before more permanent damage can be inflicted to pride and plastic, we get a run-in from none other than Tatsuya Yuuki, also known as Meijin Kawaguchi III, and his personal unit, the Amazing Red Warrior. I have to say, it's a fine change from his last Gunpla, the Amazing Exia and Exia Dark Matter. Those two suits never seemed to feel right for the character. Tatsuya always seemed at his best in simpler, more militarized units, like his Zaku and Kampfer Amazing. Also, it really helps that the legendary Masami Obari was directing the mecha sequences for this episode, as the appearance of the Amazing Red Warrior comes across like it's the frickin' Second Coming of Jesus Christ Optimus Prime. Look at that a-hole, descending from heaven on an orchestral remix of Tatsuya's character theme, the particle residue bringing dead plants back to life.  Way to upstage the heroes, ya dope!
Build Fighters Try photo
Yes, it IS Anime
With the team high on the sweet taste of victory, we take a break from the road to the national championship for the customary training section. This is where we learn just what the Try Fighters are up against, now that they're playing in the big leagues.

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 10

Dec 12 // Josh Tolentino
Following Team Try Fighters' victory at the regionals, nationals are next, but just as before, with Sei and Reiji's brief post-qualification vacation, we take a break from the tourneys to catch some Z's, recharge, and let Mirai, Sekai's elder sister, have some time in the son. And boy, does she. [embed]33359:4354:0[/embed] Sekai isn't kidding when he says his sister's "not just for show", and Mirai proves it aftergetting drafted into a Gunpla race to promote the new "Gunpla Collection" fashion line (truncated to "Gun-Colle", it's  a clear reference to Kantai Collection). Yuuma is on hand to exercise his puppy crush on her, and helps her build her first custom Gunpla, the Mama Beargguy II and its sub-machine Petit-Beargguy.  It is adorable. And I'm not just talking about the Beargguys here. The episode is pure, delicious fan service, much like the triumphal "Gunpla Festival" episode from late in the first season. References abound in the forms of Yuuma's Zeta Gundam-based dream dates, as well as the themed outfits of the various runway models at the show. We even get another first-season cameo, courtesy of Durarara!! character designer Suzuhito Yasuda and his illustration of Hollywood celebrity Mihoshi (née Kirara) and her gorgeous seven-years-later look. The episode doesn't skimp on the cool gunpla either. As mentioned, the Beargguys are adorable (Beargguy should be promoted to become a proper mascot for the Gundam brand at large), but also cool is the black-and-gold color scheme of the Turn A Gundam used by Taku, celebrity creeper and rival for Mirai's attention. Of course, Taku gets his comeuppance in the form a Jigen Haoh School-powered crotch punch, and he definitely had it coming. Sadly, Yuuma still doesn't get his mack on, and with Fumina and Sekai as something of the pair to watch in Build Fighters Try, poor Yuuma's affections may end up unrequited  for this series.  Next week, a training montage, with even more season 1 pop-ups! 
Build Fighters Try photo
Mama-Beargguy and Cubbguy
Survival guides teach us that a good way to deal with a bear is to make ourselves look larger, make a bunch of noise, and generally give the impression that you're no easy prey.  But what about Beargguys? More importantly, what about Mama Beargguys?!

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 9

Dec 06 // Josh Tolentino
Well, now we're in it! Team Try Fighters are up against arguably the toughest opponents yet: Team G-Master, runners-up at the Nationals, and with Gunpla Academy Alum Akira Suga in tow. They just trashed poor Gyanko, who seems more competent than her elder brother ever was (despite not advancing as far, relatively speaking), and our hero trio are next. But first, a dose of humanity. Build Fighters is not the kind of Gundam show where anyone truly comes out as a "villain". Even Chairman Mashita, the big bad guy, was kind of a putz. Not a good guy, by any measure except Ms. Baker's, but not a monster. Which would explain why Akira seemingly leaves character to administer Bright-style discipline upon Sakashita when she can't help gloat. I say it seems out of character because just last episode I had Suga pegged as the kind of guy that doesn't respect the purity of the competition. But here he is in all the fullness of a true warrior's spirit. Odd. It's a similar deal with G-Master's captain, Sudou, pilot of the Mega Shiki. Perhaps it's an artifact of not having enough build-up for the G-Masters, but Sudou hadn't come across before as the type of character so obsessed with winning that he'd sacrifice his bride as a Gunpla builder and go into the tourney with a commissioned Gunpla. I suppose the earlier note about his shock at having to play at Model Damage Level A for the first time back during his Nationals bout would cover it, but character motivations like that require more than a throwaway conversation to stick and not feel contrived. Not even the heroes are entirely spared the inconsistency. Build Fighters Try has been struggling to give Yuuma a more compelling motivation, so in Yuuma's suicidal sucker-saber trick, we see his determination to win and go past his typical builder-esque conservatism. At the same time, though, the show hasn't exactly established much tension between Yuuma's attitude as a builder and his attitude as a fighter, never mind the fact that Sudou's own character arc in the same episode (as well as Build Fighters' first season) renders that dichotomy absurd. Gunpla battle is inseparable from Gunpla building, but both fighters and builders can have fun, however they play. It might sound like I'm down about this episode, and in some ways I am. Build Fighters has had a lot of success at making good characterization seem effortless, but this week things felt a little bit too forced for comfort. But who cares, because the action was awesome. Everything you want out of Gunpla battle's inherent silliness is here. Gundam references, teamwork, insane G Gundam martial arts feats (blocking an Itano Circus with your elbows?!), Fumina splitting the Winning Gundam, and the most pitched battles of the series so far. It gets so intense that both teams end the fight with impromptu triple combinations. Let it never again be said that "you can't punch someone in the face with a Core Fighter". And of course, Sekai goes full Super Saiyan, activating the Build Burning Gundam's secret system, setting the Plavsky Particles on fire and achieving such perfect synchronization with his machine that injuries to the Gunpla appear on his own body. Given how utterly nuts that is, I'm guessing that that might have something to do with why whoever built the Build Burning Gundam (Sei, perhaps?) sealed it away. Having a system that causes physical injury feels anathema to the positive vibes of the show, not to mention the similar "Embody" technology from last season was the closest anyone came to true villainy. That said, it's interesting to see that type of gimmick turned to a just cause, and have it look really great, besides. Next week, Build Fighters Try takes a load off, with a swimsuit episode. Now now, don't groan. Mirai gets to pilot some Gunpla, and judging by the preview, there'll be plenty for true fans as well as fanservice hogs.
Gundam Build Fighters Try photo
Sick (Build) Burn
Y'know, I like Build Fighters Try and all, but in retrospect, it's kind of nuts that it took this long for someone to put the "Burning" in "Build Burning Gundam".  But hey, it finally did happen, and it was awesome.

Gundam photo

Animator Expo's Gundam Short will please your burning soul

Dec 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Right when I thought that Animator Expo was only dedicated to showcasing original anime shorts, the project's fifth piece ended up being a tribute to Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Gundam's Character Designer and Animation Director) and...
Gundam The Origin photo
Gundam The Origin

Gundam the Origin's subbed trailer shows off blue-eyed Char

Deikun's baby blues!
Dec 04
// Josh Tolentino
In case you haven't gotten enough Char in your life from the last Gundam The Origin trailer, it's time to have some in a language you can understand! Yep, they've officially subtitled the first trailer in English, which...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episodes 7-8

Nov 30 // Josh Tolentino
First and most likely to bear fruit is episode 7's bout with Team FAITH, consisting of two mooks who look like they stepped off the set of Doraemon, and Shimon Izuna, a varsity boxer that's taken up Gunpla Battle to motivate his sick brother. The kicker is that Shimon fights with "straight assembly" models, which are Gunpla built to stock specifications, without paint, panel lines, or any hint of customization. English-speaking builders call this "snap building", both by the distinctive sound of pushing two pieces together and the speed of the build itself.  In a game where the depth and quality of a model's customizations can make the difference, snap builds are the essence of "default quality". Of course, Shimon's piloting skills are top-notch, and the plucky newcomer uses a snap-built Destiny Gundam to pulverize a bunch of custom competitors, proving that Gunpla Battle is not pay-to-win. At least, that's until he loses to the Build Burning Gundam, and Shimon's brother vows to take up the custom standard next time, happily holding a Destiny Impulse Gundam as a preview of sorts...probably. I'm hoping Shimon's next Gunpla is more boxing-themed, like maybe a Maxter. More importantly, the episode itself raises some classic questions about the depth of our heroes' resolve, as prior to the fight, FAITH's two mooks secretly beg the Try Fighters to throw the match so as not to discourage the brother's recovery. Fumina and Yuuma are shaken, but Sekai is unperturbed, for one should never bring deception to a proper fight. Indeed, both he and Shimon are of like mind, as relative outsiders to Gundam appreciation, who enjoy Gunpla Battle for its competitive aspect, and no one in that mindset enjoys a tainted victory. Their duel is just as intense, complete with mutual breakage, a sweet armbar, and a classic Inazuma Kick, as Shimon makes good use of the Destiny's built-in hand laser. Even the mooks get a chance to shine, pushing Yuuma and Fumina out of contention by forcing their gunpla out of the ring, acting with all the drama of a classic grunt suicide attack. Overall the duel doesn't quite rise to the level of Reiji vs. Fellini in season 1, but it does show that even in the team-based environment of Build Fighters Try there's plenty of room for two individuals to hash out a grudge match.  The next episode establishes Team G-Master of Miyazato Middle School as the people to beat in this half of the series, though as I mentioned, the price of doing so is the honor of poor Gyanko. Her R-Gyagya gets trashed with nary a scratch on Sudou's Mega-Shiki, the blue Hyaku-Shiki-derived Gunpla customized by Yuuma's would-be builder rival, Minato Sakai. I'm counting on him actually appearing in the battle sooner or later, as he was able to beat Sekai using an SD Gundam he snap-built in mid-air way back in episode 5.  Until then, we'll have to look forward to a fight with Akira Suga, a guy who's the spitting image of Gundam's Sleggar Law. Hell, even the post-credits scene goes so far as to call him "a Sleggar", and he flies a customized G-Fighter. He seems dangerous, as he doesn't respect the purity of competition, and knows enough martial arts to be able to use it while flying a gunpla that doesn't even have legs, a torso, or the usual things you need to do what we'd call "martial arts". [embed]33311:4335:0[/embed] But that's for next week's matchup, where we may finally see where the "Burning" part of "Build Burning Gundam" comes from, as well as possibly learning more about the parts the previous season's principals will be playing as Team Try Fighters crawls up the leaderboard.  
Gundam Build Fighters photo
Of Snap-Builds and Snapped Shields
When last we checked in with Gundam Build Fighters Try, "teamwork" was the name of the game, as Fumina debuted her support-specialized Winning Gundam, acting as a true leader should, to bridge the gaps between her two superst...

Gundam photo

Check out this amazing 'anime-style' Gundam model

3D goes 2D
Nov 24
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, otaku, for the utopia that is the 2D world is much closer than we thought. All it is is a matter of shading, if the jaw-dropping work of Gunpla builder Mumumuno is anything to go by.  The champion builder has co...
Mobile Suit Gundam photo
Mobile Suit Gundam

The second Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin trailer is here

so excite
Nov 21
// Hiroko Yamamura
So much Char, my mind can't even...
Gundam photo

Get a little Char history in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Blue-Eyed Casval

Three times the history!
Nov 21
// Hiroko Yamamura
Man, I totally had no idea this was happening. Somehow I totally missed the news that there was a new OVA series coming out about some back story about our favorite Gundam characters. First up is the ever mysterious and char...
Gundam Unicorn photo
Gundam Unicorn

This ad for a Unicorn Gundam model goes full Psycho (Frame)

Due this December!
Nov 19
// Josh Tolentino
I've never been that much into model-making, Gundam or otherwise, so I've never had much of a reason to pay attention to commercials for the things. Then again, if they're all as cool as Bandai's new ad for an upcoming ...
Build Fighters Try photo
Build Fighters Try

Gundam Build Fighters Try's first opening gets an amazing 8-bit remix

Please set your Retro Base
Nov 14
// Salvador GRodiles
As Gundam Build Fighters Try continues to impress us with its Solid Winning Streak, Studio Megaane has used his Retro Gunpla building skills to turn the show's opening into an 8-bit masterpiece. All in all, Megaane's ta...

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episode 6

Nov 12 // Josh Tolentino
This week's episode sees the team take on the second round of regional qualifiers, running up against Seiren Technical School's Science Club. That said, their opponents come across as less "mad scientist" than "military nerd", and the match itself seems to mirror that of Meijin Kawaguchi against the Renato Twins from the first season. Like the twins and their GM Sniper K9, the Seiren team's gunpla strike a strong military motif, derived from the Gundam Ez-8 of The 08th MS Team OVA. That series is pretty much the holy grail of any Gundam fan who pines for more "real" in the "real robot" genre, and the three distinct, specialized designs emphasize the team's use of coordinated tactics and tailor-made strategy to rule the battlefield. And it works, too...for a while. A Try Fighters victory is preordained by narrative necessity, but the Seiren team puts up a good show, exploiting weaknesses that both they and the audience have read into the Try Fighters' composition and tactics. Indeed, neither Sekai nor Yuuma are naturals at team play, and both their gunpla (the Build Burning Gundam in particular) are hyper-customized towards a unique, borderline-rigid style of play. But what they didn't account for was Fumina. Everyone - even devout Gundam fans - tends to underestimate both girls and SD Gundam, so it's marvelous to see Fumina assert herself both as the team's leader and bridge between Yuuma and Sekai's disparate approaches. Sekai and the Build Burning may be the poster children for Build Fighters Try, but it's Fumina and the Winning Gundam that is the team's heart, and it's by her will that they'll eventually triumph.  I can only hope that the show continues to recognize that dynamic, even as rivalries and "fated duels" develop as the show goes on. It's also pretty awesome, both of Build Fighters Try and Fumina's quality as a character, to note that the road to victory she came up with was to fully dedicate her gunpla to maximizing the rest of her team's effectiveness, to the point that Winning Gundam's secret trump card is for it to split apart and become a bespoke set of power-boosting accessories, in the form of the Winning Knuckle for the Build Burning Gundam, and the Winning Launcher to hyper-charge Lightning Gundam's beam rifle.  That's really cool of her, though it's a bit sad that she felt she needed to go that far to support the team. Fingers crossed that Fumina will get a chance to shine in single combat at some point. Maybe against Gyanko, who, unlike her brother, seems to be poised as a returning, formidable contender. Build Fighters Try is really heating up, and while it's still yet to truly leave the shadow of its predecessor, there's no denying that it's an equally fun ride.
Build Fighters Try photo
What It Takes To Winning
Though we took quite a break between installments of our coverage of Gundam Build Fighters Try last time, I'm not about to let a good battle pass by, especially not as things are beginning to heat up for Team Try Fighters. Plus, this week's engagement, though short, is a lovely treat for anyone who loved the Universal Century's more realistic spinoffs.

Annotated Anime: Gundam Build Fighters Try episodes 2-5

Nov 10 // Josh Tolentino
There is, however, one notable difference between this round of Gunpla Battling and last season's, and that's the much earlier - and much more visible - playing up of what's best described as Build Fighters' "puppy love" angle, its romantic aspects. Mr. Ral's butt must be incredibly itchy around these blushing teens. Now, it's all pure, harmless fun, especially with a show as light as Build Fighters. Nary a hint of PG even made its way to the first season, staying both chaste and adorable. That's fine and admirable, given the target audience. At the same time, though, this is clearly one of the ways Sunrise is altering that balance of appeals - between kids hungry for a cool mecha program and old-school Gundam fans - to include that all-important third demographic: the Otaku. And Otaku sure do love their shipping. If the amount of fan art generated in the past month or so is any indication, Sunrise have definitely managed to hit the right notes without alienating the people who can, in fact, remember that these teens are all in middle school.  [embed]33185:4289:0[/embed] The last three-odd episodes of Build Fighters Try have covered all the basic needs of the narrative, bringing the Try Fighters together and working through the necessary trials of teamwork, right before the regional qualifiers for the World Championship. Along the way, the trio take on a bunch of opponents, all with something new to teach the principals. First it's Gyanko, sister to the Gyan-obsessed first opponent from last season, and a frankly adorable new character in the vein of last season's Caroline Yajima. Then there's the successor to Mao's Shingyo building school, who teaches Sekai how to be a Gundam through the magic of SD quick-assembly.  And before long, we also get the first matches of the final, where Sekai, Fumi, and Yuuma debut their new machines and moves, using the lessons they've learned. Fumi's SD-proportioned Winning Gundam is a particular treat, as the SD series has never gotten especially good representation outside its niche. Also, Sekai's new move involves a rotating drill whirlwind punch, so that's always great as well. We also gain more insight into the motivations of Fumi, who idolizes a particular Gunpla fighter, someone I initially pegged as last season's Aila Jyrkiainen, until I remembered Build Fighters first-season ending. That said, it looks like her and her Gundam Stargazer-derived Gunpla may be this season's Meijin character, a definite plus in a show that had been lacking in girl characters with a truly central role. Of course, we'll have to wait until the next few episodes drop to see how the arc pans out. If what they say in real life about meeting your heroes ever pans out, Fumi may be in for a rude surprise come go time.
Gundam Build Fighters Try photo
Middle School is hookup central
It's been a while last we checked in with Build Fighters Try, but for a fan of the first season, things have been going about as well as can be expected. Sunrise has once again managed to deliver an easily digested, intricately produced action show that also manages to mine the nostalgia of Gundam fans old and young. So far, so good.

Gundam photo

Rejoice: Right Stuf to distribute more Gundam shows in North America

More Mobile Suits are heading your way
Oct 11
// Salvador GRodiles
At long last, Right Stuf's deal with Sunrise has expanded outside of Gundam UC, as the company's been given the rights to release the original Gundam series in North America. On top of that, Right Stuf is distributing Gu...
Super Hero Generation photo
Super Hero Generation

Gundams, Riders, and Ultra Warriors join forces in Super Hero Generation

Shabadoobie, touch to team up!
Jul 09
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a year since Bandai Namco's released a Compatible Hero game, as Heroes VS came out in 2013. Lo and behold, the team's ready to have the heroes from the Kamen Rider, Gundam, and Ultra series reunite in a new adv...
ROBOTS photo

Fan poll selects most powerful robot

Nobody expects the cat robot
Jun 26
// Pedro Cortes
The argument about the strongest robots in anime is one that will continue in perpetuity. I mean, it's hard to get any sort of consensus about what to even include on the list. Giant robots are one thing, but do you include a...
Gundam watch photo
Gundam watch

It's time to buy a Gundam new watch

No Char jokes here
Jun 26
// Hiroko Yamamura
Gundam has seen its share of plenty of merchandise tie-ins. Lately the series has begun really branching into the fashion and accessories market, but none of it has really tickled my fancy. This new Casio G-Shock watch is exa...
Gundam: RiG photo
Gundam: RiG

Gundam: Reconguista in G gets way more info

Tomino's latest Gundam show gets detailed
Jun 23
// Pedro Cortes
Sunrise dropped a ton of new info on the official Gundam: Reconguista in G website. In addition to a newly available trailer, we now have updated info on staff and cast, as well as several of the main 'bots you'll be seeing ...

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