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First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters

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Cheerfully rescuing the franchise from the rubble

To say that Gundam AGE was a disaster is an understatement. While the show started off well and had good intentions, it fell victim to holier-than-thou protagonists spitting out anti-war propaganda messages that made little to no sense. Not even a set of good-looking robots could save that mess. When the last episode limped to a flaccid conclusion, I wondered where the franchise would go next. It utterly failed in home video and kit sales, so the next entry would have to be something that could appeal to a wide audience, and make fans want to buy the kits again. Normally, this would mean that Sunrise would run to make another revision of the One Year War...but the thing is, that's what AGE was supposed to be. When the old standard fails, what comes next?

The answer is Gundam Build Fighters, an interesting play on nostalgia and fan service. Instead of a serious show set against the backdrop of war, Gundam BF involves kids duking it out with their special model kits. You read that right: people put together mobile suits from the entire history of the franchise and fight in virtual Gunpla Battles, with their pride in their kits on the line. If you think that sounds like a desperate attempt to sell old suits to a new audience, then you're not entirely wrong. However, that doesn't mean that the final product is bad- in fact, it's quite the opposite. I really enjoyed this lower-key Gundam.

 

Now, a lot of people in the world of Gundam Build Figthers are seriously into the Gunpla Battles. So much so that there's an officially-sponsored World Gunpla Battle to determine the best pilot and model maker. Years prior to the start of the show, Sei Iori's father was the runner-up in the second World Tournament. Unfortunately, all Sei got from his now-missing father was exceptional model building skills and a tiny model shop in the middle of the city; he doesn't have a drop of his father's piloting skills. Luckily for him, a chance encounter with a mysterious, red-headed foreigner named Reiji leads to Sei finding the right pilot for his model kits. The problem is, Reiji has absolutely no interest in being a Gunpla fighter--all the lazy kid wants to do is bum a spot at Sei's house and work off his debt with Sei's MILF-y mother.

 

Thinking all is lost, Sei leaves Reiji asleep at his place and heads to school, calculating ways to improve his Build Strike Gundam. Yuki Tatsuya, the high school president (and head of the model club) presses Sei about entering the World Tournament, but Sei admits that he has no piloting skills. Back at the Iori Model shop, Reiji gets bored and decides to visit Sei at school. Accosted by one of the upperclassmen, Yuki convinces Reiji to Gunpla Battle with the upperclassmen with Sei's Build Strike. Reiji easily wins the battle, but comes face to face with Yuki's Amazing Zaku. Yuki handily defeats Reiji, enraging the foreigner and convincing him to become Sei's pilot. With that settled, Sei notices a halo of light around Reiji, followed by the redhead disappearing up into the sky. It makes sense in context.

 

Really this show is a Gundam fan's dream. Right away you see a bunch of suits from old shows in Sei's display case. Everything from the RX78-2 to the Exia is on display for everyone to see. There's also a familiar old man with a mustache named Ral who comes in to drop some knowledge on these punk-ass kids. If you're not familiar with Gundam history, the character is based off of Ramba Ral from the original Mobile Suit Gundam and is even voiced by the same guy.

Everything in these first two episodes rewards long time viewers; it's the show that Sunrise needed to make after AGE. It's good fun, not po-faced and wallowing in its own misery. These kids just want to fight with their model kits and be the best. It isn't terribly original, but still preferable to another war-orphan fueled retread. I can't wait to see which suits pop up week to week and engage each other in the Plavsky-Particle drenched light of the Gunpla Battle.

Check out Gundam Build Fighters over on the official Gundam site.

 


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Pedro Cortes
Pedro CortesAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Pedro Cortes has been known to swoon at the sight of a robot. This is understandable, as robots are pretty awesome. more + disclosures


 



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