Hello and welcome to another Anime Chop Block.
Today, I will be talking about Gundam Build Fighters, a show that ran from October 2013 to March 2014 and is, according to some, the show that revitalized interest in Gundam itself.
I will be honest, I initially skipped out on this show for the same reason a lot of Gundam fans did: it was not a serious Gundam show. The show basically was a giant toy commercial compared to the more classic Gundam shows which have been praised for their heavy themes and charcter driven stories. I’m here to tell you however DON’T MISS THIS SHOW.
The anime takes place in a world similar to ours with one critical difference: with the discovery of the “Plavsky Particle” which can react with the plastic of Gunpla models and move them, Gunpla battles, where people build custom Gunpla and then fight using them to prove, have become very popular.
Our main character is Iori Sei, a young boy who is the biggest Gundam nut I’ve ever seen. He is an exceptional builder but can’t really pilot the Gunpla to save his life. When a mysterious kid named Reiji shows up and decides to help Sei by piloting in his place, Sei and Reiji decide to head to the Gunpla Battle World Championship.
The story is more of a sports anime than an actual Gundam show; no political conflict, or major anti-war message, just two people building and piloting their way to the top. However, the writing of Build Fighters is still on the same level as some of the more classic Gundam but focused more on humor and affection for Gundam. Everyone in this show, one way or another, are passionate about Gunpla and it’s quite infectious to see them live and breath Gundam to the point that you kind feel just as passionate about Gunpla alongside them. The character writing and dialogue help in this matter as it never sounds really forced; they are written as just normal people like us who happen to take Gunpla seriously as a hobby. They have their own quirks but still feel natural and they are very likable.
As for the plot itself, a few plot points start to come in alongside the tournament plotline but they are introduced in such a way that it enters the story without problems and it integrates well into the main storyline. In addition,the pacing of the show is nice and quick, never lingering on one scene for too long and keeps the plot moving while giving us some breathing room. As for that breathing room, this show is full on Gundam references to the point that I “squeeed” more times than I can count. Characters from other Gundams pop in and out, all the Gunpla are well simulated recreations of their counterparts and there are quite a few funny jokes including one where Sei somehow starts reciting all of Amuro Ray’s dialogue from the original Gundam complete with different facial art and Bright Slaps.
Well, lets talk about our two leads:
Iori Sei is our builder for this show. A young boy who was obsessed with Gundam even at 3 years of age and wants to fight in the world champtionship due to his father who had gotten 2nd in the past. He is the character with the most passion for Gunpla, working in a model store with his family and generally providing a lot of information on the references. He is sort of the source of all the infectious passion the show has; every time he sprouts Gundam trivia or goes crazy over a model, you kind of go along with him. He’s funny, honest and you will root for him the whole way.
Next is Reiji who is sort of an audience surrogate. He initally didn’t care about Gunpla but as the series goes on, he starts to admire the hobby more. That’s not to say he’s a blank slate; he has his overbearing, selfish, and naive moments but also has a noble side to him. He also provides quite a few jokes as the straightman to Iori since he kind of blanks out when Iori talks about Gundam.
The supporting cast is also fun. They all have a variety of quirks and each have a nice funny moment to themselves where they bounce off each other very well for the sake of comedy or character development.
This is a top notch show in terms of the animation. All the movements are fluid and there are not major hiccups. Fights in particular have the mechs move almost like humans with no jerks and dramatic effects for clashes and blasts. Art wise, it is very bright and varied in colors with the contours of the Gunpla and Gundams looking like their counterparts in real life and the shows. Faces are smooth and highly expressive with a lot of variety from the normal to the exaggerated.
The openings of Build Fighters, One Half by Back-On and wimp by Back-ON, are well sung and get you nice and pumped up with a nice varied pop tune with clear vocals.
Endings,Imagination>Reality by Airi and Han Pan Spirit by Hyadain are just as good. Imagination>Reality has a nice beat that makes you cheerful and the middle portion is upbeat. The one complaint is the voice; I don’t know if it’s the singer or any modification made in post but it’s a bit pitchy. Han Pan Spirit also has a beat that’s great to follow but it’s slower and more soothing. However, there seems to be some electronicia alterations made that kind of detract from the soothing nature of the song.
The BGM for the fights also fits. It never gets intrusive and is uptempo enough for you to stay braced to your seat
If you are looking for a show that returns Gundam to it’s early roots, this is not the place. However, if you are a newcomer to anime, want to know why people love Gundam or just want a cute little mecha show, Gundam Build Fighters is a very funny show made by people who love Gundam and want to share that love with others.