As you could tell from my little intro blog post, I’ve been consuming anime/manga for quite some time now. Given that, it might seem abit odd that a serieswhich debuted in 2013 would make it onto this list. But Gundam Build Fighters is special in that it feels like the type of show I would rush home after school to watch on Toonami. The constant callbacks to older series notwithstanding, the nostalgic feelings I got from watching makes this a must see for fans of Gundam and mecha anime in general.
So what’s the story: A young boy named Sei Iori lives in a world where Gunpla basically funds the economy. With the help of highly advanced technology, people can now use the models they build to compete in 1-on-1 fights. Sei wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, a famed Gunpla builder/fighter, but he isn’t the most skilled of pilots despite his excellent buildings skills. While out moping from another defeat, he runs into a red haired boy named Reiji who he helps out in a pickle. As payback, Reiji gives him a small crystal and states he’ll come to help him in a bind whenever he calls. And as promised, while Sei is on the brink of losing another Gunpla battle, Reiji swoops in and displays spectacular fighting skills. From that moment on the duo team up to take on the world of Gunpla Battles.
From the start most would look at the simple setup and think the show was merely created to boost Gunpla model sales. And truth be told, that’s what I thought in the beginning myself. Much to my surprise, the creators of the show decided not to just phone it in. They actually put in effort and made a series with dramatic action and humor that reminds of G Gundam in a lot of ways.
The combination of the introvert Sei and brass, crass Reiji was an absolute pleasure to watch. The majority of the humor in the series comes from the way they play off each other and rightfully so. The fact that Reiji isn’t just a perfect fighter that wins all the time was a nice touch as well, making it fun to root for him in battle. The rest of the cast, while enjoyable when they have their moments, weren’t too notable except for one name: Ral-san!!
My gosh!! This guy was an absolute delight! There wasn’t one scene involving him that wasn’t a knee slappingly funny. From references to older Gundam series, to just his all around quirkiness, he was easily my fave character. It’s worth watching the show again just to see him in action.
Where GBF really shines, though, is in the battles. They are fast, fluid, detailed, well animated, dramatic, nerve racking…you can see where I’m going with this. From the very first fight you can tell where most of the budget for this show went. It’s basically fantasy Gundam fights, with suits from every era of Gundam being pitted against one another. Rather continuing to ramble on about it, here’s a vid (credit to mistogan AMV):
As I stated plenty before, this show is chock full of references and fanservice(the other kind). From lines cut right out of other series, two actual cameos by characters, it’s a Gundam fan wonderland. And the references don’t feel forced either, which makes them all the more enjoyable when they pop up in an episode.
No show is without its faults though. And given that this was created for a younger audience, the plot can become a bit predictable, especially in the later episodes. On top of that, the constant romantic tension between Sei/China & Reiji/Aila became cumbersome. As in…JUST KISS ALREADY annoying.
Overall, Gundam Build Fighters is a callback to simpler times where things didn’t have to be so heavy handed in terms of drama and plot. It’s simple in its execution and it works to its advantage. It’s a must see show for fans of the Gundam franchise and great way to start off my list. But as always, that’s Just…My 2 Cents. Thanks for reading!!