The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Gundam Build Fighters

Title: Gundam Build Fighters
Genre: Action
Company: Sunrise
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2013 – 31 Mar 2014

Synopsis: In the near future, toy robots known as “GunPla” became a global craze. This hobby involves building toy robots from various modular parts and fighting them in virtual arenas in an international sporting event. Iori Sei is a middle school student who runs a GunPla model shop with his mother and dreams of one day competing in the GunPla Battle world championships. Little does he know that a mysterious young boy called Reiji will become his means to realize his dreams.

The Highlights
Giant Robot Fights: Beautiful, hand-crafted work that feels so rare in mecha shows as of late.
Characters: Likable and easy to relate with.
Story: Typical but effective.

Gundam Build Fighters can be easily summed up as Yu Gi Oh! except with fighting toy models called GunPla instead of cards. The show is a typical power-of-friendship series going along a GunPla-of-the-week formula until the series finishes out with a tournament arc. It’s the kind of anime that epitomizes a Saturday morning cartoon. While exploring the grim nature of mankind is one of the core components of a Gundam series, it’s actually quite nice to have a show that bucks the trend and presents something that’s unabashedly bright, cheerful and lacking in cynicism.

At its core, the show is a collection of “what if” scenarios pitting mobile suits from Gundam SEED (1,2) with those in Gundam Wing. Aside from the Gundam video games, you can’t get these kind of fantasy pairings, and even then they won’t be hand animated like they are in Gundam Build Fighters. The fight scenes are well realized and have the right combination of quality animation, engrossing music and plot context to make them more than just the run of the mill giant robot brawls. For those people who watch mecha series primarily for the mecha themselves, this is very much a show that caters to you.

The characters are stock shounen action personalities, but they are solid realizations of their respective archetypes. The main protagonist Sei is an average kid driven by a dream. His buddy Reiji is a confident bro character with a rather chill personality. Aila is the tragic character suffering from being what is effectively a Cyber Newtype. The characters are very likable and exude an unwavering passion that feels genuine. In addition, the great thing here is that since this is not a typical Gundam series, none of these characters has to die.

The story is probably the least exceptional element of the series as it follows the well-worn path of other action shows rather rigorously. The conflicts, rivalries and other ensuing drama should feel familiar to those who have watched any other action anime. Because the show does not push into any kind of extremes whether it be boldness or stupidity, don’t expect anything particularly fresh or exciting. Also, there is nothing particularly pensive in this series. It’s about kids competing in toy robot fights; nothing more, nothing less.

Despite adhering to common conventions down to the tee, the show distinguishes itself by strongly executing these ideas. The show may be a children’s anime through and through, but fans of the Gundam franchise or people who just want some shounen action fun will get their money’s worth out of Gundam Build Fighters. It’s a show that actually is a refreshing return to “fun” for those who have any fondness of giant robots in their childhood.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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