The latest series that has run in the immensely popular, and long running Gundam franchise, dating back to it`s debut in 1977, Gundam Build Fighters had a hard job layed before it: could it wipe away the sour taste of the, sorry the word, crap that Gundam AGE was?
The asnwer is difficult, as the series is build on a completely different concept then ever before. In BF, the mobile suits are toys modelled by enthousiast fans, and with the help of Plavsky Particles become life-like combatants in a sort of 3-D video game.
Yes, the wet dream of any fan...
The danger of the series was that it might become one long 25 episode commercial for BanDai`s GunPla line of model kits, but FORTUNATLY the battles make up a LOT of stuff.
The wet dreams are galore, and a lot of cameo`s of famous suits, wether or not `conversions` of the original sets, as well as characters from all over the series are in there. The story itself centers around a boy named Sei and his desire to build and win with a gunpla the world championships, but he is hesitant to have his models damaged so is a bad pilot. In comes the mysterious Reiji, who is willing to pilot the suit together with Sei. Reiji claims to be a prince from the planet Arian, and has excellent suit and battle controls.
Other `main supporting characters` are Yuuki, who becomes the Meijin, a legendary, company sponsored and backed warrior; Mao, a farmboy; american science prodigy and after the secret of the particles Nils; Italian Dandy Roberto Fellini with his beautiful Wing Zero Fenice and Alia, a girl used by a rival company to wear a suit that controls her power to see the particle dispersal.
As Sei and Reiji go through the finals after drawing against Fellini, they have to face their friends one by one, until in the end they will battle the Meijin, now mindcontrolled by the same technology used on Alia.
The chairman of his company turns out to be a minor thief on Reiji`s homeplanet, having made name and fortune on Earth after stealing some Arista crystals, jewels that resonate with the particles.
That is the stroy in a nutshell, and the series was `enjoyable though not awesome` right until the final episodes. After a cameo heavy `interlude` before the finals (Bright was there, Haman, Char, you name them, they probably had their moment), the final two episodes where FANGASM extreme.
In the finals, the uttermost discussion in the Gunpla universe was fought out. Though conversions and with special talents, the end battle was basically Exia from Gundam 00 versus Strike Freedom, THE two most popular suits of the whole franchise. And my favorite won ;-)
When the large arista crystal goes haywire, the arena is transformed in A Boa Que, and all the suits gather together to storm the base, including a great moment of real champions of old, a certain blue Gouf and a martial arts suit that hasn`t been defeated in the East, for those that get the references.
So does the series live up to the Gundam name? Yes, it isn`t bad and was a rather enjoyable watch, but not one of the classics of the whole franchise. Is it worth to look for it and have it a go? If your `into` Gundam, certainly, if your not really, I guess it will be a 50 / 50 risk if you like it, because a lot hinges on references to older series.
Well, I liked but not loved it, though I did shed a tear in the final minutes of the last episode, when Sei and Reiji inevitably have to part ways after an epic rematch with Yuuki (that ended in a draw as the particle generator failed), but gladly the GF was watching her soap opera so she didn`t see that tear running ;-)
And now what? Well, the later part of the year should see a new series of Gundam appear, Reconguista in G, something I have HIGH hopes for. Directed by the Turn A maestro, it returns to the origins of the series, in an era directly following the Universal Timeline and the rebuilding needed.
And in a bit over a month, the 7th and final OVA of the excellent Unicorn hits the screen...
But THE most memorable role in the series is the supporting lieutenant Ramba ral. Yes, the ladies man from the very first series ever of Gundam, now acting as a client at Sei`s fathers store and not entering a suit before the last episode (that certain blue Gouf), then showing some awesome attacks shaming the others. And why everyone through the series seemed to salute him, call him lieutenant and so on, he was a great fighter back in his days.
Because in the middle of a battle, Ramba Ral forgot to fight!
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