Well, it certainly took me long enough to find out that I could actually watch this in an official capacity. I had heard mention of it through the Gundam group I’m a member of on Facebook, but I just assumed everyone was using fansubs, and since I don’t support fansubbing I figured I just wouldn’t see it. So imagine my surprise when I finally posted something that lead to me finding out that there was an official outlet!
Let’s start with the obvious: Gundam Build Fighters is probably just as much a marketing ploy as it is a legitimate show. I mean, the whole thing is based around building Gundam models and battling them. Much like the newest My Little Pony incarnation (isn’t it a common criticism that Hasbro made shows to market toys?), though, this seems like it will stand on its own as much as it does for a marketing ploy.
Really, I would argue that this show is every Gunpla builder’s dream: its characters have the ability to take their constructed models and fight with them in “Gunpla Battle”, a simulated battle field that puts the users in control of their models. I suppose it’s kind of like Angelic Layer in that respect. The downside, though, is that any damage the model incurs during the battle is sustained post-battle, which I imagine means a lot of time spent fixing up damaged models–or possibly scrapping hours (maybe even days) of hard work.
The story itself focuses on Sei Iori, a young Gunpla modeler who lives with his mom and helps run their Gunpla shop. Sei’s dad seems to have been a skilled Gunpla battler, though what happened to him remains unsaid as-of-yet. While Sei is an extraordinary modeler, he is a terrible battler, evidenced early on when his rival, Sazaki, puts him to shame in front of a customer and his son. Sazaki’s goal, it seems, is to get Sei to agree to partner with him–Sei will build the models, and Sazaki will battle them, as the better a model is constructed, the better it will perform. Sei wants no part of such an alliance, though. While sitting outside, seemingly downtrodden because he doesn’t feel he stands a chance in the Gunpla championships, Sei meets a boy named Reiji. Strange and seemingly foreign, Reiji doesn’t seem to know much about basic things like soda, much less Gunpla Battle, yet he may very well be the key to Sei finally seeing his models win.
Honestly, I enjoyed it, but I am also a Gundam fan, and I enjoy putting the models together. It seems possible that the show will include models from every Gundam series, so those with an extensive Gundam knowledge may enjoy it even more. I don’t consider myself to be hugely knowledgeable about the series, but what I’ve seen I like, and I’m happy with what I know. I enjoyed the show. If you know a lot about Gundam, you’ll probably enjoy the show. If you know nothing about Gundam, but enjoy shows with fighting robots, you’ll probably enjoy the show. If you liked Angelic Layer, you’ll probably enjoy the show. My point is, it’s enjoyable. I find nothing wrong with the first episode (coming from my completely amateur, non-professional, non-experienced background, that is). It seems to set the stage for the show’s overall plot fairly well while leaving a bit of mystery, namely 1) what happened to Sei’s dad and 2) who is Reiji? I will certainly be trying to catch up on the series.
A Christian Perspective:
Honestly, it’s probably a series meant to sell toys and models, whether as a primary or secondary motive, so it’s a pretty clean show (well, okay, the first episode is clean; I can’t comment further). The most offensive thing anyone will find is the violence–if you consider robots fighting other robots offensive (especially with those robots actually being plastic models). This is up to the individual conscience, of course. Some people are okay with intense violence, some can stand a little bit, and others want nothing to do with it. I doubt the scenes of battling mobile suits and huge explosions will decrease as the series goes on, so if that’s not to your taste then this probably won’t be your show.
The only other thing to note is that Sei receives a rock/gem that he can “wish” on, and a certain person will appear to help him out. Really, it’s probably more Jimminy Cricket “wish upon a star” than anything dark or evil, but if you don’t like the idea of “wishing” then you should be aware that this is in there.
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Violence: The episode opens with a large-scale battle in space; two mobile suits battle, with a wing being destroyed, an arm being cut off, a head being cut off, and an impaling (leading to explosion) of one suit; another scene of space battle, with explosions all around–a Gundam fires its beam rifle through two enemy MS; another mobile suit battle shows two suits attacking each other–one destroys the other, resulting in a large explosion; there is a montage of scenes showing mobile suits battling, with destruction and explosions included; two mobile suits fight–one is disarmed and sent skidding across the ground; a mobile suit collides with another; a mobile suits kicks (x2) and punches another; a mobile suit is sliced apart and destroyed
Other: Sei obtains a gem/rock that allows him to “wish” for a certain person to appear