Shelf Life
Gundam Build Fighters Try

by Paul Jensen, James Beckett,

It's Preview Guide time once again, and I'm excited to be working on that deluge of new anime for a second season. Speaking of lots of new anime, we've got another big week of new physical releases, so let's jump right into it. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Gundam Build Fighters Try

On Shelves This Week

A Town Where You Live - Complete Collection BD
Right Stuf - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.99
Currently cheapest at: $36.30 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: High school student Haruto moves to the city in order to be close to the girl of his dreams, but when he arrives he finds out that she's moved on and doesn't want to speak to him.

Extra: This appears to be one of those increasingly rare shows that slipped through the simulcast net when it first aired, but you can watch a couple of episodes on the Nozomi Entertainment YouTube channel.




Attack on Titan: The Movie Part 1 BD+DVD, DVD
Funimation - 99 min - Sub - MSRP $34.98|$29.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.49 Right Stuf|$19.96 Amazon

Synopsis: After a century of living safely behind three enormous walls, the survival of humanity is placed in jeopardy when man-eating Titans breach the outer wall.

Extra: We've got a review of this first of two live-action movies from its US theatrical run last year.




Blood-C - Complete Series [S.A.V.E.] BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $20.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: A normal girl by day, Saya spends each night fighting against the monsters that attack her quiet hometown.

Extra: We've got reviews of this TV series here and here, and it's available streaming on Funimation and Hulu.




Blood-C: The Last Dark [S.A.V.E.] BD+DVD
Funimation - 105 min - Hyb - MSRP $24.98
Currently cheapest at: $17.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Saya travels to Tokyo, where she joins forces with a group of hackers to hunt town a mortal enemy.

Extra: Much like the TV series before it, we've got a couple of reviews for this movie. You can stream it on Funimation.




Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Funimation - 625 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98|$54.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf|$37.52 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: In an alternate world where Japan is ruled by the ruthless Britannian Empire, a former Britannian prince plots a rebellion using the mysterious power of Geass.

Extra: We've got a couple of reviews from previous releases of this series. A few episodes are currently streaming on Funimation.




Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Funimation - 625 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98|$54.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf|$37.52 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: As Britannia cracks down on dissent in Japan, Lelouch returns to take up the mantle of Zero once again.

Extra: As far as I can tell, we don't currently have any reviews for the second season of this mecha series. Once again, though, you can watch a handful of episodes on Funimation.




Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion - Seasons 1 and 2 BD
Funimation - 1250 min - Hyb - MSRP $139.98
Currently cheapest at: $97.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: This collector's edition contains both seasons of Code Geass in one set.

Extra: Aside from the reviews, we've also covered this series on an ANNCast episode. The characters have also made a handful of appearances on The List.




Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children BD
Sony Pictures - 126 min - Hyb - MSRP $14.99
Currently cheapest at: $8.92 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Two years after the events of the original video game, Cloud and his friends are called back into action as a mysterious illness begins to spread.

Extra: I guess we've got a bit of a Final Fantasy week going on here, with new releases of a couple different movies. We've got a review of this one from back in 2006.




Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within BD
Sony Pictures - 106 min - Hyb - MSRP $14.99
Currently cheapest at: $8.92 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: With mankind facing extinction at the hands of alien spirits, a scientist races to save the planet with help from a team of elite soldiers.

Extra: I'm not entirely certain this movie officially qualifies as anime, but it's on the release list so here you go. I actually remember seeing this in a movie theater as a kid, but I'll be darned if I can recall anything about the plot.




Gundam: Reconguista in G - Complete Collection BD
Right Stuf - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $74.99
Currently cheapest at: $45.38 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Many years after the end of the Universal Century era, rookie pilot Bellri Zenam is drawn into a new conflict after encountering a mysterious mobile suit.

Extra: We've got a review of this recent Gundam series here, and it's available streaming on Hulu.




Jinsei: Life Consulting - Complete Series BD+DVD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub - MSRP $49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Hapless high school student Yuki is assigned to the advice section of his school newspaper, where he finds himself stuck mediating disputes between his three eccentric co-writers.

Extra: This series evidently missed the simulcast boat when it first aired, only to be picked up a few months later. It's available streaming on Funimation.




Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV BD, DVD, Limited Edition
Sony Pictures - 115 min - Hyb - MSRP $26.99|$25.99|$35.99
Currently cheapest at: $14.99 Amazon|$12.99 Amazon|$19.99 Amazon

Synopsis: King Regis and the elite soldiers of the Kingsglaive fight to defend the kingdom of Lucis from the invading armies of Niflheim.

Extra: You can stream the first 12 minutes of this movie, and the related Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV series is available on Crunchyroll.




Mobile Suit V Gundam - Collection 1 BD, DVD
Right Stuf - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $74.99|$59.99
Currently cheapest at: $45.38 Barnes and Noble|$36.30 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Caught between the warring forces of the Zanscare Empire and the League Militaire, young Uso Ewin becomes the pilot of a powerful new mobile suit.

Extra: We don't have any reviews for this particular Gundam series at this point in time, but our user ratings average out at around 7 out of 10.




Naruto Shippuden - Set 28 DVD
Viz - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $39.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Haunted by the death of a close friend, Kakashi must uncover the roots of a genetic experimentation program and deal with threats from within his own black ops organization.

Extra: Our vast number of episode reviews for this series start just after this set's episodes. You streaming options include Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Viz.com.




Re-Kan! - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 325 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $36.29 Barnes and Noble|$32.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: High school student Hibiki Amami can see and talk to ghosts, an ability that would make life at school awkward if her friends weren't already used to dealing with the odd effects of her powers.

Extra: We've got some Anime Spotlight coverage of this series, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network.




Strike Witches - The Movie BD+DVD
Funimation - 95 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: New witch recruit Shizuka is tasked with escorting former ace Yoshika to a prestigious medical school, but their mission changes when the alien Neuroi appear.

Extra: No reviews for this movie, but we do have reviews for season 1 and season 2 of the TV series, which is available streaming on Funimation.




Shelf Life Reviews

James returns to the world of Gunpla battles this week with a review of Gundam Build Fighters Try.

Another week, another Gundam Series! I've genuinely enjoyed these opportunities to delve more and more into the Gundam universe(s), since it's a giant part of the fandom I've not gotten to experience much up until recently. Last time, I got to take a look at Gundam Build Fighters, which I enjoyed quite a bit, despite the fact that it is essentially a 25-episode commercial for real-life Gundam model kits. This week we have Gundam Build Fighters Try, a direct sequel that attempts to recapture the polish and kinetic joy that the first series delivered so well.

In a bold move, instead of following the further adventures of our protagonists from the original series, Gundam Build Fighters Try (GBFT from here on out) opts to skip ahead an entire seven years, telling a story featuring almost entirely new characters. There are some returning faces from the previous season throughout, but for the most part GBFT is all about the fresh blood.

Our protagonists are Fumina, Sekai, and Yuuma. Fumina is fangirl who devotes herself to being the sole member of her school's Gunpla Club, and she is eager to introduce others to the world of hi-tech plastic model fights. One of those others is Sekai, a high-spirited martial arts enthusiast who quickly takes to the high-octane challenge of Gunpla Battles, and joins Fumina's club in earnest. They are soon joined by Yuuma, Fumina's standoffish former-bestie, who decides to dive into his old Gunpla hobby once more.

Despite this new cast of protagonists, though, much of the plot of GBFT feels like more of a remix of the original Gundam Build fighters than a direct continuation. Once again there's a nationwide Gunpla battle tournament, and once again our heroes have to band together to overcome the odds and rise to the top of the ranks. It all feels very familiar, even for a genre so rooted in familiarity as this one.

This didn't make me enjoy the show any less, however. Gundam Build Fighters' appeal has never really lied in the story, at least not for me. The plot is nothing more than an excuse to set up our endearing leads with a series increasingly entertaining robot-toy fights. GBFT is, like its predecessor, a flashy and earnest celebration of how cool Gundam is, and that celebration comes in the form of a bunch of kids and grownups using fancy future tech to smash their toys together with lots of panache and explosions. As far as I'm concerned, the metric for GBFT's success is rooted in how well it accomplishes the above goals.

And succeed it does! In fact, I reckon I enjoyed GBFT just a teensy bit more than the original. A large part of this comes from the fact that I found Fumina, Sekai, and Yuuma to be slightly more interesting as protagonists. They're just as rooted in familiar anime troops as Sei, Reiji, and China were, but their personalities are a bit more in keeping with my personal tastes. I think the fact that GBFT relies more heavily on all three leads, instead of the two we had in Build Fighters, helped create a more engaging dynamic to follow from episode to episode. Given how my feelings towards extended tournament shows are generally pretty ambivalent, I continue to be surprised at how much I was rooting for the Gunpla Club with each episode. It's not great drama, but it makes do in between bouts of robot battles.

As for the battles themselves? They remain the front and center of the show, and the production values work hard to maintain the level of quality set by Build Fighters. The animation and direction continue to be top notch, and the score by Yuuki Hayashi and Asami Tachita is as sublime as ever. Seriously, even if you aren't interested in watching the show, give the soundtrack a listen. It is bombastic and energetic enough to make me forget that I'm not watching a regular Gundam series, with all of the spectacle and grandeur that might entail.

Heck, even the dub is better. It still isn't good, mind you, but it isn't quite the embarrassing train wreck that Gundam Build Fighters' dub was. The dialogue is still stilted, and the performances still range from moderately wooden to just downright hilarious in their badness, but I could at the very least get through a couple of episodes of the dub before switching over to subtitles. This might be damning it with faint praise, but GBFT's dub isn't the worst thing I've ever heard this year. Make of that what you will.

As far as specs go, it's more or less the same as the first set. The A/V transfer for the Blu-Ray is pretty to both look at and listen to, at least if you've got the Japanese audio on. Outside of the only-moderately-embarrassing dub, we even have a couple of extras beyond the clean openings and endings, though they're little more than glorified promos for the show itself. If you're looking for decent bonus features, you're once again out of luck, but the actual show itself has been treated fairly well.

So yeah, I dug Gundam Build Fighters Try. It's lighthearted and lightweight spectacle, but that's perfectly okay. Sometimes you want material that challenges you emotionally and intellectually, and sometimes you want to see a bunch of (plastic model replica) robots blow up real good. If you wanted to see more from the original cast of the last series, you might be disappointed, but if the last Build Fighters interested you at all, I'd say to give this one a shot. It's silly dumb fun, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


-James[TOP]

That wraps up this week's review section, and also wraps up this week's column as a whole since we don't have a Shelf Obsessed entry this week. Thanks for reading, and remember to send your anime collection photos to [email protected] if you'd like to see them featured here!


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