Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE ?
If you die in Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, do you die in real life?? That's the implication the show's tenth episode seemed to suggest. In "The Ones Who Breathe There," Hiroto and May finally begin to suspect what the audience has known since episode one. What's treated as a major reveal this week feels deeply unearned considering how long ago viewers predicted it. Focused on a quiet village festival with no fighting to ramp up the action, this episode refocuses the show's central conflict and suggests a tie-in that transcends the Build Fighters franchise.
May doesn't just behave robotically, she is in fact an El Diver, an artificial lifeform. In a flashback, we see her being welcomed into the real world by Sarah, the most high-profile El Diver there is. This reveal doesn't feel very special because, aside from her low enthusiasm level (which isn't all that different from Hiroto's), there's never been anything building up to the idea that anything is off about May. (The show could have had a lot of fun with this concept, for example by having May ask questions like this week's "what's a festival?" long before the big reveal.) Only Hiroto acts halfway near as shocked as a real person might when confronted with the fact that they've been gaming with a highly advanced AI for months. Even then, I think much of Hiroto's reaction comes from renewed hope that maybe May can help him find Eve, his El Diver friend who disappeared. Now there's something the series is creating a lot of foreshadowing for. If Eve is found, it'll have a significant and well-earned impact.
May and the others spend this week partaking in the Space Crossing Festival, festooning their Gunpla with flowers, slides, and swings to convert them into objects of peace rather than war—a respite that reminds me of when the Mustache Gundam in Turn A Gundam was used to transport livestock and do the laundry in between more warlike actions. Though I think the episode suffers from the absence of action, the focus on the festival does make me realize that the show has done a good job of establishing this digital village and its denizens—unlike with impassive May, it's easy to believe that they are organic lifeforms. Which makes the continued gag with Kazami wanting to “skip the dialogue” pretty tired. I guess nobody is calling him out on how rude he is because that would spoil the twist.
With the injury on his forehead that followed him back to the real world, Hiroto has all but figured out that this in-game mission is not what it seems. Kudos to Re:RISE, this is a wrinkle I didn't predict. So, are they porting over to another world when they log in now? We know that the first Gundam Build Fighters established the premise of multiple worlds (implying that Reiji was from another one), so it's not out of the question. At this point, I feel like the potential of a tie-in to the first and most successful of the Gundam Build series of shows is the best thing Re:RISE has going for it. Gundam Build Fighters never really finished up on that multiple world storyline and it was one of the few weaknesses of that show. Why shouldn't Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE ride on those coattails if it makes things more interesting now?
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren helps Gundam fans build their own model kits at Gunpla 101.
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