Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE ?
I didn't think it could possibly happen, but Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE gave me almost everything I wanted for Christmas—and then it promptly announced a hiatus. That's right: after “Somewhere In The Universe,” the explosive episode 13, we are going to have to wait until April 2020 to see if Re:RISE makes good on the foundations it laid down this week. The show has given us a lot to look forward to in spring: from vulnerable character developments to interesting new reveals. This show's pacing has been painfully slow from the get-go, but we're finally getting to the meaty part. Hiroto and co. now know exactly as much as the audience does, and the real mysteries are titillatingly beginning to unravel.
It's been a bit of a let-down how, sans one ponytail, Hiroto looks exactly the same in-game and out. That's something that has persisted since the first Gundam Build Divers, when everyone's avatar looked just like them, except with a different outfit or at the very most, some animal ears. You'd think that, faced with a virtual environment in which you can look however you like, the characters would be more creative. That's what makes the real-world versions of May, Par, and Kazami special—they each have significant differences from their Diver avatars. Kazami pretends he's bigger and buffer than he is. Wheelchair-user Parvis uses the game as a place where he can not only walk, but even fly. May, a minute El-Diver in a Gunpla body, gets to occupy the same scale as everyone else (though the tiny bar that Magee made her is adorable!). It's a huge difference from the earlier series, as we see here with both Nami and Magee's real world bodies, which are pretty much the same down to hair color. It reminds me of how Rommel, the ferret from Build Divers, became an antagonist because he said the virtual world was the only place some players could freely move about. Fans theorized he or one of his teammates was in a wheelchair, which wasn't the case. The decision to make Parvis a wheelchair user feels like a welcome concession to that theory.
Another really fascinating reveal this week is the identity of the antagonist piloting the five-eyed Seltsam. We now realize that Hiroto, with his in-game head injury, almost suffered a similar fate to Masaki Shido, who is comatose in the real world and semi-conscious only in his Gundam. This reveals why he doesn't talk, why he attacks the Build Divers without explanation. This is such an interesting and satisfying discovery—even more so than if this masked antagonist had been somebody we recognized. Instead, his condition reveals more about Eldora than even the most over-the-top antagonistic speech ever could. Eldora is somehow connected to our world through the servers of Build Divers, and this new wrinkle makes me think that whatever sci-fi magical explanation the show comes up with for that might actually not be stupid. This unexpected veer into the mysteries of the human conscience and wormholes in space shows some thought behind it.
I can almost forgive the show's sluggish and irritating beginnings, in which characters seemed intentionally pigheaded to the idea that anything unusual could be going on with the Eldora mission. Now, not only are they up to speed, but they're discovering new elements that I didn't know about, either. It's a pity that we'll have to wait until spring to see if the story lives up to its new reveals about its characters and the world they live in. I wish we had gotten to this interesting part of the show sooner but hey, some shows don't get there at all.
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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