Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE
Episode 7

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE ?

I'm starting to believe in the fan theory that Kazami is actually a child using a buff adult avatar in the game. This week on Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, he exhibits some newfound maturity that looks an awful lot like growing up. In "Battered Crown," Kazami got a little less insufferable not by magically growing stronger, but by learning to work as part of a team. Meanwhile, the mission becomes even more suspiciously anomalous, but our protagonists still haven't questioned it. Perhaps a well-animated encounter with a possibly familiar antagonist will finally make them realize what's up? While it's great to see our protagonists mature, it's a little disappointing that the plot isn't following suit, continuing to occupy a weird moral gray area as I wonder just how bad I should feel for the AI characters when the heroes see them as just NPCs.

For somebody who hates losing and hates getting criticized as much as Kazami does, he sure spends a lot of time experiencing both. The real tragedy of Kazami is not his arrogance, but the gap between his ability and his self-image. At the beginning of the episode, he's the only member of the team without a single kill point, and we're led to believe that this is a continuation of his losing streak with his old party, too. The more he fails, the more desperate he becomes to succeed, feeding into a self-destructive cycle that all but guarantees his continued failure. What eventually breaks Kazami out of this rut is when he finally allows himself to be vulnerable. His "one-man army" fighting style may still be far too reckless, but this time Kazami allows Hiroto and the gang to come to his rescue. Inspired by his hero Captain Zeon, who isn't too proud to admit he gets by with a little help from his friends, (the trio of ne'er do wells he was seen reprimanding just a few episodes ago, what a twist!) he goes all-out knowing that his teammates have his back, and this willingness to trust is what propels him to finally earn his first kill. Kazami's adoption of sincere joy rather than his usual bluster is enough for me to ignore the fact that he's been playing this game for HOW long with no kills? I'll try to just be happy for the man, or child playing as an adult male avatar, as may be the case.

Now that Kazami is fit for basic team tasks, it's time for the squad to double down on the mission, but there's just one new problem. A five-eyed mobile suit that's determined to get in the way. Did you notice how quickly Hiroto went after that guy? It's almost like he's seen this suit before. Perhaps this bad guy of the present has something to do with the mysterious Eve of Hiroto's past (though it's too much to hope for a shocker like her being its pilot). This masked antagonist drops an explosion right on the rebel base, but our heroes aren't shedding any tears for the casualties—after all, they still think this is just a game. There's a weird divide of what the stakes are between the protagonists' perspective and the audience's. We know that Mr. Muran's head wound is real, we know that the explosion probably killed rebels; the heroes are simply relieved that they didn't fail the mission. It's hard to tell if we should feel bad for the AI characters or if we should mirror the heroes and see them as computer-generated game elements. Maybe my problem is looking for a moral in this glorified toy commercial at all. Better to just focus on the increasingly impressive Gundam battles.

Rating:

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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