Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE ?
Remember Gundam Build Divers' prickly ninja, Ayame? I'm starting to think that May and her mission are a fairly direct homage. This week on Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, our two most stoic protagonists open up just a teensy bit. The teens are angsty, but the choice to wedge their character development between the high action humor of a low-stakes water mission keeps the whole episode from being a huge downer.
Hiroto and crew visit an island city, which means it's time to break out the aquatic armor! If you're wondering why Hiroto's Mercuone armor is the water set, as I was, it's likely because Mercury in kanji is 水星, literally "water star." Kazami is still in high spirits from his first kill but is the first to acknowledge that water battles are one of his (many!) pain points, an acknowledgment of weakness that shows real maturity for his character. But while Kazami and Par are pretty much squared away, May and Hiroto remain enigmas. It's only one of the things these two have in common; they're also both on missions that they keep secret from the rest of the group. We've known for some time that May is working for Gundam Build Divers' most flamboyant returning character, Magee, and we just learned that she's helping him track down a specific mobile suit. Though Magee is not a bad guy as far as we know, May's role strongly mirrors Ayame's in the original show, a girl on a stealth mission infiltrating the protagonist's group. It makes May's MO instantly recognizable to viewers of the first series, but it certainly doesn't give her any points for originality. I do appreciate that May seems to be the only person who realizes the “NPCs” are real people in her speech to Hiroto on the roof; when she notes the joy and sadness in their lives, she implies that they really are alive.
Meanwhile, Hiroto is ostensibly searching for a girl from his past, Eve. There's an extended sequence in which an uncharacteristically cheerful Hiroto follows Eve around the very city the Divers are visiting. According to Hinata, Hiroto used to always be this happy… until a fateful rainy encounter recalled with more melodrama than I think any in-game upset deserves. Time will prove me wrong or right depending on exactly what happened (if it was really the irreversible death of an AI character, I may reconsider), but for now, it feels a little cheesy. Hiroto is your average angsty teen, and his better-than-average battle skills don't make up for it—they, in fact, contribute to his ordinariness considering that talent is par for the course for a Gundam hero.
However, these two stoic downers were canceled out by a lively underwater battle with Force Granada Bleu (probably a reference to Granada, the city on the moon in Gundam's Universal Century). The references to other Gundam shows only get more interesting from there! Kazami's “dead in the water” pose mimics Heero Yuy to comedic effect, and a cameo from the sturdy Gundam Thunderbolt version of Acguy teases the possibility that Bandai Hobby will finally make that beefy boi available as a kit. The entire battle is a practice mission with no real consequences, but the humor keeps it engaging. It's a bit of a throwback to what made the original Gundam Build Fighters so great: ebullient humor in the midst of a love letter to Gundam. More of that, please!
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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