Gundam Build Fighters Try
by Lauren Orsini,
Ladies and gentlemen, it's the moment you've been waiting for. Gundam fight, ready, go! In the last major battle of the tournament, we got what we wanted and expected: a no-holds-barred brawl that showed off the complete extent of each mecha's craziest power. This episode—totally dedicated to all-out battling—more than made up for last week's sluggish character-driven buildup.
Compared to its predecessor, Gundam Build Fighters Try has performed more poorly when it came to portraying relatable characters—mainly because the battles take place between teams of three, and there's only so much that can be done in half an hour. Conversely, thanks to the choice to introduce the Gunpla Academy members early on and offer them cameos in nearly every episode ever since, the show has done a great job offering some motive behind the rivalries that made this battle significant.
Usually, the fight focuses on Sekai as his powers evolve, or Yuuma as he gets his confidence back, or Fumina as she unveils a new transformation of her Star Winning. This time, however, all three main characters had powerful reasons to fight one-on-one with the Gunpla Academy members, making every stage of the battle interesting. There are multiple distinct stages in this battle, as the mecha and even the battlefield itself metamorphose. At one point the battle was more of a melee, with all six suits fighting one another at close range. That's something we haven't seen since the legendary Battle Royal of Gundam Build Fighters. Later on, the battle mutates to two-on-two and one-on-one, as the team aces Wilfrid and Sekai show off some truly ridiculous moves. More important than wins and losses was the portrayal of the growing relationships between rivals, from Fumina and Shia's shoujo bubble hand clasp to Wilfrid and Sekai grinning as they punch each other in the face. Emotion powers this final showdown, sometimes literally—Fumina appears to activate her Winning with a stray teardrop at one point.
It's a relief that this episode was such a pleasure after last week's teaser, which depicted Adou's doctor rushing to keep him from fighting. I found this to be a really cheap excuse that would be used to explain Adou's loss. However, Adou's wrist does not visibly affect the battle or his abilities, and Reiji won a battle with a busted wrist last season, so it wouldn't have been very true to the show's history to make this a major point. Another thing that happened last episode and carried over this time was Yuuma's all-nighter tuning up the team's Gunpla. The tuneups are visible, and the final twist to their abilities is novel, unexpected, and true to the show's overall message of teamwork.
Perhaps the best part of the episode was its self-awareness as the latest rendition in a long tradition of Gundam shows. Fumina's quote, “This is sad, but this is war,” was originally spoken by Sleggar Law right before his death at the hands of Zeon's Big Zam in the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Touches like this add a richness to Try's story, and even foreshadow upcoming events if you recognize the reference.
There's still one episode left, but I see it serving more as a denouement than a climax, setting the stage for the inevitable upcoming season, where Team Try Fighters will battle on the World Stage. Is THAT where we'll see Sei (part of his chin doesn't count), Sekai's master, and everyone else I have been hoping for a glimpse of since episode one? We can only hope.
Gundam Build Fighters Try is currently streaming on Gundam.info.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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