Gundam Build Fighters Try
by Lauren Orsini,
Gundam is just a show. Gunpla models are just toys. When it's all said and done, winning isn't everything. The characters wrestled with these and other blasphemies during this episode of Gundam Build Fighters Try as they questioned their reasons for battling.
We saw this mini crisis in tandem with the introduction of Shimon, a new opponent from an inconsequential school introduced solely for this episode. Shimon suffers from the Sick Sibling Trope affliction, which is a handy method in anime for bringing glorious purpose to otherwise ordinary recreational activities like battling with tiny toy robots. Shimon's brother, Mamoru, has the short end of the stick. He has a plot-convenient disease, (symptoms: flushed face and puppy eyes) and he's not actually that good at building Gunpla. However, Shimon is preternaturally good at it, and makes Mamoru's dreams come true by using his robots to win tournaments. It's enough to make our three heroes feel really guilty—if they crush Shimon, they also crush this sick kid's dreams!
Whatever their misgivings, we know there's only one way this battle can go. If Team Try Fighters loses a single battle at this stage of the tournament, they're out. Show over. Even without that particular deus ex machina, we've learned from the extensive canon of season one that there is only one noble reason to participate in Gundam Build Fighting. No, it isn't to make a living when otherwise you'd be on the street, like with Aila. No, it isn't to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and start a career, like in Kirara's case. It's only this: he who has the purest love for Gunpla battling will be the winner. Forget about who deserves it or needs it the most. Love for the game is all that matters.
This battle of resolve resulted in one of the best choreographed fights of the season—a dynamic one-on-one grappling match between Shimon and Sekai. No weapons, no teammates, just two well-matched machines beating the crap out of each other. Shimon is a boxer, while Sekai is a mixed martial artist, and those styles were reflected in their battling. Their sportsmanship and shared enjoyment of the fight was infectious.
I was also pleased with Destiny Gundam getting some serious screentime this episode. Gundam Seed Destiny wasn't the most beloved show in the Gundam canon, to say the least, so its main mecha is often overlooked despite being one of the coolest. Its twin beamerangs—that's beam boomerangs—its beam saber, and its iridescent butterfly wings made of pure energy all combine to create a mecha that doesn't need any rebuilding to look right at home among the flashy custom mechas of the Gundam Build Fighter universe.
Fumina, Sekai, and Yuuma may have faltered for a moment when faced with a sick kid, but they eventually came to their senses—of course winning is everything, and there's nothing in the world that Gunpla fighting can't solve. This internal struggle led to an amazing external battle, but they probably didn't need to draw on such a tired trope to bring it out.
Gundam Build Fighters Try is currently streaming on Gundam.info.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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