Gundam Build Fighters (2013) isn’t just one of the top-rated recent Gundam shows, but one of the top-rated shows of the past decade, period. A veritable love-letter to Gunpla, Build Fighters is a show for, by, and about Gundam fans. It offers humor and heart through references so arcane, it’s clear the creators dredged the depths of the Gundam canon.
Welcome back to Deep Dive, Tom Aznable’s reader-favorite column all about catching the more esoteric aspects of the Gundam multiverse that make it into the show. Nothing passes Tom’s eagle eye for spotting this stuff (we suspect Newtype abilities), but this column focuses specifically on rare sightings and deep cuts. Read on to see what you may have missed:
Episode 02: The Crimson Comet
When we last saw the Iori residence, Reiji had dropped in for dinner. He was using a red teacup with a generic sort of cross design that could’ve been several Neo-Zeon symbols, but now we flash back to another meal… and this cup’s design is pretty distinctive! Reiji’s tea cup now has the same obscure kanji present on the skirt armor of would-be Neo-Zeon leader Glemy Toto’s Bawoo, pronounced, well, “Bau,” just like the mobile suit’s name.
Dengeki Hobby Magazine
While these may say “Monthly Hobby” on them, the red and white spine of a typical issue of Dengeki Hobby is unmistakable. While you could still pick up new issues on store shelves when Build Fighters was airing, Dengeki Hobby has since stopped publication of its print edition as of May 2015 and moved to web-only coverage.
Shouta Soga, Gundam Build Fighters Honoo (novel)
Rinko is seen here writing an email to a customer named Shouta Soga – a character from the sidestory novel Gundam Build Fighters Honoo serialized in Hobby Japan magazine. Shouta is the ace of Jinpu Academy’s Gunpla Club and rival to the novel’s protagonist Yusei Kouen. He’s known for adding the title “SS Custom” to his Gunpla, though apparently that’s short for “Special Squadron” and not his name.
Shouta would return in the Build Fighters Try sidestory novel Honoo Try, now seven years older. He joins his old rival as an advisor for the Gunpla Club at Seien Academy, where he coaches the Gunpla Battle team Raging Wind.
Model Building Club Display Case
Seiho Academy’s Model Building Club has a pretty diverse selection of Gunpla in their display case! A couple of these don’t really count as deep cuts, but in the interest of being thorough, let’s just quickly go through them all:
Bottom Row (Right to Left)
- Shin Musha Gundam, Dynasty Warriors Gundam (video game)
The Shin Musha Gundam on the far right is a newer version of the classic Musha Gundam designed by Hajime Katoki. It first appeared as an unlockable character in the original Dynasty Warriors Gundam game.
- ZGMF-1000 ZAKU Warrior (Live Concert Version), Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny (anime)
This version of ZAFT’s ZAKU Warrior mobile suit was used in concerts put on by Meer Campbell, the impostor Lacus Clyne.
- MS-06R-2 Zaku II High Mobility Type (Robert Gilliam Colors), Mobile Suit Variations (design series)
This one isn’t a 100% match for Zeon ace pilot Robert Gilliam’s custom Zaku’s color scheme, but it’s very close. The main difference here is that it has yellow shoulder spikes, a detail more typical of fellow MSV ace Johnny Ridden’s colors.
- OZ-10VMSX Gundam Aesculapius (Close Combat Mode), New Mobile Report Gundam Wing Dual Story: G-Unit (manga)
Another debut-as-model-kit here, with the Z’Gok-like close combat mode of the Gundam Aesculapius. The Aesculapius is an upgraded Gundam Geminass 02 used by OZ Prize in their attacks on the resource colony MO-V, piloted by the masked man Silver Crown.
- AMF-101 DINN, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
Easily the most vanilla MS in this bunch, the DINN is a flight-capable mobile suit used by ZAFT on Earth.
- MS-06RS Char’s Rick Dom, Mobile Suit Gundam (novel)
While in the TV series Char’s ultimate mobile suit is the incomplete Zeong, in Tomino’s novelization his final suit ends up being this customized Rick Dom armed with a beam bazooka.
- RX-78-2 Gundam Top + RX-75 Guntank Bottom, Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)
The White Base’s trio of the Gundam, Guncannon, and Guntank all share a core block system, something originally intended by the show’s sponsor Clover as a mix-and-match combination gimmick. While it was never used in that way in the anime, In theory that means six additional combination possibilities (as seen on Clover’s “Combination Junior” set). Among these, the most popular and distinctive seems to be the Gundam body with Guntank treads.
- DT-6800A Daughtress, After War Gundam X (anime)
The Daughtress is the mainstay grunt suit of the United Nations Earth’s mobile suit forces during the apocalyptic Seventh Space War, functionally Gundam X’s analogue to the Earth Federation’s GM.
- Kennedy Space Museum MS, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime)
You can glimpse this somewhat obscure MS in former Guntank pilot Hayato Kobayashi’s Kennedy Space Museum during the events of Zeta Gundam. This mystery MS has never formally had a name, though it’s commonly speculated to be a nod to the Walker Gallia from Blue Gale Xabungle, a goofy mecha show with a space western vibe also directed by Tomino.
Top Row (Right to Left)
- RMV-1 Guntank II, Mobile Suit Variations (design series), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime)
No, I’m not so good that I can identify a specific model of Guntank by a tiny bit of its tread – luckily the silhouette of this MS is visible in the next shot. The rarely seen Guntank II is a successor that’s kind of the Guntank concept stripped of its vestigial ‘70s goofiness in favor of looking much more like a tank.
- MSJ-06II-A Tieren Ground Type, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
This is another relatively unremarkable inclusion in this bunch as the mainstay, ground-pounding grunt suit of the Human Reform League.
- Zakuto, SD Gundam Sengokuden (manga), SD Gundam Mk. III (anime)
Zakuto is the leader of the Zeon-themed Army of Darkness in the SD Sengokuden setting. He can change into a powerful “Yami Shogun” form when he dons his Armor of Darkness.
Anavel Gato’s personal Gelgoog was briefly seen at the beginning of Gundam 0083 during the defense of the space fortress A Baoa Qu. Originally the only thing distinct about Gato’s Gelgoog was that he seemed to use a single-bladed beam saber as opposed to the typical beam naginata, but his suit has since been frequently depicted with a prototype beam rifle as well. This build is faithful to the original anime, however, and just uses the standard Gelgoog rifle.
Gundam III: Encounters in Space Poster, Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)
The Model Building Club’s room has one of the movie posters for the third Mobile Suit Gundam compilation movie, Encounters in Space, up on the wall behind Yuuki. This lesser-known poster by art director Mitsuki Nakamura puts focus on the bridge of the White Base, with a visible interior showing off the cast of characters illustrated by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
“Rage on, Gundam!”, Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)
Yuuki cries out “Rage on, rage on, rage on, Gunpla!”, paraphrasing the spirited opening lines of Mobile Suit Gundam’s theme song “Fly, Gundam!” This translation is consistent with the current subtitled releases of the original show – though if you prefer your anime songs by way of Andrew WK, it’s also previously been translated as “Fire up your soul” on his album of official Gundam covers.
Deactive Mode, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
Okay, to be fair, this one may be unintentional. The color drains out of Sei’s face in shock, but the gag extends to his Gunpla! Now, one of Gundam SEED’s signature gimmicks is Phase Shift armor: rather than a fictional material like Luna Titanium or Gundanium, it’s the active, powered Phase Shift system that gives the Cosmic Era Gundams their extreme durability compared to other mobile suits. When a Phase Shift system is inactive, however, a Gundam will not only lose its defensive ability but also all of its color. See what I’m getting at here?
Since the Build Strike is of course based on the Strike Gundam, this actually has an uncanny resemblance to the so-called “Deactive Mode” of Phase Shift armor! In fact, Deactive Mode Gunpla do exist as limited variants. Much like how the first episode showed us the Strike Gundam’s cockpit, this may be a quick nod to another of the Strike’s systems that we won’t be seeing in model kit form. Or maybe I’m just overthinking this.
“You will see the tears of time.” Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime)
This episode preview references the line used to close out the previews from Zeta Gundam. It looks like that promise is coming true for Sei.