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 05: The Strongest Builder
Mr. Ral has moved up to High Grade kits! Since Ral has an affinity for older Gunpla, I’m choosing to believe that the base kit for this is actually one of the older, pre-HGUC High Grades from the ‘90s: the Gouf Custom from the High Grade 08th MS Team line. This pan across Ral’s handiwork is actually largely traced from the official line art of the Gouf Custom, preserving its more modern, stylized proportions – though, assuming that Ral actually has used that model as the base, he’s done extensive modification to make its finer details consistent with the original Gouf.
“This is no Zaku, boy! No Zaku!” Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)
Here it is! Ramba Ral’s most famous line (paraphrased, of course)! In the context of the original scene, this is Ral’s response when Amuro underestimates the Gouf’s abilities in his first encounter with the mobile suit. To be honest, the jump to High Grade from Best Mecha Collection may be an even more dramatic jump than going to a Gouf from a Zaku.
Birth of the God Gundam, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (anime)
The pan across this diorama is an exact recreation of an iconic pan from episode 24 of G Gundam: “Bright New Star! The Birth of the God Gundam.” In this scene, Domon Kasshu’s new God Gundam (or Burning if you prefer the dub) is successfully activated when the nearly wrecked Shining Gundam, piloted remotely by his romantic interest Rain Mikamura, joins hands with the God Gundam and transfers its data. Rain is knocked unconscious during the transfer, and the God Gundam’s first action is to cradle the Shining as if Domon were holding Rain herself.
The Extreme Gundam is an example of the rare AI-controlled Gundam, designed as the final boss of the first Gundam: Extreme VS arcade game. It’s AI core, called EX-, is actually voiced by famed Japanese music superstar and Gundam fan Gackt, who had previously provided music for the Zeta Gundam compilation movies. The Extreme Gundam can change into specialized attack modes using its Phase armor packs, but in its base form it uses an electric guitar-shaped beam rifle and guitar case-shaped shield. These are, of course, an allusion to the Extreme’s “pilot,” and can be glimpsed when China’s father puts the model on display.
XM-X1 Crossbone Gundam X-1, Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam (manga)
MSA-0011 S Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam Sentinel (novel)
I try not to do too many repeats on Deep Dive – we’d previously seen these two fan-favorite designs in static Gunpla form in the first episode – but I think it’s worth noting that this is the first time we’re seeing an actual detailed, up-close view of these designs in anime. You can read a bit more about these MS in the first Build Fighters Deep Dive. This also kind of acts as a bit of foreshadowing, as we will see over the course of the series that both of these kits actually do mean something to Mao.
Gundam Wing OP, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (anime)
Here we have a somewhat literal dream match! We’d previously seen that Sei envisioned the cockpit of his Build Strike to be consistent with the original Strike Gundam – and here we see that Mao sees the cockpit of his custom Gundam X to be faithful to the source material as well! On top of that, instead of a pilot suit, Mao imagines himself in Gundam X protagonist Garrod Ran’s typical outfit.
D.O.M.E. After War Gundam X (anime)
The Gundam X’s signature “Satellite System” is a ludicrously powerful beam weapon that is charged by a microwave beam sent on the D.O.M.E. moon base, and it looks like Mao’s preserves this aspect – at least in part. This just seems to be the transmitter, without the base built up around it as seen in the original anime. Honestly, it was a bit generous of Sei to imagine this scenario in space, where there would be easier access to the moon. You’d think a huge Gundam nerd like him would know better after seeing what Mao’s Gunpla was.
It’s easy to think of the GP02A as a “Zeon Gundam” – after all, it’s exclusively seen used by Zeon ace pilot Anavel Gato, and its design just screams “bad guy.” This color scheme commits to it, putting the Physalis in distinctly Zaku-esque colors. This conceit is actually very similar to how Federation units would appear when used by Zeon in the Gundam VS franchise entries released prior to Gundam Extreme VS. The GP02A specifically has received alternate Zeon color schemes in games as well, though it typically appears more in keeping with the custom colors seen on Gato’s Gelgoog.
NEL-75C Butler Bensonmum, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (anime)
More screen cameos! Here we see the Butler Bensonmum, a mobile suit from Neo-France piloted by the butler of Rose Gundam pilot George De Sande. This quirky MS is actually controlled via steering wheel, more like a car or, if you prefer (and I do), the titular mecha from Blue Gale Xabungle. Its name likely comes from Jamessir Bensonmum, the butler character played by Alec Guiness in the 1976 mystery spoof film Murder by Death.
Satan Gundam, SD Gundam Gaiden (anime)
Benonmum’s opponent is the ominously named Satan Gundam, the dark wizard nemesis of the heroic Knight Gundam. Despite their enmity, Satan Gundam and Knight Gundam are actually two halves of the powerful deity Superior Dragon.
Gundam SEED Next Episode Previews, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
This week’s preview isn’t referencing a specific line from another Gundam show’s preview, but actually a whole style! This preview is seemingly narrated by Sei’s mother Rinko, voiced by veteran voice actor Kotono Mitsuishi. While she’s best known as the voice of Sailor Moon, Mitsuishi also played Captain Murrue Ramius in Gundam SEED and narrated its episode previews. The style of this preview very closely mimics the format of a typical SEED preview, which usually goes like this: “Flowery language about the next week’s events! Next time on Gundam SEED: ‘Episode Title.’ Do something, Gundam!”