Gunpla fans are rejoicing over Gundam Build Divers, a new Sunrise anime all about our favorite model kits. But it could be tricky to catch the more obscure Gundam references in the show… until now.
Welcome to Deep Dive, a new column from Gundam expert Tom Aznable that points out the more unexpected 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 10: Coalition of Volunteers
This episode of Build Divers finally gives us a glimpse of an admin/mod. The Game Master has taken the form of the GunDiver, a cutesey amphibious take on the Re-GZ via SD Gundam Force. More than just an allusion to the name of this show, though, it seems like the creators of Gundam Battle Nexus may have a soft spot for SD Gundam Force, as the game’s lobby NPCs all resemble operators from that show as well. The GunDiver wasn’t a unique character, so who knows? Maybe all the admins look like this.
MS-06R-1A Zaku II High Mobility Type (Black Tri-Stars), MS-V (design series), Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (anime)
This customized Black Tri-Stars Zaku II looks to be riffing on Gaia’s custom unit as seen in Gundam: The Origin. Rather than Gaia’s two shield shoulders and typical Zaku bazooka, this Gunpla goes for two spiked shoulders instead and a Raketen Bazooka.
Nora, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (anime)
Live-Action Char Aznable, Mobile Suit Gundam 0079: The War for Earth (video game)
Gundam 0079: The War for Earth is notorious in Gundam fandom for its hokey live action cutscenes and miscast actors, but perhaps none is more infamous than the prominently cleft-chinned, middle-aged Char Aznable. Japanese fandom has nicknamed him “Agoi Suisei Char Agoznable,” which loosely translates to “the Chin Comet Char Chinznable.”
One of Rommel’s force that gets taken out by Mass Divers is, quite appropriately, a Dwadge. The Dom variant Dwadge first appeared in Gundam ZZ among Zeon remnants in Africa led by yet another Rommel.
G-Bull, Mobile Suit Gundam TV series (anime)
The original RX-78-2 Gundam was born out of an era of combining robot toy gimmicks. Nowhere is this perhaps better exemplified by the TV-series-only G-Fighter mid-season upgrade, which would dock with the Gundam and used its individual components to create odd new weapons, perhaps the silliest being the G-Bull. As the G-Bull, the top half of the Gundam basically becomes another Guntank, while its legs and the back half of the G-Fighter go unaccounted for. Not exactly the most practical, and so these weapons were cut from the theatrical version in favor of the Gundam staying in one piece.
GNX-612T/AA Superbia GN-X, Mobile Suit Gundam 00V (design series)
MS-14GD Gelgoog G, MSV-R (design series)
Another one of these anime-debut-that’s-not-actually-animated, and this is a two-for-one. The impressive-looking Mass Diver unit here is the Superbia GN-X, a high-spec amphibious landing variant of the GN-X from Gundam 00. Its bisected victim is the desert-specialized Gelgoog G, with its unique weapons clearly visible.
SPA-51 Cannon Illefuto, Turn A Gundam (anime)
RGM-79FP GM Striker, Harmony of Gundam (design series)
MSK-100S Land Combat Hyaku Shiki Kai, M-MSV (design series)
The GM Cannon lookalike here is the excavated Cannon Illefuto, which showed up for a couple episodes of Turn A Gundam. Its partner is the GM Striker, which had previously appeared in the GM’s Counterattack special. The GM Striker is a high performance close combat variation of the GM, armed with its characteristic beam spear that basically functions as a toned down version of the Gundam’s TV-series only beam javelin.
Rommel’s crew continues their theme of desert and ground combat MS here. Along with another appearance of the Zaku Tank, we have what looks to be another non-animated anime debut with the Land Combat Hyaku Shiki Kai. For some reason all of the Hyaku Shiki’s Kai variations look radically different from the original unit, with this version and the Full Armor being the most dramatic.
Celestial Being Pistol, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
This pistol used here by a Mass Diver dressed like one of the Gundam Throne pilot Trinity siblings is used uniquely by members of Celestial Being.
Pezun, MS-X (design series), Mobile Suit Gundam Sentinel (novel)
While they never say it out loud, the Mass Divers’ base is actually the former Zeon asteroid base Pezun. It was originally featured in lore for the cancelled MS-X model kit line as where its featured Zeon mobile suits were developed. However, Pezun is best known as the catalyst for the conflict in fan favorite photonovel Gundam Sentinel when it is taken over by Titans remnants calling themselves the New Desides. The angle and composition of the shot any time Pezun is onscreen in this episode is a direct reference to one of the diorama photos from the original Gundam Sentinel serialization in Model Graphix magazine.
Color scheme: XMA-01 Rafflesia, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 (anime)
The Iron Maskz very own Iron Mask cosplayer pilots a Gundam F91 colored like the plantlike mobile armor that his character piloted in the climax of the film. That said, conceptually and equipment-wise this design is also similar to the F91-alike XM-07B Vigna Ghina II from the F91-MSV design series.
Blanc Base, Superior Defender Gundam Force (anime)
Not only is Game Master a SD Gundam Force character, his control room is the main base of the good guys’ Super Dimensional Guard from that same show! This is looking to be a pattern; maybe the creator of GBN is the rare SD Gundam Force otaku. The name of the base is a play on White Base; “blanc” means white in French.
GM Camouf, Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 603 (manga)
Another anime debut here, and this one is a bit odd: the GM Camouf is a fake Zeon GM made from parts of Zeonic mobile suits. This quirky design actually has a Federation cousin with a similar origin called the Zanny, which debuted prominently in animation via Gundam Thunderbolt as a renamed but identical non-Federation version called the “Daare.”
AEU-05OP AEU Hellion Orbit Package, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
The Mass Divers seem to have a bunch of quirky suits from Gundam 00 in their ranks. This outdated variation of the Hellion appears briefly in the anime, first used by terrorists and later by the resistance group Katharon.
NRX-016 Rasveht, After War Gundam X (anime)
- Color scheme: RX-160S Byarlant Custom, Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)
On the left is one of the New UNE’s Newtype quasi-Gundam units; it’s from Gundam X’s Newtype-of-the-week type story arc. The unit on the bottom right is easy to mistake for the scene-stealing Byarlant Custom from Gundam Unicorn, but this builder has taken a vanilla Byarlant and given it a visor and the Custom’s color scheme.
And just so it doesn’t feel left out, the MS in the middle is the Domuttlia from Victory Gundam, which appears in something like three episodes.
The Iron Maskz big-chinned Char Aznable cosplayer is seen here piloting Char’s ultimate mobile suit from director Yoshiyuki Tomino’s novelization of Mobile Suit Gundam. While the Char Rick Dom is usually depicted with a beam bazooka, here it has the Dom’s typical bazooka.
OZX-GU01A Gundam Geminass 01, New Mobile Report Gundam Wing Dual Story: G-Unit (manga)
Another high-spec GM variation that previously appeared in GM’s Counterattack, the Sniper Custom is an ace pilot unit whose performance is supposed to rival even the RX-78 Gundam.
- Color scheme: ARZ-154 Barzam (ReZeon Captured Specification), Advance of Zeta Re-Boot: Gundam Inle, (novel)
While Advance of Zeta Barzam is functionally supposed to be the same as the stock Barzam, this of course lacks the stylized design sensibility that the series has become known for.
MS-12 Gigan, MS-X (design series), Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)
This wheeled MS floating upside down was actually supposed to be developed at Pezun, the very asteroid base the Mass Divers are fighting in! The Gigan is one of the mobile suit designs from Tomino’s original outline of Mobile Suit Gundam that wasn’t ultimately realized until MS-X, which in turn was also cancelled. In that draft, called the “Tomino Memo,” an anonymous soldier in a Gigan is what ends up destroying the Gundam, not Char Aznable’s Zeong. While a customized space-worthy version of the Gigan served as its anime debut among the Neo-Zeon Sleeves forces in Gundam UC, this is the first time it appears in its more well-known MS-X configuration.
MS-06K Zaku Cannon, MSV (design series), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime), Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)
This is the second appearance of a Zaku Cannon in Build Divers, possibly even with the same pilot. This configuration however, is the more typical design and color scheme; the one that appeared previously had the MSV-R gatling equipment and alternate “rabbit-ear” style antenna.
MSJ-06II-LC Tieren Long-Range Cannon Type, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
Another weird Gundam 00 MS variant that appeared sporadically in the show, this one is a cannon-headed Tieren variation.
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Prologue and Episode 1
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 2
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 3
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 4
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 5
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 6
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 7
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 8
- References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 9