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 15: Lotus Challenge
OZ-08MMS Cancer, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (anime)
It may not be the most obscure suit in OZ’s arsenal, but this glorified submarine is often overlooked. The Cancer is probably best remembered now for it being that suit that Zechs Merquise rips in half after yelling “FOOLS!”
Mermaid Gundam Prototypes, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (anime)
The finale of G Gundam revealed Neo-Denmark’s army of alternate Mermaid Gundam units in the climactic battle against the Devil Gundam. In production artwork, the more prominent units here actually had names: Crab Gundam, Flounder Gundam, and Shrimp Gundam.
A side note: between the sea-life themed enemies in space, level previews with multiple wide screens, a “shoot the core” goal, and a colossal end boss, I can’t help but shake the feeling this is all supposed to be an allusion to the classic Darius arcade games and their contemporaries.
Colony Destroyer & Plasma Diver Missile, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (anime)
One force that tried to complete the Lotus Challenge evidently tried to go with a Gundam AGE theme, using two of the show’s mobile suit-operable WMDs. On the left is a Khronos suit with the Vagan’s own Colony Destroyer, and to the right is a Gundam AGE-1 with the Earth Federation’s Plasma Diver Missile. These weapons were both demonstrated to have comparable power to a nuclear weapon.
Zum City, Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)
Celestial Being Living Room, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
Dark History Archive, Turn A Gundam (anime)
Imagining the type of Force Nests the Build Divers could afford with the Lotus Challenge payout, Momo seems to get less ambitious with each one. The first on the left is Zum City, the capital of the Principality of Zeon home colony Side 3. The second is the living room aboard the Celestial Being space fortress where Ribbons Almark often hung out. And the third is the Dark History Archive on the Moon, which in the context of Gundam Battle Nexus wouldn’t be much more than a dark room with clips from various Gundam series playing on floating screens.
Harry Ord formalwear, Turn A Gundam (anime)
Lacus Clyne concert outfit, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
“Laura Rolla” ballgown, Turn A Gundam (anime)
Not finished, next Momo imagines the fancy outfits they could buy. There are two outfits here from the same ball scene in Turn A Gundam, one of which is actually Turn A pilot Loran Cehack’s “Laura Rolla” disguise. The third outfit up top is a concert outfit worn by Lacus Clyne when she is confronted by her betrothed Athrun Zala in an abandoned concert hall.
Dog Gundam, Dog Gundam (manga)
Birdy, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
Lucifer, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
What Momo seems most excited about are virtual pets. On the right is young Artesia Deikun/Sayla Mass’ pet cat Lucifer (either named for the fallen angel or the cat from Cinderella). The robotic bird in the middle is Birdy, a gift Kira Yamato received from his friend Athrun Zala at some point before the main events of Gundam SEED. Finally, the pet on the left is Dog Gundam, from a 2004/2005 Gundam ACE gag manga of the same name that reenvisions all the principal characters and mobile suits from the original series as dogs.
SD Kamille, SD Gundam (anime)
The depiction of Zeta Gundam protagonist Kamille Bidan in the SD Gundam anime shorts portrayed him as being a space cadet with literal stars in his eyes. This is actually kind of a dark joke if you’ve seen how Zeta plays out.
Kusanagi, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (anime)
Flying above the GBN hub, you can spot the Kusanagi of the Three Ships Alliance. Often overshadowed by the White Base-esque Archangel and Lacus Clyne’s own pink battleship Eternal, the Kusanagi represents the remaining forces of the once-neutral nation of Orb.
Veda, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
When Koichi and Ayame go to crunch the numbers on their plan of attack against the Lotus Challenge, what better place than the tactical AI supercomputer Veda? Veda was the overseeing intelligence for the organization Celestial Being’s armed interventions and ultimate goals, so it would probably have some helpful suggestions.
When on Earth they hang out around a Gallop land battleship, but now we see that Rommel’s force has a base in space as well: a Jupitris class freighter. These were primarily used to haul Helium 3 mined from Jupiter back to Earth. The original Jupitris was captained by megalomaniacal Newtype Paptimus Scirocco, and a later ship of the line was home to ZZ Gundam pilot Judau Ashta after the defeat of Haman’s Neo-Zeon.
Arti Gibraltar, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (anime)
Rommel points out that the Build Divers are choosing to use the mass diver at Gibraltar. Specifically, this is the Arti Gibraltar mass diver from Victory Gundam. The takeoff ramp, in particular, is the site of one of Victory Gundam’s many cruel deaths, when a pilot tries to support the damaged ramp used their mobile suit and is stabbed through the cockpit with a beam saber.
Heat Film Re-entry Pose, Mobile Suit Gundam TV series (anime)
This pose is a reference to one of the more endearing bits of janky animation from the original Gundam TV series. In order to survive re-entry, Gundam pilot Amuro Ray spreads a heat proof-film in front of the RX-78 according to procedure. Once, he’s safely re-entered the atmosphere, the film has dissipated but the Gundam is left in this very clumsy pose. In the movie version of the same scene, the Gundam uses its shield and cooling vents to survive re-entry, leaving this pose on the cutting room floor.
Crystal Phoenix, SD Gundam Matsuri (anime)
This mysterious bird in the post-credits scene is the bird form of the Crystal Phoenix, a divine being from the SD Sengokuden setting. In SD Gundam Matsuri, it takes this form to tell the Daishogun Gundams about a mountain plagued by oni. This sparks a misadventure that turns out to be a trial put in place by the Crystal Phoenix to test the Daishogun Gundams’ worth. Once it is sure of that, the Crystal Phoenix reveals its true form to them.
This Crystal Phoenix may just be an admin intending to test the Build Divers in much the same way.