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 19: Nadeshiko-athalon
You can see Bandai’s old logo, known colloquially as the “Banzai Mark” for its celebratory pose, hidden in the collar of Nami’s Diver avatar costume (thanks to @DoubleXLunar for catching this one!). Bandai used this logo until early 1983, and it appears on all original stock of the Mobile Suit Gundam model kit line. If an “old” pre-Zeta kit has the more familiar modern Bandai logo, that means it’s a reprint!
Geze, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (anime)
RGM-79L GM Light Armor, MSV (design series)
There are some oddball picks among the supplied Gunstagram shoot Gunpla. In the upper right is the civilian-use Hobby Hizack, used by Gyunei Guss to recover Char Aznable from the colony of Londenion. Near the bottom is the mobile worker Geze, a custom unit built by junk dealer Gemon Bajack. The GM variation in this group is the GM Light Armor, a somewhat self-explanatory variant that previously appeared in Build Fighters specials.
Ball (暴留) & Zako (雑魚), SD Sengokuden (manga & model kit line)
Tucked away in the corner of the table are the lowly foot soldiers of the Gundam Army and Dark Army respectively. The Zako in particular’s name actually translates to “small fry.”
Gunstagram, apart from being an obvious Gundam-themed stand-in for Instagram, features a text treatment modeled after the Gundam F91 logo.
Second V Gundam, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (novel)
Ah, the ever-popular Instagram shot in front of those painted wings. The TV series’ V2 Gundam does not appear in the Victory Gundam novelizations; instead, the Victory Gundam is succeeded by the Second V Gundam. While just a still cameo, this is the first appearance of the Second V in anime.
The Three Zaku (殺駆) Brothers, SD Sengokuden (manga, model kit line)
- Shinzaku (新殺駆)
- Kozaku (古殺駆)
- Konzaku (今殺駆)
Ma Chao (馬超) Blue Destiny, BB Senshi Sangokuden: Senshin Kettou-hen (manga, model kit line)
The Zaku Brothers are recurring comic relief villains (and sometimes good guys) in the SD Sengokuden storyline. They often play the traditional summer watermelon splitting game of suikawari. In the coconut, the Blue Destiny Gundam version of the historical Chinese general Ma Chao plays with one of the many Pawn Leos from Storm Knight Tallgeese’s army (thanks to @DkunDX for help with that last one!).
The far and away most popular entry into the Gunstagram competition is a recreation of the box art for the Japan-only “Gunpa 30th Edition” of Linkin Park’s 2010 album A Thousand Suns. The album’s lead single, The Catalyst, served as the opening theme for the popular arcade game Gundam Extreme Versus. Previously, Linkin Park had featured Gunpla in the music video for their 2003 song Somewhere I Belong, and a conspicuously Zaku-like robot appeared on the cover of their 2002 remix album Reanimation.
MS-12 Gigan, MS-X (design series)
This marks the second appearance of the Gigan in Build Divers, though this time it appears in its alternate brown color scheme (and, of course, an apron). The pictured teacup is similar to one that porcelain makers Noritake released through P-Bandai.
Nami happens to place the Guncannon in its most famous and iconic pose from the Mobile Suit Gundam opening, surprising everyone. Has Nami’s ignorance of Gundam actually been a work all this time? Is she secretly Gunpla sharking?
Koichi remarks that Sarah’s contribution to the Gunstagram contest is also “a classic.” This is a pretty meta reference, especially if Koichi really recognizes it for what it is. These Beargguys are based on the ones built by Gunpla modeler Ritsu Togasaki to commemorate her 2016 marriage to legendary mecha animator (and Build Divers animation director/key animator) Masami Obari.
— 大張正己 MASAMI OBARI (@G1_BARI) November 14, 2016
Careless Zakrello, Shin SD Sengokuden: Densetsu no Daishogun-hen (manga, model kit line)
In an act of kindness, Nami and Sarah free an SD Zakrello trapped under some rocks. This is the Ukkari (Careless) Zakrello, a tiny version of the Zakrello mobile armor from the SD Sengokuden setting.
Shuffle Heart, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (anime)
This reference is easy to miss for a couple of reasons (thanks to @Noizemaze for identifying it!). The first is, of course, only its legs are shown here. Mainly though, it’s because the Shuffle Heart, despite being referred to in G Gundam, never actually made an appearance in its original show. The production-art-only Shuffle Heart was originally piloted by Master Asia, and many of its design elements carried over to his Master Gundam.
Long neglected, the Shuffle Heart finally appeared in animation via a prominent cameo showing off its transformation in the original Build Fighters. At the end of this month, hobby company Volks will be selling a 1/144 resin Shuffle Heart kit exclusively at C3AFA Tokyo 2018; maybe this is an indirect plug?
RGM-79HC GM Guard Custom, MSV-R (design series)
The GM Guard Custom is one of the more distinctive variations from the MSV revival series MSV-R. Mostly, the Guard Custom is just a modified GM Sniper Custom with a huge shield. In fact, this shield was seen earlier in Build Divers, used by a trio of Gelgoogs in the mid-season climax.
MSN-04II Nightingale, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack – Beltorchika’s Childen (novel)
The Nightingale is a novel-only stand-in for the Sazabi, much like how the Second V Gundam mentioned earlier is for the V2 Gundam. The original Sazabi takes a lot of conceptual design elements from both the Qubeley and The O, the powerful mobile suits that teamed up on Char Aznable in the climax of Zeta Gundam. The Nightingale as a design leans far more into those inspirations aesthetically, and further exaggerates The O’s bulk and the Qubeley’s wing-like shoulders and funnel racks.
The fan favorite Nightingale finally got an official, gigantic 1/100 plamo release as part of the Re/100 line, but Ayame’s far more practical SD choice here is likely the recent Cross Silhouette series Nightingale.
OZ-07MS Tragos, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (anime)
Sarah’s pick for the Gunpla sumo match is the underappreciated ground-pounding OZ mobile suit Tragos. The Tragos is a predecessor to the more ubiquitous Leo, and can switch between a hovercraft Guntank-like form and a more typical bipedal form.
Pinwheel Hyaku Shiki & Careless Zakrello, Shin SD Sengokuden: Densetsu no Daishogun-hen (manga, model kit line)
And so the episode ends with Nami finding new inspiration from the little Sengoku-style Zakrello she saved. The original Zakrello kit on the bottom actually gives her two Zakrellos for the price of one. The Zakrello is pretty small by mobile armor standards, so it’s included in two scales: the more typical 1/550 scale used by mobile armor kits, and a larger 1/250 scale that scaled the Zakrello up to be closer in size to other mobile armors.
The other kit, which is another two-pack, actually includes the very same SD Zakrello she saved. It’s pretty safe to say that Nami is working on something Zakrello-themed, which actually wouldn’t even be the first time that happened. Gunpla Builders: Beginning G featured a Dendrobium Orchis-style Zakrello with a Zaku II housed in its mouth, and the SD Sengokuden Sennari Shogun wears Zakrello-themed armor.