Deep Dive: References in ‘Gundam Build Divers’ Episode 8

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.


MS-06V Zaku Tank, MSV (design series), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime), Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (anime)

Poor Zaku Tank (basically a Zaku II torso stuck on a Magella Attack Tank base) has had its share of appearances, but almost exclusively as a fleeting cameo.

RMS-192M Zaku Mariner, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (anime), Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)

The Zaku Mariner was a refined update of the Zaku Marine Type that had a one-off appearance alongside the Capule in Gundam ZZ, with a later appearance in the MSV fanservice heavy Gundam UC episode 4. The Capule has gone on to greater things as the mainstay Kapool in Turn A Gundam as well as its own UC 4 cameo, with Build Divers potentially trying to position it as the new cute aquatic MS to succeed the Acguy. These days it looks like the Zaku Mariner needs a little extra help, using a mini Mad Angler submarine as a kickboard to keep up with its amphibious peers.

OZ-06MS-SS1 Leo-S & OZ-06MS-SR2 Leo-R, New Mobile Report Gundam Wing Dual Story: G-Unit (manga)

Alongside the unlikely dance pairs of the Rose Gundam (G Gundam)/Bound Doc (Zeta Gundam) and the Butler Bensonman (G Gundam)/Gaga (Gundam 00 S2), we have an anime debut! The Build franchise has previously debuted the G-Unit Gundams Aesculapius and Geminass, and now Build Divers debuts two of the custom Leo units of the OZ Prize special MS unit Stardust Knights over on the left. The G-Unit manga actually got a US release, curiously stripped of Gundam Wing branding, as Mobile Suit Gundam: The Last Outpost by Tokyopop in the early 2000s. I blame 50 Cent

Tron & Heavy Metal Gundam of The Crushers, SD Command Senki II: Gundam Force (model kit line), SD Gundam Festival (anime)

Extreme Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS (video game), Gundam EXA (manga)

Backing up the lead singer Zaku Warrior (Live Concert Version) (Gundam SEED Destiny), are some other musically themed Gundam characters. The Extreme Gundam was created as the final boss of the first Gundam Extreme VS  game, and he owes his musical theme to actually being an AI unit voiced by J-rock superstar and Gundam fan Gackt. The two SD characters are Tron and Heavy Metal Gundam of the band The Crushers from the SD Command SD Gundam subfranchise. The two previously made a prominent appearance with the rest of their band in SD Gundam Festival theatrical anime. Hopefully their amp actually works though; it looks like it’s based on the junk Gundam upgrade Tem Ray circuit from Mobile Suit Gundam.

GPB-04B Beargguy, Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G (anime)

While it was quickly eclipsed by the more conceptually polished Beargguy III from Build Fighters, this guy is where the runaway Beargguy train started out. Here he appears in an “Acguy Evolution” sequence that parodies the Gundam ZZ opening. In the years leading up to the Gunpla Builders OVA, Acguy had undergone kind of a “cutening” within Japanese fandom, and the Beargguy was both a response to that and a push to a whole new level of cuteness. Gunpla Builders has yet to receive a domestic release, though it did stream with subtitles for a limited time on the YouTube channel.

Beargguy Festival Islands

This overview of the Beargguy Festival lets you know what you’re getting into, and it’s very dense with references. The main island largely consists of Universal Century Gundam references, with the Earth as it appeared at the end of Char’s Counterattack, a castle that looks like the White Base, the Mother Vanguard from fan-favorite manga Crossbone Gundam, M’Quve’s vase, along with scattered structures that resemble One Year War mobile suit heads and shields.

Immediately above and to the right of the main island is the floating space island that Amuro Ray and Lalah Sune run along when they connect as Newtypes. In the upper right-hand corner is Cucuruz Doan’s Island, of the episode infamously cut from any international release of Mobile Suit Gundam. The middle right island is a Big Tray class land battleship and an Earth Federation insignia. Below the Big Tray island is a colony drop, with it just as likely being the drop on Sydney from Mobile Suit Gundam or the drop on Dublin from Gundam ZZ.

Directly below the center island is a feudal castle village which features three different SD Gundam castles: Tenchi Castle, Sengoku Castle, and Ryubi Castle. The small island to its left has the red pyramid-like Yggdrasil mobile armor from Reconguista in G, this time living up to its mythic name with an actual tree growing out of it. The lower left island is a tribute to original Gundam director/creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, with a building modeled after one of the many caps that have become his signature. In the extreme bottom left-hand corner, you can just see the shape of the Neo-Japan colony from G Gundam.

The multi-colored island in the upper left features the Zeon space fortresses A Baoa Qu and Solomon along with the Axis asteroid colony. Lastly, between that island and the center is an island dedicated to late-UC Gundam series, with the Laplace colony from Gundam UC, the Rafflesia mobile armor from Gundam F91 deploying killer Bug drones, and the superweapon Angel Halo from Victory Gundam.

Chinagguy, Gundam Build Fighters (anime)

This festival staffer is dressed in China Kousaka’s Beargguy outfit, which first appeared in the ending credits to Build Fighters and was later turned into a model in its own right.

Beargguy Quest, SD Gundam Gaiden: Knight Gundam Monogatari (video game)

When the Beargguy blimp switches from the general Beargguy Festival sign to the Beargguy Quest screen, it resembles the title screen from the Famicom RPG SD Gundam Gaiden: Knight Gundam Monogatari.

Beargguy Festival Food Court

We now get a closer look at one of the areas teased in the festival establishing shot, and its full of food stands themed mostly after the original Mobile Suit Gundam.

The Hokusou Cafe is themed after M’Quve; it’s built inside a building shaped like the mobile armor Adzam he piloted. The name is the Japanese word for “Northern Song Dynasty,” and refers to his trademark vase which also appears on the sign. To its right is a takoyaki stand shaped like the Ball K-Type that Shiro Amada piloted in the first episode of The 08th MS Team.

The arch here for Salt Food has a picture of White Base chef Tamura, whose most notable appearance in Mobile Suit Gundam is when he informs Captain Bright that the salt supply is running low. At the base of the arch, you can also see what looks like the RX-78 Gundam’s manual.

Miha’s Kitchen is a reproduction of orphaned Zeon spy Miharu Ratokie’s home in Belfast where she lives with her two younger siblings. The tagline for the restaurant, which features the silhouettes of the two children behind it, paraphrases a line her younger sister Milly says about Miharu smelling like their mother. I have to assume that this a very cruel restaurant that tugs at your heartstrings.

Beargguy Quest: Legend of the Lost B, MS Saga: A New Dawn (video game)

The title treatment for “Beargguy Quest” is an overt reference to the PlayStation 2 RPG True Odyssey: Legend of the Lost G in terms of design. There’s even a smaller version of the logo on the start scroll, referencing the game’s English title MS Saga: A New Dawn!

Mushagguy, Plamo-Kyoshiro (manga), SD Sengokuden (manga & model kit line)

The Mushagguy here is a reference to the Musha Gundam, hero of the feudal Japan themed SD Sengokuden line from SD Gundam. Musha Gundam originally made his debut as a custom Gunpla in the model battling manga Plamo-Kyoshiro. The “gai” kanji used here to write “Mushaggai” translates to “victory.”

Cucuruz Doan’s Island, Flyarrow, Mobile Suit Gundam (anime)

“Cucuruz Doan’s Island” is perhaps the most infamous episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, so much so that it’s been left off of international releases. It’s honestly not any worse plot-wise than any other filler episode of Gundam, but its bizarrely off-model animation has turned it into a bit of an inside joke. Before this, the eponymous island most recently appeared in the climax of the final episode of Build Fighters Battlogue, where rivals Sei and Yuuki had a cathartic final battle. Build Divers adds in the great detail of the downed Flyarrow fighter that drew Amuro Ray to the island in the first place, in its only other anime appearance since the original episode.

YMS-09 Dom Tropical Test Type, MSV (design series)

MSM-06 Jurick, MSV-R (design series)

A pair of anime debuts here! On the left, The Dom Tropical Test Type is actually a variation of the Prototype Dom meant for (what else?) tropical environments. Just make sure you don’t confuse either of those with the previously featured Dom Test Type from episode 2! The tropical environment Dom would later be picked up conceptually by the Dom Tropen in Gundam 0083.

The other debut here is a much more recent design from the MSV-R design line, the apelike amphibious mobile suit Jurick. MSV lines are proof that if there are gaps between model numbers, eventually a mobile suit variation will come along to fill it. MSV-R is the most recent attempt by original Gundam designer Kunio Okawara to add more MSV to the One Year War period, but more than other efforts it has produced some especially strange designs.

RGC-80 GM Cannon, MSV (design series), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime)

MS-06D Desert Zaku, MSV (design series), Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (anime), Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)

Here are a couple of returning cameos from previous Build series, both of which started as MSV designs and debuted in animation via Gundam’s mid-80s anime series. The GM Cannon on the left here appears in its Zeta Gundam appearance colors, and the Desert Zaku appears in its Gundam UC episode 4 colors.

EMS-05 Agg, MSV (design series)

MSM-08 Zogok, MSV (design series), Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (anime), Mobile Suit Gundam UC (anime)

The Agg returns for its second appearance in Build Divers, but this time it actually moves and embraces its specialty! Here it’s joined by the oddball Zogok, which is another example of a mobile suit that got its start as an MSV and then got a one-off debut in an episode of Gundam ZZ. It got its image toughened up in its Gundam UC episode 4 appearance, but here it’s much more playful, even using its extend-o arms to grab a treasure chest.

Salvage Unit, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray R (manga)

When this pink Peti’gguy pops out with a clue underwater, it’s equipped with the Gundam Astray Red Frame’s “Salvage Unit.” This equipment was made from an amphibious Goohn mobile suit so that the Astray could operate underwater.

KUMA-03 Beargguy III Ver. 囍 (Double Happiness), Convention exclusive model kit

A plaque of the RX-78’s manual projects the bonus clue for the Beargguy Quest, delivered by the convention-exclusive Beargguy III ver. 囍. This Beargguy model first debuted at the 2015 Gundam Docks at Hong Kong II, and this is its first anime appearance.

Shining Acguy, Go! Go! Our Shining Acguy! (manga)

Below the Neo-Zeon ferris wheel, you can make out an Acguy patterned after Domon Kasshu’s Shining Gundam (G Gundam). With the Shining Acguy, this marks the second time Build Divers has referenced a manga-original design by Tsukasa Kotobuki, this time from a gag manga where Domon Kasshu is demoted from the Gundam Fight to the Acguy Fight.


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