Gundam Build Divers is back with a sequel series, Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, that is just as referential as its predecessor. It would take a keen eye and bottomless Gundam knowledge in order to catch the more obscure references it makes to every corner of the Gundam multiverse. Fortunately, we have Gundam expert Tom Aznable to help.
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 26: Re:Rise
Rekko Gundam (烈光頑駄無), Shin SD Sengokuden: Densetsu no Daishogun-hen (model kit line, manga)
On the far right of this shot we see the Rekko Gundam (though I included the whole pan so we can get that nice close-up of the Build Γ Gundam in there). This is a powered up form of the protagonist of the Densetsu no Daishogun story-arc of the SD Sengokuden setting, based on the Gundam F91 (though F91 is written out in ateji as 衛府弓銃壱). When F91 dons the Rekko armor, he becomes Rekko Gundam, wielding the powers of both ice and fire. And in what I’m sure is no coincidence, P-Bandai is currently offering a new Rekko Gundam kit as part of their Legend BB line to ship in October.
Yamato Gundam(?), Mobile Fighter G Gundam Gaiden: 7th Fight (manga)
Kidou Bujin Tengaioh (機動武神 天鎧王), Shin SD Sengokuden: Chou Kidou Daishogun-hen (model kit line, manga)
Admittedly this one is a guess, but the blob on the left appears to be the Yamato Gundam from the G Gundam prequel manga 7th Fight. This Gundam Fighter represented Neo-Japan in the 7th Gundam fight in FC 32, piloted by the man who would later become Master Asia.
On the far right we have the realtype form of the Tengaioh, a divine SD Sengokuden version of the Ξ Gundam. When freed from his sealed statue form, he bestowed legendary instruments upon the SD Sengokuden setting’s version of the Shuffle Alliance.
Chou Kidou Daishogun (超機動大将軍), Shin SD Sengokuden: Chou Kidou Daishogun-hen (model kit line, manga)
Shuffle Club, Mobile Fighter G Gundam (anime)
On the bottom left we have another realtype form of a Chou Kidou Daishogun character, this time the eponymous Chou Kidou Daishogun himself. This is the combined form of Musha Godmaru (based on the God Gundam) with the Mobile Sky Castle (機動天空城).
At center right, you can spot Shuffle Club, the mobile suit of the original Club Ace of the Shuffle Alliance Alan Lee, who would pass the torch onto Neo-China’s Sai Sici.
Tactical Arms, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray (manga)
This beauty shot of both the Gundam Astray Red Frame and Gundam Astray Blue Frame Second L shows off the unique half gatling gun, half huge sword Tactical Arms weapon. While the Tactical Arms is typically seen as the overhauled Blue Frame’s signature weapon, it was originally designed for the Red Frame by its pilot Lowe Guele. The Red Frame seen here even bears Lowe’s name, with a prominent “Lowe is here!” seen on its chest as it enters the frame.
MS-13 Gatsha, MS-X (design series)
Behind the two Astrays are a number of repeated squadrons of Gunpla with different color schemes to break them up. Mixed in with them are a couple of Gatshas, a mobile suit that appeared in the initial 52-episode outline for Mobile Suit Gundam, known as the “Tomino Memo.” Before Gundam got cut down to 43 episodes, the Gatsha was to have appeared in the original episode 41 “The Defensive Battle at Luna II,” piloted by a Memo-only character named Daru of the Kycilia Zabi fleet. The MS was not described apart from the fact that it used a powerful and unique-sounding “Mountain Jumper Hammer Gun” weapon, and it was destroyed in battle with the Gundam in what would have been its first and only appearance.
The Gatsha was later given form (along with several other Tomino Memo-only MS) as part of the variation design series and canceled project MS-X, where it was made to look kind of like a space-type Z’Gok. Even its bizarre “hammer gun” was carried over, which basically works like a launchable Gundam Hammer. The Gatsha has had a share of appearances in video games since then, but as far as I can tell being mixed in here with repeated background assets may actually be its anime debut! The blue and white Gatsha appears in its traditional color scheme, while the red one on the right appears to use the color scheme from the Zogok.
F99 Record Breaker, Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam: Steel Seven (manga)
Making its anime debut, the red mobile suit on the right side of the frame is the F99 Record Breaker, which I’d previously mentioned when talking about the Phantom a few episodes ago. The Record Breaker is an SNRI prototype mobile suit built around the Minovsky Drive system, a miniaturized, improved version of the Minovsky Craft propulsion system typically only seen on warships. This allowed the Record Breaker to move at extremely high speeds with a potentially indefinite operating time. A version of this system would later be used in the V2 Gundam, giving the MS its trademark “Wings of Light.” A total of three units were created, though all were destroyed in battle with the Jupiter Empire’s president Callisto’s Shadow. The Record Breaker seen here adds the Gundam F91’s beam shield, previously unseen on the MS.
Contest Winners? Maybe?
I have to admit, these Gunpla threw me for a loop, but I’m including them for transparency’s sake. All of them are just detailed enough that they look specific, but with enough differences from what they could be that they seem to be custom Gunpla. The gray/red mobile suit on the right looks a lot like a Rick Dias II from Z-MSV, but that’s the closest I come to being sure about any of them. Below that one, the gold MS looks like it could be the GN-X from Gundam 00 sporting the Astray Noname Rifle. The color scheme on the unit at center top looks suspiciously like the Aussenseiter from Super Robot Wars, piloted by Char Aznable pastiche Elzam Branstein. The one to its left looks enough like the Moon Gundam to make me think twice, but I also see a fair share of Gundam Barbatos in there. Finally, the reason I titled this bit “Contest Winners?” is that the Gunpla on the bottom left bears a resemblance to the Sky Hygogg, one of the February winners of Gundam Breaker Mobile’s Gunpla Build Contest. However, only the grand prize winner of the contest was supposed to be animated into the Re:RISE finale (more on that later), so your guess is as good as mine.
Henken Bekkener, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (anime)
An unexpected UC character doppelganger arrives! Henken, or “Ken” I suppose as Hiroto calls him, comes to us by way of Zeta Gundam, where he was the original captain of the AEUG’s Argama flagship and later the Irish-class battleship Radish.
While the MA-04X Zakrello mobile armor’s status as a running joke probably lifts it squarely out of the realm of obscure cameos, I consistently feel the need to bring it up because, at the end of the day, it was in literally one episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam! Nanami’s Zakrello exosuit also bears a slight resemblance to the Astray Red Frame’s Salvage Unit, itself made from a hollowed-out GOOhN mobile suit.
These quick cameos are actually scaled-down, reused assets from the mid-season finale of the original Gundam Build Divers. First, the fan-favorite GP04G “Gerbera” is the prototype that ultimately became the Gerbera Tetra that was handed over to the Cima Fleet. It appears alongside the same Gundam AGE-1 Full Glansa and The-O it showed up with in Build Divers episode 12.
Below that group, we see the Zeta Plus C1, a mass-production version of the Zeta Gundam from the Gundam Sentinel novel. The Zeta Plus has several variants which can be tricky to identify from this distance – but this appears to be another reused asset from Build Divers episode 12, where the space-use C1’s distinctive parts were easier to make out.
More Divers emerge, and we have a trio of purple Jegans resembling the ones used by Birnam, a private military group from Twilight Axis owned by the Buch Concern. Since decades down the line, the Buch Concern’s ultimate goal would be to found Cosmo Babylonia, Birnam could be seen as an ancestor of the Crossbone Vanguard. Birnam’s Jegans are equipped with distinctive eyepatch-like sensors and beam lances, but they’re too small here to make out if they’re meaningfully different from a stock Jegan.
Below them, we have yet another reused asset from Build Divers episode 12, the bee-like Gundam Artemie. The GN Archer support MS seen in Gundam 00 is actually a rebuilt version of this Gundam, which had previously been damaged in battle with the Innovade Beside Pain’s 1 Gundam.
RX-77-4 Guncannon II, Mobile Suit Variations (design series)
AGX-11 Over.on (Chobham Armor), Mobile Suit Gundam Walpurgis (manga)
F91 Gundam F91 Twin VSBR Type, F91-MSV (design series)
The Guncannon II returns, previously having made its anime debut in Build Divers. This improved Guncannon ditches the original’s twin solid projectile cannons in favor of a single beam cannon and advanced targeting array.
We have two debuts in this frame! On the right, we have the first anime appearance of the Gundam F91 Twin VSBR Type. This variant of the F91 is fairly self-explanatory, with an improved version of the original F91’s backpack sporting double the amount of Variable Speed Beam Rifles.
Front and center, we have the Over.on from the recent manga Gundam Walpurgis. This mobile suit is piloted by the manga’s protagonist Mashiro Oaks, a young gamer who discovers he has a mysterious connection to the powerful Newtype Paptimus Scirocco. The Over.on’s The-O-like exterior is actually just chobham armor, concealing a decidedly Gundam-like true form beneath. Walpurgis was conceived as a project commemorating the 30 years of Gundam video games, so it’s only fitting for its main MS to make its anime debut in GBN.
The fan-favorite Woundwort makes another prominent cameo in a Build series! This appearance is its most animated yet, and actually shows off this unique Gundam’s transformation from mobile armor to mobile suit. The Woundwort made its initial anime debut as the result of a fan poll in the finale of Gundam Build Fighters Try, and since a similar poll was running for Re:RISE it wouldn’t shock me if it won again.
Following closely behind the Woundwort are three new debuts: a G Generation original and two Victory Gundam variations from Yuichi Hasegawa (better known as the artist of Crossbone Gundam).
On the left, we have the Victory Gundam in the colors of the Rear Shrike Corps, a division of the greater Shrike Team seen in the Victory Gundam anime. Like the Shrike Team of the series, they are also an all-female MS team, though they don’t seem to have the same problems with high turnover rate and pilot black Victory Gundams.
Not to be confused with the Unicorn Gundam Phenex, in the center we have the Phoenix Gundam, which initially appeared in the crossover game SD Gundam G Generation F. The origins of this powerful Gundam are a mystery, though its nanoskin armor may point to it having some connection to the Turn A and Turn X.
The V2 Gundam on the right appears in the same colors as the V2 prototype that appeared in Yuichi Hasegawa’s first foray into the Victory Gundam time period, though with a key difference. The blue prototype V2 Gundam is largely identical to the more familiar version, but it was made to test the V2’s combination mechanism and thus lacks a Minovsky Drive. Seeing that pink energy coming out the back of this Gunpla shows that this Diver kept the Minovsky Drive functionality intact.
Farewell, Nipako (達者でなニパ子)
Last week, the hobby company GodHand announced the retirement of their mascot character Nipako. Nipako served as an anthropomorphization of the company’s popular Godhand nippers, considered by many to be the gold standard for cutting parts out of sprues (and priced to match). In saying goodbye, the company started the “Farewell, Nipako” hashtag (#達者でなニパ子), and opened her up to be used freely for non-commercial fanworks. And so, one of Re:RISE’s chief mecha animators Shinya Kusumegi saw to it that the series finale would also pay tribute, in what must have been a last-minute addition.
In this cut of animation, Nipako is represented by a Nobel Gundam holding the Gundam Gusion Rebake Full City’s distinctive scissor weapon, and a gleam of light writes out “達者でな.” When this came to the official Nipako account’s attention, she tweeted in surprised reaction herself:
— ニパ子 (@godhandtool) August 27, 2020
Kusumegi took responsibility, even sharing his storyboards:
— 久壽米木信弥【リライズ配信中】 (@megi_sin) August 28, 2020
If there’s one thing that Re:RISE has demonstrated well, it’s a willingness to embrace the online component of the hobby – but to join in the tribute of the personification of a non-Bandai Hobby product is both neat and unexpected.
Nue (鵺), Gundam Breaker Mobile (video game)
This mystery Gunpla with such a prominent moment in the episode is the grand prize winner of Gundam Breaker Mobile’s Gunpla Build Contest, as announced on their official Twitter account:
— ガンダムブレイカーモバイル【公式】 (@ggame_gbm) August 28, 2020
This is the Nue (鵺) by user 樗椏 (Japanese is such that I’m not actually sure how it’s meant to be romanized). This Gunpla combines parts from the Blitz Gundam, Sengoku Astray Gundam, and Gundam Barbatos, and finishes off the Psycho Daughtress with the in-game EX Skill “Bisect.” Pretty great prize if you ask me, considering that most cameos in this show just end up being stills.
xvm-zbc Xamdrag, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (anime)
Zoids! In another nod to a prominent non-Bandai hobby product, two of Gundam AGE’s more bestial MS are customized and recolored to make a pretty clear reference to the Zoids franchise, nearly as old as Gundam itself. The gorilla-like Xamdrag is representing the actual gorilla robot Iron Kong, with the added weaponry on its shoulders suggesting the Zoid’s typical armament. The white Danazine behind it is unmistakably a reference to the Tyrannosaurus-based Gojulas, complete with shoulder cannons and accented orange visor color.
Gunpanzer, Superior Defender Gundam Force (anime)
It’s been a running conceit since the original Build Divers that the admins of GBN take strongly to Superior Defender Gundam Force, so when it’s time for Gundiver to join the fray himself it’s no wonder that he uses the Gunpanzer. In that series, the Gunpanzer is actually a kind of upgraded version of Captain Gundam’s companion Gunbike, both housing the AI of Captain’s original instructor.
The Gundam Griepe had previously debuted in animation in Gundam Build Divers’ mid-season finale, but this is the first time we’re seeing its mobile armor mode. This transformable mobile suit is the ultimate MS used by Odin Bernett in defense of the MO-V resource colony against OZ Prize, and features a mid-transformation “assault” mode that resembles the Big Zam.
Umi Tryon, Gundam Build Fighters Try (anime)
Momo is saved by the Umi Tryon, one of the components of the super robot-esque Tryon 3 Gunpla from Gundam Build Fighters Try!
But you may have noticed something a little odd – this unseen Diver has actual voiced lines! This is part of a kind of crossover in-joke from the sidestory manga Gundam Build Diver Rize – this Umi Tryon is piloted by Mister MS, a mysterious sunglasses-wearing Gunpla Builder that bears a striking resemblance to Minato Sakai, the builder of the Tryon 3 from Build Fighters Try! Sure enough, Mister MS appears in the credits, with the same voice actor who voiced Sakai in the role, Kazuyuki Okitsu!
- Base unit: MHF-01Ω Gundam Lord Astray Ω, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray: Princess of the Sky (manga)
Koichi reunites with his old friend Tsukasa (my personal favorite character from the last series) to fight back against Alus! Ironically, each Diver seems to be using a mode that borrows the other’s aesthetic – Tsukasa’s “Reverso” mode looks like something out of Iron-Blooded Orphans, while Koichi’s “Quadro” mode is based on an Astray Gundam. The specific Astray in this case is the Gundam Lord Astray, from the most recent Astray manga Princess of the Sky set after Gundam SEED Destiny. The Lord Astray is actually a new Gundam inspired by Orb’s Astrays, designed and piloted by the idealistic young entrepreneur Fairness Zweigle.
“I have control!” Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (anime)
Of course, there is also the Gundam 00 component of the Load Astray Double Rebake: Tsukasa still logs in as a guest profile based on Nena Trinity’s evil Haro, and the mode change system itself is pretty similar to the Reborns Gundam. In a nod to the split personality of this Gunpla, Tsukasa says “I have control!” when he takes over, a reference to Gundam pilot Allelujah Haptism and his violent alternate personality Hallelujah.
In a nod to another popular Sunrise mecha series, the Load Astray Double Rebake hits the Lancelot Knightmare Frame’s signature launch pose before springing into action.
The Gunperry is one of the White Base’s complement of support vehicles in the original Gundam series. In one of its most prominent appearances, the crew stages a crash landing of the Gunperry and sets off smoke charges in order to sneak the RX-78-2 Gundam behind enemy lines during a temporary cease-fire. While this Gunperry actually is shot down here trying to deliver Gundam components, there are visual echoes of that original scene.
This shot features some familiar faces and a couple of debuts! The Gundam Alex and GM Sniper II from the first episode return to defend the cowering Gaza Brothers from the Captain Zeon segment in episode 4.
Directly to the Gaza Brothers’ left is the anime debut of the previously manga-only Gundam Sandrock equipped with the Armadillo Unit, an ejectable armor equipped with Maganac shields and additional thrusters. Leading the defense is a Re:RISE sidestory Gunpla making its long-overdue appearance in the anime: the Gundam Anima[Rize], which receives an actual model kit release this month as well. Rize, the protagonist of Gundam Build Diver Rize, is actually an EL Diver that was inspired by Hiroto’s Core Gundam, and uses a version of it as his mobile doll in the real world. Wanting to be more original, he created a set of armor parts inspired by powerful animals he saw at the zoo, resulting in the Anima[Rize] form you see here.
Gundam Try Age (video game)
When I saw that Kyoya was now using a version of the Try Age Gundam, somehow I didn’t expect he’d actually use its key gimmick: actually using Gundam Try Age cards as part of its attacks.
While his interface differs somewhat from what you’d find in a Japanese arcade, the interaction of physical, collectible cards with arcade gameplay is the entire hook of Try Age.
Gundam Breaker Mobile (video game)
I’ve mentioned it a few times here, but the Gundam Breaker Mobile game is probably the closest we currently have to GBN. This app was released internationally last year, though its name was changed to the redundant-sounding Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare in the west (my guess is to distance itself from the poorly received New Gundam Breaker in those markets). If you’ve played any game in the Gundam Breaker series, you’ll know that it’s basically the video game version of the Build franchise concept: build custom Gunpla with parts you earn, level up, and battle your way through missions and online PVP.
Mother Vanguard, Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam (manga)
The Mother Vanguard is the Crossbone Vanguard pirates’ flagship during the events of Crossbone Gundam. This unique ship gives in to Cosmo Babylonia’s aristocratic indulgences and draws from the aesthetic of classic sailing ships to a degree that might make even Leiji Matsumoto blush, with its Minovsky Drive system even creating a “sail of light” when in operation.