Gundam Build Fighters: The Other Side of Shiny?

The thought came across first when the second ending visuals came on for the first time for Gundam Build Fighters. I was watching the show on my way to work as I typically do, on the train. The extra ~$30 I pay a month goes to exactly this–better-than-the-competitor’s LTE coverage down the Northeast Corridor, so I can watch anime on the go without having to set up some kind of auto-torrent-re-encode-plus-sync system, thanks to the magic of simulcast.

It’s the same idea behind why I liken the IDOLM@STER movie costumes as Gokuseifuku a la Kill La Kill. White background, single-colored stars. It glitters while I was thinking about the connection between these things. Well, maybe not so much thinking and noticing there’s some connection.


It didn’t really click until I read the investor report from the Bandai Namco group for fiscal year 2013 where the spotlight on Bamco’s unique IP puts IM@S back to back with Kamen Rider and Gundam, as some of the biggest drivers within Bamco’s portfolio. It’s quite telling if you actually read what it says, like:

  • In Japan it’s about on par in terms of name recognition as Gundam
  • A focus to target anim@s Ps via social games

So, what about Gundam Build Fighters? I think it fits Bamco’s vision for the business to a tee. It bridges the kind of generational gap between kids and adults. One way it does that is by adding that video game element to the series in a very straight-up sort of way. This has two effects. One, you can have the tournament/arena setup that we see in the show, providing pretty satisfying battles (ones with clear losers) on a regular basis without killing all your cast in the process. Two, it gives the gunpla aspect new life by clearly painting a vision for the gunpla builder. In that sense, we’re now gamifying the gunpla aspect by giving it the ability for people to customize using official components (which is also a money driver kind of a thing).

Which is to say, if we were to describe the genre of game Gundam BF is trying to depict, it’s not really a fighting game (even if the gameplay turns out that way). It’s closer to a social-mobile game in which players spend all their time and effort building their gunpla, perhaps to just admire them (this is what Sei was doing until he met Reiji) or to relive them like “proper otaku” (this is what Ral-san was doing, as with the old fogies that Reiji schooled). Or in Gundam BF’s case, explode your master grade++ gunpla in moments of glory in battle. All these things exist only in some kind of weird context that you do with mobage as well.

All they’ve left out is the infinite money sink hole that is the kuji process.

I mean, it is not really that close to, say, Million Live, but the formula is there. You can’t customize your idols, and you can’t really build them up beyond what the game provides the framework for. For gunpla OTOH, masterful crafters can actually do something unique and special by adding their own touches. But in the digital version of such a game, you might as well be equally limited.

PS. I’ve returned. I have 3 posts queued up and to be written, on top of the backlog now haunts me and the posts to be written for other obligations. orz indeed.

PPS. I don’t know about you, but I think Wing Gundam is top idol.

PPPS. If it’s with you, Imber.

2 Responses to “Gundam Build Fighters: The Other Side of Shiny?”

  • Author

    That ED reminded me of Nichijou very strongly, although now that you mention it, the visual style resembles iM@S indeed.

    • praestlin

      No surprise, the GBF ED2 is by Hyadain, composer for both Nichijou OPs.

      As go GBF’s place in the Bamco product canon, it’s very much a bridge between old fans and new kids. Game elements and toy leads for the kids, a crapton of references for the manchildren (based Mikako does a perfect impression of Amuro Ray this week).

      And for moving the gunpla concept forward, the HGCustom line is essentially a fully supported avenue for “kitbashing”. They’ve been promoting it hard by highlighting custom jobs in the gunpla magazine and even featuring popular designs in the show and manga.

      For example, all of the old master’s custom Gunpla in episode 18 were actual designs that were entered into a custom gunpla contest.

      Now all they need to do is to embed RFIDs or some kind of skylanders/disney infinity-style stat chip into the kits that scans stats into the next edition of Extreme Vs.

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