Category Archives: Gundam

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.

sample

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.


Year in Review 2013: N-List

So, the usual.

kirino new years

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Autumn 2013 Wrap

Incoming train of thought–

I took a nice vacation at the end of the year (I guess I’m in the middle of it) so I was able to catch up on a lot of stuff. Like Valvrave. I really enjoyed it, more so than I expected at any rate.

I was wondering if CLAMP designed the characters instead of Hirao-face-looking group that we had, maybe VVV would have more legs. As is, it’s actually a very good story but it just didn’t get to flesh out. The plot and the symbolism and themes all make sense and it is a good, liberal (as in liberalism) message that would resonate with kids. But I don’t know, it feels like the right message but it’s probably preaching to the wrong crowd. It could also use another 2 more episodes to flesh the ending out.

This season is tricky because I couldn’t tell that White Album 2 has another episode, I mean, what. Nagiasu really seems like it went off a cliff this week, because there’s another cour after that? Don’t even bring up Samumenco, geesh. I’m still enjoying Magi, and as far as sports anime goes I really like the past few episodes of Ace of the Diamond, explaining some basic sports mechanics sort of things that are not obvious to most people. It also got “good enough” to be talked about, IMO.

Say what you will about Yuushibu and OBC, both shows are great, and I had a good time with both. I think I enjoyed Yuushibu a lot more in that meta context, also it probably wins some award for dragging out a Star Trek joke the longest. OBC was more of the ideal guilty pleasure sort of anime, because the show didn’t really go anywhere with its soft power digs. I mean, it’s not even bush league. It’s not even softball. It’s more like wiffleball. Kind of like that football game they played–you knew they could do so much better but they just went with whatever, lawl. A shame I guess.

I still think it’s incredible that people walk away from Yuushibu episode 1 and think it’s bad animation quality. It’s insane. I suppose this is how some people feel about Kill la Kill when I say it’s actually not really that great. I think what’s good about it is that it is an anime done in a way and in regards to subject matter common to B-tier Japanese live action TV and movies. Now finally we have an anime like this–full with underboobs. I mean, you can’t do that on TV normally. Studio Trigger’s newsletter is great and it basically confirms all this. Also, maybe it’s because I saw Hentai Kamen live action movie this autumn and it kind of makes me feel like Kill la Kill is an inferior version of that. I get the feeling a lot of people watch anime as a medium don’t venture outside of it, so this is all fresh and exciting stuff.

The best anime this season is a tough call. I would give Kill la Kill the most creds as the most stylish, YZQ for the best sakuga feast, Kyousogiga for the most arthouse and best first episode, VVV for the most daring in terms of story, and Arpeggio will win the “It’s not Girls und Panzer but it’s close enough” award. OBC probably has the best meta fanservice and Yuushibu has some…serious fanservice. Best ED is obviously Unbreakable Machine Doll and best OP might actually go to Galilei Donna. Best concept has to go to Samumenco for not only the most meta but also the best written meta that I’ve seen in a while.

I also feel compelled to give Gundam Build Fighters some kind of recognition, so maybe it will win Aila’s biggest buns trophy or something stupid. Too early to call it the best AU Gundam but it’s definitely up there.

That’s kind of how I feel about White Album 2 too. I really enjoyed the series so far but it lacks a few compelling components in terms of plot. It’s too centered on the girls and not enough on the guy. I mean, I guess I don’t want another Golden Time but Haruki is at least interesting enough to get a little more exposition. Speaking of Golden Time, I’m okay only because I did watch Natsuyuki Rendezvous, so I’m build for it. That said gosh yes Koko is a bitch and the whole ghost-in-the-amnesia thing is dumb can we please just slap everyone and hire Linda to cater to more underground parties? I do give it a lot of credit for making every one of its characters a lot of substance and it’s easy to understand them, even the weirder ones like Miss Denpa.

Golden Time is also surprisingly meta too. That Nana-senpai. Even shows like Tokyo Raven is pretty meta, when it’s a run of the mill kind of a battle mystery story. Is it really necessary? Even I think it’s too much, and I’m someone who loves the meta.

I still want to watch more Sekatsuyo, but I can’t get past episode 4. I should just jump to the Chiaking episodes.

Kyoukai no Kanata was a thing. It all makes sense but it didn’t gel, which is too bad. It is the sort of beautiful nothings that we’re used to seeing from Kyoani, which is by all means something we can never run short of. Did I like it? Yes, but I probably won’t watch it again. It’s funny, but when you lay it side by side to something like, say, Noucome, I would take Noucome every time.

Perhaps Noucome is the ultimate guilty pleasure, sorry OBC. If being funny is a sin, Noucome is worthy a Kotaku post about how sinful it is. Too bad they pegged it as just some solid comedy.

But what does that make Log Horizon? It’s not a guilty pleasure, but it is for me–I’m totally watching it to trip on old school MMORPG feels. That, and Yumi Hara going all osaka, which is only appropriate. It’s a good anime as they say; it’s like if Maoyu got a Fate/Zero treatment, except not quite. I mean, that story could totally be built up better. Log Horizon is appropriately less ambitious in the scope and in turn more down to earth, but it’s also somewhat less epic on the face. I guess you can’t have everything. And that is okay when all it is to me is a guilty pleasure.

In a busy season like this I still watched 4+ episodes of Gingitsune, which is solid, 12 episodes of Infinite Stratos, which is disappointing, and all of Walkure Romanze. Man, that horse show is actually quite good in the way that exploitative eroge about fancy and peaceful setting can be, all because it has a freaking koushien in it. I respect it as one respect a well-polished trope. The fanservice episode clever and outside of the box, which is another thing you kind of didn’t expect a show like that to do. Nakamura Eriko-sensei can speak English to me any time.

Viva Torture!

gmens


Gundam Build Fighters

At 5 episodes in, Gundam Build Fighters might be the most delightful Gundam that I’ve seen. It’s not just the nostalgia factor–I can tell a Zaku apart from a GM, but not a whole lot more than that. In fact, that has been consistently the one aspect of Gundam Boyfriend (as passionately nicknamed by many) that gave me the cold shoulder. It’s like when I first started the road to iM@S fandom, I would recognize songs and characters but can’t put names to faces or songs. Same with the gunpla.

But what makes Gundam Boyfriend so great is that, well, the meta-ness. The fact that it went Xzibit and put a gunpla ad in itself on the Youtube stream basically sums up how I feel about the thing. I mean, Gundam BF is a gunpla ad, and not just in the “Gundam anime was made to sell toys to begin with” sense. Oh, and being able to watch it simulcast-speed on Youtube is a huge plus, too.

The other thing that makes Gundam Boyfriend fun is the relationship. I suppose that, to me, is the trademark of a Gundam anime. And if you cast wide enough of a web (like Valvrave) you will create that vibe just by inevitable coincidence of the ensemble framework. BF is not so keen on that scale yet, but this AU show is sticking to how AU shows typically are.

And it strikes me that ever since G Gundam, has there been any other tournament plot framework + Gundam mashup? When can I get my Nether Gundam on? I mean, it has to do it! It would be a lot more revolutionary if they actually used a Go To Koshien format for Gundam Boyfriend, but that might be too powerful to pull off.

Turn-A Gundam movie soundtrack

Others have graced upon the Fake Geek Girl subject so I won’t go too much into it. I just find it amusing to see that in a Gundam show. Idols are not rare things in Gundam universes but this one hits real close, and while it’s subject to your interpretation, I find this portrayal particularly honest?

PS. I wonder if anyone has applied the FGG framework on Air Master’s Kaori Sakiyama.


Space Brothers Episode 7 And Narrative Parallels

Is it fair to say that Space Brothers makes a statement about the spacefaring nature of man through Mutta’s struggles?

Let’s take Gundam 00 as an example. It has this rather cliche Hollywood theme that pits man’s unity towards an external harm as a survival instinct, a rational course of action that brings the world together in order to survive in the harsh deep space. Kuroda’s “Celestial Beings” is that artificial, external factor, that leads to the corny plot factor we discover in the Gundam 00 Movie. What goes around comes around in full circle!

A united world is hardly something unusual; Star Trek made it a known backdrop, and I think SF-attuned minds world-wide took it to heart since decades ago. But as we continue towards the future, and actually trying to go to space or make the world a better place, we experience and see first-hand the true problem with humanity’s hangups. It’s no longer fiction if we have to live it, right?

And I think Space Brothers subtly explores this “true problem.” It uses this kind-of hamfisted sort of framing around Mutta’s struggles to contrast it with his youthful past about going into space. (Well, maybe it was better in the manga.) If we take a look at Mutta and his turmoils do we see the real hurdle between man and the infinite? Does his pride issues and tendency for violence (however justifiable) reduces his chances to go to space? Do our pride issues and tendency for violence reduce the same?

This is pretty classy. But also really shallow in a way.

What’s kind of amusing is that it’s also an irrational perspective. Mutta is sympathetic and he is a protagonist you can easily root for. I think it would be great if he can fulfill his dreams of being a space dude along with his brother. But it certainly doesn’t have to happen in order for the future to continue to progress. The plot takes its cues through Mutta, but the world does not revolve around any one person. In fact that is the, like, satori, to overcome Mutta’s problems. And I think he knows this; it’s just that he cannot live with it (yet). The world may be a better place if Mutta fulfill his deepest wishes, but we aren’t presented with an equal or better alternative unlike how it is in non-fiction.

I wonder if Space Brothers will explore that theme. It has tried in a way, but it could be more honest. If JAXA and NASA can cooperate, will there ever be space for the rest of us?