- Motto: "When in doubt, transform and roll out!"
- Weapon: Saber Blade
Wow...time to dust this thread off a bit!
Well, seeing as the latest Gundam TV series is now airing in Japan, I think it is as fine a time as any to try to get some life back into Gundam discussion here.
So far, I'm enjoying Gundam Build Fighters. I know that many vocal critics in the Gundam fandom have voiced dislike over the change of setting and how it is an unabashed Gundam product commercial. I disagree with those basic criticisms.
First, to address criticism over the fact that it's not a typical war drama and that it's metafiction, I think it's a good thing. Frankly, we have 30+ years of Gundam fiction that stick to generally more serious tones. Having one full fledged TV series that veers away from the typical Gundam story set up will not destroy the brand.
I also speculate that Bandai/Sunrise is recognizing that the fans of Gundam who grew up in previous decades are not going to be around forever. In order to usher in new fans so that Gundam can be around for another 30+ years, a TV series and product line that is geared towards the uninitiated is a good idea.
I assume that Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G performed well enough to warrant expanding on that concept of a metafictional Gundam story to create a full TV series and tied in product line. It seems like that MSGBBG was the prototype for GBF.
Now as far as GBF being one big commercial for Gundam products, well, Gundam from the beginning was a vehicle for selling products(toys, model kits, etc.). That's just the fact of the matter. From what I've seen so far, I don't see GBF being a shameless advertisement for products.
It's early but so far while GBF is metafiction where gunpla is a product used by the protagonists and antagonists, rather than beating the viewer over the head with "Buy our stuff!", the story focuses on arguably valuable notions such as taking pride in building and customizing your gunpla beyond just snapping the model kit together. It also encourages customizing/kitbashing. These are notions that I think are wonderful for encouraging in the apparent main audience for GBF(kids new to the plamo hobby). Such messages in the story will hopefully remove the perception of inaccessibility of higher level model kit work.
The story is by no means revolutionary. It doesn't do anything so far that we haven't seen before. However, it doesn't mess anything up either. It combines the tried and true coming of age journey for the main protagonist(Iori Sei) with familiar elements such as a mysterious friend/ally(Reiji), the desire to aspire to become better(Sei's desire to do well in Gunpla Battle), a charismatic and somewhat mysterious formidable antagonist(Yuki Tatsuya), and a frame for conflict resolution as well as a medium for self development(Gundam Battle game).
As far as the Gunpla announced and released so far, I like the look of the HGBF kits. I have a Build Strike and a Zaku Amazing on their way to me. I like how these ready-made kits can show kids the ways that plamo hobbyists can make something like the original Strike Gundam or the Zaku II into something different with a bit of imagination. I also see the GBF MS designs as a sort of Mobile Suit Variations line up created by Gundam fans of the GBF world.
To finish off my thoughts on Gundam Build Fighters, I just want to add that I'm a Gundam fan that normally gravitates mostly to Universal Century stories and MS designs. I didn't think that I would have such a positive response to GBF when I first heard of the series announcement. However, when I take a step back to look at what the series intentions are and how it has been carried out so far, I see it as a positive step for the Gundam brand. If this series can bring in fans that will grow up and share their love for Gundam with their kids in 10, 20, or 30 years time, just like Sei's father has done in the story, then I think a single diversion from the typical Gundam story is a good thing.