Gundam Build Fighters: Reminding me why Gundam fans suck

No screencaps because I streamed the first episode legally! Hurrah, GundamInfo channel!

So, Gundam Build Fighters. After the failure of Gundam AGE, Bandai is sticking to its strengths, which is in the form of honest-to-goodness merchandise. You see, Gunpla is a big thing, and even in the Philippines we have a good number of hobby stores catering to modelers. As long as they keep the story solid enough to serve the conceit of crossover Gundam action, we’ll have a good hit on our hands. I hope!

I needn’t repeat any info that could be looked up in better places in this post. Rather, I want to talk about how Gundam in the show is made into this modeling/battling thing. In Sei’s world, people build Gundam model kits not just to ogle at something pretty, but they use them to fight other people’s model kits. The actual anime franchise is downplayed, or nonexistent at best aside from the little nods the episode did.

I have an issue with this. More exactly, I have an issue with Sazaki all but bullying Sei to be his partner and fight using his Gunpla. To me, he’s what’s wrong with the Gundam fanbase as a whole.

But Schneider, he’s just a noisy kid! What did he ever do wrong?

Consider this: Gundam is A Thing with many facets: there’s the anime, where it all started. There are also toys and model kits, where it arguably ends. There are games. Novels. Manga. A freaking amusement park ride. Hell, there’s a legit Gundam car (it’s Char’s, though)! And even if we just look at the anime, there’s UC and AU. I don’t have numbers, but I can safely say that a lot of Gundam fans nowadays have never even seen a single episode of UC Gundam, and aren’t willing to, for various reasons!

Now, what exactly makes you a Gundam fan? Know what, I can’t really say! I’ve watched practically all Gundam anime, built a nontrivial amount of model kits, discussed Gundam with friends for many, many hours, and I can’t tell you what a Gundam fan should be. As I’ve already established, Gundam has many facets, and a person could like one while ignoring the others, or two, or all, and it’s not our business to decide what they should go for. Maybe someone can’t really stand UC Gundam, or isn’t willing to drop money for the expensive Gunpla habit. Maybe they just find the Kira and Lacus pairing really cute, or exclusively build SD Gundam kits. That’s okay. It’s their own prerogative if they want to branch out.

What’s not okay is the attitude that Sazaki espouses, which is “you like the same thing as I do but you like it for different reasons, so you suck!” There is a huge cesspool of hatred in the Gundam fanbase that’s based on this very sentiment. UC fans hate AU fans, modellers hate non-modellers, anime fans hate toy collectors, people with no sense of fun hate G Gundam, there’s no end to it. I’ve done my share of gatekeeping and I’ve turned around. It’s not cool, guys! Gundam is so big, we could just ignore the parts we don’t like, and really focus on what tickles our bones. It’s not like the days when Tomino directed Gundam are gone forever (and honestly, they’re not even that good to warrant such bitching), one could always rewatch the shows. Even if Sunrise or Bandai stopped doing That Thing You Like, you could always go back to what existed. Or leave. I mean, what are you going to do about it, complain on the internet? Please.

(The best/worst thing is Gundam fans complaining about the very existence of this show, yet watch it every week. While decrying it. Every week.)

Sei could have completely renounced the battling aspect to focus on the building side. He could memorize every bit of Gundam fluff so he could talk a great sales pitch for their Gunpla store. But it’s a show about competitive plastic robot battling, and everything must work in the context of selling the building/battling nature of the sport. The hero must be spurred on to fight, even if he sucks, so just throw in a dude who’s gifted at battling to be his partner. We get a slick fight, now everyone can pack up and go home.

At the end of the day, it was a solid first episode, and I was entertained. You don’t get to see a Dijeh painted in Gundam colors slash a Freedom in half anywhere else. But one annoying kid made me remember why I’ve started to distance myself from the rest of Gundam fandom in the first place–people who insist and impose their own standards of fun on others. I may have read too much into a simple cartoon, but I can only see Sazaki, and the real-life haters being the worst Gundam fans they could be.

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17 Responses to Gundam Build Fighters: Reminding me why Gundam fans suck

  1. r042 says:

    Interesting article! It will be interesting to see where it goes and if that angle about the depiction of what really is a big multimedia franchise as just being focused on one game is played up at all.

    The one problem I had was I kept mentally adding dialogue from Yugioh Abridged to the show (after all, Sei even had a spooky mysterious older guy who arrives when he uses his magical thing to help him win a children’s war game).

    I’m calling it now, Seto Aznable of Zeoncorp will keep coming up with absurd schemes using the game to kidnap Sei’s friends and family. RX78 will play the role of Blue Eyes White Dragon.

  2. ottocycle says:

    Which is why we have our heroes split up here. One can come into all this blind, expecting a Danball Senki battle-thing with trading cards masquerading as cool plastic humanoid robots, and another one can have fun with all the extended lore and cameos and knowing Ramba Ral as well as one would know a family friend, and then there might be another one who’s in for watching the cool fights. It goes on.

    I’m not some apologist for the franchise, but perhaps all sides can each discover what potential enjoyment another side may hold for themselves. The show seems to want to break the deadlock of hate and be a fantastic vehicle for that, in more ways than one.

    In essence I agree with your talk of the facets of the metaseries (along with their respective fans and their ample loathing for each other), and this show might just want to talk about reconciling them. Sazaki was after all, taken out in the first episode.

    It won’t be seeing time itself, but hopefully some understanding may happen in the course of this show.

    PS. yeah, reading too much into a kids’ cartoon, &c

    • Murazrai says:

      I agree with you. No, you are not reading too much into a kids’ cartoon, it’s just that you have tapped into the depth that no one’s bothered to do.

      Speaking of Danball Senki, I think this anime has the potential to become better than Danball Senki Wars, at least on the battle choreography part, but I have to see if other aspects, especially series composition and character development can become batter as well.

  3. omo says:

    Gate. Keeper.

    > Maybe they just find the Kira and Lacus pairing really cute

    Maybe not that pair, but can I get a shoutout to Lunamaria and Shinn #seiyuumarriage

  4. DoctorBaronvonEvilSatan says:

    Lacus and Meer are the only cute pairing.

  5. Pingback: First Impressions: Gundam Build Fighters, Unbreakable Machine Doll | Fantastic Memes

  6. sadakups says:

    Applause for you sir. You pretty much described Gundam fans in general. As with most fandoms, every fandom has the worst fans, and hence, the worst fandom.

    To be honest though, after the failure that was AGE, I wasn’t ready for a new Gundam show, and then they show the trailer for Gundam BF. I was apprehensive at first, but seeing Gunpla Builders Beginning G, I changed my mind. That short series was fun, and to see it expanded in Gundam BF is something I’d like to see. I still like a serious Gundam show, but having stuff like this isn’t that bad, actually.

    I think this is Sunrise’s way of saying FUCK YOU to all of those who thought AGE was going to be the kiddy Gundam anime due to the initial character designs (which it wasn’t). Well, Gundam BF IS the real kiddy one. No pretensions about it from the get go.

    At least, for once, I can a Gundam show comfortably and actually watch it for fun and not care much about the story. The story can be cheesy or dumb as hell, but seeing older Gundams and mobile suits in HD glory is the catch here. Especially this show’s Gundam X.

    >You don’t get to see a Dijeh painted in Gundam colors slash a Freedom in half anywhere else.
    I laughed when I saw that. It’s like sending a message.

    • Fynn says:

      I still didn’t really like AGE til the second season. And then the third season came, and honestly that was crap. How fast can you kill off a lead Gundam? 1 episode? Wrong, half a minute.

  7. FJ says:

    Just cause someone hates G Gundam doesn’t mean they dont have a sense of fun, its just their sense of fun is different or they dont like seeing giant killing machines being used/portrayed in certain ways or whatever little quirky internal reason they have :V

    Also, I’m shocked to hear that there are modellers who bitch at those who don’t model. What sort of things do they even say?!

    • schneider says:

      This might be beside the point, but the Gundams in G Gundam aren’t designed to be killing machines. It’s a martial arts tournament employing robots. Allow me a few of my own disparaging opinions!

      The modeller vs non-modeller thing is just your usual elitism. You ain’t a real Gundam fan if you haven’t built a kit, etc. Modellers can get really passionate with their hobby and some do engage in such pissing contests. Thankfully it’s not very common.

  8. lalunafelis says:

    UC fags who hate on Seed. That’s all.

    Then again, the Gundam fandom alone illustrates the reason why I’ve been distancing myself from online anime comms in general.

  9. banagherlinks says:

    UC gundam fan here, I only watch this kiddy show for the sake of being a gundam fan. No matter how terrible and how awkward the series is(heck I’ve been from worse scenarios with the likes of gundam shit destiny,awakening of the trailblazer,victory,gundam wing, ZZ and the G-savior). Still, I find this show a guilty pleasure, makes me feel occupied while I wait for the seventh and last installment of the gundam unicorn ova or the release of crossbone and origins.

    PS I never build any gundam models, but I do draw some models in autocad. Kinda cool to know that there was some good appliacation for my job!! Cheers fellow gundam fans out there!!

  10. Avarice says:

    Bought the GM Sniper for a friend and the Kampfer for me but have yet to commit to binge-watching the series; said friend told me how ironic the choice was seeing as the two are one of the better fights in the series I have yet to watch. Love the modularity of the series… now a standardized backpack, and slots for arm/leg attachments would’ve been more badass, hope the next flight of models addresses that need. I am grateful that new molds are being created for classic sets.

    Geez, thanks for preparing me for the backlash ahead of time. GBF on my bucket list after I finish Unicorn with my friends. Wait a minute, never mind, all fandoms are cancer. You are gonna meet someone or a group that will irk you, or who will hate you for who you are inside your own interest. Name me a fandom where everyone involved actively are unequivocal buddies.

    Now as to hating on a character in the show who is being antagonistic… thank you for missing the point? Or thanks to the staff for drawing a reaction out of a viewer that was probably intended? Looking at the model selection, this kid prefers the Gyan. Unless you like M’Quve, this is probably not a sympathetic character for you, or most of the viewers.

    Maybe part of the premise of making a series about the models, and by extension, the hobby community is to indirectly poke fun (lightheartedly?) at the fan-base, which by nature is a ravening and ungrateful beast of income that flits between adulation and contempt at the God-creators. Non-villainous opponents and everyone being one happy family on the same team can make for a boring show. Not that it is not a good thing to have, but some stories need personality conflicts to enhance and make more varied the experience.

    Enjoy what you can, and either ignore or distance yourself from the bad. I feel foolish for the bad arguments I have had in the past before because in retrospect, the debate is either moot, or the point is not worth the effort spent. To participate is to lose the game.

    • schneider says:

      The show had finished, but I don’t think I’m wrong or bad for feeling this way in my post. After all, the same show can mean differently to everyone.

      I agree that fandom has a negative side. People will always look for ways to feel superior to others. Being in a fandom doesn’t work for me, because I like too much stuff to truly belong to any fandom, but I suppose that other people really look for that sense of community.

  11. Excellent post. Be your own gundam.

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