Time for another Gundam Build Fighters post! The last thing I’d want people to think is that I’m not liking the show. In fact, I’ve been enjoying it immensely, and the latest one sets a new bar for displaying a positive attitude towards hobbies in general. This episode is about China’s first actual foray into Gunpla battling, and it’s way better than we all expected.
China has been criticized as a character from episode one. She’s the token girl, someone distant enough from the hobby to lend an outsider’s perspective to it, someone the exposition man (Ramba Ral) has to keep explaining things to. Some people think she needs to be as fleshed out as a character in a Victorian novel. But she isn’t, so they’re angry. Man.
In this episode China finally builds her Gunpla, Beargguy III (literally Beargguy-san, as in Mr. Beargguy) and picks up Gunpla battling. Since China isn’t a fan of Gundam anime, she draws inspiration from her art background. It doesn’t make sense for her to approach it like Sei, who really loves Gundam, period, or Reiji, who’s in it for the challenge and competition. The way China builds up her skills is done credibly without being patronizing.
Now, those people who are mad at China are mad again because they say that China only got into Gunpla because of the boy she likes. This has a grain of truth in it–China would never have given Gunpla a second look if it weren’t for Sei, but you’ve got to be blind if that’s all you think there is to it. It’s China’s own decision to start Gunpla modeling and battling. She looks at Beargguy III with a true artisan’s pride, and imbues it with the same. Isn’t it like real life? You decide to join your friend in one of his hiking trips. You give in to try cross-stitching with your girlfriend. We pick up hobbies from other people all the time, and it doesn’t mean your approach is inferior to someone who’s picked it up on their own.
The episode also shows us that we should let people approach a hobby any way they want, because they will bring something new to the table that would surprise us. China displays ingenuity derived from her primary hobby (making art), incorporating it to Gunpla battling. All the more important that we keep our hobby accessible and welcome to anyone who might want to try it out!
I’m not saying that China is a great character. She’s not really a character character, and the show isn’t interested to characterize anyone beyond the service of the story, but then again she isn’t as cardboard as other people make her to be. And if the show hasn’t before, it passes the Bechdel Test now without a doubt. The normal girl with a one-sided rivalry with the hot-blooded, rich girl is a well-worn trope that I always like, and Caro’s a fun character to watch.
I sure hope another Gunpla uses the ribbon backpack.