OP: 「Diver’s High」 by Sky-Hi
「Welcome to GBN」
Gundam Build Fighters was a novel concept that clicked immediately; take the popular hobby of collecting Gundam model kits, create a system where you can use your Gunpla’s stats and data to pit them against each other, make the main character’s mom irresistibly attractive, and you have the recipe for something that turns out far better than you would’ve thought for an anime catered towards younger audiences. With Divers, the series takes a direction that may seem like it’s riding the wave of online gaming anime, but it’s a natural progression given where trends in gaming have headed towards.
Divers takes away the physical element of Gunpla battles, and takes it to the digital era with Gunpla Battle Nexus Online or GBN. GBN is an online game where the player controls a player avatar through a VR set to navigate through a player lobby with custom outfits and use your Gunpla as an actual mobile suit to face off against CPU and online players alike. Compared to Fighters, it’s a little more realistic in the sense that it plays out exactly like if the Gundam Versus or Extreme Versus arcade game had online lobby options, or if you bought the console versions and happen to be playing it from a swanky high-tech pod room with VR compatibility. Much like real life online games, there are also are creeps in the lobby section like scammers or rookie killers that you know are evil because they use a Gundam AGE mobile suit. The concepts of the fights don’t even feel too outwardly different from the objectives of many Gundam games out there as indicated in the prologue episode’s tourney-level gameplay with Team Avalon and 7th Panzer Division. The prologue does well to introduce the gameplay mechanics and our higher level players, but this is mostly the story of Riku (Kobayashi Yuusuke), and his inspiration to play GBN.
So far, what Divers has in common with Fighters from a quality standpoint is its cast. So far, everyone is likable with our two leads, Riku, who has a goofy side that sometimes gets in the way of his drive and talent in Gunpla, and his best friend Yukki (Fujiwara Natsuki), who’s supportive yet puzzled by the logic those around him operate off of. The cast also has a good amount of interesting women like Nanami (Itou Kanae), an employee of The Gundam Base Tokyo that has access to the store’s wide array of model kits, a rooftop garden, and the VR room despite having basic knowledge of the series, classmate Momo (Hieda Nene), a soccer player who is unsuccessfully trying to get Riku to take his talents to the soccer club, and a mysterious girl who appears to be a combination of Four from Zeta Gundam and Tiffa from X Gundam named Sarah (Terui Haruka). The cast is rounded off so far with a navigator Magee (Murata Taishi), whose flamboyant appearance doesn’t undercut their skill as a pilot and a mentor for Riku and Yukki. It is early to gauge how well they’ll all mesh with each other, but by first impressions, it’s great to see that the main cast is fun to follow so far.
The only demerit, and this is for Fighters as well, is that you can tell it was made for a younger audience. The eccentric and peppy feel of the characters and the show’s sense of humor as well as Riku’s can-do attitude are on-par with most titles that fit this similar niche. Riku also falls into ridiculous traps for the sake of plot movement like accepting a free battle from a rookie killer who unconvincingly played possum to take advantage of his kindness. It’s the kind of stunt you would see from Pokemon‘s Satoshi/Ash where they automatically make the worst decisions out of naivety, but it works out in the end so all’s well that ends well.
Still, part of the appeal for older viewers would be to watch something that tickles their nostalgia sensors, and both Fighters and Divers fill in this niche very well. On top of being a relatively pleasant show, there’s a lot for Gundam fans to be able to sink their fangs into. The immense catalog of Gunpla models being used in the game are all from a host of the franchise’s shows, as are the avatars that players walk around wearing. Fans of 00 will be happy to hear that Riku’s prized Gunpla model is a custom GN-0000 00 Gundam, but the show as a whole is looking to hone in on the the little things that make being a part of the Gundam fandom an exciting experience, and Gundam Build Divers has the same fun and compelling appeal that made Fighters a great series to keep up with. Now just for some Turn A representation.
ED: 「Ashita e」 by Iris