It’s no Gundam SEED — which you know is my favourite all time mecha Anime from the Animation Studio “Sunrise” but it’s a close second in my books!
The overall story is pretty simple: Sei Iori is a Gundam fanboy who sucks at Gunpla battling so he teams up with a mysterious boy named Reiji to compete in Gunpla fighting as a team to win the world championship. While the story itself seems like a formulaic fighting tournament narrative, there are some moments of smart writing and commentary.
The backstory of Aila, a rival teenage girl who grew up in poverty and thus was forced to fight in the tournaments by Team Nemesis upon learning of her natural talent, can seen as an allusion to real life child exploitation by corporations. And of course, as a nod to logistic-heavy roots of the Real Robot genre, the gunpla are damaged and require constant maintenance and modding.
Of course, this emphasis on repairing and customization allows us to care about the Gunpla as they are real characters; if the Gunpla models were already pre-built and could be easily disposed of, there’s no real stakes as anyone would simply buy another generic set.
The art style is special in that it brings out Gundam Build Fighters’ diversity to various angles. Every single Gunpla has its own design that defines its characteristics and abilities. Sei and Reiji’s Gunpla, the Star Build Strike, serves a symbol of pride for the duo with its traditional design. On the other hand, some character designs looks blend.
Most of the characters seems to be just there and doesn’t stand out in any particular way. Only a few competitors in the show such as Aila and Yuuki gives off more of an intimidating feature. Background designs outside competitions also seems average with basic designs. But if we’re talking about the battle fields during gunpla battles, that’s a whole other story.
The music, sound, and voice acting are pretty good. The music is upbeat and energetic during the fights with distinct motifs for the different characters. Voice acting can be a bit annoying but works for most of the series. Sound is also good with dynamic explosions and snaps.
Just from its OST, it’s easy to realize just how intense some battles can be with its well-coordinated orchestra. There’s a mixed beat of rock and metal on most occasions that brings out the intensity of the battles. It’s what fans should expect if they come into a competitive atmosphere that GBD is offering and thankfully, it delivers. Both OP/ED songs also offers a montage of the main characters and some foreshadowing. The strengths of these songs doesn’t lie with its lyrics. Rather, it brings out the show for what exactly it is: a game for the ultimate prize.
The characters in this series are surprisingly well-rounded and show lots of development. While the rivals seem like stock caricatures at first, they gradually develop more depth as the series progresses. The friendly rival Ricardo Fellini was initially presented as a playboy who fails to win over ladies.
Later though, he’s shown to be a spirited competitor who believes Gunpla battling should not be driven by hatred and also cares about his Wing Gundam because of how he has kept it since childhood. Yet most importantly, the characters are prefect audience surrogates thanks to their age and gunpla choice. The 20-30 year old Fellini with his custom Wing Gundam represents fans who grew up watching Gundam Wing while the 13 year old Sei with his custom Strike Gundam represents fans of Gundam Seed and Seed Destiny.