Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G OVA
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! — Checking back on the new episodes of shows from 2010. For more information about me and my reviews, click here.
About the series: Model Suit Gunplay Builders Beginning G is a three-part Original Video Animation produced by Sunrise, the first part released in August 2010. The special was produced to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Gundam plastic model kits, and follows the adventures of a young boy with his first Gundam model as he plays in virtual reality battles with the model. More info about the series: Wikipedia Entry.
Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:
ep. tl;dr review: Basically it’s a mini Angelic Layer for boys; Naked merchandising in all its crass glory.
Episode Summary: Haru is inspired by a giant Gundam display and picks up his first model kit. With the help of his overweight, neckless friend Kenta and tomboy-GND Rina, he builds his first model, and then heads to the local hobby store where he learns about ‘Gunpla Battles’, where the players take place in virtual reality battles based on their models they made. In his first encounter he is unxpectedly pitted against a master player, and gets a taste for the fun of battle and model building. He learns how to take care to produce the best possible model with great detail, and also learns about customizing with special parts. He enters a tournament and ends up a master player, extolling the virtues of how awesome building Gundam models are — so why aren’t you running out to buy a few hundred of them right now????
My thoughts: The basic story is lifted almost point-by-point from the 2001 Clamp anime series Angelic Layer, except this time it is done with model kits for boys instead of jointed dolls for girls. Complete novice gets his first model kit, engages in virtual reality battle and wins, against all odds becomes a master player, the end. But this time it’s all compressed into 45 minutes instead of 26 episodes, so there’s no time to develop the charm and interesting characters found in Angelic Layer. Instead, there’s just enough time to hype Gundam model kits.
Then again, that was the entire point of the this OVA special in the first place — it is a bald-faced example of commercialism to promote kit-building, and makes no apologies for that. While I am not a fan of the Gundam universe, I fully recognize how *huge* it is in Japanese fandom circles. Even I knew about the huge 1-to-1 size Gundam model that towered over Odaiba featured at the start of this OVA. And while I never build Gundam model kits, I did make a car kit or two and model rockets when I was a kid (hey, who didn’t?), so I understand the pride in making a nice, high-quality model.
This story is set in the present-day with the model kits, but the other major part of the story involves something fictional, “Gunpla Battles” where the models are scanned in a special device, players don suits and entire big cockpits, and engage in virtual reality battles (comparable to the “layers” in Angelic Layer, for example). I’m sure there are plenty of fanboys drooling over such a concept, but with the level of sophistication shown in the anime, I doubt we are any less than 10 or 20 years away from these type of battles being truly implemented on an everyday level. But you can bet there are plenty of people in Japan throwing tons of money at developing something like that, and Gundam could definitely be a popular enough vehicle to deliver it to the masses.
As for the story itself…well, as mentioned earlier there really isn’t time to develop a full-fledged story, just an outline of one. Instead, it’s all about promoting how fun it is to build models, extolling the idea of quality and detail, lovingly crafting your own model, specializing it with additional parts, stuff like that. After all, we need to indoctrinate a whole new generation of fans to give up their money on plastic model kits. The character animation is kinda odd-looking and weak on top of that. Also there is a somewhat befuddling scene about the head of Sunrise riding around the city on his trusty horse that made absolutely no sense at all.
Even though this is marginally a “Gundam” story, it is different from the *dozens* of Gundam stories that have come before it because it is set in the present-day and not set in the well-established Gundam universe. I could see them trying to develop a regular anime series in the same setting, maybe a year later with a new uprising player going all gosh-wow over his first model kit, fighting his way to the top while making friends with other players along the way (in fact, I would be a little surprised if they’re not working on that as we speak). But given the subject matter, I doubt I would be interested myself.
For more information:
The Blog-Roll of Reviews:
- “I already was not very motivated to check the Gunpla Builders OVA out. I lasted only two minutes with this thing. The reason for that was that in only the first two minutes alone, the characters managed to mention the word “Gundam” a whopping twelve times already. I know I’m biased, and the animation was very good here, but I really don’t want to watch this kind of propaganda!” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
- “Mokei Senshi Gunpla Builders is an anime full of Gundam and Gunpla goodness. It may take some of the hardcore fans of the series to swallow this one up, but as they say in Lucky Star: “Its is a Gundam series. No matter how ridiculous it is, it is our obligation, nay duty, to watch it!”.” – Rai’s Garage
- “I’ve nothing against people who love toys for their own sake. My only beef is with the act of putting on airs of authenticity, of the elitism this engenders while omitting the source material entirely. By all means make Bearguys, Dendrobium Zakus, and Byaku Shikis. These are awesome. I can be okay with all these fucking blue Sinanjus. But not knowing what you’re parodying doesn’t make you a genius. It makes you dumb.” – Ghost Lightning
- “This anime is a great way to introduce the gunpla to the new generation. Too bad its only a short ova. It would have been better if it was a seasonal anime. Also, the show should have focused more on the gunpla building aspect rather than the gunpla battle. Grade: 8/10.” – My Anime List Reviews
- “Well here it is, a Gundam anime based on Gunpla. I have to say, this is corny and cheesy but so enjoyable. Why can’t we have those arcade simulators in reality? If those actually existed, I jizz all over. Grade: 7/10.” – Spin Zaku