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Episode 1: Welcome to GBN

 

Review by Chris Guanche

April 7, 2018

 

Summary

 

Riku and Yukio visit The Gundam Base and stand in line to see the Extra Exhibition Online Match. Multiple units fight it out, but Kyoya’s AGEII Magnum emerges as the victor by defeating a Divine Testament Gundam. Riku declares that he wants to play Gunpla Battle and fight on the same stage as a champion like Kyoya. Back at school, Riku plays soccer and helps Yukio keep possession of the ball. He passes to Momoka Yashiro, who kicks and bounces off the goal post, only for Riku to head the ball and make the goal. Momoka is surprised that Riku moved so quickly and asks him after the game to join the soccer club. He declines and tells her that while soccer is fun, he wants to play Gunpla Battle. After school, Riku and Yukio visit the Gunpla store at The Gundam Base and talk to store clerk Nanami Nanase. Now that Riku is in the second year of middle school, he's old enough to play Gunpla Battle and wants to buy a kit. Nanami leaves the kit selection to Yukio since he knows more about Gunpla than her. A monitor glitch and glowing light leads Riku over to a 00 Gundam kit, which he decides is what he wants. Riku buys the kit and goes to the store’s build zone to assemble it. Yukio chides Nanami for misreading the kit’s name as Gundam O2, like oxygen. Yukio decides to customize his GM III for Gunpla Battle and asks Riku if he’s going to do the same. At home, Riku stays up late and cannibalizes parts from other kits to create the customized Gundam 00 Diver. The next day, he and Yukio return to The Gundam Base to logon to Gunpla Battle Nexus for the first time.

 

After customizing their virtual avatars, Riku and Yukio walk around the lobby and are approached by a pushy player named Yasu who tries to sell them items. However, a player named Magee steps in and tells Yasu to leave them alone. As the 23rd ranked player in the world, Magee volunteers to serve as their navigator and show them around GBN. Magee shows them the Mission Counter, where they can take on missions or engage in free battle, but suggests starting with a tutorial level. Magee transfers them to the hangar so they can check the status of their units. The units are loaded onto catapults, and Magee tells them they can’t skip the launch scene routine. The Gundam 00 Diver and GM III Beam Master take off and are followed by a mysterious unit. They approach a domed area that marks the tutorial battleground. Magee tells them they can clear the mission by destroying the three incoming Leo NPD units. Yukio attacks one of the Leos and scores a kill. Riku attacks another on the ground and destroys it with his GN Sword. Yukio loses his shield, and Magee tells him to watch the enemy’s patterns and lure them in. Yukio does so and blasts the last Leo, thus ending the mission. The Leo glitches and moves again, so Riku destroys it with a beam saber. Riku then picks up an SOS signal, so he and Yukio fly over to a snow-filled area and find a girl laying on the ground. Riku asks the girl if she’s OK, and Magee tells them to bring her back. Another SOS comes in, and a player named Do-Ji suspiciously complains of stomach pains. Riku offers to help, but Do-Ji tricks him to change his settings and switch to free battle mode. Riku finds himself back in his cockpit and under attack from Do-Ji’s Zedas. Magee explains to Riku that in free battle mode you can fight anyone regardless of rank and gain points. Magee accuses Do-Ji of being the player hunting rookies, and Do-Ji answers that it’s not against the rules. Magee tells them to forfeit, and the girl tells Riku that he shouldn’t give up because his Gunpla hasn’t. Magee reminds Riku that he doesn’t have weapons, so he dodges past Do-Ji to get a beam saber from Yukio. He then rushes in and stabs the Zedas’ cockpit to end the battle. Back at the lobby, Magee is amazed that they won and noticed that the girl has disappeared. Nanami asks about their experience after they exit GBN, and they answer that it was the coolest thing.

 

Commentary

 

The first proper episode of Build Divers switches its focus to Riku, although it basically has the same story as the prologue: Riku is amazed by Kyoya's skills and wants to fight in Gunpla Battle. I had suspected this from the prologue, but the use of cockpits to access GBN and the lack of mention of Plavsky particles would definitely seem to indicate that this isn't set in the same world as Build Fighters. As an opener, this episode follows the same tropes as the two Build Fighters, including the very commercial "hey it's fun to build Gunpla!" scene and an improbably victory for the noob main character. There's also the use of the mysterious girl trope and the glitches in the game relating to Riku. Some obvious guesses would be that she's an advanced AI who exists solely within GBN, or that she's a real person "stuck" inside the game ala .hack//SIGN. Of course, this mysterious girl will figure prominently into the story, aside from Riku's advancement in GBN. There's nothing particularly bad here, but these tropes all wear a bit thin the third time out.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
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Gundam Build Divers Episode 1 Gundam Build Divers Episode 1

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