GundamReviews

Gundam Build Metaverse Ep. 1: DIVE

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Summary

In the Gundam Metaverse, a one-on-one Gunpla Battle begins between Mask Lady’s Gundam Perfect Strike Freedom Rouge and Rio Hojo’s prototype Lah Gundam. Mask Lady attacks with her anti-ship sword, and when Rio blocks with his beam javelin, she comments on improvements he’s made to his Gunpla. Rio notes that this is their 26th battle and declares that he’s going to win this time. Rio gives chase when Mask Lady takes to the air, and she notes his improved footwork and sharper weapon strokes. Mask Lady kicks him away and fires at him, but he dodges. He then returns fire with his bazooka and misses, allowing Mask Lady to swoop in with her sword and win. In the real world, Rio’s mother packs him a lunch as he leaves their home in Hawai’i to visit his tutor. Rio says goodbye to his dog Core and greets his neighbors. Some friends ask him if he wants to go surfing with them, but he tells them he has somewhere to be. Rio goes to Jeff’s Gunpla store and asks if Seria Urutsuki is there, and Jeff asks him to wake her up. Rio asks Seria if she was up all night again, and she tells him she was marathoning Gundam ZZ from episode 1 and lost track of time. Seria asks how Rio’s battle went with Mask Lady, and he answers that he did better than before, but still lost. Seria watches the video of the battle and notices that Rio increased the articulation range of the Lah Gundam’s shoulders, so the system must’ve decided that it was unable to handle the cannon recoil. Rio asks what he should do, and Seria lists options like making the shoulders double-jointed or switching the joints. Seria asks Rio about his Metaverse debut tomorrow and says they should get him ready for that. She shows him a Bawoo kit and tells him that precision is important. She then leaves to help a kid built a Gundam Astaroth Origin kit. Rio keeps working on the Lah Gundam until it’s finally done in the evening when the store closes. Rio wishes that he could introduce Seria to Mask Lady, but she says she’s too shy for that. At home, Rio uploads the data on the Lah Gundam and sends an invite to Mask Lady. He then logs in to the Gundam Metaverse and meets Mask Lady in his private Gunpla room. He shows her the completed Lah Gundam, and she notes that he changed the shoulder parts. He comments that he might make more changes because trial and error is important.

Rio and Mask Lady are greeted by Mellow Neige, the Gundam Metaverse AI, as they arrive at the SIDE-G hub. Mask Lady asks why they came here, and Rio explains that he wants to see Meijin Kawaguchi’s new Gunpla, the Gundam Amazing Barbatos Lupus. He is amazed by the quality of the Gunpla and sees it’s the kind that people would call a masterpiece. Fumina Hoshino greets Mask Lady and asks how she’s doing. They speak briefly, but Fumina then says she has to go somewhere and will contact Mask Lady later on. Rio decides to join a team battle, and Mask Lady says she logged in without her Gunpla. However, Rio says he wants to learn on his own without her and picks a team battle. He’s accepted into the battle and is shocked to see Riku Mikami and Sarah from the Build Divers. Rio is starstruck, but Mask Lady whispers to him that many players copy the names and avatars of famous players they admire. Riku explains that they wanted to do a two-on-two intra team battle, but one of their friends was busy. Rio launches in the Lah Gundam and heads to the space battle stage where Riku is waiting with his Gundam 00 Diver Arc. They are soon joined by Ayame’s F-Kunoichi Kai and Momo’s Momokapool R x R. Riku warns everyone to watch out for obstacles since they’re fighting in a debris belt. Ayame rushes in to attack Riku and chases him through the debris belt. Rio is distracted and caught off guard when Momo attacks him. Mask Lady tells Sarah that the Build Divers live up to their reputation and that this will be a good experience for Rio. Sarah comments that she’s glad to see Mask Lady has returned to Gunpla Battle, and she asks Sarah not to tell Rio the truth because she’s too shy. Meijin Kawaguchi walks in and asks Mask Lady if she wants to catch up with him. Rio and Momo attack each other, and he manages to cut off one of her arms with his beam saber. Momo then counterattacks and knocks Rio into an asteroid. Riku activates his Trans-Am and destroys Momo in one hit. Rio floats in space, dejected, as Riku continues to fight Ayame. Ayame uses a ninja duplication technique to create two SD units to attack Riku with. As they open fire, Riku realizes that the afterimages have mass. Rio feels bad that he wasn’t able to do anything to help Riku and spots a bazooka floating nearby. He decides that he’s not done yet and rejoins the battle. Riku charges in at Ayame, and Rio fires his bazooka to destroy the two SD units chasing after Riku. Ayame’s real unit is revealed, and Riku attacks with his GN Sword to win the battle. Rio is amazed that they won, and Ayame tells Momo that danger comes when you least expect it. The Meijin leaves and tells Mask Lady that they’ll meet again. Rio tells everyone he enjoyed the battle, and Sarah says goodbye to Mask Lady. Afterward, Rio prepares to send a thank you email to Riku and the others and is shocked to see that they were the real Build Divers. Later, in another battle, Rio is shocked to see Mask Lady defeated by another masked female player named Mascarilla piloting the custom Typhoeus Gundam. Mask Lady’s Gunpla vanishes and her avatar glitches, revealing to Rio that she’s actually Seria.

Commentary

Gundam Build Metaverse is billed as a project to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the debut of Gundam Build Fighters and all the subsequent Build series. It also represents Bandai’s attempt to get into the metaverse hype, but tit looks like they  missed the boat on that. So many companies have demonstrated an interest in building a metaverse, which squarely falls into the zone of “solution in search of a problem.” Facebook even changed its corporate name to Meta and has poured billions of dollars into developing the Horizon Worlds game, but all they have to show for it is Mii-looking avatars in a world with graphics that would look at home on the Wii. This series brings together characters from the Build Fighters and Build Divers series, which up to now seemed like totally distinct universes. I don’t know whether this series is saying that they were one world all along, or if Metaverse exists in a different universe where they are the same world. If anything, the Gundam Metaverse depicted here resembles Gunpla Battle Nexus Online from the Divers series way more than it does the Gunpla Battle from the Fighters series. All that said, it does seem odd to see characters like Meijin Kawaguchi sharing scenes with Sarah. As far as this series go, Rio’s background seems similar to Riku’s – a Gunpla Battle newbie just starting out who mixes it up with more experienced players. It was obvious from the start that Seria was Mask Lady, but I wasn’t expected it to be revealed in a no context epilogue scene that’s completely detached from the rest of the episode’s story. In the end, this episode represents more of the same from what we’ve seen in past Build series. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m also not expecting too much of a story from an ONA that’s only three episodes.

Overall Rating
3/5

Build Metaverse Info

Director:
Masami Obari

Writer:
Noboru Kimura

Mechanical Designer(s):
Kanetake Ebikawa
Kunio Okawara
Naohiro Washio
Shinya Terashima
Takayuki Yanase
Kotaro Ando

Character Designer(s):
Ippei Gyoubu
Yoriko Goto
Hirona Okada

Musical Composer:
Yuuki Hayashi

Format:
3 episodes

Internet Release:
Streaming 10.06.2023 – 10.20.2023

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