Gundam Build Fighters Try

Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 25
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha / Tournament / Comedy
Vintage: 2014-2015
Date of Review: April 27, 2015

Seven years after Sei Iori and Reiji won the 7th World Tournament, Fumina Hoshino is desperately trying to get others to join the Seiho Academy Gunpla Battle club. She needs a team and three, and she soon finds unlikely allies: a martial artist named Sekai Kamiki who knows nothing about Gunpla, and Grand Prix model contest winner Yuuma Kousaka, who dislikes battling. The trio needs to sort out their differences quickly if they’re going to compete in the Japan National Tournament!

Since it’s a Gundam Build Fighters sequel, Try features the same art, music, and animation styles as its predecessor. It’s more than just a mere “GBF Season 2,” though, as there’s that seven-year jump, and cameos from the original cast are extremely limited (with the exception of Mister Ral and the Meijin). This actually works in Try‘s favor; new viewers can watch this show without a problem, as knowledge of the previous series is simply not required. Any important story beats from the original series are mentioned or shown in flashbacks to get newcomers up to speed.

The three central characters — Fumina, Sekai, and Yuuma — are all pretty great, if somewhat cliché. Fumina’s the spunky go-getter girl, Sekai’s obsessed with his martial arts above all else, and Yuuma’s the brooding studious type with a chip on his shoulder. (If Yuuma’s surname seems familiar, that’s because he’s the younger brother of China Kousaka from GBF.) Events bring them together, and despite their differences, they succeed in the Gunpla Battle arena, of course. No surprise there! Some of their interactions lend themselves well to humor, and Try is a lighthearted series that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

As for the supporting cast, there’s great new characters like Sekai’s older sister Mirai, and a rival team from the legendary Gunpla Academy. There’s other teams, too, but most of them are just cannon fodder, as were many of the opponents in GBF. The more interesting fighters are former opponents of Sekai and Yuuma from their respective worlds of martial arts and model building. Fumina didn’t have a rival like that, per se, but she did have an idol of sorts: as a child, she was inspired when she saw a female champion competing (using the Stargazer Gundam, no less!). This champion shows up later on, and she’s known as Lady Kawaguchi, a woman who is constantly missing her left pant leg. Instead of going the usual rival route when the two finally meet, Lady becomes more of a gruff mentor towards Fumina for a while.

Since Try is a tournament anime, everything sets the stage for some truly fantastic and over-the-top mobile suit fights. Try also features a bunch of fan-favorite mecha being shown in animated form for the first time, like the mighty Crossbone Gundam X-1 Full Cloth. The animation is just as stunning as before, and every single suit looks great in motion. And if you thought the attacks in GBF were ridiculous, how about summoning a flame bird that’s powerful enough to shatter the goddamned moon? I’m not complaining, by the way. Insane weapons like that make the concept of Gunpla Battle all the more appealing. Who wouldn’t want to see crap like that in real life?

As before, Try is loaded with Gundam references from across the franchise. These are always great to see, and one of my favorites is in the penultimate episode: its opening scene is a clear homage to the opening scene of Mobile Suit Gundam. Beyond that, there’s mobile suit cameos, background characters that just happen to look like famous faces from other series, and more. I can’t help but wonder if the seven-year gap between GBF and Try is a tip of the hat to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, which took place seven years after its predecessor, Mobile Suit Gundam. Eagle-eyed Gundam fans will find a lot of cool things to look for in Try, just as we did with GBF.

I’ve had to make a lot of comparisons between GBF and Try for obvious reasons, but unfortunately, Try‘s greatest strength leads to its greatest weakness: it’s incredibly predictable. This was true of GBF as well, but in that case, it was the first time a Gundam show had tried something like that. With Try, we got essentially the same thing all over again: newcomers enter Gunpla Battle tournament, face incredible odds, come this close to losing it all…but the final outcome is never in question. And this time, the stakes were lower, as the championship was only national, not worldwide. Throw in plenty of Gundam references both obvious and obscure, and you’ve got a sequel that doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the original. (However, the finale did feature a unique and fun twist on the expected battle royale trope. Excellent!)

The three-on-three battles certainly spiced things up a bit, as they offered a lot more tactics as opposed to the usual solo combat. But more often than not, two members of each team ended up getting knocked out, with only their leaders left to battle. Solo combat once again! It doesn’t make Try a bad show, but just know that you’re in for a lot more of the same. Hey, if that’s your bag, then you’ll be all set.

There were also some story threads that weren’t picked up again, or just petered out. Case and point: the assimilation subplot. This concept was seemingly a bit deal, but didn’t really go anywhere. There’s another big unresolved thread I can’t even describe, as it would constitute a major spoiler! Suffice it to say that it was a bit aggravating when it didn’t pan out. Perhaps these and others are planting seeds for another sequel, but a little more meat would’ve been welcome in this series.

At the end of the day, Try is much like it’s predecessor: it’s one big Gunpla commercial wrapped into a fun story with likeable characters. Try just loses a bit of its luster for not breaking out of GBF‘s mold as much as it should, but if that doesn’t bother you, then you’re going to love it. A pair of OVAs dedicated to GBF and Try are in the works, but given the teases and other hints dropped throughout Try, especially towards the end…here’s hoping for a third full series in the GBF saga!

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