Tag Archives: tournament

Gundam Build Fighters: GM’s Counterattack

Type: OVA
Number of Episodes: 1
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 2017
Date of Review: September 18, 2017

Sei Iori and friends are invited to test out the new Gunpla Battle system, but they’ve walked into a trap! The nefarious Gunpla Mafia wants revenge, and they’re pulling out all the stops to humiliate our heroes. With new Gundam models in tow, our battlers will have to take on some seriously over-the-top opponents!

Gundam Build Fighters: GM’s Counterattack bridges the gap between Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters Try, showing what Sei’s been up to following the events of the former series. Sunrise wisely does not try to bring in every single character from GBF, letting us focus on just a few fan favorites.

As you’d expect, plenty of new models are introduced in this special; Bandai’s gotta sell them toys, after all. It’s a good thing they’re pretty damned cool looking, even Sei’s new “test unit” the Star Burning Gundam. Of course, Nils Nielsen’s Ninpulse Gundam is probably the best of the bunch, but wait’ll you see the big boss’ mobile suit.

The animation is on par with the other recent Gundam shows, with amazing battle scenes that really let our star mobile suits shine. On the character side, GM’s Counterattack easily balances tense battle drama with comedy, including a hilarious sequence that references a minor plot point in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam; in fact, my review for that series unknowingly mentioned the very scene that is parodied.

The whole thing wraps up with a nice little final scene that sets up Try. However, that scene does not spoil Try, so it’s nice for those viewers who haven’t seen the sequel series yet. Like Island Wars before it, GM’s Counterattack is a fine treat for GBF fans.

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Gundam Build Fighters Try: Island Wars

Type: OVA
Genre: Science Fiction / Mecha
Vintage: 2016
Date of Review: August 29, 2016

As they prepare for the national Gunpla Battle tournament, Team Try Fighters is invited to Yajima’s island laboratories to test out their new battle system. But when the prototype technology spirals out of control, threatening the lives of the scientists, it’s up to our heroes and their friendly rivals to save the day!

Taking place a year after the events of Gundam Build Fighters Try, the Island Wars OVA gives us another fun look at Sekai, Yuuma, and Fumina as they continue to sharpen their Gunpla Battle skills. Plenty of other Try characters like Minato and Gyanko also return, and their addition to the story leads to some great comedy. The only new character is a mysterious girl on the beach, but her true identity is fairly obvious once you get a look at her. That’s not a complaint, though, as her presence is most welcome.

For fans of other Gundam shows, Island Wars features enough mobile suit cameos to practically fill an entire series, including the glorious return of a personal favorite, the mighty Nether Gundam. (Which doesn’t last long, of course.) They all show up during the massive battle scene that makes up the finale of Island Wars, which ranks among the Build Fighters series’ best. There’s a wide variety of mobile suits new and old, plus ridiculously over-the-top (yet incredibly badass) special attacks and poses, even by Build Fighters standards. In particular, Kamiki Burning Gundam’s final attack incorporates many super sentai elements, which was a nice touch.

Another cool aspect of Island Wars is that the threat is nothing insanely threatening or world-ending: it’s just a science experiment gone awry, limited to the remote laboratory on the island. Granted, perhaps it could’ve grown beyond its limits if left unchecked, but that wasn’t the point. The Try Fighters team and friends were able to shut it down, and their main goal was to rescue trapped personnel. This fits the Build Fighters mold of being a lighthearted change of pace from the usual high drama of other Gundam series.

Island Wars turns out to be a simple, fun story, loaded with great battles, solid comedy, and some surprising throwbacks to the original Gundam Build Fighters. The whole thing clocks in at maybe ten minutes longer than a standard episode, but the pacing makes it feel nearly feature-length, and that’s a good thing. Sunrise gave us just what we wanted, and here’s hoping that any future Build Fighters OVAs hit all the same notes!

Girls und Panzer

Girls und PanzerType: TV Series
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Comedy / Tournament
Vintage: 2012

Version reviewed: Japanese, Subtitled
Date of Review: 1 Jun 2016

Grade: B

Just another series about cute girls… who drive tanks.

Plot Summary
Miho has transferred to Ooarai High School for a very specific reason: she had a bad experience with Sensha-do in the past, and Ooarai does not offer Sensha-do. Sensha-do (also known as “tankery”) is something which many girls in the country and around the world enjoy, since they widely consider it a way to learn skills which bring out their femininity to become “ideal” girls. Or that’s how the club is presented to potential members, at least. It is also the basis for a worldwide school tournament with each one bringing a squad of tanks to the playing field. As Miho begins to make new friends at school, the student council approaches her and shatters her dream. For some reason, with Miho in the student body, they have decided to bring Sensha-do back to Ooarai and insist that Miho join the club.

The Review
Do you like shows featuring cute girls? Do you like tanks? Do you like tactical RPGs? If your answer to one or more of those questions is “yes”, then Girls und Panzer is for you. Girls und Panzer is a light series and is all about fun, so if you are expecting a serious story, this is not the show you are looking for.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first. Characterization in Girls und Panzer leaves much to be desired. With a cast of no fewer than twenty, there is simply no way to give all of these girls backstories, except for a few from the main team. This leads to the next point: the characters in the series are all grouped together by teams, since the nature of the show has a team assigned to each tank. Except for the main team, each one is a group of girls sharing a paper-thin stereotype. There are the eager first-years, the volleyball team, and the military historians just for starters. These secondary characters have no depth at all, and exist only to populate the rest of the tanks on the squad. First and foremost, Girls und Panzer is about Miho, and to a lesser extent, the other four girls on her team. (And because you want to know the main team’s archetypes, from left to right in the picture above: Saori is the self-proclaimed “love expert”, Miho is the reluctant leader, Yukari is the tank otaku, Mako is the quiet loner, and Hana is the gentle ojou-sama.)

But you’re not watching Girls und Panzer for in-depth character studies. Can a show populated largely by cardboard cutouts actually be any good? Surprisingly, yes. For what the series lacks in character depth, it makes up for in tank action. First of all, those interested in tanks from the era of the World Wars will surely enjoy their CG recreations here. Many different kinds from different countries are represented, and Yukari will tell you all about them. Despite the importance of tanks to the story, Girls und Panzer is not a historical or military series. It takes place in an alternate present day, and the tanks are used for a global tournament among schools. This is no war. That said, the students from some of the schools Ooarai faces have personas that match some well-known historical political factions. It’s played for fun here, though.

Finally, the best thing about Girls und Panzer are the tank battles. Those who have played tactical RPGs such as Valkyria Chronicles or Advance Wars will feel right at home. Not every moment of every episode is a battle, but when the focus shifts to the tank action, that’s when the series shines. I can forgive the lack of character depth because the battles are so fun to watch. They are also very loud. Watching on a full home theater system, when the tanks fire their rounds, you’ll definitely know it.

Being a tournament series, you pretty much know how Girls und Panzer will end before it even begins. Yes, it’s predictable. Yes, most of the characters are as thin as tracing paper. But watching the matches between the tanks is where all of the fun lies, so if you can forgive the show’s shortcomings, and are a fan of tanks or tactical RPGs, then Girls und Panzer is a show you should check out.