5 Point Discussions – Gundam Build Divers 8: “Festival!”

by Sage Ashford

What’s a Force Festival? And how will this show manage to sneak a Gunpla battle into an episode ostensibly about Beargguys? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. Look at these smug jerks. Winning their first match has left both Riku and Yukki pretty proud of themselves, and rightfully so! They brought down recruits from the second best Force in GBN.   This could have easily been annoying, but the show deftly avoids it by keeping it confined to just the first few minutes of the show. Plus, they do a cute twist on it–they’re just congratulating each other on their first major win in GBN. A few short weeks ago the crew was getting pummeled, but after weeks of practice and training both in GBN and as model builders, they got a victory!   Having seen their journey, it’s less frustrating and more a sense of pride you feel as they politely support one another on how far they’ve come.
Of course, after defeating a team ranked second they’ve attracted a ton of potential challengers, wanting to test the newbies who’ve defeated a Top Ranked force…even if its just that year’s rookies.

2. However, before our group can pick out new opponents, Magee shows up and says now that they’re in a force, there’s a whole world of events that can only be accessed from within a Force they should really try out! They show Yukki, Riku, Sarah, and Momoka the wide variety of events which happen in GBN that have absolutely nothing to do with using your Gunpla, and the only thing I could think of is…how much did this game cost?
An immersive open world with cel-shaded anime graphics and every iconic land from every Gundam series built to scale is absurd enough. But the amount of content present in this title in the form of mini-games alone puts SEGA’s Yakuza series to shame. How would Bandai even pay for this game? How would they make their money back?? At the end of this week’s episode Riku gives this speech about how much he loves the world of GBN and the fun it brings him and his friends, but eff that; this game’s gotta be packed with enough microtransactions to make even EA blush. There’s no way these kids aren’t paying exorbitant prices to 3D print all their Gunpla parts.
Realities of game development aside, Magee shows them the newest event: Beargguy Festival!  A festival that looks like a massive amusement park, complete with attendants and robots designed like Beargguys. The crew starts out excited, but Ayame tries to opt out…only to get dragged along by Sarah and Momoka, who are determined to keep gender parity in this show even if their cool ninja girl is briefly embarrassed.  Speaking of.

3. Despite her reluctance, once Ayame’s there it turns out she can’t help having a good time. No, literally–she can’t because the team drags her everywhere they go: forcing her into an absurd Beargguy costume and taking her on all the rides. But it’s not all bad. Okay yeah, making Ayame turn out to have a thing for cute animals is pretty cliche. But they’ve got to do something to make us like her since there’s at least an 80 percent chance she’s betraying this team at some point.  And this scene was adorable, so it’s hard to be all that upset here.

4. While they’re enjoying the event, the team runs into some members from another group called Archangel, an all-girl group of Gunpla Battlers. After some friendly conversation, Riku and the others learn there’s a special quest mission for interested players. A scavenger hunt involving searching for clues in their Gunpla, whoever finds the final clue first winds up the winner of a special item.
The girls of Archangel, Stea and Kanari, rush off to the easiest clues because they’ve played the game before. Meanwhile, Momoka gets into the spirit of things…but after finding her first clue she realizes she’s not equipped for the game, as they ask her to name ten Gundam series as a test before receiving her clue. Since I can barely name ten and I’m recapping the show, it’s a lost cause for someone who just got into GBN ’cause she wanted friends.
Meanwhile, Ayame guides Riku to the last major treasure chest, but they get caught by Stea and Kanari. Granted, this is supposed to be a silly little time-waster, so things probably shouldn’t have ramped up…but how would that be fun? Instead, Stea snaps–and after being dismissed by the pair, she activates a Break Decal in her suit, revealing herself to be a mass diver.
…..Admittedly, this part kind of stinks. Stea reveals she doesn’t want to hold her team back, explaining how she believes they’ll all leave her and she won’t have any friends if she can’t keep up with them. It takes Riku beating some sense into her in a battle before Kanari’s words finally reach her. And just like that, Stea joins a long, long line of women who pilot Gundams (or Gunpla models) only to be revealed to be secretly psychotic or imbalanced in some other key way. The eventual point where they make up is touching, but it’s sad we even had to rely on that trope. Ah well–at least Momoka’s doing okay.
Still, the Break Decal nearly wrecks this portion of GBN, so the happy ending feels kinda…fake.  Like, if you did that much damage to someone’s game world, wouldn’t you at least be banned for a month or two? Making up with your team is cute, but the amusement park went haywire inexplicably and someone’s gotta deal with that…right?

5. Next Episode: Well, time for the team’s next big force battle!  Prior to this preview, we got a glimpse at Do-ji, the griefer who attacked Riku and Yukki, attempting to get a Break Decal to improve his abilities in battle. And then the preview shows our boy Riku up against the person who first destroyed him in combat: Ogre. Hopefully their battle turns into a draw rather than a victory, as Ogre could still offer a bit more in battle if they got one more climactic fight, but I don’t think that’s where this is headed.
It took awhile, but I’ve gradually realized this show likely isn’t going to be about competing in Worlds or where ever, and will be more about developing this universe and Riku helping to save the world of GBN.
Gundam Build Divers is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and the GundamInfo YouTube channel.

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