Gundam Build Fighters: Fun As a Philosophy
Building Models to Fight
Gunpla refers to the model kits based on the Mobile Suit Gundam television series from Japan and all its spin-offs. Gundam Build Fighters was a show that celebrates the gunpla aspect of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise by making a cartoon about making them fight. The plot is that through the use of mysterious plavsky particles, people are able to make their gunpla models move. And fight. And compete in tournaments. However, while this show can be seen as a cartoon filled with product placement to help promote and sell gunpla to viewers, some of its episodes includes lines or phrases that make the show more philosophical compared to other cartoons made to sell toys. One episode in Gundam Build Fighters explained and supported the reason why people in this show enjoy gunpla battle the way they do despite there being no serious reason to be as emotionally and physically invested in their hobbies. The show encouraged people who construct gunpla to use their imagination and customize their models and avoid blindly following the instructions included inside of the box. Near the end of the series one of the characters explains that gunpla provides a source of freedom for people who enjoy this hobby and would like to spread that same feeling of freedom to other people. Gundam Build Fighters was a show made to sell toys, but there were moments where the show got pretty philosophical in explaining why people liked gunpla as much as they did.
Seriousness and Silliness At the Same Time
In Japan Mobile Suit Gundam was a show that showed the horrors of war, how both sides can be equally messed-up on some levels, and how giant robots, while looking awesome, can be pretty terrifying when used in combat. Gundam Build Fighters was a show that took place in a reality where Mobile Suit Gundam was just a show and all the giant robots were reduced to plastic models that needed magic particles to move, much less fight. However, even without the tragic elements of Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Build Fighters showed different people take something that was seen as a hobby pretty seriously. In the episode A Reason to Battle from Gundam Build Fighters one of the characters from the show asks another character why people in their world took gunpla as seriously as they did within the show.
As stated from this video when one of the characters asks why anybody would ever play with little plastic toys that a tournament was created just for these plastic models, Building and battling Gunpla is merely a hobby. Unlike the Mobile Suit Gundam story, we're not in a state of war, and we don't have yo put our lives on the line. It's just played for pleasure. You're absolutely right. But... No, for that very reason people can be enthralled by Gunpla and Gunpla Battle. Because they like it, they can take it seriously. People have hobbies. People have interests. People will take their hobbies or interests seriously even if they themselves have nothing to lose if they stopped doing their hobby or interest. But that is not a bad thing. It happens. Philosophically, this way of thinking can also be applied to sports fans. Various types of sports games had violent or unsafe origins. Yet, despite the increased safety regulations that have occurred overtime, people still enjoy watching them. So much so that people are willing to set aside hours of their time just to watch an entire game. Sometimes by making it like a party.
The interesting thing about hobbies involving model kits like gunpla is that there are no limits towards how someone can build a model. Other than minor pieces or weapons, there are no restrictions as to what a gunpla can look like. It can look like something printed-out on its box or something original and unorthodox. Gundam Build Fighters supports this idea in an episode where one of the characters who is relatively new to building gunpla starts to take interest and attempts making a model on her own. Titled Wings of Imagination, this episode shows someone experienced with gunpla kits becoms depressed because he is at the level of a tournament based on gunpla fighting where he was going to fight people on an international level and he was not sure if his skills were as good as he thought they were. While he was facing this problem, one of his friends asked him to help her learn how to fight using gunpla at an adequate level.
Surprisingly enough it was the girl who was relatively new to the gunpla building franchise who reminded a more experienced person about how one's imagination should not be stifled because it goes against an established franchise's rules or supplementary material. In the real world this philosophy could work for a lot of people who want to start something new. Yes there are people out there far more experienced than someone starting out, but sometimes a new person can bring something new that can be considered better than what was already made.
Freedom to Decide
As a show that celebrates Mobile Suit Gundam's success and existence as a franchise, Gundam Build Fighters enjoys making references and cameos of past characters and events from all of the other cartoons that have been made in the past. In the episode Gunpla Eve there are many cameos from some of the ill-fated couples from past series. While this episode emphasizes nostalgia, but in a way that makes the viewer have happy thoughts rather than sad thoughts, there was some philosophy included.
Here the lessons of past episodes are acknowledged and referenced. Making gunpla made people happy despite it being part of a rather depressing story and that building gunpla allowed people to express themselves artistically and without having to worry about what people have already done. And to add to all that another idea gets brought-up. The idea that gunpla building gave people freedom. Which it did in the context of this show. people in this show have been shown to build gunpla in all shapes and sizes without anyone saying what was wrong with the end result. And with Bandai, the company that creates the gunpla models in the real world, their advocacy of freedom in the context of the real world is to allow the fans to create their own gunpla and sometimes let those models make cameos within the show.
Gundam Build Fighters was a pretty philosophical show for a cartoon made to sell toys. It philosophically explained why people would seriously take part in something like model building, it advocated originality and imagination, and it explained the freedom this hobby gave people with its customization options. This show made a lot of observations that could be applied to the real world. And that is what made this show awesome.