Commercial anime are not uncommon in the history of the medium. Many games try to sell themselves through anime adaptations to varying results (looking at you Vampire Holmes!). I mean no modern day medium of cinematic entertainment these days can be devoid of it. Blockbuster films receive numerous ads for products that then must be placed within the film and sometimes it is more obvious than others (like Man of Steel). That isn’t a bad thing per se as these are more or less a necessity to help get these films and television shows made, yet that doesn’t hold them back from being fun pieces of entertainment for the most part. They don’t hinder our enjoyment regarding the work and while they may be noticeable in moments shouldn’t detract from the overall quality or come into play regarding the reception it should have.
That being said, some series or films are created for the sole purpose of selling merchandise with little to no merit to them at all. Look at what people are saying about the Emoji Movie that has recently come out. Yet I feel as if the Emoji Movie will fill up the public eye for a while so I decided to tackle the same idea with yet another piece of commercial entertainment (also I don’t want to put myself through that film). Gundam has become a phenomena over the years, and a lot of its sales comes from the gunpla kits it still produces with Bandai Namco. I mean it helped save the franchise from potential failure and is quite the intricate hobby, well models are intricate in general. All in all one does expect an anime or something along those lines to be made off the sport, and in fact three anime have. I know most people know about Gundam Build Fighters which was given a sequel only a year after its release in 2013, yet I am here to talk about the third work based off the Gunpla craze. The forgotten sibling known only as Gunpla Builders Beginning G, and we will see potentially if it manages to escape the crevasse that the Emoji Movie has sunken into or simply already be at the bottom waiting for the emojis to arrive.
Being a big fan of Gundam in general and on a mission to own/watch every Gundam possible (I am close to owning more than half), I came across this anime. I have seen Gundam Build Fighters and its sequel, and even some of the more obscure Gundam titles like SD Gundam Force yet I had never heard of this one before. I mean I was pleasantly surprised with the Gundam Build Fighters as a fun experience for both the uninitiated and veterans alike, a solid children’s anime, so this one seemed like it would be an easy watch. It took me one episode to realize how wrong I was…and how bad this OVA is. I mean I won’t sugercoat it, this is one of the worst Gundam titles I have watched and quite possibly in my bottom 10 anime. I am not here to beat a dead horse, but simply look at its problems and hope to see why Gundam Build Fighters worked better than its past contemporary.
Gunpla Builders Beginning G is better explained as a “three episode commercial OVA”. As much as Gundam Build Fighters is also an anime to sell Gundam model kits, I couldn’t call Build Fighters a commercial. It had a sense of story, a sense of characters beyond the passion for gunpla, trying to be a homage to Gundams past. Gunpla Builders Beginning G however lacks more of a purpose beyond selling those model kits. Actively trying to place a character who can do no wrong in the position of winning every match he fights and effectively being a vehicle in which the audience is supposed to see how cool gunpla is. There is nothing beyond the one character point, and I wish I could say more about the cast itself showcasing more defining features but that is lost on this OVA. Everyone revolves around only talking about gunpla or building, using very basic caricatures or personality traits to create a husk of what a character should be. They even have the “girl” character who is a trope used in more classic kids shows, where the personality essentially boils down to “she’s a girl”.
The story goes from fascination with gunpla, wanting to know about gunpla, playing gunpla and winning and then aiming to be the best. That is the short journey we go on in this three episode OVA. Now this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if we are able to connect at least with the desire to win, but when all this show is boils down to “gunpla is cool” you have a problem on your hands for making us care for anything. There are simple motivations one could use as I have to start believing in myself more or having a character arc regarding the character’s backstory, yet none of that is ever given or effectively used. I still struggle to find a reason for the story to exist besides the fact that they want to show off some gunpla and how fun it is! Buy it in stores now! I feel like this walking ad is a bit too much in terms of being honest about what it’s doing. This is literally sitting down for thirty minutes to watch an ad, and while some ads have problems with catching your attention in the thirty seconds they have on commercial breaks this one has an even bigger gap to cross. A thirty-six minute commercial is too long and easily this could have been one episode if they wanted to show off Gundam model kits and see them fight (which I still would love to see that technology made).
People can forgive this because it isn’t trying to hide the fact that it is a commercial and I say that’s even more insulting to us as a viewer. It sounds as if they aren’t even trying to entertain us or put effort into it where thirty second commercials try to stand out with wacky antics to make us remember them. They try to make us remember them, yet this doesn’t even want to give the slightest iota of fun to the audience besides repeating both visually and verbally “gunpla is great!” I feel that this is up there with Disney’s Planes in how much of a cash-grab attempt it is but at least Planes worked as a product! Planes made people come into the theaters to watch it and grossed enough to be a success financially, whereas Gunpla Builders Beginning G was outstaged just three years later with a show that actually made people want to buy model kits. It was because the passion was there, the characters were at least realized and had more personality traits than the basics and the fight scenes had effort and cinematic quality put behind them. Just saying your product is great without any verve or effort put into the presentation is not going to sell your product plain and simple.
In the end I believe that this honest three episode commercial does not even have one moment of enjoyment that will simply be upstaged with just buying a model kit yourself. It doesn’t showcase the models in a fun way, I mean they even took the time to paint a model without any real drive behind it. I understand the fact that it’s all for fun and that these are just kids being kids (besides the crazy adults in the OVA who really love their gunpla a bit too much). Yet the line for consumable entertainment needs to be drawn, especially regarding commercialized films or television shows. Gunpla Builders Beginning G doesn’t need to be watched by anyone, if you are curious about Gundam kits I am sure there are plenty of fans who can sell you on them far better than this commercial ever could. That is where the real passion will come from (or watch Gundam Build Fighters if you feel inclined its pretty good).
I know not everyone is going to agree with me on the final rating I decided to give this anime. I mean it can be enjoyable as a short thirty something minute distraction. Being harsh though to things of this nature though comes with being me and me being passionate about what I am talking about. If you enjoy this I am glad you can, but I find no satisfaction in it nor do I find satisfaction in tearing apart something Gundam related.
So have you heard of Gunpla Builders Beginning G? What do you think about commercialized content in film/television? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a wonderful day!