We’re finally getting to the point where Gundam Build Fighters Try will ramp up to similar levels to the first season — or maybe exceed it? Who knows? It feels like Try has been slower than the first season, but that’s probably an unfair comparison. After all, that ridiculous second half is likely what’s freshest in people’s minds re: the first season. Anything that doesn’t immediately match that would seem a disappointment. Try has been solid so far, though, and it’s taking a different path than the first season. How many times Sei and Reiji actually seem like real underdogs? Maybe when they were fighting Fellini and the Meijin? There are a ton of fun battles in the first season, but few where one might think the main characters could lose.
Here, there are a ton of heavy hitters who have already proven they can whoop our heroes’ asses. Team Try Fighters is already against the wall — the stakes in the battles are that much higher. Fumina, Sekai, and Yuuma are a likable bunch, and I really want to see them grow, gel their talents, and kick some ass. You know it’s going to be huge when, say, Yuuma finally gets that win over Saga. (Though I have the sneaking suspicion Saga’s a bit of a smokescreen and his blond teammate will end up the strongest of that crew …)
I laughed a lot during the reveal that the Meijin wears his trademark sunglasses under his motorcycle helmet. How the hell does he see anything?! I hope he doesn’t drive around like that during the night.
Gundam Build Fighters Try continues to walk a tightrope with the first season characters it is integrating into this new narrative. Obviously the Meijin is going to be WAY cooler than anyone we’ve seen so far by virtue of being a known product. We know the Meijin can rock it with any Gunpla he damn pleases, because we’ve seen him do that before. He doesn’t need to prove himself to anyone. So it is slightly dangerous to introduce such a cool ass character for fear of everyone being like, “Well, why am I watching a show about these dorks when I could be watching a show about the King of Gunpla?”
There’s also a danger in the old characters coming in and giving approval to the new — like the audience is being TOLD to accept and respect the newbies without being shown why they should. However, what this episode does is ideal. It shows that the new folk still have work to do without completely humiliating them and revealing them as eternally subservient to our favorites from before. That the Meijin beats Yuuma with his own Gunpla is important. The talent is already within Yuuma; he simply has to reach it himself. It gives something for Yuuma to aim for, and someone as cool as the Meijin helping him realize that gives Yuuma a goal to reach beyond simply beating Saga.
Meanwhile, Fumina’s scrap with her inspiration — Lady Kawaguchi — is neat, too. Their initial meeting is sort of poignant, even. It highlights the difference in point of view between the two. Lady’s match in the Kanto invitational tournament has always stuck with Fumina, because it served as the basis for her inspiration to reach greatness as a Gunpla Battler. For Lady, it was a small step on her way to where she is now. She undoubtedly had battles that were more memorable to her personally. Different things mean something to us and drive us.
If there’s anything that should make people feel good about our protagonists, it’s that they don’t immediately go to pieces in the face of fighters who are undoubtedly far greater than they are at the moment. Fumina is face-to-face with her inspiration, but she doesn’t babble about how great Lady is or refuse to stand up to her or anything. Fumina’s legit trying to beat her — she just can’t do it yet, and that’s OK. We at least get to see that she can shuffle parts of her robot to make new guns. That is some next level shit right there. It’s amazing how people can build that stuff into their gunplas.
Also, Lady Kawaguchi brings up a whole host of question simply by existing. Are there two classes of Meijin? Is she challenging the current Meijin for the title? Is wearing those sunglasses a required element of being the Meijin? Does the Meijin ever hand those sunglasses to kids in the audience a la Bret “The Hitman” Hart? These MUST be answered, especially the last question.