Gundam Build Fighters: Episode 21: Amid the Glittering Particles
Although not as good as my absolute favorite episode of the show (15), Episode 21 is another I love to bits, for reasons I'm going to try to put into words here. As I do so, I hope I can help explain why I love Gundam Build Fighters so much.
The central figure of this episode is Aila Jyrkiainen, who more or less embodies the show's love of fan-service. And by that I don't just mean T & A.
Aila's character is essentially the end result of years and years of refinement of a certain character archetype in the Gundam series, and to an even greater extent in Mecha anime in general. Her specific archetype is that of Lalah Sune, Mobile Suit Gundam's mysterious, tragic love interest for Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, whose psychic powers are both the cause of her romance and the source of her tragedy. Lalah was found by one Char Aznable while working in a brothel in India before being taken to the Flanagan Institute, whereas Aila was found by Nine Barthes, winning in Gunpla gambling, before being taken to the Flana Institute. Nine himself bears some resemblance to Char:
For reference. At left is Nine Barthes, and at right is Char as Quattro.
The resemblance is not solely in role or appearance, either. Although I do not feel that Nine is a 1:1 reflection of Char, one cannot overlook that their actions are extremely similar in that both men are using these girls as pawns in their own ambitions, and that both girls are suffering for it.
From Lalah the Gundam metaseries has featured numerous troubled girls whose powers are abused by men for their own gains. These examples include, but are not limited to, Four Murasame, Rosamia Badam, Elpeo Puru, Marida Cruz and Allenby Beardsley. It's so popular a convention that it's honestly stranger when a Gundam series fails to include such a character. Even the critically despised Gundam AGE had one. Aila's specific lineage is best linked to G Gundam's Allenby Beardsley. A point which the series does not fail to make:
The similarities between Allenby and Aila are numerous. Allenby was taken in by the Neo-Swedish Military at a young age and raised to be their top fighter. Allenby is introduced during the World Tournament as having defeated a powerful rival (Argo Gulskii, the most physically powerful member of the Shuffle Alliance), and not long after sneaking out of her team's quarters at night, whereupon she encounters the series' hero. Both share a love of meat-buns, they're that similar. Allenby's mech is loaded with a Berserker System which has essentially all the same consequences and functions as Aila's Embody System. The one major difference is that Aila's identity as an enemy to Reiji is kept a secret, where Allenby's is not. It's a trait she shares with several of her predecessors, however. Especially Four Murasame, Rosamia Badam and Elpeo Puru. Then there's this:
At left, Allenby Beardsley in a VR Battle gear, at right Aila Jyrkiainen in her Embody suit.
With some minor adjustments, both costumes are essentially one and the same. It's evident that the series has no intention of keeping her role as an homage to her predecessors a secret, and it's a piece I'm particularly happy with. At times it's difficult not to think that Tomino hates women. I mean, the light-saber bikini disaster in Victory is one we all remember as being hilarious and horrible, but NeoGAF user Megalosaro has made an interesting point to me on several occasions: that Tomino actually only aims to assert that women are chief victims of the sins of men during war, and that this message is simply distorted by Tomino's own, shall we call it unique, brand of story-telling.
This is possibly the most :Tomino line in the entire show
In order we have Minerva X (of Mazinger Z), Yuki Gora (of Getter Robo) and Kouchoki (of Getter Robo G). Minerva X is possibly the oldest example of this character appearing in mecha anime, but also one of the more unusual because rather than being an ordinary human girl turned into a weapon of war by the villain, Minerva X is a weapon of war created (or unearthed) by Dr. Hell who develops human feelings for Kouji and his Mazinger Z. As with Yuki Gora (the daughter of series villain Emperor Gore) and Kouchoki (a human woman named Koucho possessed by the Demon Empire), Minerva X met a horrible end at the hands of the man she had fallen for. This sort of thing happens no less than ten times in 100 episodes of Getter Robo and several times in Mazinger as well. The message, as I've understood it, is simply the above stated: that war/the world as it was during the Cold War, took ordinary women and turned them into weapons for the sake of men, only to cast them aside. In old mecha anime these women almost always met horrible fates. In the Gundam series itself, few are the daughters of Lalah Sune who have come to happy endings.
Which is why seeing Aila succeed where so many girls before her have failed is so rewarding an experience, I believe. You can rightly write quite a bit about the kind of message sent about a young woman needing a man to come along and rescue her, and that viewpoint and that criticism are certainly valid, but I offer to you, reader, an alternative view: that Aila's case is instead an encouraging statement upon the state of such girls within Mecha anime. Aila doesn't die a tragic death, but rather is able to recover and attain the normal, happy life she so desperately fought for. As she does so she tells off literally every single man who had stood in her way prior to that point, demonstrating her independence from the masculine system which had bound her prior to that point.
It's worth discussing, of course, that all of this is brought about by one of the better executed Newtype moments in the entire franchise. For those not in the know, the big deal about Newtype moments (and Newtypes in general) is that they are about understanding the feelings of your opponent and reconciling. That that intimate understanding is the future and hope of mankind. However, Newtypes have a terrible track record within Gundam for actually pulling this off because almost all of the time they simply wind up killing one another. The two longest running Newtypes, Char and Amuro, could not reach such a reconciliation in their mortal lives. This is significant because Aila's mecha is the extremely aptly chosen Qubeley Papillon. Her freedom is therefore tied to one of the most famous failures in the franchise: Haman Khan.
Haman Khan, her Qubeley, and Aila's Qubeley Papillon.
Haman Khan is notable within the Gundam series as its preeminent female villain. Although her back story paints Haman in the same light as all such women before her, she stands above them for bridging the gap from victim to aggressor, or rather, Haman isn't the servant of any villain greater than herself, whereas most of her predecessors worked for some villain or another. From the moment she's introduced in Zeta Gundam onward, Haman is a serious, powerful threat both on the battlefield and off of it. Over the course of ZZ Gundam she develops a relationship with Judau Ashta, the series hero, and like her predecessors, fails. What is notable here is that Haman had the chance to be saved, and actively rejected it. She also had numerous opportunities to seduce Judau to her cause and failed. Their Newtype reconciliation and attraction utterly failed to lead to any peaceful outcome whatsoever, instead sewing the seeds for later wars.
So to see Aila, a Qubeley pilot, come through her scenario to a cheerful outcome is something I enjoyed thoroughly. Granted, the series is of a much lighter tone than any of the above mentioned, so Aila's survival was guaranteed, but all the same. Seeing her overcome the challenge placed before her is an incredible step forward for both herself and her character archetype.
It's kind of funny, really, because her reconciliation is reached thus:
Reiji is that roommate who doesn't remember to put the sock on the doorknob.
The episode consists of more than just this, of course, but I found that this was the most important aspect to discuss. The rest of it I think has been gone over before me, like the way the Star Build Strike strikes what may be the most iconic Gundam pose of all time:
I hope that this helps to explain a little about why I loved this episode in particular and the series in general, and I thank you for the patience exercised in reading this post and as always, beg forgiveness of those who find these posts long-winded and space-consuming.
Ojamajo Doremi 30
After 30 episodes, Umakoshi finally got off his lazy ass and actually worked, lol.
As expected, it moves more than usual, has stronger drawings in general and it's really a kick to watch. Igarashi delivers again from the director spot and rounds off the antics and comedy with a solid episodic story that hits all the beats it needs to.
I've seen this pic posted quite a bit in this thread, lol
The step up in visual fidelity is really noticeable when both the director and the sakkan for an episode are extremely talented. Umakoshi not only directs the animation, he provides KA himself and calls up his buddy Sushio to help out!
Gotta say, ever since the mid-season climax started, the show has kicked into high-hear. The comedy in these later episodes is as good as the show's ever been, and there's always a great deal of characterization sprung around episodes. I don't think they'll be able to ride the momentum until the finale, but there's still a couple of Igarashi and Satou episodes left as well as the two Yamauchi ones which I'm very much looking forward to.
Well my comment was in terms of bringing the manga to the west. And I don't know of any other pure digital players in the western manga market.
For the anime, I guess it all depends on the format. It may simply be an ova bundled with the manga. That certainly reduces the chances of a western release. The streaming services generally don't license ova.
Ah yes, Nephrite may be gone, but unlike Jadeite there is actually some fallout from his departure.
The human energy he gathered has awakened the true big bad Queen Metaria and using the Dark Crystal as a tuner the hunt for the Silver Crystal is back in focus vis a vis the Rainbow Crystals and the revival of the seven dark warriors.
As fitting as the episode that kicks off the second half of the season, we are finally introduced to the fourth Sailor Scout. The very tall, the very strong, the lightning bruiser Makoto who I'll be honest is my least favorite of the supporting scouts.
I still like her more then Usagi but I have always found her less interesting then the others. That being said Makato brings her own unique dichotomy of holding a few vestiges of her original idea while also attempting to be ultra feminine. Also, love lorn, very love lorn, like when you are making Usagi shake her heard over romantic ideals, it might be time to take it down a notch. At any rate, the new monster dichotomy is now
pulling the rainbow crystals out of humans and turning them into monsters, which give Sailor Moon her mid-season upgrade, the iconic Moon Stick and its healing escalation.
Overall, a find start to the Zoicite Arc and as usual highest recommendations to watch.
Oh yes, the first season of Sailor Moon has really hit its stride by this point as it delivers, maybe not the most plot critical episodes, but still important in showcasing the true heroic qualities of Usagi. I will admit while the Crystal remake has many issues, one thing it has done a vastly better job is showcasing in spite of the flaws of Usagi why the other scouts would so readily follow her. Meanwhile in Sailor Moon Classics, her selfish and cowardly demeanor has lead to distrust and doubts from the other Scouts about Usagi's ability to lead. I should also note that this was a plot thread the DiC dub picked up and ran with along side Rei's rivalry and recast her as an outright would be conniving usurper, more on that later.
Anyway, this episode is also about the Naru
and her attempts to move on with life after the death of Nephrite and it is rather impressive how much gravitas Naru has at this point, of course it helps that she is struggling with some very heady issues that have some real meat to it, but it is a far sight better then the shallowness we were getting from early in the season. I will also say that I like Rainbow Crystal set up the most out of all of the power gathering ideas as there is a real sense of progression towards the end goal episode to episode. Definitively an improvement of the vagueness of the Nephrite arc and the downright randomness of the Jadeite arc. On the other hands the monster of the week thus far suck, just terribly designed atrocities that would be laughed out of an episode of Power Rangers, I do hope that gets an improvement soon.
Anyway, this episode carries a high recommendation to watch.