5 Point Discussions – Gundam Build Divers 13: “Duel”

by Sage Ashford

Riku battles to regain control of a crucial part of Ayame’s past? But what’s the secret behind the man who nearly destroyed GBN? 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. This series generally has a good grip on how online gaming works, but one really uncomfortable part of this last episode was how willing Riku was to just meet some creepy stranger off the web. Like, it was one thing when it was Koichi because they knew his sister, but this? Riku gets messaged by the Break Decal dealer, who promises to give back Ayame’s Gunpla if Riku agrees to meet him alone. It’s pretty common for action series to have clandestine meetings, but it takes on a different meaning when your main characters are in middle school–especially when we’ve already accepted this guy (as of now) isn’t exactly a “good” person. Speaking of.

2. This might be the least sympathetic protagonist I’ve seen in a kid’s show in quite some time. Our villain (who finally has a name: Tsukasa Shiba)’s beef with GBN is literally “you’re not playing the game right”. He’s obsessed with the “old” way of Gunpla battles–the GP Duels from the days of Gundam Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try, where whatever damage was taken by the Gunpla during the match in VR remained when the match was over. He became addicted to the feeling of loss and how much more “real” the battles were, which…on the one hand is a fair complaint, but doesn’t really give him an excuse to ruin everyone else’s fun. Seems like it’d be so much easier to just ask around online and create a group of people who only wanted to do GP Duels, even though that makes you the equivalent of the group who just won’t freaking give up Smash Melee.
On the other hand, this complaint is just such…garbage. He talks about the excitement and danger but like…it’s not like this is ever going to emulate proper Gundam shows where characters were losing their lives. And if it’s about your love of Gunpla, then GBN is the best thing which could’ve ever happened since you aren’t blowing up your suit every other week. Still, I like how consistent Divers is with it’s villains–the very first villain they had was a griefer, and so’s the main villain of this first arc. The real villain of gamers everywhere are people too miserable to actually enjoy video games and want to ruin everyone else’s fun.

3. As expected, Tsukasa is a member of Koichi’s old clan of Gunpla players. Yukio, Momoka, and Koichi get sent Riku’s location data by Sarah from online, and track him down right after Riku manages to take down Tsukasa’s Astray No-Name with his 00-Diver Ace. Just as he’s about to leave, Koichi catches sight of him and chases him down, where they get to have a heartfelt conversation about their stances on GBN. While Koichi has opened his heart and allowed himself to enjoy the world of GBN with new friends, Tsukasa has closed his off and become angry at how GBN’s creation ruined everything he cared about.
I’ve heard people levy the criticism that Divers takes itself too seriously. And I’d agree except…the only one taking this game that seriously is Tsukasa, who’s clearly being positioned as the bad guy. Everyone else is just all about having fun, if you ignore the unsettling attachment characters have to their Gunpla in what’s basically a thirty minute commercial for them anyway. But even that makes sense in a weird way–if you spent dozens of hours constructing something, you’d be pretty annoyed if it got wrecked or hurt too.

4. The end scene of this episode makes it all worth it, though. Ayame goes back to her old Force Nest and sees the Gunpla made by her and her friends, and the people who made her feel at home in this world to begin with show up to thank her for returning it. Of course she didn’t, which means Tsukasa kept his word–Riku showed up and won their duel, so he gave it back to them.  She figures out that it must have been the rest of her team who made it happen, which hopefully means going forward Ayame can accept her friends really care about her, and stop being such a edgelord like her former boss.

5. Next Episode: With the Break Decals finally dealt with, looks like the story can finally move on. Even though this arc feels like it could’ve been finished in 8 episodes or so rather than 13, we’re finally at the midpoint of the season so you know what that means: mid-season upgrades! Riku’s 00-Diver Ace is wrecked, so he’s looking to build it from scratch. But his Gunpla isn’t the only one that was wrecked recently–Ayame’s took quite the beating, so I imagine she’s due for an upgrade as well.
Riku’s seeking a new power for the “soul” of the 00-Diver, which hopefully doesn’t mean he can just spam those wings from the last episode whenever he wants…but somehow I feel like that’s exactly where this is going.
Gundam Build Divers is available on Crunchyroll and Bandai’s GundamInfo YouTube channel.

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