Denfami Nico Gamer has published an interview with Gundam Breaker series producer Usui Koutarou and the producer of several recent Gundam anime series Ogawa Masakazu, covering the similarities between the video games and anime series which portray worlds in which people use customised Gundam model kits (Gunpla) to participate in virtual battles.
Part 1 of the interview is available here
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The interview moves on to Build Divers, and Ogawa says that due to Build Fighters being a hit, Gunpla sales remained well, and Bandai Hobby requested that it be turned into a series, and Build Divers was planned. The interviewer inquires about how Build Divers is a complete reboot of the setting, and Ogawa says that this is because they thought that they would have to change something if they made a new anime while they were making Try. This is because, like older Gundam series, the existing Build Fighters was becoming too big, and starting to have people think of how things “should be”. Making a new anime with the same setting would thus have the risk of becoming a show for existing fans that would not function as a gateway, and so after discussion with other staff including the director, they decided to reset the setting.
The interviewer inquires about the online game elements in Build Divers, and Ogawa says that this was director Watada Shinya’s idea. Additionally, one of the biggest achievements and problems of the Build series is making its viewers want to have their own Gunpla Battles, but with the Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try setting, this would probably not be possible in the lifetimes of anyone involved. Build Divers was thus planned with the possibility of realization in mind. Build Divers series writer Kimura Noboru and Build Fighters/Build Fighters Try series writer Kuroda Yousuke were brought in to discuss their own experiences in online games, and they came up with an online game that seems it might actually exist. This resulted in viewers commenting on how bad the game’s management is, and Ogawa says that though this was unintentional, it is something that does happen with online games.
In the vein of things common in online games, the interviewer inquires about a line spoken by Ayame in episode 7 which made it sound like SD Gundam users in the world are unpopular, and if it is supposed to be like how there are sometimes specific job classes in online games that are unpopular. Ogawa says that because SD Gundams are completely different in size from regular Gunpla, this means that they have shorter ranges, and also most of their moves are predictable once seen once, meaning that they are clearly disadvantaged in battle. Additionally, SD Gundam is abnormally popular with a small group of fans which is for better or worse very passionate, meaning that players in the world who use SD Gundams may have problems finding groups to join. Usui adds that while SD Gundams also appear in Gundam Breaker 3, the reason why they are not playable and are instead AI-controleld companions is because of the same problems Ogawa mentioned regarding their range and moves.
The setting elements of scanning Gunpla to use them in the game, and getting parts obtained in the game in real life as well is also brought up. Ogawa says that while the online game setting would have made these unnecessary, that would have been diverging from their intended themes, and that these were introduced to show the importance of having something real, not just data.
The interviewer next asks about the intentions behind the unprecedented character designs, like that of Rommel, and Ogawa says that they introduced fantasy elements so as to try to get not just Gundam fans, but also anime and video game fans to watch the show as well. Also, because the setting is an online game where many characters are not shown offline, part of the fun is using your imagination to wonder what the characters look like in real life. The characters are also a gateway for new audiences, and Rommel for example is particularly popular, and the series PR manager, who is a woman, has been saying that they should release a 1/1 scale Rommel plush toy. Cute characters like Rommel are their way of targeting new audiences, like female viewers.
When asked if the amount of freedom they have in creating Build Divers has decreased from Build Fighters, Ogawa says that it would be better to say that they have to spend more time thinking about things, due to how there are higher expectations, and more requests from related parties. They also have to balance the “aura” of trying to sell products so that the show does not turn into a commercial.
The interviewer asks if a Gunpla like Super Fumina would eventually show up in Build Divers, and Ogawa says that while an avatar that looks similar to that might appear, Super Fumina was only possible because of Build Fighters Try’s setting, and that it would be hard to portray something similar in Build Divers because it would have to be shown as a player piloting a mobile suit that is a model kit of a character.
When asked if the Build and Breakers series now having similar settings was intentional, Usui acknowledges this, and describes how both sides discussed what to do with the setting. The game developer side’s ultimate goal is to create a game like Build Divers’ Gunpla Battle Nexus Online, which would of course include e-sports. Ogawa says that they will continue to produce new contents that connect Gundam and Gunpla to games, and that realization of Gunpla Battle might even happen in five years.
The interview concludes with Ogawa saying that Build Divers is a first step to something new for Gundam and Gunpla, and Usui saying that while they might not be around to see Gunpla Battle Nexus Online realized, they want to work towards a future where it happens.