"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Monday, July 1, 2013

Upcoming Projects Unveiled Today In Tokyo

新シリーズ『ガンダム ビルド ファイターズ』登場!

Teaser art for the new series: "1/44 Gundam, Mobilize!"

On July 2nd at 11:59 am (Japan Time), Bandai/Namco streamed a special press conference — live — announcing the next wave of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM projects to herald in the upcoming 35th Anniversary of the long-running anime franchise. While it was the usual pomp and circumstance, including a visit from Rena Matsui of the pop group, SKR48, a promo reel for the first new project, an anime series entitled GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS, was screened.

Just released image art for GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS. ©Sunrise/Sotsu

Set in the near future, premise of the new series follows the exploits of young Gundam Model (Gunpla) fighters, who meet for virtual tournaments, where their Gunpla come to life in virtual battle-fields. The protagonist is Leiji, one of the stop Build Fighters, and his partner, Sei Iori, who is his Gunpla Builder. The keyword of the new series is "All Gundam," meaning that mobile suits from every iteration of the long-running Gundam Saga will be playable characters.

Bandai's Katsumi Kawaguchi and Rena Matsui of the pop group SKR48.

While this may sound more like an expansion of similar series, such as the perennial POKEMON or YU-GI-OH! (or even MOBILE FIGHTER G GUNDAM), swapping pocket monsters and magic cards for Gunpla, a valid assumption, the new series actually recalls a much older, mostly forgotten manga-cum-anime series: PLAWRES SANSHIRO (1983-84) created by Jiro Gyu. Directed by Kenji Nagasaki (GUNDAM AGE), GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS will begin broadcast on Tokyo TV this October.

Scene from the upcoming series GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS.

While the other announcements concerned some new lines of their 1/44-scale customizable Gunpla, to tie in with the new series, as well as a new arcade card video game, "Gundam Triage Build MS," and a new PlayStation 3 fighting game, "Gundam Breaker," there were also some further news teasing productions for the upcoming 35th Anniversary that will debut between 2014-2015. These will include GUNDAM UNICORN: EPISODE 7 and the most exciting of all: GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN.

Cover for the first tankobon volume of "Gundam: The Origin."

The latter will be an animated remake of the first 1979 series, based on the manga written and illustrated by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who was the character designer and storyboard artist on the original series. While there have been conflicting rumors whether GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN will be a series or a feature film, this is still very exciting news for me — a huge fan of the 1979 series — and I'm keenly looking forward to what develops as far as this project is concerned.

While the kids can knock themselves out watching GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS, I'll be waiting to see the return of Amro and Char directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino!

Bandai's BUILD FIGHTERS Hobby Website

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