Let's be honest here. If you enjoyed Gundam Build Fighters and checked out any of the other installments (or knew of their existence), you were probably wondering when there'd be another story involving Sei and even Reiji. I know at least a few people were. So, GM Counterattack (get it?) is here to deliver, and it does so in a way that truly feels like an extension of the series and everything it ever stood for. Heck, for my money, I found it even better, on par with the absolute best episodes of that show. Why, you may
ask? Well, let's find out, shall we?
Basically, the Gundam Mafia (that thankfully used GMs) has been tracked by Sei's dad and the Gunpla organization, so, in order to get off their tail, they flee to a brand new tournament that Nills built, while trapping the returning fighters (who came because they wanna fight in tomorrow's opening ceremony) because the mafia is a bunch of assholes, with some putting themselves in theoretically perfect matchups to screw over our heroes. Hell, they even stole Sei's Gunpla because they're the fucking mafia, what are you gonna do, stop them? No, you get riddled by GMs, which are basically their equivalent of fucking tommy guns. Did no one learn from the 1920's? I'd love to imagine Al Capone and his goonies firing a million GMs at that poor Real Grade Exia you just built, you'd feel dead inside. Moving on!
Of course, since this is a kids battle anime, there has to be a deus ex machine somewhere, and there are a few, but the most notable one is Reiji's return just in the nick of time as Sei and everyone are trapped by a devious manipulation of particles. At least they explain why he came back, though I'd imagine that reasoning might make Aila pissed 'cuz knowing him, "borrowed" probably means "took while she was sleeping". Also, the true final battle between Sei as Reiji is pretty cool, as an added extension of just how far Sei has grown, kinda like a souped up version of their battle in episode 23, except they reach galaxies. Still, part of why this work so well, particularly for a kids show, is more attention to detail with the references and the fact that we have actually competent villains, not to mention that every fighter in the good guy team is here for their own reasons (excluding Iori, she just wanted to tag along with Sei). Hey, would you look at that, it's a cool segue.
Basically, all of the characters are the same, just with more experience and barring Sei, Iori, and Mao (and maybe Kirara and Misaki, who are barely in this), they're also taller or in some way look older. Given that this is just a side-story extra episode product, you'd think they'd all just be here for a reason that amounts to "the plot told them to go here because it's in line with their only motivation to go" and well, they're all going to battle, but for their own personal reasons rather than just "this looks fun and it's where the plot starts; let's go make our studio some money". I've said enough spoilers so I won't reveal those reasons (plus, that requires more effort and I got 13 or so of these seasonal things to review this month so...), nor will I reveal the identities of any names character in the mafia (though one of them had really fallen from "grace" since his minor appearance in the series). For as one-dimensional as these mafia hooligans are, they're at least competent villains for this kind of show that you're supposed to take seriously as an antagonist (unlike the chairman from last time), so they're already an improvement. Oh, and speaking of improvement...
The art is pretty much on point here, even more so than with the series. The digital effects somehow look even better here and the animation is never ever choppy, unlike a few moments I the show. The Gunpla detail and designs are also on point too, with my favorite new design (that isn't a modified version of the original like the new Wing Feniche that can transform into a goddamn motorcycle because fuck you, Fellini is cool as shit) is the Ninpulse Gundam. The fights look better choreographed as well and I never thought I'd see the day that there was a golden diamond encrusted Buand Doc (why give such a piece of junk such luxury?). There is also very minimal CGI here and that's good. Now for the only minor downgrade from the series to this...
Not gonna lie, I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of new tracks for this one, and the few new ones that were there (one track towards the end and the ED) weren't really up to par with the music of the original show, though there. Of bad. Just eh when you compare it to some of the better tracks of the show and the 2nd ED. The music that they used from the original was also rather eh, not even bringing back any of the cooler tracks such as Star Build Strike theme and PowerResonance. It's still decent overall, I just wish they lifted some of the best tracks from the original and made more interesting new ones.
Akin to Build Fighters fashion, I found a lot of fun to be had here from both the references and the actual battles themselves. Seeing the ways the expanded on the original series was also a delight, especially the ending to this special, which I won't spoil. It's raw mecha fun for kids and adults and anyone in between or beyond, and that's always a plus (unless you here mecha...*cough* loser *cough*), and obviously, this is best saved for after you finish Build Fighters. So yeah.
OVERALL: 8/10 RAW SCORE: 76/100
If you enjoyed Build Fighters, there's no reason not to end up liking this one as well. In many cases, I'd argue it's better than that one overall as it's like watching one of the show's best episodes without dealing with any of the weaker ones, and for a kids battle anime, that's still a proud achievement, so, like it's Gunpla builders/fighters, GM Counterattack should lift its head high. Well, with all that said, I bid you adieu.
As a bridge between Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try, this certainly goes through the motions of connecting the old series to Episode 1 of the sequel, but it does little else. If you've ever heard of Build Fighters, you've probably heard the criticism that it's "just mech fights," and, although there are copious mech fights, that's not exactly true. The first series was also a loving sendup of Gunplay culture and Gundam itself, often taking time to make fairly esoteric jokes just because it could.
Try downplayed that element of the show quite a bit, and this ONA discarded it entirely. It's a very mechanical
story that serves to get our old heroes together, gives them a villain, and then puts them in a gauntlet of mech battles, after which it ends.
Good thing I personally like mech battles, because this will be very disappointing for you if you're looking for something more.