'Gundam Build Divers' sends a quick message about toxic fandom

Written by: GameGulp Staff

Features | Jun 27, 2018

Fandom Gundam Build Divers Toxicity

Many of us are aware of the different stages of fandom. First is, loving it. Then hating it. Feeling that they own it. They don't want to share. And because it doesn't align with their beliefs, they have the urge to destroy it - "If I can't have it, you can't have it" kind of thing.

The makers of Gundam seem to be aware of this and actually made a really quick nod in the thirteenth episode of Gundam Build Divers titled "Duel," where the protagonist Riku, and the current arc's antagonist, Tsukasa, finally meet.

Spoilers for Gundam Build Divers below.

Gundam Build Divers mostly take place inside a virtual reality massive multiplayer online game. Tsukasa has been distributing hacks called "Break Decals" that illegally modifies Gundam performance, which also turns out to be a bug that is corrupting the entire game.

During Riku and Tsukasa's confrontation, the latter is all about: How the old days were better and how the new sucks and all that blah and blah. And Riku, basically says, "You don't have to ruin it for everyone!"

With all the toxicity culminating within certain communities, it's hard not to miss the message passed by Riku.

Later toward the end of the episode, another character declares to Tsukasa, "We can't bring back the old-"

Before he was rudely cutoff with an overdramatic walkout. All the signs of toxic fandom is seething from Tsukasa. He thinks the original version of the game he came to love is better and feels the newer version that is a massive departure sucks, calling it "fake." He refuses to engage into actual dialogue about why he hates the new version and resorts to aggression. And, he'd rather destroy the entire game than see it flourish in new ways.

Star Wars is a prime example of how longtime fans are treating the franchise. The original trilogy had its flaws but the movies were all good, clean fun, so people love it. The prequel trilogy had a lot, and I mean, a lot of flaws, and a lot of people hated them so much they've been calling Star Wars creator, George Lucas, a very bad man.

As for the sequel trilogy? After The Last Jedi the amount of toxicity spewing from it can destroy planets faster than the Starkiller Base. Actresses Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran have been driven off social media from online harassment. Director Rian Johnson and actor John Boyega are being targeted as well, though they're fighting back.

Let's circle back around Gundam Build Divers to add more context in the whole Tsukasa thing.

Build Divers is the third season of the Gundam Build series. The first two, Gundam Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try saw kids building their own customized Gundam models and putting them in an arena that breathes life into these units and, well, fight. The actual Gundam units are damaged within that arena, and many battles reduce builders to start building from scratch. So, unlike other kids stuff like Beyblade, kids have actual reasons to cry over their ruined Gundam models as they spent a lot of lunch money to buy parts and work on perfecting their model instead of doing their home works.

Build Divers changes all of that system through the Gundam Battle Nexus Online, or simply GBN. Kids make Gundams and use them as avatars - kind of like Nintendo's Amiibo - in a virtual space in a massive multiplayer online game. Gundams still get wrecked but they respawn in the characters hangars. It's a safe way to play for kids and less expensive. (Yes, also less expensive for the developers because they probably have subscription models, lootboxes, and emojis to sell digitally without cost of distribution.)

Tsukasa doesn't like that. He doesn't like playing on a virtual space, feeling weightless. He wants the old school Gundam duels that were raw and savage. When Riku's 00 Diver Ace came to life using the old system, he felt the weight of his Gundam, and each attack he received was hard felt as if he were actually piloting a real Gundam. That's what Tsukasa is yearning for, the actual feel of it.

Will this small message change people's minds? Will it cause fans to hold each others' hands and come in agreement of the things they love? No. But it's nice that Gundam has acknowledge what's happening in other franchises and used their own platform to say something.

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