The Gunpla Academy faces the enigmatic Lucas Nemesis and his fantastic Crossbone Fullcloth.
At this point, I’ve resigned to accepting that Try will simply never be as good as the original, and this episode is emblematic of all of Try’s failings. Right off the bat, the characters involved aren’t notable in any way. I’d dare you to find anyone who actually likes the Gunpla Academy team, but then again, I’d dare you to find anyone who has anything at all to say about them. They are so devoid of personality that they literally drain the excitement from any fight they’re involved in. Unlike Fellini, Yuuki, or even Mao, the Gunpla Academy commands absolutely zero presence. There’s no charisma to them and their taste in gunpla is laughably poor. All in all, they’re easily the worst possible rivals to have in a kid’s show, and Try suffers from it.
On the other end of the gunpla arena is Lucas Nemesis, the child whose grandfather hired shifty scientists and a Finnish girl to win a trophy for him back in the first season. Lucas is actually a decent character and with enough screentime, could definitely be a likeable and interesting rival character. So of course, Try’s writers completely ignore him beyond a pithy 5 minutes of dialogue at the start of this week’s episode. It’s as if Sunrise has forgotten why characters like Fellini and Yuuki were so fun. They had tons of screentime and weeks of buildup to establish their personalities and fighting styles. Not only that, but they both got multiple opportunities to show off their fighting ability. Meanwhile, Lucas has fought a grand total of one battle before this one, and it wasn’t even shown on screen. (Something I’m still extremely annoyed by.)
The fight itself also embodies so much of what Try does wrong on a weekly basis. When the fight is good, it’s a ton of fun. Watching the Crossbone run roughshod over the team of mary-sues and 00 derivatives was highly satisfying. It helps that the Crossbone Fullcloth is hands down the most stylish fighting suit in Try, bar none. Between laser crossbows, anchor hooks, foot spikes, and punch daggers, the Crossbone Fullcloth is a suit of many gimmicks, all of them extremely fun to watch. Unfortunately, the fight also represents why Gundam Build Fighters worked best as a 1-on-1 format. Lucas’s teammates, piloting two (fantastic) Geara Doga customs, literally exist for the sole purpose of one of the dumbest plot twists I’ve ever seen in a kid’s show. Turns out the only reason the Crossbone is so good is because of its insane energy consumption, which leaves it drained after apparently three minutes of action. As a result, it needs to be constantly refilled with energy, which the two Geara Dogas are there for. Yes, apparently bringing two mobile gas stations to a 3-on-3 fight is a strategy used by a team that has made it to the semifinals of a national tournament.
Even more egregiously is the plain fact that energy consumption has never been brought up as a real issue. It has been alluded to, yes, but showing up as an explicit obstacle? Never. Sekai’s Build Burning can literally destroy celestial bodies and not worry about energy. The Gunpla Academy’s suits have never even considered it a problem. But apparently the Crossbone is the one and only suit in all of gunpla that suffers from power issues? Hell, even if we look at this from a Gundam canon standpoint, where Gundam 00 suits have a natural advantage thanks to GN Drives, the Crossbone is a late UC suit and as a result, is built to extremely high-spec, far beyond anything found from the early UC that most fanboys fanwank to. Let it be said though, I’m not complaining about the energy problem itself, but it represents Sunrise’s inability to write consistent conflicts that make sense within the context of the narrative. It makes Try all the weaker.
The end of the fight is equally disappointing, with Lucas literally being unable to down even a single one of the Gunpla Academy’s suits. He kicks The End hard enough to sort of disable it and beat the Portent hard enough to force it to use its bullshit healing drones. Oh yeah, apparently Shia’s gundam is built so well, it houses a fucking self-healing system. If that doesn’t tell you how far gone Try is compared to its predecessor, I don’t know what else to tell you. And yet despite all this, Try could have salvaged it. With the clock running out, the Gunpla Academy was going to win by TKO. So they have one final duel between the Crossbone and the Transient. Now see, this could actually be quite cool. You could have the Crossbone beat the Transient, showing off Lucas’s skills, but still have him lose by technicality.
Nope. Try isn’t even competent enough to accomplish that much. The Crossbone loses the 1-on-1 duel anyway, to once again, show how cool and powerful the Gunpla Academy is. If this episode’s intent was to to make us like the Gunpla Academy, Try failed in every imaginable regard. And I suppose it’s at this point I ask, what’s left for Try? Minato’s fight is coming up next week, and while I love the Tryon, I have zero faith in Sunrise’s ability to make it a compelling fight. Some of the original’s best fights were losses. The K9 Sniper, Sei and Reiji’s first fight against Yuuki, Fellini’s fight against Aila, etc. Obviously Tryon is going to lose, but will it even put up a good fight? Try’s past record tells me to not get my hopes up.
And then after that, it’s the finale against the Gunpla Academy, a team that is almost impossible to care about. There’s none of Team Nemesis’s comical villainy, none of Yuuki’s showmanship, and without a main overarching villain, no narrative arc to conclude. Try has lost its momentum and there’s no way it’s going to get it back at this point. From here on out, I’m just coasting by because we’re already at the finish line.