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Posts tagged “Gundam

Top 10 – Mechas

GeekOut Top 10s

Mechs are big. Mechs are hulking. Mechs are armoured up and they protect the person who controls them as much as they can, whilst wreaking undeniable damage. Mechanised vehicles, Autobots and other mechanical behemoths are included within this week’s Top 10 list. We’re not including every machine, but it has to be motorised, it has to have some form of offense and it has to look pretty spectacular.

All in all, this list is going to be a-mech-zing! I’ll show myself out. (more…)


Gunpla Resources

Last time I wrote for GeekOut South-West I spoke of my new favourite hobby, Gunpla aka Gundam Plastic Models. Since then, I’ve built several models and even completely customised another, which I’m presenting to Timlah at some point in the future as a gift for, well, everything.

  • Timlah’s notes: Thanks Kev! It looks awesome!!

But I realised that something was missing from the primer I wrote last time, some additional information on the resources you can use if you’re diving into the world of Gundam model kits, how useful they are and my own recommendations. So that’s what we’ll focus on for today.

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Gunpla Primer

Gunpla is very likely an unfamiliar word. But if I tell you it has something to do with Gundam and model building, you’ll probably figure out what the word means, but don’t worry, I’m planning to explain everything.

Gunpla is my latest hobby, and one that I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to for a long time, as I find it extremely fun. I also have some interesting ideas but can’t really put them in motion until I become more proficient with the out-of-the-box models.

Plastic History

So, what is it? Gunpla is a simple Japanese portmanteau of the words “Gundam Plastic Model,” and refers to modelling kits for building scaled versions of every vehicle and mecha of the many Mobile Suit Gundam franchises. I’ll be using this word to refer to all Gundam modelling for the rest of the article.
The first line of model kits, way before anyone ever came up with the name Gunpla, appeared on the market following the cancellation of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series in the 70s, and included every single type of mecha or vehicle seen on the show as well as variations. These models were rather simplistic by today’s standards and much like other model kits—such as airplanes—you needed to paint and glue them together yourself.

These are not pretty! | Credit: CollectionDX

These are not pretty! | Credit: CollectionDX

During the 80s, with the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam line, the style changed and they started using both polycaps (soft plastic connectors) for better-articulated joints and snap-fit parts that didn’t need glue. These two improvements make up the current standard for Gundam models aka Gunpla.

Over the years, Bandai introduced the “Grades” which represent not only levels of quality and detail but also the scale—though the first Grade introduced, the High Grade, shares the scale with three other lines. Some of these Gunpla grades had limited runs, as they were part of Anniversary events, such as the First Grade, a re-release of the first series’ mechs under modern snap-fit standards yet keeping the original simplicity, and the Mega Size Model “Grade”, 1:48 scale, during the 30th anniversary event and discontinued only three years later.

We’ve come a long way!

We’ve come a long way!

When it comes to collecting and building Gundam, it’s all…

A Matter of Scale

The average-sized mecha in the Gundam universe is around 18 meters tall. Building a plastic model that size would be overkill. You wouldn’t really fit the thing in your room, even your garage. You’d have to build it on the Thames! But I suppose you would have to do the same with any model kit, I suppose.

As I mentioned before, every grade has an associated scale, ranging from 1:144 (that is 1/144 of the original 18m size) to the quite massive 1:35. Here’s a quick breakdown:

From small to Gargantuan, kinda like D&D scales! | Credit: Japan-Cool

From small to Gargantuan, kinda like D&D scales! | Credit: Japan-Cool

High Grade (1:144 & 1:100): Introduced in the 90s and still a very popular Gunpla grade. These models are very simple and easy to put together, a recommended starting grade for most builders. You can find almost all Mobile Suit in High Grade.

Real Grade (1:144): A model type with extensive details and using the design principles of the Master and Perfect grades but at a smaller size and cheaper price. Real Grade is the highest end line for this scale.

Master Grades allow for lots of poses!

Master Grades allow for lots of poses!

Master Grade (1:100): These kits introduced something amazing to Gunpla: inner skeletal frame, for better poses and articulation. Master Grades are the 2nd highest level of Gundam models in terms of details and overall difficulty. This is the grade I chose to start with, as I wanted a challenge for myself and the hundreds of tiny pieces were a lot of fun.

Perfect Grade (1:60): Perfect Grades are the top of the line in Gunpla, with massive level of detail and parts. It’s not unusual to find PGs with led parts. Just imagine having to wire lighting in addition to all the building. Perfect Grade Gunpla as you may imagine are also quite large, at around 30cm on average and very expensive. If a Master Grade costs around £40 a Perfect Grade will cost at least five times that amount. These require a lot of skill and time to build.

In addition to these mainstream lines, there are two others worth mentioning, even though they’re not really grades but separate product lines by Bandai Hobby:

SD Gundams are really cute! | Credit: Amazon UK

SD Gundams are really cute! | Credit: Amazon UK

Super Deformed: The Super Deformed Gunpla kits are easy to build but have limited articulation and need a coat of paint for finishing. These represent the many comically proportioned Gundams from the SD Gundam Franchise. I have at least one SD Gundam planned in the future, the Star Winning Gundam from the anime Gundam Build Fighters Try, the series that inspired me to build my first Gunpla.

B-Club: These are a special category, a secondary line made of resin and with no finishing whatsoever. Because of the industrial process required for resin, these kits often have extra bits attached that the builder needs to remove and that’s just the beginning. Only experts should attempt these builds, as they require copious amounts of customisation to even build an out-of-the-box model.

Resin models are hard! | Credit: GunJap

Resin models are hard! | Credit: GunJap

With that we conclude this overview of Gunpla, so let’s get onto the fun bit…

Gunpla Building

Every Gunpla kit comes with everything you need to build the model, the pieces held together in numbered sprue’s. Along with these comes an instruction manual that will remind you of IKEA, with clear instructions of which numbers to put together and where.

You might not need glue to build Gunpla anymore, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need the proper tools. This is still model building and any craft hobby has its toolset! Your primary tools are a cutter and a hobby knife.

Just follow the instructions!

Just follow the instructions!

The cutter, as its name implies is just to cut the Gunpla pieces clear of the sprues, while the hobby knife you’ll most likely use to take off the excess plastic on the part after cutting it free. You have to be very careful with hobby knifes, not only because it’s very easy to cut yourself with the sharp blade, but also it’s very easy to go beyond the simple nub of extra plastic and take out a chunk of the part—though if you’re doing a custom build and want the part to look “damaged,” you might want to do that on purpose.

The hobby knife is also very useful in peeling and attaching decals, which come standard with most models, particularly the “Ver. Ka.” Series, which are redesigned mechs by Hajime Katoki, one of the principal mecha designers for Sunrise and who’s worked on many Gundam series, with Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz being the most famous. He’s the man responsible for the redesigned and frankly badass looking Wing Zero Custom.

I’m still missing decals!

I’m still missing decals!

Aside from these important tools, it never hurts to have a cutting board, as these come with measurements and if you use the knife, you won’t ruin the desk you’re working on.
Lastly, you might need some sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces. Sometimes, even using the hobby knife isn’t enough or the piece is too delicate or small for the blade, so sandpaper can help you where the knife can’t in making your Gunpla pieces ready to go.

This is really, really sharp! | Credit: Gunbies

This is really, really sharp! | Credit: Gunbies

Bandai also sells a ton of markers to pain the parts, or you can go with your own—this bit is really up to you. Let me just say that unless you’re building something custom and want to add your own scheme, the kits come with painted parts, so you don’t need to worry about it.

As for the scales and grades to pick, it’s up to you, but the higher the scale and grade, the more it’ll take to finish a model. High Grade and SD Gunpla take a few minutes to complete. Real Grades take a bit longer and Master Grades a few hours. Perfect Grades and beyond can take up to a day of work depending on the complexity of the model. If you’re doing custom work, it’s impossible to know how long it’ll take.

Love the box art

Love the box art

My first Gunpla, a Master Grade Freedom Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED took 6-8 hours to complete, though it’s still missing the decals. It might seem like a long time, but when you’re doing it, putting the pieces together with the cookbook, time just flies by.

My next project is another Freedom Gundam but a 2016 version with even more articulation and better construction overall. I have a few Beargguy (not a typo) III builds in the works as well, with some custom builds, including one with the GeekOut South-West colours and logo, but those will take time to come together, as will the 3rd Freedom I’ll make, but a custom build with a Decepticon design.

When I eventually make it to PG Gunpla, I’m doing the original Gundam, the RX-78.-2.

One of the most modifiable models out there!

One of the most modifiable models out there!

If you’re interested in Gunpla and want some extra information, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll point you in the right direction. I can even teach you which sites to avoid when purchasing Gunpla! I might be just a beginner on the subject, but in this short time, I’ve seen a good chunk of scam websites and I certainly don’t want you to go through the same stuff I did.


Top 10 Anime Couples

Aww, you softies! You voted to see us rank the love lives of anime couples. Anime, like every other artistic medium, hits on every aspect of the human experience in some form or another. We’ve all been through the hardships of school, dealt with the awkwardness of our parents, siblings, and tried to balance work against the pressures of being the only one who can end the invasion of demonic entities from beyond the veil of death.

But amidst all this, we all find time to settle down with our significant others, and so too do anime characters find love amidst the insanity of the worlds they live in.

Once again, Joel professes his own limited knowledge of anime (and is ironically attending a wedding, so doesn’t have much time to help on this list about couples), so big thanks to Kev of The Mental Attic for helping cover his back this week!

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Top 10

10) Soul & Maka, Soul Eater

Soul and Maka Bickering

The lowest of our list, but still slashing their way into our Top 10 is Soul & Maka, which seems like a very strange pairing but you’ll understand why they’re here in just a moment. They are opposites, as you have the calm and collected Soul and the impatient and impulsive Maka. With this in mind, the two seem like an ideal romantic pairing, except that Soul is really a Demon Weapon, a scythe, with Maka as the one who wields him. Whilst he does indeed have a human form, the pairing are only together as weapon and Meister Partner.

It’s been stated various times throughout the series that there is no romantic interest between the two, but the mere fact they’re always together kind of helps to classify them as a couple. They have a strong friendship, the kind that can only be brought about by spending a lot of your free time together. Whilst the two never get together romantically, they’re a sweet couple to us damn it.

9) Asuna & Kirito, Sword Art Online

Kirito_kissing_Asuna_BD

Asuna & Kirito are synonymous with Anime Couples right now, so why are they so low on this list? Because we’re not looking at their relationship from the novels or manga but the anime, and while they are solid as a couple once they’re together, the build-up to the romance is weak. Sword Art Online, due to the nature of its story, implements many time leaps and these make the beginning of their relationship feel too forced, as it seemingly happens by someone flipping their switch from “friendly” to “love-struck.” And as we’re looking at the romance from beginning to end, it makes Asuna & Kirito – a very strong couple overall — inferior to others on this list.

8) Winry & Edward, Fullmetal Alchemist

500px-Canon-Love-edward-elric-and-winry-rockbell-8164847-1024-768

Fullmetal is his alchemists name and he is deeply in love with Winry Rockbell. Even if he doesn’t want to admit it most of the time, Edward Elric loves Winry and that’s a fact of the series. They even get together at the end of the series, as Edward proposes to Winry. If you didn’t catch that, go back and rewatch it, you may be surprised by this. However, it’s no secret that the two were constantly bickering at one another.

Let’s get something straight here, the pairing are the ultimate friendship romance. They’re interested in one another on a very deep level, but because of this, their imperfections as people are heightened for them both. Whenever Edward breaks part of his automail, he’ll always go back to Winry for help, even though there are better automail mechanics out there. Edward certainly can afford better mechanics, but he’ll always go back to Winry, even if she does taunt him over his height. Funnily enough, he is taller than her. Nevermind, the two may be constantly bickering, but it seems their hearts are just far too entwined.

7) Lina Inverse & Gourry Gabriev, Slayers

Slayers
The Sorceress and the Knucklehead, Gourry & Lina are one of the classic couples in anime. Meeting in the first episode of the series and inseparable since then, Gourry & Lina complement each other perfectly. While they are a funny couple and their relationship works well in both drama and comic relief, there is very little romantic development in the series, adapted from Hajime Kanzaka’s novels. The author admits he didn’t bother with the romantic development and instead hinted at things without proper explanations because he can’t write romance.

6) Yoh Asakura & Anna Kyoyama

Arranged marriages are no joke and this certainly is the case between Yoh and Anna. The two are engaged right at the very beginning of the series when Anna is introduced to the audience. Yoh doesn’t seem to be very pleased about it, but at the end of the day, she wants to be married to the one that will become Shaman King. She’s incredibly bold and somewhat of a bully, which is the exact opposite to Yoh who is very relaxed and calm throughout.

So how can these two be such a good couple? They’re believable. They don’t have to shower the audience with over the top, affectionate scenes. In fact, they seem more akin to close friends and even teacher and student in some cases. It’s with this in mind that they’re fun to watch. Their love for one another deepens as the series goes on, but it doesn’t change them as characters. She does admit how she feels for Yoh constantly throughout, with it getting stronger with each and every episode. It’s actually rather sweet for an arranged marriage.

5) Kira Yamato/Lacus Clyne, Gundam Seed

Kira Yamato & Lacus Clyne

Gundam is one of those anime series that handles romance better than people give it credit for, and among its myriad of seasons, Kira & Lacus’ relationship is by far the strongest and most convincing, as it develops over time, starting with a chance meeting early in the series and coming to a head later on when a wounded Kira is brought to her home. She nurses him back to health and as she helps him deal with his traumas of war, they get even closer, but helps him return to his friends when he discovers they’re in danger. She even becomes a traitor to her nation by helping Kira steal the Freedom Gundam.

Before the end of the war, they declare their love for each other and by the second season of the series, they are the strongest couple in Gundam history and only get better as time passes. They show strength in their commitment and how healthy they are for each other. Lacus herself states that despite the suffering she’d gone through, meeting Kira brought her the most happiness she’d ever felt.

4) Vegeta & Bulma, DragonBall Z

Vegeta Bulma Trunks

Goku and Chi Chi seemed like the obvious choice here, but let’s be honest for a second. Goku only married Chi Chi because he said he would marry her, when they were kids. Whilst it makes them childhood sweethearts, (though Goku was oblivious to this,) they aren’t a very intriguing couple. So what about Krillin and Android 18? Whilst they’re very sweet, it was sort of glossed over. So fine, that means we should talk about Gohan and Videl? I mean the superhero duo really should be the ones to take the DragonBall Z prize, right?

Actually, this goes to Vegeta and Bulma, who are easily the most fluid and relate-able couple in the series. Vegeta, the prince of Sayians, is brash and rude. He’s arrogant and he’s a bit of a rogue. But this doesn’t stop him falling in love with a woman on Earth, funnily enough, one he even used to toy around with back on Namek. Bulma however is not the type to be pushed around. She’s strong-willed, heavy handed, has a scientist for a father and is a damn fine scientist in her own right. The combination of Vegetas’ arrogance and Bulmas’ confidence likely meant the two were destined for one another. Also they bared a son with purple hair who gets an awesome sword, which is freaking cool!

3) Kiritsugu & Irisviel, Fate//Zero

Kiritsugu and Irisviel

Some anime couple make you happy or make you laugh as they bumble through awkward phases. This is not one of them, this is a heartbreaking romance, a story with a tragic ending you see coming a mile away but you can’t do anything but watch it unfold. Iris is a clone, created for the specific purpose of becoming the vessel for the Holy Grail in the upcoming wizard war and Kiritsugu, an accomplished Mage Hunter, became the family’s representative in the conflict. He should have remained cold and neutral and her life shouldn’t have anything but the mission and the willingness to die for it, but they met, connected and fell in love, married and had a child, giving these two hopeless people something to protect and hold dear…and ultimately, something more to lose.

They are quite different people who found something they were missing in one another. Iris found strength and determination, and Kiritsugu found hope, something he’d given up on years before the events of the series. The loyalty and dedication they show to one another is inspiring and it makes the resolution to the story much harder to deal with.

2) Arita Haruyuki & Kuroyukihime, Accel World

Accel World
Arita and Kuroyukihime don’t follow the traditional anime mold, they’re not nervous about their first contact and embarrassed about one another. They’re much more natural than that. Kuroyukihime is in love with Arita but she fears he might hate her for some of the things she’s done in the past and Arita at first can’t believe the most popular girl in school is in love with him, overweigh and short, and his insecurities play heavily at the start of their romance. It’s easy to relate to them, as we’ve all had moments when our regrets and anxieties make us wonder if we’re right for our partner. What Haruyuki & Hime do well is build each other up throughout their relationship, helping each other overcome their weaknesses.

Haruyuki and Kuroyukihime are an exceptional anime couple because they feel real, as if you could meet them walking down the street.

1) Inuyasha & Kagome Higurashi, Inuyasha

Inuyasha and Kagome

The ultimate power couple of anime and I’m sure I’ll get many people disagreeing with this one, but hear me out. Inuyasha and Kagome have been on our anime screens for a long time, but you all know how the story goes, right? Modern day school girl falls down well into feudal era Japan, sees a giant demonic centipede woman. Scared and alone, modern era girl sees a demon dog boy who has been sealed to a tree with a magical arrow. Scared for her life, she cries out for this boy with the fluffy ears to help her and pulls the arrow out… Only to find out he’s a brutish demon dog called Inuyasha. It’s like love at first sight!

The two bicker constantly throughout the series, but you notice they get closer and closer subtly, (sometimes not so subtly,) as the episodes roll on. By the end of the series, Inuyasha and Kagome even get married, so finally there is truly a happy ending in anime. Aww, bless. But honestly, isn’t it a bit weird to hitch a feudal era demon and a modern era school girl? Ah who am I to judge, love comes in all forms ladies and gentlemen and don’t you ever forget it!


Honourable Mentions

Romance is not dead! The list is, but romance lives on, and we can’t simply leave it be at a mere ten entries, so as per usual we pair our list with a collection of those who fall just short of a fully fledged place therein.

What can we say? Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be.

Phoenix Wright/Maya – Phoenix Wright

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Phoenix Wright, AKA Nick, is one of the most clumsy defence lawyers ever. But this doesn’t mean that his heart isn’t in the right place, nor does it mean that he can’t find himself a romantic interest in the name of Maya Fey. From the Fey clan, she is the Master of the Kurain Channelling Technique. It seems like a heck of a mismatch, where we’ve got a man who believes in finding evidence and facts who is in love with a girl who is a spirit medium.

Perhaps it’s because she can channel her inner charm? Whatever it is, they’re a sweet couple, but only get the honourable mention. They’re a great pairing but it was never made canon, coupled with the fact that this is mostly part of the video games, rather than the anime itself. At least it’s an anime styled video game!

Guts/Griffith – Berserk

Yeah yeah, we all know about Casca and the waterfall but she was just a thin side of that love triangle! The only reason why Casca was better for Guts was the whole… demonic transformation… thing. Kinda puts the kibosh on any real romance developing, but Griffith had his dreams, Guts had his own view of the world that conflicted too harshly and in the end they simply couldn’t be together no matter how obviously they wanted it.

What do you mean it’s not cannon? Did you see the water-fight scene? Fraught with subtext? The implications? The suggestive looks? You draw your own conclusions if you must, but I know what I saw, and what I saw was love. Torturous, impossible love!


With that we are done, and so to your part in this relationship! Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you want to go out tonight? I feel like we haven’t been anywhere in a while, and it would be nice not to have to wash up once in a while. Let us know in the comments down below. Also what do you want us to sit in judgement over next week? Add your voices to the throng and vote, vote as if something depended on it. Because it might!

Don’t forget to make your voice heard over on Facebook and Twitter. Special thanks to our friend and fellow geek, Kevin Kutlesa from The Mental Attic. Don’t forget to show your support by checking out his site, Facebook and Twitter feeds too!


Light Novels – Issue 4

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Light novels are different from traditional novels in that they are much shorter, the length of what we call a novella, sometimes even shorter than that. They consist of small story arcs, what you would see in one to five episodes of an anime adaptation, and feature drawings every few pages to help with a crucial scene’s depiction, even if it’s just showing a character sitting and having something to drink.

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