So the first animated Gunpla Battle TV series (not counting OVA) is now airing.
But are you aware that the gunpla battle concept goes way back to 1982?
Jump in to take a peek at the predecessors of Gundam Build Fighters!
Actually Gunpla Battle is a subset of Plamo Battle. Plamo Battle is a pretty wide topic, it can range from military tank kits to Tamiya cars to Zoids to LBX etc. This post will focus on those Gunpla-oriented titles.
A nice scene from the final chapter of Gunpla Extreme
I’ve compiled a list of Gunpla Battle works and have got 16 of them (mostly pure battle types).
[List on Google Spreadsheet]
We will take a look at some of the more obscure titles, with a very limited scope to cap the length of this post.
In the appropriate sections, I will provide links to posts from a japanese blog “Mattari ikou yo” (henceforth referred as “JP blog”), as it has those valuable pictures and information of these out of print titles.
Without further ado, lets start!
The reprint editions. Picture source
The story follows Kouda Shiro, from settling an argument with plamo battle to becoming the Japan representative of the ‘World Simulation Tournament’ and the battle at Hobbytopia. Along the way original plamo designs were created which began the MSV series and BB Senshi series.
Plamo battle element: Plamo Simulation
In Plamo Kyoshiro, the virtual plamo battle is called ‘Plamo Simulation’. The standard Simulation Machine is pictured below.
The players put their kits into the dome, sit on the seats and put on a specialized helmet. They dive into the virtual field on the a unison exclamation of the ‘Simulation Go!’ command. The battle is directly imaged in the players’ minds while spectators view it on screens. The damage in the battle is replicated on the real kits by lasers and mechanical arms. Mods done on the kits can affect the battle, like using a different material to build the parts or adding gimmicks like springs and tasers.
For the World Simulation Tournament, the Biochip Plamo Controller (BCPC) is used. The BCPC is housed in a huge facility called the ‘Plamo Simulation Center’. It seems to be an extension of the standard simulation but with an additional biochip which has the player’s biodata. To win the battle, the biochip which will be hidden in the kit must be destroyed. In this system psychic power is used to channel the player’s spiritual energy to control the plamo.
Some iconic designs from the series, left to right, Musha Gundam, Perfect Gundam III (Red Warrior), Perfect Gundam.
Also check out the MAHQ section here.
The success of Plamo Kyoshiro brought about a boom in plamo battle manga. Comic magazines wanted a genre of this title in their contents. Coro Coro Comic followed with a few plamo battle titles like ‘Plamo Tensai Esper Taro’, ’3D Koshien Plamo Daisaku’ and ‘Majin Eiyuuden Wataru 2 Majin Kaihatsu Daisakusen’. ‘Hobby Boy Hitto-kun’ was another title on on Terebi Magazine (a brother magazine of Comic Bom Bom). Its not a new title but a spin-off from Plamo Kyoshiro. The chapters in this series follows the character Hitto Ebara and his plamo simulation battles with Kyoshiro.
I actually bought book 4 of the 1999 reprint edition of Plamo Kyoshiro many years back at Maruzen, some pictures above came from that book.
Shin Plamo Kyoshiro
First editions. Picture source
In this title we see the second generation Plamo Kyoshiro, Arata Kyoshiro as the protagonist. Characters from Plamo Kyoshiro make a return, some looking different like Hitto Ebara who is a few years older and fatter. The story is about this new Kyoshiro, who adores the previous Kyoshiro, transferring to a new school. He joins the Plamo Club and somehow the Student Council is opposed to the Plamo Club. On the other hand, Kyoshiro learns about “Armored Battle” which makes him an enemy of another mysterious party.
Plamo battle element: Armored Battle
An induced ‘dream’ trial of Armored Battle?
I don’t have much info on this but from blog source it is an evolved version of Plamo Simulation, where the player wear the plamo as some holograph suit. “Imagination Power” is the key to drawing out the latent power of the player. The Armored Battle system also pass on the damage to the person in real life! Its compared to that of japanese Pro-Wrestling where they fight in costumes and masks.
Looks like its mostly not plamo but more of those holograph suits and masks.
Chinese comic magazine
Only read one chapter in a chinese comic magazine bought during primary school days. The chapter featured the Student Council challenging the Plamo Club to make tank kits or else risk closing down the club. Then theres the sabotage of the tank diorama by the mysterious party and the weird induced dream(?) of the Armored Battle.
Shin Plamo Kyoshiro came in the time when the Famicom-boom is mainstream and its hard to garner readers. In the beginning it shifted to survival games and focused on scale models but later on returned to gunpla.
Hyper Senshi Gundam Boy
A title with links to the the original Plamo Kyoshiro manga. This time the plamo is limited to gunplas with SD Gundams as the main focus. The story starts with Taiga Tenchi joining the Gundam Study Group (G Labs) which aim is to build the ultimate Gundam “Hyper Gundam”. For the bulk of the story we see G Labs face off with several evil organizations. But later on in the final arc the protagonists jumped over to a parallel SD Sengokuden world to fight the true evil mastermind of the story.
Plamo battle element: SD Battle & Real Battle
From what I gather the concept is the same as that of Plamo Simulation. One of the big difference is that its not limited to gunpla, this system accepts Carddas cards as well. Another concept unique to the title is SD Spirit points thats somewhat like the Power Levels of DBZ. The G Labs later created the Battle Circuit System with the aim to create stronger SD warriors. Nicknamed the ‘Diorama Machine’, the system generates diorama for battles and it allows parts to be sent into the battles. Towards the final arc, Taiga obtained the Kekkai Controller which allows him to transform into the gunpla.
The Sennari series is pretty iconic in the manga it seems, two of them made it into kits and they later got re-inserted into the SD Sengokuden main story.
[Sennari Daishogun and Raitei Sennari Shinshougun]
Variants of Red Warrior are seen too.
[Read Warrior Kai and Red Musha etc non Red mods]
A lot of the designs are kitbashes as demonstrated by this blog:
[SD Night Fever]
Theres a lot of original designs and kitbashes, for a complete list check out the japanese wiki page.
I’ve read none of this manga but would like to read it. A Gunpla Battle X SD Sengokuden crossover, very interesting! Has the Digimon Tamers + Digimon Frontier elements.
The popular original SD Gundam designs eventually make it back into the Musha Gundam and Knight Gundam series, some are also featured in the Carddas card series and some even had model kits.
Some real life people (like Instructors Hasegawa and Kawaguchi) started appearing in the manga too. From this title on Bandai people started appearing in gunpla battle manga.
Similar to the previous titles this one follows protagonist Tsukuru Yuto in his virtual battles as a Pla-leaguer. It sees Yuto through defeating pla-league teams like God Hands and Devils Head and in the end becoming a youth instructor at G Tower. The title focus on G Gundam, Gundam W and SD Musha kits that are selling at that time. G Gundam has quite an amount of influence on this title.
Plamo battle element: Virtual Simulation
A plamo battle system which Bandai’s Instructor Hasegawa had a central role in development. It transforms the performance of modified plamo to data and through a computer system allowing plamodelers to engage in realistic battles. Initially the user puts on a special headgear and control the plamo in a cockpit module but later the user wears a special suit and enters the virtual field. There are some branches off the Virtual Simulation system like the Zombie Control (a program that allows the control of fallen gunpla ‘corpses’) and the Human Data Input System (HDIS for short, a system that is able to install a human’s soul into gunpla).
Same as Hyper Senshi Gundam Boy, check out the japanese wiki page for a complete list of original designs and kitbashes.
Plamo Wars is somewhat a new start in the gunpla battle mangaverse, somewhat like G Gundam and Kamaen Rider Kuuga.
Another manga I would like to read.
This time we follow Furano Takumi on his gunpra journey as he pick up techniques and hone his skills. The formation of the Gunpla Club at school to meeting interesting rivals and friends. Then finally coming out top at the Gunpla Contest.
Plamo battle element: Imagination?
Theres no over-the-top technology in this title, not really any battles also. But theres quite a lot of exaggerated expressions. Through contact with the gunpla the judges and rivals form some “image” in there minds, reminds me of those cooking anime in the past. The slightest use of technology is during the Gunpla Contest finals where 3D projection is used.
Turn A style :P
The most down to earth story of the lot. Interesting art style of blending into the manga processed photos of real gunpla.
The first chapter was in a separate 50 page small booklet, the second chapter came 3 months later is in the magazine
A two chapter story about Katsu Musashi and his fight in Bandai’s in-development virtual simulation machine. With the second chapter taking place when the system is open to public. This short special is mainly to promote the Gundam SEED kits at that time.
Plamo battle element : Gunpla Virtua Battle
The system is developed by Bandai employee, Ishijima. Inspired by the Plamo Kyoshiro manga he set out to bring plamo simulation to reality. The system consist of a cockpit, the G-Scanner and a big stage in front. The G-Scanner scans the gunpla and projects it as a CG model on the big stage.
The G-Scanner module beside the cockpit
In real life the Bandai employee really made a G-Scanner system. Reminds me of Gundam AGE’s Gage-ing system.
Very simple designs, a red RX-78 and black Strike Gundam. No need pictures :P
Hyperactive troublemaker Ganga Gan never knew anything about gunpla until his contact with Gunpla Extreme (GPEX). With a little push from childhood friend Romi, Gan began way into the world of GPEX. First engaging in activities like raiding an onsen town off a troop of monkeys to standing up against GPEX bullies. Later on he defeated the Phantom Beast Clan, traveled to the underworld to stop the Demon King from ruling the world with GPEX. Then in the final chapter taking place in the future he battles his son. A really fun manga.
Plamo battle element : Gunpla Extreme
The main device in the GPEX system is the Nanorizer which first appeared as a watch prototype then a glove retail model and a badge type V2 model. On the verbal command “Nanorize!” the user is shrunk, the gunpla becomes enhanced and the user is transferred into the cockpit in the enhanced gunpla. The GPEX-ed gunpla is practically a small sized MS with working beam rifles and sabers which is capable of real life damage. Later on the Cargo System is added where parts can be stored in data form in the Nanorizer on command “Cargo In! and later be equipped on command “Cargo Out!”. Funnels and other guided weapons work as in the original anime (powered by brainwaves) but it will cause incompatible users to heat up.
Dontank and Nu Gundam Triple-G version
00 Hissatsu Kani Kani Mode
There you have it, the tip of the gunpla battle iceberg!
If you are keen to dig further, try googling the japanese names.
You’ll get stuck in hours of ‘research’ :P