14:59 - 2nd April 2013, by NEO Staff

SD Gundam: Brave Battle Warriors

A sense of humour, cuteness and charm have been the stock in trade of the SD Gundam anime franchise since it first launched all the way back in 1988 (although it truly premiered three years earlier as part of a wave of collectible merchandise from Bandai). It's now the adorable sister series to the 'grown up' Gundam shows, lifting the most popular suits from its sibling's efforts and making them walking, talking, fighting characters in their own rights.

Originally, SD Gundam parodied the events of the main series, but as it grew in popularity, it spawned its own manga and anime series, featuring original stories. The focus of our feature, Brave Battle Warriors, does something slightly different though, placing the diminutive 'bots into a loose adaptation of the legendary Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There's a touch of romanticism applied to the period, and no small amount of fantasy layered on top too - we're told early on that "Three Rulers" descended on the land, in the forms of a dragon, a phoenix and a tiger, and became the sun, moon and water of the world. Safe to say that this isn't playing too closely to the classic story, then!

Brave Battle Warriors chiefly follows Liu Bei, an earnest and heroic young Gundam with the prerequisite strong sense of justice necessary for being a lead protagonist. Saving some villagers - all modelled after the production model GM Mobile Suits from the original Mobile Suit Gundam series - from an attack by the marauding Yellow Turban army - in turn played by the Zaku mecha of the Federation of Zeon, the antagonists from the same series - Liu Bei finds himself drawn further into the growing conflict. Struggling to understand his purpose in life or as a warrior, Bei is given the supposedly powerful Dragon Sword and a cryptic message of guidance by his master Lu Zhi, but finds the rusted weapon more a hindrance than help. However, when Zhi dies in battle against the Yellow Turbans, Liu Bei's grief and anger awaken the true power of the blade, revealing him to be the inheritor of the powers of the legendary dragon alluded to in the opening prelude. Defeating the enemies responsible for Zhi's death, Bei sets out to find allies and defeat the Yellow Turban army once and for all. Oh, and this all happens in the first episode - 11 minutes of swift storytelling and nippy dialogue, wrapped up with bright and bold characters and a ton of references for hardcore Gundam fans!

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