Sunday, October 31, 2021

[Kit Insight] Bandai Kyoukai Senki HG 1/72 KM-01 MAILeS Byakuchi (Cluster Rockets Equipped) - Painted Build


Model Number: KM-01
Designation: Kiwa no Kyokkou Affiliated General Purpose MAILeS (I-LeS-equipped AMAIM)

These new High Grade model kits are a blast to build and pose!One of the latest mecha-themed franchises to be launched lately, Kyoukai Senki - or AMAIM Warrior at the Border Line - follows the not-so-new premise of a Japan divided and ruled by varying global powers, with resistance cells fighting back and pushing for a unified Japan. The titular mecha in the series are the Auto Mobile Artificial Intelligence Mounts or AMAIMs, essentially unmanned bipedal drones all factions develop and use as weapons of war. While AI-enabled combat ostensibly preserves precious human lives, AMAIMs can only follow the orders of their operators and cannot make split-second tactical decisions, while presenting an exploitable loophole in the immediate diminishing of all combat ability once the human operators have been eliminated.

To circumvent this flaw, self-thinking intelligence learning system AIs were developed to be installed into purpose-built AMAIMs, presumably pioneered by the Federation of Greater Eurasia (FGE). As compared to the tactical AIs installed in unmanned AMAIMs, these systems are capable of autonomous learning and communication, coordinating with their pilots and giving rise to new abilities and synergies. These manned AMAIMs, referred to as MAILeS, are theoretically capable of far greater performance than regular AMAIMs, and are developed to be force multipliers and special forces units to turn the tides of battle.

The KM-01 MAILeS Byakuchi was stolen from the FGE by Kai Hojo, a resistance fighter from the Kiwa no Kyokkou movement based in Hokkaido. Piloting the unit with the I-LeS Lou, Kai uses the Byakuchi in numerous battles across the frozen plains of Hokkaido.

The Byakuchi shares the same basic frame with the rest of its MAILeS brethren such as the Kenbu and Jogan, with large powerful reverse-jointed legs holding up a stocky torso and dexterous arms that closely mimic human anatomy but transcend the limits of biological design. The Byakuchi is also optimised for general-purpose combat, as opposed to the Kenbu's emphasis on close-range battles and the Jogan's specialisation for long-range sniping. This was also evident in its loadout, consisting of a 60mm portable autocannon with drum magazine, a versatile portable shield and four-tube portable guided missile launcher. The Byakuchi was, in fact, a machine slated for eventual mass production once the onboard I-LeS completed the necessary combat routines with its pilot, creating a squadron of self-thinking unmanned AMAIMs that could - theoretically - operate with the flexibility and creativity of human pilots. This could have been the FGE's ace in the hole.

After being stolen, the Byakuchi became Kai's personal machine and was used to support Kiwa no Kyokkou incursion operations against the FGE, who were quite intent on retrieving their property. Kai routinely modified the Byakuchi's armament after each battle, eventually sticking to a loadout suited for intermediate range combat and for providing cover fire. Kai removed the autocannon's mount from the backpack weapon rack and replaced it with a rack of cluster rockets, doubling the Byakuchi's mid to long range attack capability. Kai also salvaged a combat knife from one of his many adversaries, using it to fend off encroaching AMAIMs that strayed way too close.

Build Notes
The build process for this bad boy was very enjoyable, definitely a refreshing change from regular mobile suits. The design of the arms and legs of the Byakuchi is very interesting and rooted in real-world industrial design, which embodies the fact that machines should be able to accomplish feats the human anatomy can't, such as rotating the wrist nearly 180 degrees backward to reach weaponry.

The Byakuchi also has 3mm hardpoints on its shoulders and thighs, which allow for flexible mounting of its equipment and additional armament. This also means that it's easier to kitbash with other Gunpla such as the 30MM 1/144 EXAMACs.


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