As part of Bandai’s thoroughly excellent and ongoing range of new Aura Battler Dunbine toys, we now have a Robot Damashii Aura Battler Leprechaun. This was one of the later villain mecha seen in the series and was the start of general change in the series’ overall designs. It’s also a fantastically well-made toy and it’s increasingly looking like we’ll end up with a full roster of all the available aura battlers if Bandai keeps this up.
The Leprechaun was an important aura battler in the show; starting out as a partial prototype for the Zwarth, it featured various technological improvements and weapons that would later become standard in the Drake forces.
Like the Virunvee before it, it was also a very muscular looking aura battler and was one of the most potent at the time of its creation.
Much of what made Dunbine such an interesting show to watch was that most of the aura battler pilots, or “sei senshi,” came from Upper Earth. This meant much of the country based rivalries that existed previously were brought down to Byston Well.
A classic example of this was when the protagonist Sho Zama faced Fei Cheung Kwan in then-new Leprechaun. Fei had a distinct dislike of Sho’s Japanese heritage, to the point that he was blinded by his hatred in combat and died on account of it. Sho was also confused as to why that kind of thinking even mattered in Byston Well, as that sense of nationality was meaningless there.
This was an interesting and ongoing theme in Dunbine and it also went both ways, where Byston Well opened relationships between nationalities trying to survive in a brutal and alien situation.
The Leprechaun is likely most remembered though as the first aura battler to go “hyper” on account of Jerryl Coochibi’s inherent insecurity.
Unlike in other mecha shows, the mecha in Dunbine were piloted by the aura of their pilots. This was effectively the soul of each person and the more in tune you were with it, the more potent you were and better control you had over your aura battler.
Despite Sho Zama’s troubled family background, his sense of self was the most grounded among all the characters in the series. This made him a formidable opponent even in weaker aura battlers, something that infuriated Jerryl and produced a feedback loop that resulted in her entering hyper mode.
This resulted in her Leprechaun growing massively in size and power but in a symbolic as well as literal act, Sho was able to defeat her in his non-hyper Billbine, displaying the fact that puffing yourself up still doesn’t negate your innate insecurity.
The design itself was also a shift away from the more ethereal designs done by Kazutaka Miyatake at the start of the series, as by this point Yutaka Izubuchi had taken over. The result was more muscular looking aura battlers and a general shift into a more obvious insect based aesthetic.
We’ve had a few kits of the Leprechaun over the years but this is the first proper toy of the design and it is thoroughly glorious. To date, Bandai’s Robot Damashii Aura Battler figures have been peerless and the Leprechaun definitely continues that tradition.
Stay tuned for the full review, as that will go up soon!