5 Reasons Why Gundam is Serious Business
In the past, I’ve been very vocal about my appreciation of the Gundam franchise. I was even invited to run a panel for our anime club back in 2009, inspiring a conversion into a three-part blog series on the how and why of Gundam; with recommendations of which Gundam TV anime to divulge into first, in a sea of multiple universes.
In an attempt to rekindle the passion of blogging again, I have remastered all the parts of the Gundam Crash Course series, originally targeted for the 40th anniversary of the franchise. However, for those who are short on time to read all three parts, I present an interesting topic of “5 Reasons Gundam is Serious Business”.
Universes… Universes Everywhere
Where does one start with Gundam? I’m sure everyone and their next-of-kin have heard of Gundam Wing, but what the heck are all these over universes?! One of these series takes place in multiple universes, as I pointed out in the introduction above. It all started with Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979, created by Yoshiyuki Tomino, taking place in the Universal Century era–in which the majority of the Gundam franchise is set in. It was intended to be a serious effort to produce a war story told in the form of an anime, but the early days of the franchise hit a few bumps.
Mobile Suit Gundam was originally cancelled, and was supposed to run for several more episodes before ending after 42 episodes. The anime was eventually re-aired on TV, and picked up the curiosity of those who missed out on the first airing, spurring Z Gundam and ZZ Gundam a few years later–including a movie trilogy retelling the story of the original TV anime (in which all three parts are now available on Netflix, country varying). There are several other stories that involve the Universal Century timeline to this very day, in addition to the recently release Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway (also on Netflix, as reviewed on Centaku Media Journal: Episode #18). Thanks to this, Gundam is what it is now, spanning over a few dozen series in a 40 year period and a massive market for collectables with Gunpla.
Besides the Universal Century, there have been alternate universes created with a twist of the original story in G Gundam (Future Century), Gundam Wing (After Colony), Gundam SEED (Cosmic Era), Gundam 00 (Anno Domini), and a few others.
Annoying, Whiny Pilots
So not all the pilots are annoying. And I’m talking about the main pilots that we see in every Gundam series. The original crybaby is Amuro Ray, who had no choice but to pilot the RX-78 after witnessing the events as the “One Year War” was underway–the war to decide the fate of humankind between the colonies and earth.
In the first 10 episodes, Amuro is on the fence about piloting the Gundam: at first, it seemed that he did not want to pilot the mobile suit, but had to be mature about it in the end. And us fans can thank White Base’s Captain Bright Noa for extending a helping hand. Literally:
Fortunately, the leading pilots of the Universal Century are known for becoming mature in the end (with or without Bright). In alternate universes, they already know their destiny, even at the age of 15. Case in point: Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing, who threatens the life of Relena Peacecraft in the first episode. However, there is one exception of Kira Yamato from Gundam SEED, who may make or break the series depending on how one has their taste in teenage pilots thrown into the landscape of war.
Masked Alter Egos
Every. Single. Gundam. Series… has that one character who is shrouded in mystery, all thanks to their masks. Char Aznable is the original character to thank when you think of Ulube Ishikawa (G Gundam), Zechs Merquise (Gundam Wing), or Mr. Bushido (Gundam 00). In The Origin, we find out the real reason Char wears his mask is due to the fact that he shares an identity of another character who looks like himself, before involving himself in the business of the Principality of Zeon and keeps up with it throughout the One Year War.
Mask-wearing characters in other series wear their own due to similar reasons, or to better themselves after a series of tragic events (which is a normal occurrence in Gundam, anyway). The best way to experience their story is to watch for yourself to get a better understanding of their reasons.
Complex Character Development
I’ve talked about Char enough in this post, and I even gave Wing’s Treize Khushrenada his own post a while back. But the Gundam Universe is rife with character development–possibly on the level of Metal Gear. Other complex characters that come to mind include Trowa Barton (Wing) which is a combination of tragedy and mystery.
The story of Trowa is something you would expect from a Metal Gear game, in which he is introduced without a name (fans will lovingly refer to him as “No Name”, even himself), and his origin is unclear at first. It all comes together in Frozen Teardrop, where he actually has a real name of [REDACTED] (to prevent spoilers). The Gundam Universe is huge that there is a character for everyone who is looking for a level of development from intense, to downright ridiculous.
Gunpla… Gunpla Everywhere
And I can’t end this talk about Gundam without mentioning the huge market of Gundam Plastics, or commonly referred to as “Gunpla”. One of the reasons Gundam was created was to sell toys, like every show in the late 70s through the 90s–especially outside of Japan (Case in point: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and GI Joe, to name a few). If it weren’t for the era of hustling toys to stores for profit, we would not have Gundam today.
Those are the 5 Reasons Gundam is Serious Business. If you would like to know more of Gundam in the eyes of a first timer, be sure to check out the Gundam Crash Course series chronicling the TV anime and movies in the franchise’s first 20 year history.