- Gundam 101: Anime Crash Course – 2020 Edition: 1979-1999
- Gundam 101: Anime Crash Course – 2020 Edition: 2000-2009
- Gundam 101: Anime Crash Course – 2020 Edition: Movies & OVAs
Back in 2009, I was approached by the original founder of our local anime club, Scenic City Anime & More (at the time known as Boogie BAM Anime Jam Club when we met weekly at Books-a-Million), wanting to know more of the Gundam franchise and to share with other members, especially to watch in the order that I have watched them, to make sense of the 40 year-old franchise. This eventually led to sharing my love of the franchise in the form of panels at Anime Blast Chattanooga and Connooga. Enter: Gundam 101: Anime Crash Course series.
Working on the presentation, I discovered that there were too many series and movies to explain in one day (the meetings ran for roughly an hour and a half), so I had to split them up into 3 weeks of content. The first week focused on the TV anime series made between 1979 to 1999. The second week covered TV series made between 2000 to 2009. And the third and final week concluded the presentation series with a guide to the Gundam movies and OVAs (Original Video Animation).
In the time since I published the series, Bandai Entertainment discontinued home video releases of all their anime titles, including the Gundam franchise. It wasn’t until a few years later, with the release of the Gundam Unicorn OVA series, Right Stuf stepped in and rescued every Gundam series released by Bandai, even a few that was skipped over due to fan “demand”, such as ZZ Gundam. As we enter 2020, nearly every Gundam series has been released for purchase in North America on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to the efforts of Right Stuf!
To those curious about Gundam, and/or missed the previous presentations from back in the day, as well as the original series on the original CEN.TAKU.ME blog, this is a reboot of the very same series I worked on, originally clocking in at about 10 pages! It will be explained in the same order as in the meetings–and in the original article series–along with any extra information I might have forgotten, including the latest TV anime, movies, and OVAs that have surfaced in the years since. Following the conclusion of the republication, there will be an additiona post in this series of essential TV anime, movies, and OVAs released in the 2010s.
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Part 1: TV Anime from 1979 – 1999
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Episodes: 49, 3 OVA episodes/1 movie (Endless Waltz)
Timeline: After Colony
Gundam Wing first premiered in Japan in 1995 and was the first series that gained popularity outside the Universal Century (U.C.) story. It takes place in A.C. (After Colony) 195. It was the first Gundam series to air on TV in the US and helped pave the way for more Anime (and more Gundam) series in the US and other parts of the world.
The main character is Heero Yuy. He’s one of 5 pilots who are fighting for peace in the colonies against the organization, Oz. The other pilots are Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Rabarba Winner, and Chang Wufei. Unlike the earlier Gundam series, not much is said on the characters’ origin… Yet.
In the first episode, Heero is found on a beach shore by Relena Darlin. She is the first person Heero sees on Earth and immediately becomes an obstacle in his mission. When Heero finally recuperates, he attends Relena’s school until he can perform his next mission…
Later, we are introduced by the villains of Wing: Treize Khushrenada and Zech Marquise-who becomes an important character later in the series when his past is revealed. Like Heero, the other pilots also perform various missions to put a stop to the war.
Gundam Wing is what got me into the franchise as a whole. Many hardcore fans didn’t like it because of it’s “Yaoi-ness” with the pilots. The first episode explains a lot of things you need to know about the series, like the Space Colonies, the war, etc. However, Wing doesn’t explain too much about them, and makes it a perfect series for a new Gundam fan to get into without watching the show that started it all first-hand.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection – Part 1 (BD)
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection – Part 2 (BD)
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection – Part 1 (DVD)
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Collection – Part 2 (DVD)
Mobile Suit Gundam
Timeline: Universal Century
This is the Gundam series that introduced 20+ other entries in the franchise. It premiered in 1979. During its first airing, it did not do well on TV and was eventually canceled. It wasn’t until 1981 when it was brought back in the form of a movie trilogy, thanks to high ratings during reruns.
Set in the year UC 0079, a 15 year old by the name of Amuro Rei pilots a Mobile Suit, also known as the Gundam, for the first time during an evacuation of the colony Side 7, the colony where Amuro lives. Amuro somehow gets the hang of piloting the Gundam in just 24 hours without having to go through weeks of training…
Upon piloting the Gundam, he becomes the official pilot for the Earth Federation Space Force (E.F.S.F. or E.F.F. for short), and is dragged into the One Year War against the Principality of Zeon. Amuro’s rival, Char Aznable, a.k.a. “The Red Comet”, is the main villain to the story and is introduced a couple of episodes later. Both Amuro and Char seem to share the same characteristics when it comes to piloting Mobile Suits…
There are a lot of characters involved in the story, even minor characters are turned into supporting characters, such as Bright Noa, Captain of the battleship, White Base. Kai Shiden, Hayato Kobayashi, and Sayla Mass are also important characters-most especially Sayla late in the series…
It’s not just about the Mobile Suits and the One Year War, the character development is what really drives the series to new heights in every episode. (You’ll forget the Gundams actually exist). Also the story of the One Year War and the clash between the E.F.F. and Zeon is also intriguing. Another thing about the UC Gundam story is the story of “Newtypes”, who are pilots with psychic powers, and are considered very dangerous.
- Buy Mobile Suit Gundam Collection – Part 1 (BD)
- Buy Mobile Suit Gundam Collection – Part 2 (BD)
- Buy Mobile Suit Gundam Collection – Part 1 (DVD)
- Buy Mobile Suit Gundam Collection – Part 2 (DVD)
Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Timeline: Future Century
First aired in 1994, it’s the best underrated non-AC (After Colony) and UC (Universal Century) series in the franchise. Many fans do not like it due to it’s cheesiness (you’ll find out why when you go deep into the story). It’s like Dragonball Z–but with Mobile Suits!
The first episode introduces us to two characters: Domon Kasshu and Rain Mikamura from the colony Neo Japan. In F.C. (Future Century) 94, pretty much half of the Earth is reduced to crime-ridden wastelands. In response, the colonies were created and are named after their original countries respectively (e.g.: Neo America, Neo China, etc).
In Neo Italy, Domon is searching for his brother, Kyoji, who went missing when Domon was younger. Until Domon can find his brother, he is forced to fight for his home colony in Gundam Fights, where fighters such as himself fight to participate in the annual Gundam Tournament (which is something like the Olympics, but 100x better!).
During his travels around the universe, Domon meets other Gundam Fighters, such as Chibodee Crocket of Neo America, Sai Saici of Neo China, Argo Gulskii of Neo Russia, and George de Sand of Neo France. Domon eventually reunites with his old martial arts instructor, Master Asia… possibly the best character in the series, and for a reason… Once you watch it, of course!
G Gundam is one of my favorite series next to the original. Both are so good, they are actually tied! It did just as well as Wing did when it first aired in the US. The story of karate-chopping mobile suits sounds really corny, but it’s totally worth the watch! ^_^
- Buy Mobile Fighter G Gundam Collection – Part 1 (BD)
- Buy Mobile Fighter G Gundam Collection – Part 2 (BD)
- Buy Mobile Fighter G Gundam Collection – Part 1 (DVD)
- Buy Mobile Fighter G Gundam Collection – Part 2 (DVD)
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
Timeline: Universal Century
Zeta (or “Z”) Gundam is the second series of the Universal Century timeline after the One Year War. It aired in Japan in 1985 and was brought Stateside in 2004. In 2005, it was re-released as a movie trilogy* in Japanese theaters for the franchise’s 25th Anniversary, and features the soundtrack of J-Rock artist, Gackt. The movie was released for a limited time in select US theaters, but it has yet to receive a Region 1 DVD release.
(Note: I also wrote reviews for the individual movies in the trilogy series, which will be republished in the future.)
It takes place in the year UC 0087, seven years after the end of the One Year War. Many veterans from the Earth Federation Force and the Principality of Zeon defected, forming two different factions: the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) and the Titans. The good members of the E.F.F. are members of AEUG, and the bad members of E.F.F. and Zeon are members of the Titans, and so on.
The main character of Zeta is Kamille Bidan, who is also 15 years old, just like Amuro in UC 0079. After getting into trouble for attacking a Titan officer, Kamille is interrogated-until the colony gets hit with enemy attacks. In the scramble, familiar characters from 0079 are re-introduced, such as Bright Noa, who is now Captain of the battleship Argama.
Other old characters also make an appearance: Kai Shiden, Sayla Mass, Hayato Kobayashi, and let’s not forget Amuro Rei. Old faces aside, there are new ones: Jerid Messa (Kamille’s Rival: who happens to be the one who was attacked by Kamille), Paptimus Scirocco, and Haman Karn (the female version of Char and proclaimed leader of the Neo Zeon movement) There’s also a new character by the name of Quattro Bajeena, but he looks very, very familiar…
Zeta Gundam is in a whole other league than the first series, that’s for sure. There much more emotion involved and contains twice the drama. The Zeta Gundam Movie Trilogy is an easier way to get into the story. The difference between the TV Series and movies is that it’s much shorter than the 50 episodes, and the movie contains new footage. Watching the movie is recommended, but the TV series should not be overlooked.
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam – Part 1 (BD)
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam – Part 2 (BD)
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam – Part 1 (DVD)
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam – Part 2 (DVD)
Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam
Timeline: Universal Century
ZZ Gundam (That’s “Double Zeta”) takes place immediately after the end of Zeta Gundam. Hardcore fans didn’t enjoy ZZ as much as the other shows since it involves mostly slapstick (compared to the drama of Zeta). This is the last Gundam series featuring the veterans of the One Year War, and is currently the only UC Gundam series not yet released outside of Japan.
The main character of ZZ Gundam is Judau Ashta, who makes a living collecting scrap off of abandoned mobile suits to support his friends, Elle, Iino, Mondo, and Beecha, and his little sister, Leina. Just like the main characters of the previous two UC Gundam series, Judau is 15 years old.
Judau stumbles upon the AEUG’s repair-prone Zeta Gundam. Judau attempts to steal the Gundam, until his plan is foiled by Captain Bright Noa of the Argama, which is also in need for repairs. Judau continues his effort in taking the Zeta to sell for cash until he finally gives in and joins the Argama crew.
ZZ Gundam’s main villain is Haman Karn, who returns to make a point in reviving the Principality of Zeon-or Neo Zeon, with the help of Glemy Toto, a rising Neo Zeon superstar. Finally, there’s Elpeo Puru, who is the property of Neo Zeon-as a test subject for mass development of Newtype pilots.
Despite being overlooked for being comedic, it has its share of sad moments and it’s a very doable series. It can get annoying at some points, especially with the presence of very minor characters (Mashmyre Cello). But then again, it’s worth the look.
Note: ZZ Gundam is not yet available outside Japan. As mentioned above with the Zeta Gundam movies, a R2 DVD is required to play imported DVDs.
- Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam – Part 1 (BD)
- Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam – Part 2 (BD)
- Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam – Part 1 (DVD)
- Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam – Part 2 (DVD)
End of Part 1
That concludes Part 1 of the Gundam Anime Crash Course series! In the next post in the series, I will be going over the TV anime series made in 2000 to 2009. What did you think of this? Please feel free to leave comments!