Let’s say you’ve been an anime fan, but not necessarily a mecha anime fan. But something happened, like coming across a series like Macross Frontier, Tenngen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or Code Geass and you ended up liking it. Those shows somehow made mecha anime interesting to you, and you’re sort of on your way to being a fan of the genre. However, even if you watch more shows like Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion, or more obscure but good shows like VOTOMS or Patlabor (after watching these shows you’re probably a mecha fan already, unless these shows only represent a small fraction of your anime consumption) there’s still this elephant in the room: the Gundam franchise.
Elephant? It’s more like a brontosaurus. That’s just the thing about the Gundam franchise: it’s huge. It’s significance is remarkable. It’s fans are legion.
A quick glance at the Wikipedia article tells us:
In the 2008 ranking of average sales figures for anime copies sold in Japan (1970-2008 total sales figures averaged by episode), Gundam series were in 4 of the top 5 places: Mobile Suit Gundam ranked second, with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny third, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED fourth, and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam fifth. Also, New Mobile Report Gundam Wing ranked 18th and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ ranked 20th.
As of 21 January 2008, the Gundam franchise is a 50 billion yen trademark. Gunpla’s (Gundam Plastic model) income is 90% of the Japan character plastic model market’s income.
Academic fields in Japan also view the series as a good inspiration in research fields. The Gundam academy, or officially International Gundam Society is the first academic institution based on a cartoon.
If we’re curious about it even just a little, we’d like to know what the fuss is all about right? One of the more common threads on /m/ (the mecha imageboard on 4chan) is about an Anon asking the gentle/m/en, “I want to start watching Gundam, where do I start?”
To illustrate the complexity of this problem, here is an enumeration of Gundam anime (again c/o Wikipedia):
- Mobile Suit Gundam (also known as the “First Gundam”, it is the nickname used by Japanese fans, once sequels appeared. “Gundam 0079” has also been established for use, as a nickname derived from its spinoff manga and games used by the international community.)
- TV: 1979 – 1980
- Compilation movies: 1981 – 1982
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
- TV: 1985 – 1986
- Compilation movies: 2004 – 2006
- Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ
- TV: 1986 – 1987
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
- Movie: 1988
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
- OVAs: 1989
- Super Deformed Gundam
- Movie: 1988 – 1989, 1991, 1993
- OVAs: 1988, 1990
- TV: 1993
- Mobile Suit Gundam F91
- Movie: 1991
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
- OVAs: 1991
- Compilation movie: 1992
- Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
- TV: 1993
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam
- TV: 1994
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
- TV: 1995
- Compilation OVAs: 1996
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
- OVAs: 1996
- Compilation movie: 1998
- After War Gundam X
- TV: 1996
- New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz
- OVAs: 1997
- Compilation movie: 1998
- Turn A Gundam
- TV: 1999 – 2000
- Compilation movies: 2002
- Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu
- Amusement park attraction movie: 2000
- Live action TV movie: 2000
- Gundam Neo Experience 0087: Green Divers
- Specialty format movie: 2001
- Gundam Evolve
- Short films: 2001 – 2005
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
- TV: 2002 – 2003
- Compilation specials: 2004
- Superior Defender Gundam Force
- TV: 2003 – 2004
- Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO
- Movies: 2004
- OVAs: 2006
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
- TV: 2004 – 2005
- Compilation specials: 2006 – 2007
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer
- ONAs: 2006
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00
- TV: 2007 – 2008
- TV(Second Season): 2008 – 2009
Furthermore, there are considerations pertaining to the narrative continuities within the franchise. There is the originating narrative called the Universal Century, and there’s the rest (6 others). Fans of the UC would insist that you watch UC first and from the beginning, but this does not mean you will enjoy Gundam if you do. Sure, you may enjoy it as an academic exercise, but we watch anime to be entertained, and what we value in entertainment is quite subjective.
This is why We Remember Love prepared this guide, a way to find the Gundam show that will give you the best value and hopefully turn you into a fan of the franchise. Dear old ghostlightning floundered about a lot with much whining, calling himself tsundere for Gundam and such nonsense before calming down and acknowledging his newfound love for the franchise.
With the intent of finding a Gundam show that will be enjoyable for a variety of viewers with different considerations, I subjectively ruled out shows that I believe do not make for the best ‘gateway’ shows. So not all shows in the canon is part of the final selection.
The subjective part is the selection of possible ‘gateway’ shows. This selection represents what I believe to be shows that will appeal to the broadest tastes possible. But to Gundam fans, I reassure you, this is no cheap and lazy sell-out. After I narrowed down the list I compiled a list of commonalities and distilled them into the considerations you’ll see in the guide.
Ready? Proceed to the La Vie en Rose to begin selecting your Gateway Gundam.
Assuming you are interested in watching a Gundam show, what did you pick?
P.S. To you who are already Gundam fans, your input and suggestions to improve the tool are much welcome!