A couple of weeks ago I spoke about my first Gunpla build and a week later I wrote a primer about it on GeekOut South-West. In the coming weeks not only will I build more models, possibly record or broadcast the process, but also write another “primer” but this one on the overall Gundam franchise.
With that in mind I thought it would be great if I spoke to you about my favourite Gundam series/movies/OVAs. To date, I have watched most if not all the series in the franchise, from the Universal Century ones to even the Gundam Build Fighters series, the one that inspired me to get into Gunpla in the first place.
Let’s get to it. I’ll keep the descriptions as short as possible, as I don’t want to spoil too much!
There is no order in these recommendations. This is not a top 5 or something like that. Also, assume that any sequel is worth watching as well:
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: This is the second major series in the Universal Century Gundam universe and takes place eight years after the original series, with a cast of new characters, including a new protagonist Kamille Bidan, as well as familiar faces.
Zeta Gundam is a much darker story than Mobile Suit Gundam and that’s saying something, considering the insane death toll and horrible things that happen in the original series, all courtesy of Gundam creator Yoshijuki Tomino, a man people nicknamed “Kill’em All Tomino”. But it’s also much more balanced, showing you all sides of the conflict and making you if not care, at least be interested in characters from the opposing factions.
While the original series did this, it doesn’t go as deep as Zeta Gundam did. And it possibly has one of the most downer endings of any Gundam series, with most of the cast dying horribly and the protagonist in a vegetative state. If you think that’s a spoiler, trust me, it isn’t. How things get that bad is part of the fun!
By the end, you’ll shake your fists to the sky and shout “God damn you Tomino!”
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack The movie that closes off the stories of Amuro Ray and his eternal rival Char Aznable is downright fantastic, and because Yoshijuki Tomino, the creator of Gundam was directly involved in it, the movie is dark as hell and the death toll leaves Game of Thrones in shame.
The main antagonist, Char Aznable, the Red Comet from the original Mobile Suit Gundam has a new Zeon army and plans to drop a space station on the Earth Federation headquarters, to rid himself of their presence permanently, but unknow to them or even his own men, his schemes and madness have taken him so far that he also wants to drop a massive asteroid base to Earth as well, all part of his vision that humanity needs to fully colonize space.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: This is perhaps ones of the coolest series to date and while earlier series in the Gundam franchise had dealt with the economic, political and philosophical aspects of warfare, Gundam SEED brought in racism and hate crimes as motivation for its conflicts. It’s also the first one drawn digitally instead of by hand.
In Gundam SEED’s universe, there are two kinds of humans. Naturals, those born just like we are, from flukes of nature and birth, and Coordinators, the genetically engineered. Because of the growing tension between the two classes of humanity, the Coordinators found their own nation in space, though that doesn’t end the conflicts and it descends into outright war.
The protagonist, Kira Yamato, is a Coordinator living in a Natural colony, and his participation in the war puts him at odds with a childhood friend who’s one of the Coordinator’s ace pilots, as well as exposing him not only to the horrors of war, but also to what lengths people will go to achieve their goals.
It was from this series that I build my first model, from Kira’s 2nd Mobile Suit, the Freedom Gundam.
Turn-A Gundam: If you thought that Yoshijuki Tomino’s influence ended with Char’s Counterattack, I’m here to tell you how wrong you are.
After taking a break from the franchise after Victory Gundam, a series you won’t see listed here as I consider it a flying mess, Tomimo returned for Turn-A Gundam, set in the far future, where humanity is split into two civilisations: The Moon People, humans who settled on the moon and thrived, their civilization having extremely advanced technology. And also, the terrans, the humans on Earth, whose technological level seems to have regressed to early 20th century.
The series stars a young man from the moon, sent to study Earth and report back the status of the world and its defences, for the recolonisation plan of his superiors. But after a year on earth, the moon attacks earth, and to protect his new family, he hops onto a relic and legendary mobile suit, the Turn-A Gundam. The characters have to fight advanced weaponry with improvised weapons, breakable objects and other subpar equipment, so it’s always entertaining and frankly amazing that they manage to pull it off…except when they can’t, because this is still a Tomino series! It does, however, have one of the nicer endings in any Gundam series.
But what is truly amazing about Turn-A Gundam is that it connects all other Gundam series that aired before it, not only the Universal Century but also the timelines of Gundam X and Gundam Wing. It’s all part of this world’s Dark History. It’s pretty awesome! You can even get hints about it in the opening sequence, which you’ll find below!
Tomorrow I’ll return with another set of Gundam series & media I think you should watch and enjoy!