Space. Evil Empire. Laser swords. Humans with special mental abilities.
Sounds like Star Wars? Guess again...these are just some of the fantastic elements in the Gundam franchise! It's mixed with space opera, political intrigue, epic battles and a lot of memorable robots in a military setting!
Gundam is one of the best things to be ever produced from the "Land of the Rising Sun". The franchise has been around since 1979 and still going strong to this date. Within a span of 38 years, it has garnered multiple animes, videos, films, manga, collectibles and many more. Gundam has truly left a print in the Japanese culture!
Now, we'll focus on the essential Gundam animes to watch. It can be jarring for those who are unfamiliar on which series to watch first due to the multiple timelines and alternate histories. Here's a simple guide of our recommendations and hopefully you enjoy them as much as I have!
Timeline: After Colony 195
The series focuses on 5 teenagers, each specially trained by different scientists to pilot the extremely advanced mobile suits called Gundam. The 5 teenagers must band together to battle the Organization of Zodiac (OZ) from their oppressive rule over Earth and space. The series concludes with the OVA - Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz.
In this list, this series may have the weakest storyline due to its slow pacing and mediocre plot. It's pretty much just about a full head-on war between the Gundam team and OZ. What's pretty captivating about this series though are the iconic mobile suit designs, colorful characters and memorable battle scenes.
The OVA is a great finale for the series, the mobile suits get an upgrade in the design department and has been iconic favorites for fans alike. Who would've thought that angel wings on a Gundam would look so bad ass?!?!
Timeline: Future Century 59
In this alternate timeline, mankind has abandoned the ruined Earth to live in space colonies. The countries on Earth have corresponding colonies orbiting the Earth's atmosphere. Every 4 years, a tournament is held on Earth called "Gundam Fight". Each country will send their champion piloting the mobile fighter Gundam. The Gundams duke it out until only one remains. The nation represented by the sole winner earns the right to rule all of space and Earth until the next Gundam Fight takes place.
Some Gundam fans either hate or love this series. People hate it because it breaks away from the usual military setting Gundam series are fond of. People love it because of its innovation in heading in a different timeline and plot. Obviously, I'm a fan of the latter.
It's a hybrid between Kung-Fu, Dragon Ball Z and Gundam! It's fast-paced story telling, full of machismo, memorable lines delivered and it really gets your adrenaline pumping once the Gundam Fight begins!
Once your done with the series, I wouldn't be surprised you start chanting Domon Kasshu's line: "This hand of mine is BURNING RED! Its loud roar tells me to grasp victory! ERUPTING BURNING FINGER!"
Timeline: Cosmic Era 70
A war is currently raging between the Naturals of Earth Alliance and the Coordinators of Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty (ZAFT). Mankind is greatly divided because of human genetic engineering. The normal Earth-born Naturals have cultivated a deep hatred for the genetically engineered abilities of the Coordinators, forcing the latter group to leave for space and establish their own space colonies in order to survive. It seems ZAFT has the upper hand in the war because of their mobile suits, until they discover the 5 advanced prototype Gundams built by the Earth Alliance may change the tide of the war. ZAFT attacks the base housing the Gundams and successfully steal 4 out of the 5 Gundams. A young student named Kira Yamato "accidentally" gets into the last Gundam named Strike Gundam and fends off the intruding ZAFT forces. Kira must now take on the great task of sending the Strike Gundam to the main Earth Alliance base while being pursued by ZAFT forces.
Definitely one of the most popular and iconic series of the Gundam franchise. It's widely loved by both hardcore Gundam fans and casual anime viewers. It's set in a different timeline but the story is heavily inspired by the original Mobile Suit Gundam.
It has an engaging storyline, well written character-driven scenes and excellent battle sequences. To this day, I'm still blown away by what went down in the epic final battle! That alone is a great reason for watching this series!