There are two types of people in this world. Those who know of and have watched Gundam, and if that’s you I love you. Then there are those who know of and haven’t watched Gundam. I’m gonna say that’s 90% of you. Now let me clarify here, when I say watched Gundam I mean to completion. Which isn’t as daunting a task as it sounds. Each series has it’s own timeline. Unlike other series out there Gundam is nice about it. Each timeline has it’s own calendar system. After War, Future Century, Advanced Generation, and so many more. Though when I say Gundam I mean Universal Century baby! The classic that started it all, but we aren’t there yet. Season 1 just Mobile Suit Gundam came out in 1979 but it’s prequel Gundam Origins was 2015 I believe. Now let me tell ya, this show is good on it’s own. Plus I think it’s on Hulu at the time of writing this. I know it’s on Funimation Now so that’s a thing. That doesn’t matter as this is one of two shows I will actually say is worth buying a box set of. Before the robots came the rebellion.
A deep dive into the early years of the space colonies’ rebellion. The foundations of the baddies for most of Universal Century is spelled out here. You if you start here you will lose out on some plot twists sure. That said don’t let that distract you from making a good decision. Trust me the rest of UC Gundam is written well enough that even if you know what is coming the character’s reactions to the reveal is still worth it. So it might be low on robots but it’s full of space ships!
You don’t need to start there, but you are stupid if ya don’t. It really helps sell what UC Gundam is about. It’s a future historical drama. One whose main players stay relevant for years to come. The timeline spans from around UC 0068 well into the UC 0220s. Colonies rebelling, royal families betraying each other, corruption on all sides, and a few stand out people keep focus from the start. It never paints war as black and white. Heroes on both sides and even more villians. With a strong focus on the men and women who took part. By far the biggest event is The One Year War. UC 0079 – UC 0080 sees the most side stories and is the most fleshed out. Even still the main event is Char vs Amuro. To young men who had greatness thrust in them. Char the son to the founder of Zeon. Forced into hiding after narrowly escaping several assassination attempts from the Zabi family as they stole the movement and tarnished the name of Zeon forever. Only a few years older than Amuro the son to the inventor of the Gundam and who, as providence would have it, be it’s first pilot. Each fighting for what they believe in until a mysterious girl crosses their paths. These two are not just warriors but they are among the first humans to be born free of Earth’s gravity. They are Newtypes, people who understand truth and machines innately. Space psychics really for lack of a better term. Their conflict is full of melodrama, action, and learning to think beyond ones own wants and desires. Also robots punching the ever loving hell out of each other.
During this time we have Gundam 08th Division. A show about a rag tag team of federation forces fighting down on Earth. The get the worst jobs, the worst crew, and experimental and outdated parts. There you get to see them stop the launch of a Zeon superweapon as well as find out the answer to “Can love bloom, even on a battlefield?” between enemy pilots? It’s a short little series and worth a watch.
Gundam Thunderbolt is a newer made movie that focus on another group of Earth Federation forces as they fight the Zeon Special Ops team um… The Undead? Something along those lines. It’s pretty cool but much like the MS Igloo series of films they don’t particularly matter. I mean as my mother always said “Ain’t no such thing as to much Gundam” and mother knows best.
Uuugh, spoke too soon. Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket comes next. It’s short but kinda bland. It’s way to invested in the lives of grade school kids that eat up far more screen time than they need. It’s only 6 episodes long I believe. Though by the end of it you will swear it was 16. It’s not bad, just not that rewatchable. It does count as a Christmas Special in my book so points there! Okay here we go!
Was that Richie Kotzen from the band Poison singing about Gundams? Why yes it was, and no he wasn’t paid to do it. It was his idea. Because Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is one of the best shows ever made. Years after the war ended the embers of rebellion catch a new wind. Gato, The Nightmare of Solomon, is back and plans to single handedly restore Zeon knowing it will likely cost him his life. As he steals one of the new prototype Gundams equipped with a damn nuke bazooka and a shield that doubles as an industrial coolant system for his suit he is all but home free. Only a young rookie cadet steals the other suit and chases after him. In a frantic game of cat and mouse without any real formal support a small band of soliders try desperately to avert another war. His reward when it’s all over? 18 month hard labor in a military prison for stealing the GP0-1 Gundam. That’s right the good guy gets punished even though he won. Rules are rules after all. Not to mention when he, no, I won’t. You wanna know just watch it. It’s so good. Honestly it’s better than any other military movie or anime I can think of. It’s like if Top Gun was 13 episodes long and way more awesome. I mean yeah, sure it’s not one to one like Top Gun. Nothing like it really aside from being way better than it should be.
Alright, fine, Universal Century 0087 is when we have Zeta Gundam. It’s pretty cool. We get a deep dive on what a Newtypes is. Also scientists learned how to just scramble a brain and reshape that person into a Newtype. Just like it makes them super crazy. In order to bring about peace the Earth Federation just like picked half of the bad guys and made them a special branch of the military called Titans. This was to make sure that Zeon never has the power to try another rebellion. Which why would they need to now? They are slowly taking over the Federation while violently oppressing the colonies that stay loyal to Zeon. Which means only one thing right? More Char! Only now he called himself Quattro and has some baller shades instead of his sleep apnea mask. Joins the AUEG, Anti Unified Earth Group, even fighting alongside old enemies as he moves towards his goal of saving the earth from all the people just ruining it. First he needs to stop the Titans from gaining a bigger foothold over the government. Then he needs to try to get everyone to move to space. More action packed than you would expect going into it. Zeta Gundam tends to focus more on the political intrigue. It does take a good look at the new characters. Giving them some time to shine and like most gundam protagonists punch people as a form of communication.
It’s a good time all around. Then there is Double Zeta Gundam. It comes next, if you want to watch it go ahead. I mean I won’t stop ya. Just it’s not super important and kinda mucks about with the canon a bit more than I like. Also the dub is horrendously bad so if you are doing dub only definitely skip it. If you are a subs kinda person then why not watch it you clearly are a man of learning and distinction. Just don’t be surprised when very few people accept anything you say about Gundam when you use the ZZ word. It’s largely the same thing as Zeta just expanded with more characters. It does get subtle references in other series. Just nothing that is crucial. My exposure to ZZ Gundam has mostly been in video games.
So to me it always sorta feels like the Dragon Ball Z movies. Canon unless it’s conflicting. Think of Double Zeta like Zeta Gundam+ or like well what it is, an expanded retelling. Gonna be honest this is just from the top of my head here after a casual rewatching. It has some stand out characters like Puru. Some amazing story beats like the Zeon Forces holed up in Africa that don’t know the way need a long time ago. Also there is a chicken. I’d show you but the website isn’t letting me up load the gif. Ya know, because WordPress. I say watch ZZ if you watched the rest subbed. We can leave it at that for the big bad kinda finale Char’s Counter Attack! Because it is glorious.
Universal Century 0093 is the year Char finally went for it. His revenge on the Zabis complete, his father’s ideals and his movement of Zeonism both now fully under his command. He spent years on both sides of war. Everyone knows his name, well names I suppose, and they all atleast have to respect him. Over 2/3rds of humanity has died by now in these terrible wars. Both Earth and the Colonies have had almost an even share in percentage of population lost. Yet mankind refuses to give up on the earth and move to space to let the planet heal. So he is going to do some tried and true Zeon tactics.
Drop some space on them. Not just once but over and over throughout this movie. Dropping bigger and badder things, and seeing as he started with a space colony… it gets nuts. The fighting climaxes here. Everyone loses people. President of Earth gets blown up by his own daughter. Amuro’s girlfriend gets exploded. Bright Noah’s well… Just watch it. It’s amazing. So why is all this happening? You might think you know. You kinda do. Though it’s slot more than that. Especially now that Char and Amuro are dead the world is saved, and everyone saw the light and powers of Newtypes first hand we are left with one big question. Why Newtypes?
Zeon sought independence for space fairing peoples to be free. They believed that space could free the human mind and eventually lead to the next step in human evolution. So why was the Earth Federation so scared of free space colonies? What if I was to tell you the tenants of Zeonism was the actual foundation. Earth always intended to let the colonies self govern. The UN even acknowledged the possibilities of Newtypes from the start. In the original UC Charter they said that when these New Types of people should emerge that they should be given priority in government rules and leadership. An idea so dangerous that at it’s founding the first colony, the president, and the UN themselves were all killed to cover up this fact. A hidden truth known to only a few people and as it’s been almost 100 years since mankind went to space it is finally about to be revealed. Obviously it will come at a terrible cost.
This brings us to the events of Gundam Unicorn. Which I would feel bad saying this would be the end of the Universal Century story. It feels like things would be winding down but honestly there is still more to come. Gundam Narrative takes place a full year after Unicorn and these are recent releases. Infact Gundam Hathaway just started it’s trilogy of releases and it’s set in UC 0105. Plus we have Gundam F91 and Gundam Victory both older titles set in the UC timeline that are even further in the future. So why did I write all this? Because I’m excited about the new stuff coming. Thought you might be too. Or maybe win some new people over to one of the most highly praised but less appreciated series of all time. Because when I watch Gundam I always feel like one scene from it every time.