This was the original Gundam series that started it all. Released as a 52 episode series for television in Japan in 1979, it tells the story of the Earth Federation Assult Carrier White Base and its crew. The series almost didn't make it, with it's ratings being so bad that it was nearly cancelled after the first 36 episodes. It gained popularity in reruns and was later edited into three movies, eventually launching other Gundam series that expound upon the time period surrounding the One Year War and continuing on into the Universal Century, as well as being the basis for several other series that take place in alternate universes.

It takes place in the year Universal Century (UC) 0079, seventy-nine years after mankind had started colonizing space. Humans inhabited large space colonies known as "sides". The colony known as Side 3 declared itself the Principality of Zeon, and declared war against the Earth Federation in a fight for independence. Six months into the war, both sides suffered heavy losses, with each seeing it's population halved. The "Zekes" had the initial edge in battle with their force of mobile suits, but the Earth Federation was also developing it's own mobile suits.

The Earth Federation's colony at Side 7 housed a research facility where several "Feddie" mobile suits were sent for testing and enhancement, and the Feddies had also built a new experimental Assault Cruiser, the White Base which had arrived at Side 7 to pick up the prototype mobile suits.

It was during a reconnaissance mission turned battle by soldiers of Ace Zeon Pilot Char Aznable, the "Red Comet", that Zeke forces discovered what the Federation was building. Sixteen year-old Amuro Ray, who lived on Side 7, happened upon the RX-78-2 Gundam during the battle, and used it to hold off the Zekes while the survivors of Side 7 were loaded onto White Base. The crew of the White Base was also able to save three Federation mobile suits from being destroyed along with Side 7: the RX-75 Guntank, the RX-77-2 Guncannon, and the Gundam.

The inexperienced crew of White Base, staffed mostly by civilians, makes their way back to Earth, and follows where the war takes them, hoping that one day peace will return, and they will no longer be forced to fight for their lives.

There's also the matter of the Opening Theme. Now on the region 1 DVD and the Cartoon Network run of the series the opening is a mishmash of sound-bites backed by a standard looped techno beat. It's typical of the Toonami opening sequences that are produced by Williams Street (who also produced this new opening). However, in the original series, the show opens with a gloriously cheesy japanese pop theme entitled "Tobe! Gandamu" (or Fly! Gundam).

It's kind of amusing to me that some folks who are big supporters of the franchise (especially since its' recent stateside resurgence) will defend nearly every aspect of the show and pretend to be "representin' the old school", but when the weirdest aspect of the show come up, they act disgusted and treat it like it should have never existed. In doing that, it feels like they want to try to divorce the show not only from its' heritage as a wholly japanese show, but from its' heritage as as a giant robot series with a deliciously tacky opening theme. Anyways, if you want to watch the opening with original theme intact, you can download it in Quicktime format (sorry, I don't know where it's available otherwise) from As of June 9, 2002 it's down for 10-15 days. You can always search for any number of Mobile Suit Gundam websites to find the mp3 or video clip as well.

And the lyrics! Can't forget the lyrics. I don't have a reliable english translation yet, so what's below is in romaji only for right now (courtesy of about 5 or 6 places out there). Also, the intro features verses 1 and 3 of the song, the second verse is in the song on the CD Gundam Singles History.

Moeagare Gandamu
Kimi yo Hashire
Mada Ikari ni moeru Toushi ga aru nara
Kyodaina teki o Ute yo Ute yo Ute yo
Seigi no ikari o Butsukero Gandamu
Kidou Senshi Gandamu Gandamu

Tachiagare Gandamu
Kimi yo Sakebe
Mada Zetsubou ni shizumu Kanashimi aru nara
Kyoufu o haratte Ike yo Ike yo Ike yo
Uzumaku chishio o Moyase Gandamu
Kidou Senshi Gandamu Gandamu

Yomigaeru Gandamu
Kimi yo Tsukame
Mada Ai ni furueru Kokoro ga aru nara
Heiwa o motomete Tobe yo Tobe yo Tobe yo
Ginga e mukatte Tobe yo Gandamu
Kidou Senshi Gandamu Gandamu

Ugh, I feel like a big stinky otaku after that wu.

Gundam first premiered on Japanese TV back in 1979 and was the first mecha anime show that featured a continous storyline. Some call it a soap-opera in space. Anyway, there have been so many follow up series and movies, that it is sometimes hard to remember what comes when, so here is a listing of everything Gundam, in the correct order:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam, the television series released back in 1979 that started it all. Set in Universal Century (UC) 0079, it presents the main storyline of the One Year War, as well as the foundation of everything that was to follow. There were a total of 43 released episodes, but like Star Trek, real success came later, in syndication.
  • Gundam - The Movie collects the original episodes 1-13, and features some new scenes.
  • Gundam - The Movie II, Soldiers of Sorrow collects episodes 16-30 and also features some new scenes.
  • Gundam - The Movie III, Encounters in Space collects episodes 31- 43 and also features some new scenes.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team was originally an OVA (original video animation), i.e. not aired on television. It is set in UC 0079, same time as One Year War and encompasses 11 volumes. It was also combined and released as a motion picture.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, another OVA, released in 1989 and set in UC 0080. There were 6 volumes.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, yet another OVA series, released 1991, and set in (you guessed it) UC 0083. It's 12 volumes were later reworked into a motion picture, the Last Blitz of Zeon, which left out a lot of the series, and spoiled the ending for those who didn't see the series.
  • Mobile Suit Z Gundam, was the second TV series, released 1985, but set in UC 0087. There were 50 episodes.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, the third television series, released 1986, was set in UC 0088. The 47 episodes featured a much lighter, childlike tone than Z Gundam, and therefore suffered poor reputation among serious Gundam fans.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam - Char's Counterattack, the fourth movie, was released in 1988, and set in UC 0093.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam F91, the next movie, released in 1991, was set quite a bit in the future in UC 0123, and was an attempt to launch a new Gundam saga set years after Char's Counterattack. It was originally planned as a full-length television series, that changed during production, so the first 13 episodes had to be crammed into less than 2 hours of screen time.
  • Mobile Suit V Gundam, YATVS, released in 1993, and set in UC 0153. It's 51 episodes, set another 30 years in the future to launch a new saga, but failed to launch a new franchise. It marks the end of the official UC saga.
  • This however did not spell the end for the Gundam franchise, which was far too lucrative to let it die, so soon new series, set in alternate universes were produced. The first of which was the television series Mobile Fighter G Gundam released just one year after the last series in 1994. It enjoyed a run of 49 episodes and was set in Future Century (FC) 60.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, the next television series, released in 1995, again with 49 episodes was set in After Colony (AC) 195, and therefore the second alternative universe story.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing - Endless Waltz, an 3 volume OVA from 1997 continued this arc by being set in AC 196. There was a "special edition" theatrical version a year later which included extra footage and extended Gundam action sequences.
  • After War Gundam X, the third and last of the alternate universe television series was released in 1996, but ran only 39 episodes. It was set After War (AW) 0015, and was a kind of a "what if" story related to the original Gundam series.
  • Turn A Gundam, a 50 episode TV series released in 1999 and set in UC 2345 intended to encompass all of the Gundam saga, even the recent "alternate universe" stories.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Seed is the latest spin-off of the neverending Gundam franchise, and promises to be a return to the roots, back to what made the first series so popular. As there are only a couple of episodes, so the jury is still out, but it looks sweet.
Information collected and combined from various websites, DVD's and magazines

A large part of the appeal of Gundam was the fact that it marked a break from the traditional "Super Robot" genre of anime prevalent in the 1970s. Though there are still quite a few elements of that genre in the series (the Gundam was made by Amuro Ray's father, Tem; the White Base has on board three young kids as comic relief (though they do get redeemed in Zeta Gundam, where they are fleshed out); for the first half of the series, the three White Base mobile suits are the only ones in the Federation arsenal), the show broke the mold by portraying the mobile suits not as sentient, but rather as tools of war - though mobile suits piloted by legendary pilots such as Amuro or Char Anzable do tend to take a life of their own. In addition, the sides are not painted in black and white - it's made clear that the colonies do have quite a few legitimate grievances, and that the Federation isn't as noble as its PR department would like you to believe.

A large part of the reason many fans of the original series dislike the original opening is because it's a painfully stereotypical opening for a classic "Super Robot" show, when it was so much more than that.

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