Gundam is huge in every way. Big robots, big guns, and a seemingly unending line-up of series and episodes. You can’t possible watch all of the Gundam series in a day or even a week. There are 10 series so far that have been released in America, and another 6 series pending translation. Forget the fact that Gundam is a raging toy and video game monster in Japan. This beast is now on our shores and if you like anime this is a ’must see’.
There’s no simple way to describe what this series is. The story arc spans centuries and civilizations in a vast and uncharted future. Technology is a key factor in the series as deadly robots do the dirty dance of death in space and on planets throughout the galaxy. The following is a brief description of the many series to get you started. Since there are so many different series I’ll skimp out on the details to save space.
The Universal Century Series
The main time era of Gundam is referred to as the Universal Century. It’s set in the near future where most humans no longer live on Earth, but rather in colonies that orbit the Earth. The governing body over humanity is known as the Earth Federation. In a classic science fiction twist reminiscent of Larry Niven, conflict inevitably arises between the technologically advanced space colonies and old school planet dwellers. So begins the One Year War, an epic struggle on a scale unbeknownst to us folks of the 20th century. Within the Universal Century there are a total of seven series:
Mobile Suit Gundam
The first series is set 79 years into the Universal Century. The space colonies have rebelled against the Earth Federation and pledged allegiance to Zeon. Their ace up the sleeve is the human-shaped fighting platforms known as mobile suits. With the mobile suits, the rebels soon occupy half of the Earth’s surface. The story focuses on Amuro Ray, who chances upon the white mobile suit Gundam secretly developed by the Earth Federation in a distant space colony. He finds himself at the controls of the Gundam after a Zeon attack that cripples the base.
The 08th MS Team
The second series is set only months after the first. The One Year War is still in the early stages as the Earth Federation begins manufacturing its own mobile suit Gundams. They’re sent to the areas of heaviest fighting like Southeast Asia. This series is about a young officer by the name of Shiro Amada. He’s the leader of the 8th Mobile Suit team within the prestigious Kojima Battalion. On his way to Earth he runs into an enemy test pilot and soon develops feelings for her. But it’s a time for war and he must soon choose what matters more to him!
The One Year War is almost over in the third series of Gundam as a new era of rule is in order. Hardcore Zeon commandos are dispatched to destroy the newest Federation prototype mobile suit Gundam. The story shines on Al Izuruha, who’s a simple boy that dreams of fighting in the great war. Little does he know that his colony is now the target for these commandos and that he’s about to get a taste of true warfare.
Set three years after the One Year War, the Earth Federation enjoys a stable peace while remnants of the rebel Zeons have faded into obscurity. They’ve prepared one last kick at the bucket and manage to take the Federation by surprise. After stealing a prototype Gundam armed with a nuke, the rebels lead Kou Uraki on a chase throughout the solar system.
Now seven years after the war, the Federation’s Titans taskforce rules the space colonies with an iron fist. A new rebel force known simply as AEUG is sick and tired of this and plans revenge on the Titans. A civil war erupts when AEUG launches a successful attack on the Titans headquarters. War separates the men from the boys, and Kamille Bidan rises up to the challenge of this new conflict.
The second last series set in the Universal Century begins with the return of the infamous Char Aznable. He’s rallied a new wave of Neo Zeon rebels to finish what they started thirteen years ago. The rebels begin by pelting Earth with Asteroids in an attempt to destroy the planet. Only Amuro Ray (from the original series) and his supercharged Londo Bell strike force stands in the way of Earth’s total destruction.
Mobile Suit Gundam F91
A full forty years after the great One Year War, the Earth Federation once more pursues space colonies in an attempt to house the rapidly growing population of humanity. Yet another rebel faction, this time the Crossbone Vanguard, aims to take the new colonies for its own. A group of young civilians struggles to escape the carnage, but as a result the hesitant warrior Seabook Arno steps up to the plate to save his family and friends. He takes control of the new F91 Gundam and begins a desperate battle with the Vanguard.
Three other series round out the Gundam universe. They’re all set even further in the future.
Set in the ’Future Century’, technology has advanced beyond the limits of imagination and the ruling class of humanity now lives in the orbiting space colonies. They use Earth only as an arena for the tournament known as Gundam Fight. It’s a martial contest that determines who will be the new leader of the space colonies. As the 13th tournament begins, Domon Kasshu of Neo Japan is sent on a top-secret mission to save humanity.
This is another series set in the future that mirrors much of the original Gundam. Earth is surrounded by space colonies that are oppressed by the Earth Alliance. Their use of mobile suits to suppress the colonial population has spawned a secret rebel society called Oz. These rebels manage to infiltrate the Earth Alliance and send five young pilots to fight a guerilla war on Earth that will decide the fate of humanity.
Set in a distant Cosmic Era, year 71, a new war has erupted between the genetically enhanced colonists and the unmodified population of the Earth Alliance. In an effort to catch up with the superior technology of the colonists, the Alliance creates its own mobile suits. A colonist, Kira Yamato, gets his hands on an Alliance prototype Gundam and must fight against his own side so that he can also save his friends.