What is the best way to get into Gundam?


#1

Not the figure building aspect (I do not have enough space or money for that) but watching the various anime series. Which ones are must watches? Which should be ignored?

Help me, I just want to understand some Gundam!


#2

Early Austin Walker-era Beastcast episodes for both I think.


#3

0080 War in the Pocket and The 08th MS Team are short OVA series that take place during the conflict presented in the original Mobile Suit Gundam.

They’re a bit different than your traditional Gundam series, telling stories that aren’t so interested in the major conflicts of the Universal Century, or UC (Gundam’s first and main timeline), but in more personal stories, with War in the Pocket following an elementary school student wrapped up in a secret mission and 08th MS Team following a small squad of planet-side Mobile Suit pilots. I think that they set the stage for the other shows in the UC pretty well, and provide a good stepping stone into the larger stories presented in the mainline Gundam shows. Plus they’re only 6 and 12 episodes respectively, so they’re not a massive time investment.

If you want to start outside of the UC, Gundam has several standalone shows and timelines. A major one of these is Mobile Fighter G Gundam, a comedy series where different nations have their own mechs to represent them in a Street Fighter style tournament. Iron Blooded Orphans is also popular, which is about a group of Martian child soldiers who start a PMC. Personally I’m kind of mixed on it. It has an interesting premise and some really great mech and character designs, but that show is a kind of dark I don’t know if I needed when I started watching it in 2017. Both G Gundam and IBO are on Crunchyroll.

Edit: It’s also worth mentioning that there are shows about people who build Gunpla and use them to fight other people who also build Gunpla in Gunpla fightin’ tournaments.


#4

I also recommend War in the Pocket.

A short 6 episode OVA with low commitment nor do you really need any prior Gundam Knowledge. It was the show that got me into the bigger Gundam franchise as a whole.


#5

all of my friends recommended the original series movie trilogy, which I enjoyed very much. i loved the classic 80s animation style and the plot was really good. it runs a bit long (i wanna say the whole trilogy is like… 6 hours at least?) but its pretty easy to put down and come back to later imo


#6

The War in the Pocket OVA is 6 episodes long and easily the best early Gundam thing to be made, good story and animation and extremely simple. Other than that, Stardust Memory and 08th MS Team are both 12 episodes long and very good, and Char’s Counterattack is movie-length and the same sort of show that the original few series were but within a much better production.

From that basis it’s probably most worth watching the “weirder” Gundams, Turn A and G Gundam. The main Gundam series’ quality is extremely fluctuative and a lot of them aren’t even remotely worth watching (Looking at you SEED). Turn A is much closer to the style of more modern shows and G Gundam is Yasuhiro Imagawa being a complete super robot nerd and they’re probably the best non-conventional shows by far.

Personally however Gundam is less a thing in its own right and more a jumping off point to the rest of the mecha genre. There’s a ton of really good shows like “Kill Em All” Tomino’s other project Space Runaway Ideon, SDF Macross (currently held hostage by Harmony Gold), GAINAX’s 88 OVA Gunbuster and its (incredible) sequel Diebuster, the Chiaki J. Konaka penned Big O, King Gainer, Escaflowne, RahXephon, Giant Robo, Eureka 7, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, GaoGaiGar, Star Driver, the soon-to-be-released TRIGGER / A-1 collaboration Darling in the Frankxx, Martian Successor Nadesico…etc. etc…Just don’t watch Code Geass. It’s terrible.


#7

08th MS Team was my introduction to Gundam earlier this year and I’d definitely recommend it! It has a really fun cast and a very strong ending. In terms of tone it reminded me a lot of Cowboy Bebop and Austin Walker’s COUNTER/Weight series over at Friends at the Table, so if either of those appealed to you then I’d give 08th MS Team a shot.

(And if you’re ever looking for other non-gundam mecha series then I’d like to second Gunbuster/Diebuster, which are also both extremely good)


#8

Piggybacking a little bit off the original question: for fans of the franchise, what’s the main draw of Gundam? I’ve always thought of it as a toy-anime thing like Beyblade and Yu-Gi-Oh where the show imbues the (admittedly really really cool) toys with extra meaning. I see the way people on here and elsewhere engage with it and I’ve begun to suspect I’ve underserved the Gundam phenomenon with my assumption. So what’s the big deal?


#9

ClairvoyantVibes already kind alluded to it but a large amount of Gundam is presented in a way that doesn’t require you to watch it in any particular order. There is a central time line but various series skip around on it or have their own stand alone time line. So don’t feel like you have to seek out a list of what order to watch it in. If you’re worried look at Wikipedia’s broad description to see if it’s a sequel to something.

@Volt in addition to mechs doing cool mech things most tend to do a good job at having a plot that’s deeper than “good robots fight bad robots and then the big bad was defeated and everyone was happy”.

TV Tropes has a fairly good theme explanation I feel:

Gundam works are generally stories about how War Is Hell, covering conflicts between different groups of people fighting World War Whatever over ideology, resources, and other familiar real world issues — as opposed to fighting an Alien Invasion, Robot War, or other external threat. This conflict usually takes the form of the established Earth government fighting against people living in the enormous space colonies in Earth orbit in a downplayed form of The War of Earthly Aggression (though it’s a toss up whether Earth or the colonies are actually the aggressors in any given series).


#10

I’ll echo this. If you’re looking into old school Mobile Suit Gundam, miss the original episodes and watch the compilation movies with the improved sound. Honestly, maybe just watch the first movie. Or even the first half of the first movie. IMO, it’s the best Mobile Suit ever gets. It has a high stakes while staying relatively grounded compared to later in the series when the show starts becoming 50% repetitive battles and everyone starts getting psychic powers.

Then again, if you only watch the first movie you will miss Big Zam.


#11

I usually recommend the compilation movies as well, for the reasons @jaguar and @Reyturner listed–and also because they’re pretty widely available compared to some of the other good intro seasons. (Also, they were my intro to the series!) I agree that the best entry-point is deffo pretty dependent on taste. As a big fan of 70s sci-fi and pastel colors, the movies were exactly my jam, but I could see how people who don’t groove on that specific aesthetic would find them off-puttingly weird as a modern viewer.
Can anybody who’s watched Origin comment on how well it works as an entry point?


#12

Thank you for the suggestions!

I found 08th MS Team on Hulu and have watched the first couple of episodes. So far I am enjoying it!

Was not expecting it to be so “we watched a lot of Vietnam war movies”, but I still like it.

I also really like how one of the first mechs you see in action is The Ball, it was not what I expected, but was fun to see in action.

I will definitely continue watching it and then try to find either War in the Pocket or one of the compilation movies.


#13

i wish there was a streaming service that had all of the shows…


#14

gotta figure some sort of gantry, ladder’s not really feasible


#15

Origin does not work well as an entry point, I think, as it focuses on the history of Char and Sayla and seems to assume that you have some knowledge of the UC universe already. I agree with everyone else in recommending the original movie trilogy/08th MS/0080. Gundam Thunderbolt is also a pretty solid standalone intro.


#16

I started with the original series (swapped to the movies some ways in as they were easier for me to get a hold of) and enjoyed it - they hold up, I think.