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Subject: History of anime, Gundam, Sunrise (company), Gundam Reconguista in G, Mobile Suit Gundam
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Gundam (Japanese: ガンダム Hepburn: Gandamu), also referred to as Gundam Series (ガンダムシリーズ Gandamu Shirīzu) is a science fiction media franchise created by Sunrise that feature giant robots (or "mecha") called "mobile suits", with titular mobile suits that carry the name "Gundam."

The franchise started on April 7, 1979, as an anime TV series called Mobile Suit Gundam, which was revolutionary in that it defined the real robot genre of anime by featuring giant robots in a militaristic war setting. The popularity of the first TV series and the merchandising that followed spawned a franchise that has come to include works released in numerous media. Titles have appeared in the form of multiple television series and OVAs, movies, manga, novels, and video games. The franchise has also led to the creation of one of the biggest toy and hobby franchises in the Japanese toy industry.

As of 2014, the Gundam franchise generated a total of 80 billion yen in revenues.[1] The 2014 retail sales of Gundam toy and hobby items totaled 18.4 billion yen.[2] In the 2008 ranking of average sales figures for anime copies sold in Japan (1970-2008 total sales figures averaged by episode), Gundam series were in four of the top five places: Mobile Suit Gundam ranked second, with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny third, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED fourth, and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam fifth. Also, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing ranked 18th and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ ranked 20th.[3] Gunpla's (Gundam Plastic model) holds 90% of the Japan character plastic model market.[4]

Academics in Japan have also viewed the series as inspiration, with the International Gundam Society being the first academic institution based on an animated TV series.[5]



Mobile Suit Gundam was principally developed by renowned animator Yoshiyuki Tomino, along with a changing group of Sunrise creators who went under the collective pseudonym of "Hajime Yatate".

During its conceptual phase, the series was titled Freedom Fighter Gunboy, or simply Gunboy for the gun the robot was armed with, and the primary target demographic were shōnen (boys). In the early production stages, there were numerous references to the word "freedom": the White Base was originally "Freedom's Fortress", the Core Fighter was the "Freedom Wing", and the Gunperry was the "Freedom Cruiser". The Yatate team combined the English word "gun" with the last syllable of the word "freedom" to form the name Gundom. Tomino then changed it to the current title, suggesting that Gundam signified a powerful unit wielding a gun powerful enough to hold back enemies, like a hydroelectric dam holding back floods.[6] In keeping with this concept, Gundams in all media that followed are often depicted as singularly unique or limited-production, with much higher capabilities than mass-produced units.

Most Gundams are large, bipedal, humanoid-shaped vehicles controlled from cockpits by a human pilot. The majority of these "mobile suits" have a cockpit in the "torso" of the machine, with a camera built into the "head" to transmit images to the cockpit and are non-sentient machines.


Mobile Suit Gundam is said to have pioneered the real robot sub-genre of mecha anime.[7]

Unlike its super robot cousins, Mobile Suit Gundam attempted a realism in the robot design and weaponry, by running out of energy and ammunition or breaking and malfunctioning. The technology is practical and is either derived from true science (such as Lagrange points in space and the O'Neill cylinder as a living environment) or at least well-explained, feasible technology, requiring only a few fictional elements to function (such as Minovsky Physics as a means of energy production from helium-3).[8]

The necessity of developing humanoid robots is also explained, albeit fictional. The fictional Minovsky particle pervasive in Universal Century is depicted as interfering with radar-guided long-distance cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guns, missiles, and all early warning systems, with weapons systems having to rely on human eyes. In Universal Century, the space-based Principality of Zeon rebels against Earth Federation, requiring a weapons system that could function in zero and normal gravity and be able to open and close air locks, plant demolition charges, and engage with enemy tanks and planes; with a robotic giant being an excellent choice. Once mobile suits have been developed by one side, the opposing force had to develop a similar system, just as British invention of tanks lead to the development of tanks in Germany, and eventually led to tank-to-tank battles.


The general narratives of various Gundam shows classify as war drama. The revolve around the mobile suits and their pilots fighting in a war, in which destruction and dehumanization are inherent, through multiple sides; each faction having their own heroes and villains, all of which have their own unique motives, failings, and virtues. Gundam also features political battles and debates on various important philosophical issues and political ideals on the nature and meaning of war, the ideal of pacifism, and the continuing evolution - natural or engineered - of humanity and its consequences. These are often framed in the series as a debate between the protagonist and antagonist over the course of a duel, as they try to convince each other of the righteousness of their causes. Most of the stories are structured as "coming-of-age" dramas, where the main cast's personalities, points of view, allegiances, goals, and actions may or may not change dramatically as events unfold. This makes the plot seem more realistic than earlier super robot animated series where the hero and cast usually act in the same predictable manner, with little connection between the episodes. The best example of this is how the personalities of longtime rivals, Amuro Ray and Char Aznable, are influenced by their experiences in the Gundam saga.


The majority of Gundam animation, including the earliest series, occur in the Universal Century (UC) calendar era, with later series set in alternate calendars or timelines mostly unrelated to the UC system that have begun to be connected in the canon with Correct Century. The creation of the separate timelines were originally stand alone works, that did not require prior knowledge of the Universal Century timeline to understand or appreciate the story's background. These different timelines define Gundam differently and portray different conflicts in entirely different settings and circumstances to other entries, including the definition of Gundam.

Definition of Gundam

Within the Gundam franchise, the titular term "Gundam" generally refers to a specific category of mobile suits that tend to feature design cues from Kunio Okawara's original Gundam design. Nonetheless producer Masahiko Asano wrote in his notes on the production of Gundam Sentinel that everyone seemed to have their own idea of Gundam and in the meeting, they were trying to find the asymptotic view for everyone in the meeting.[9] The variations in naming and identification impacts the definition of the term throughout the various Gundam timelines:

  • In the original Universal Century timeline, "Gundam" is the name of the Earth Federation's first experimental general-purpose mobile suit, and various mobile suits based off its design. In this timeline, Gundam often stands for General-purpose Utility, Non Discontinuity Augmentation Maneuvering weapon system.[10][11]
  • In the Future Century timeline of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the word "Gundam" refers to class of mobile weapons built from Gundarium alloy, and mostly refer to mobile fighters that participate in the "Gundam Fight", a competition that determines which colony would rule the Earth every 4 years.
  • In the After Colony timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, the word "Gundam" refers to most mobile suits constructed out of a special alloy called "Gundanium".
  • In the After War timeline of After War Gundam X, advanced mobile suits built from lunar titanium alloy both before and during the After War era are referred to as Gundam.
  • In the Correct Century timeline of Turn A Gundam, the name "Gundam" is given to the WD-M01 Turn A Gundam mobile suit by a specific character, who was originally an ace pilot, but was placed under suspended animation. The color scheme of the Turn A reminds the character of the Gundam mobile suits from previous eras.
  • In the Cosmic Era timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the word Gundam is generally not referenced, but certain characters use the term to describe mobile suits that carry specific types of operating systems, whose acronym always spells "G.U.N.D.A.M."
  • In the Anno Domini timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the term Gundam is the generic designation of a line of unique and highly effective mobile units that were built by the anti-war organization Celestial Being to utilize the GN-Drive, though eventually that technology spread to non-Gundam mobile suits as well.
  • In the Advanced Generation of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the Gundam was a legendary mobile suit developed by ancestors of main character Flit Asuno. When he inherits the AGE Device from his mother, which contains plans of a mobile suit that resembles a painting of the Gundam he saw, he decides to name the new mobile suit (and its successive models) after it.


Over the years, various other types of narratives and settings have been developed as the franchise grew and diversify. SD Gundam, a sub-franchise of Gundam that started in the mid-1980s, features Gundam mecha and characters expressed in super deformed and anthropomorphic style while placing them in various historical, fantastical or science fiction settings, with greater emphasis on comedy and adventure. In addition, a recent development in Gundam animated works is to feature a more contemporary setting and use Gunpla as a central plot element, as seen in shows like Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G and Gundam Build Fighters.


TV series, films, and video

Name Media Year(s) MSG Date
Mobile Suit Gundam TV series
Compilation movies
U.C. 0079
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam TV series
Compilation movies
U.C. 0087-88
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ TV series 1986–1987 U.C. 0088-89
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack Movie 1988 U.C. 0093
Mobile Suit SD Gundam Movies
Compilation TV series
1988, 1989, 1991, 1993
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket OVA 1989 U.C. 0079-80
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory OVA
Compilation movie
U.C. 0083
Mobile Suit Gundam F91 Movie 1991 U.C. 0123
Mobile Suit Victory Gundam TV series 1993-1994 U.C. 0153
Mobile Fighter G Gundam TV series 1994–1995 F.C. 60
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing TV series
Compilation OVA
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team OVA
Compilation movie
U.C. 0079
After War Gundam X TV series 1996 A.W. 0015
Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz OVA
Compilation movie
Turn A Gundam TV series
Compilation movies
C.C. 2345
G-Saviour Live-action movie 2000 U.C. 0223
Gundam Neo Experience 0087: Green Divers Specialty format movie 2001 U.C. 0087
Gundam Evolve Animated shorts 2001–2005 Various
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED TV series
Compilation specials
Superior Defender Gundam Force TV series 2003–2004 Unknown
Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War Movies 2004 U.C. 0079
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny TV series
Compilation specials
Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079 OVA 2006 U.C. 0079
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer ONA 2006 C.E.73
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 TV series
Compilation specials
A.D. 2307-2312
Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: The Gravity Front OVA 2009 U.C. 0079
Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn OVA 2010-2014 U.C. 0096
SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors Movie
TV series
2010 Unknown
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer Movie 2010 A.D. 2314
Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G OVA 2010 A.D. 2010
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE[12] TV Series
2011-2012 A.G. 115, 140-142, 164, 201
Gundam Build Fighters TV series 2013-2014[13] A.D. 20??
Mobile Suit Gundam-san[14] TV series 2014 U.C. 0079
Gundam Reconguista in G[15] TV series 2014-2015 R.C. 1014 [16]
Gundam Build Fighters Try TV series 2014-2015[17] A.D. 20??
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin[18] OVA[19] 2015[15] U.C. 0068-0079

Manga and novels

The manga narration of the original series is published in English in North America by a variety of companies, such as Viz Media, Del Rey Manga, and TOKYOPOP, among others, and in Singapore by Chuang Yi.

Video games

Following the popularity of Gundam, various video games feature original characters previously not found in other media. Over 80 different Gundam games have been created for arcade, computer and console platforms. A video game series based on the popular Dynasty Warriors video game resulted in the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games. Some of the video games would go on to have spinoff novels and manga.

Gundam model

The creation, production and assembling of Gundam models are a major focus of the franchises enduring success that began in the 1980s. Hundreds of models, primarily plastic with a few resin, metal and other types of kits have been released ranging in quality from children's toy kits, hobbyist, and museum-grade models. Most models are of 1:35, 1:48, 1:60, 1:100, 1:144 scale. Special promotional models ranging of 1:6 or 1:12 are targeted to retailers and are not commercially available. One full size model was also constructed and displayed in Tokyo's Odaiba and later in Shizuoka.

Other Merchandise

Bandai, the primary licensee of the Gundam trademark, makes a variety of products for the Gundam fan. Other companies produce unofficial merchandise such as toys, models, and T-shirts. Categories of products include the "Mobile Suit In Action" ("MSiA") action figures, and Gundam Model Kits in several scales and design complexity. Generally, each series listed above will have its own set of products, although the MSiA and models lines, such as Master Grade and High Grade Universal Century, may extend across series. The most popular line of action figure in recent year; however, is the "Gundam Fix" series. This line of figures include the mecha shown in the animated series/manga/novels, but also included new accessories to create a more updated version. In addition to Master Grade and High Grade Gundams, Bandai released yet another series of Gundam model in 2010 for the 30th anniversary of Gundam.[20] The release of the real grade Gundam series let to an evolutionary way to building Gundam kits; real grade Gundam series combined the detailed inner structures of master grade versions and added an additional colour separation making the tiny 1/144 scaled real grade series complex in design and compact in size. After the introduction of the RG Gundam series, Bandai released the Metal Build series in March 2011 beginning with the 00 (double 0) Gundam. The Metal Build Gundam is more than an expensive action figure capable of multiple poses made available through the fixed joints, it's a game changer. Each Metal Build release features the best that Bandai has to offer in toy engineering, design, sculpt, posability, durability, and what many Gundam enthusiasts wish for, heavy on diecast content. [21] Gundam model kits and action figures coexist with the Gundam animated series, Perfect grade Gundams and 1/64 series are also continuous products of Bandai's production line.


Bandai maintains a number of sites to promote various Gundam projects. Most prominent amongst these is "Gundam Perfect Web", the official Japanese site. Its English language counterpart is the US maintained "Gundam Official". For a brief trial period in 2005, the site hosted the "Gundam Official User Forum". On July 2, 2013 another "Gundam Official" site will be launched. These forums were based on the existing fan forum, "Gundam Watch", and made use of many of its staff. When the project was retired, Gundam Watch was reborn, before passing the torch onto "Gundam Evolution", which maintained many of the same traditions and staff.

A number of series specific websites have been produced. These are often available for a limited time, usually to promote a DVD release. Common content includes character and mecha listings, lists of related merchandise and pay-for-download content. "Special" pages are also frequent, often presenting downloadable wallpaper or a small game. The Superior Defender Gundam Force site, for example, offers a game where players take the role of the villain Commander Sazabi, attempting to blast his subordinate with his weapons. After completion, users are rewarded with a papercraft of the Ark fans featured frequently in the show's second half.

Global Invasion

Since 1980, Gundam has been seen all over the world, here's the countries that Gundam has invaded so far:
Country Year of Debut
Hong Kong
Philippines 1983
Indonesia 1987
United States
Latin America
Australia & New Zealand
The Rest of Europe


Gundam is a popular cultural icon of Japan; it is a 50 billion yen business of Bandai Namco (projected 50 billion yen income of the company and reached a highest number of 54.5 billion yen in 2006).[22] Not only were stamps published, an employee of the Agriculture Ministry was reprimanded for contribution to Japanese WorldHeritage Gundam related pages,[23] the Japanese Self Defense Forces code-named its developing advance personal combat system as Gundam, and the Fire department used Gundam to promote the future of fire fighting developments. A tram station stood a monument of the original Gundam and used the main theme of the first Gundam anime as its departure melody and other businesses like Mitsubishi not only created a test-type simulator for concept cars with a version of Gundam cockpit, it also held recruitment seminars using "How to make a Gundam" as a demo of what their development process is and based their Lancer Evolution design on Gundam. Isuzu also used a Gundam to model the VX2. A conference as a preparation for the "International Gundam Society" (国際ガンダム学会) was held on the August 24 in Hiroshima, using Gundam as the main topic to discuss about the relationship of the science and technology in science fiction anime and the real world. The Gundam metaverse makes regular appearances in the Super Robot Wars series by Banpresto.

Gundam's realistic scientific setting has gained a reputation in the field itself as well. On July 18, 2007, when MIT's Astronautics Department's Professor Dava Newman displayed a biosuit, the suit was referenced as Mobile Suit Gundam's Normal Suit is now real by various news agencies.[24][25] On February 14, 2008, when NASA proposed research into nuclear thermal rockets, Technobahn, a scientific journal in Japan, referred to the usage of nuclear thermal rocket engines on mobile suits in the Gundam universe.[26]

See also


  • Yoshiyuki Tomino (1979-04-07–1980-01-26). "Mobile Suit Gundam". Sunrise. Nagoya Broadcasting Network.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino (1986-03-01–1987-01-31). "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ". Sunrise. Nagoya Broadcasting Network.


  1. ^ Bandai Namco Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Statement
  2. ^ Bandai Namco Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Statement
  3. ^ TV anime sales history total sales figure ranking averaged by episode, Latest version. TVアニメ歷代売上累計平均ランキング最新版TOP25
  4. ^ Flow of the Japan toy industry (日本の玩具産業の動向), Japan Economic Department, Information section (日本経済情報課)
  5. ^ Gundam cartoon academy to turn science fiction into reality in Japan
  6. ^ Gundam Archives, production notes
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Gundam Science, The High Frontier - G.K. O'neil's Space colonization plan, Gundam Century, Out Magazine special edition, Renewal Version
  9. ^ What's "Sentinel", Masahiko Asano, Model Graphix Special Edition "Gundam Wars III" Gundam Sentinel The battle of "Real Gundam", ISBN 4-499-20530-1
  10. ^ Gundam Sentinel
  11. ^ Gundam Officials
  12. ^ "Level 5 to Help Create Gundam AGE Anime This Fall (Updated) - News". Anime News Network. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Mobile Suit Gundam-san 4-Panel Gag Manga Gets Anime".  
  15. ^ a b "Gundam's 35th Year Marked With Reconguista in G, The Origin". Anime News Network. 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Gundam The Origin Manga to Launch Anime Project - News". Anime News Network. 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  19. ^ Gundam The Origin" episode 1 90-second trailer released!""". 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  20. ^ Suzuki, Toshiyuki. "RX-78-2 Gundam (RG) (Gundam Model Kits)". Hobby Search Co., Ltd. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "METAL BUILD FREEDOM GUNDAM". Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Nekkei BP mook, Otona no Gundamu Perfect (Gundam for Adult's Perfect), Business & History+Character+Mechanic, Nekkei Entertainment, ISBN 978-4-8222-6317-1
  23. ^ "Japanese workers in WorldHeritage row".  
  24. ^ tehnobahn, 機動戦士ガンダムのノーマルスーツが現実に
  25. ^ Ming Pao, July 19, 2007
  26. ^ technobahn ガンダムにも搭載予定? NASAが研究開発中の熱核ロケットエンジン

External links

  • websiteGundamOfficial (Japanese)
  • GundamOfficial Official website for Gundam in North America
  • Gundam at DMOZ
  • Gundam (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
  • Gundam at the Mecha Anime Headquarters website'
  • Perfect GamesGundam (Japanese)
  • Bandai Visual's Gundam minisite (Japanese)
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