Gundam Week: Starter Kit and Acknowledgments
In any large franchise it isn’t surprising that potential viewers tend to find themselves a bit confused on where to start. The Gundam universe can be very confusing considering the different movies and series currently out. Each series/movie offers a new cast, new mobile suits and even new time periods, so it is important to know where you should start in order have a positive experience. After all, Gundam at its best is truly a great ride for any viewer. That being said, with such a large franchise, it is only natural that there are a few series would make for less ideal points to jump in. In order to make this a bit easier, the suggestions here will be based on how you enjoy animated shows.
“Gundam looks pretty interesting, but to be honest I don’t feel like sitting through 50 episodes, I just don’t have time nor the patience.”
Fortunately, this isn’t a problem. As it happens there are several short OVAs (original video animations) within the Gundam universe. Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 is perhaps the best one to start with. With this OVA you really do not have to know any of the Gundam mythos. Its plot is simple, yet incredibly intriguing due to the conflicts between the characters. The OVA is a little light on the action, but has a good amount of drama to make up for it. All in all it is a fantastic, 6-episode series that provides for a great first impression with the Gundam universe if you do not feel like sitting through a full series. On a similar note, if you feel yourself wishing to start out with the original, it has been compiled into a three movie trilogy. The movies took unnecessary scenes from the series and compressed the plot into three movies for a simpler viewing method. Needless to say, for anyone who dislikes long series, these provide an easy option to view the original.
“Giant Robots? That’s awesome, I totally need to start watching this, but in all honesty I just dislike older animation, I find it hard to get into and boring.”
This is completely understandable, and while the majority of Gundam series/movies are older, there are a few newer series with gorgeous animation. The newest, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, is definitely the place to start for anyone who wants a good mix of action and plot. The series starts out a bit slow, allowing ample time to introduce the four Gundam pilots. During the second act of the first season everything comes together and the series starts flying by, never slowing down until the final episode of the second season. Overall, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 does a great job of engaging the viewer, and will have you coming back for more.
An alternative point to jump on Gundam is the one you have heard the most about, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. While Wing and 00 are often compared, the two have vastly different plots and characters. Aside from the Gundam fights, Heero Yuy and his extreme methods are quite fun to watch. Both are great starting points, but ultimately if seeing the beauty of animation is your thing, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is where to start.
“To be honest, I really just want to know where I shouldn’t start.”
While I personally found both series fun, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and the sequel, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny is definitely not the place to start. The first series is too slow and takes too long to grow into anything of substance. Most will find themselves bored quite quickly and drop the series before the action even picks up. While the end of the first series is satisfying, Destiny is an incredible letdown. It has a good start, but ultimately becomes redundant and the show can’t decide who the main character is. I also wouldn’t recommend starting with sequels. You shouldn’t watch Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam before watching Mobile Suit Gundam. While you may be able to gather the general idea of it all, you will be missing a lot of information fleshed out in the earlier series.
As mentioned earlier, the Gundam Universe is rather large, so take these suggestions as starting points and go from there. You’ll get a good grasp of what seems appealing and what does not after watching a few different series. Ultimately, I would recommend starting with the original, Mobile Suit Gundam, and then watching the sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. They both will leave you satisfied and eagerly jumping at any chance to watch more Gundam. You may find that giant robots fighting aren’t your thing, but you should at least give the franchise a chance. With these recommendations, you are setting yourself up for a positive experience.
With Gundam week coming to a close, I would like to take this moment to thank the following people. Without them this project wouldn’t have been possible, and I really wish to extend to them my deepest gratitude for making it happen.
Jacob T. Paschal
With this week, we covered quite a bit within the Gundam franchise, but this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Gundam is still growing and still continuing to produce new series, and with that comes more to talk about and review. Hope you had fun and are prepared for the next battle!