Mobile Suit Gundam

By Jenxi Seow



Unicorn Gundam

Mobile Suit Gundam (機動戦士ガンダム, Kidō Senshi Gandamu, also known as First Gundam or Gundam 0079) is a televised anime series, created by Sunrise. Created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino series and has subsequently been adapted in numerous sequels and spin-off.

Yoshikazu Yasuhiko did the character designs and Kunio Okawara was responsible for the mechanical designs, including the titular giant robot, the RX-78-2 Gundam.

The series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1979 and the first half of 1980. By the end of 2007, each episode of the original TV series averaged a sales figure of 80,928 copies, including all the different formats it was published in (VHS, LD, DVD, etc.).[1] The first DVD box set sold over 100,000 copies in the first month of release, from 21 December 2007 to 21 January 2008.[2]

The series was later re-edited for theatrical release and split into three movies in 1981. Tomino also wrote a novel trilogy that told the story based on his original concept for the series.

Mobile Suit Gundam logo

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino


  • Yasuo Shibue
  • Hobuyuki Okuma
  • Wataru Sekioka


  • Hajime Yatate
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino

Music by:

  • Takeo Watanabe
  • Yūshi Matsuyama

Studio: Nippon Sunrise

Licensed by:

  • Nippon Sunrise
  • Turner Entertainment Co
  • Madman Entertainment

Released: 7 April 1979 – 26 January 1980

Episodes: 43


Main article: Mobile Suit Gundam episodes

In the Universal Century year UC 0079, the Principality of Zeon declared independence from the Earth Federation, leading to a war that had a devastating impact on every continent, space colony, and lunar settlement. Though outnumbered, Zeon had the upper hand due to their use of humanoid weapons called mobile suits. After half of humanity perished in the conflict, it settled into a bitter stalemate for eight months.

The story begins with the Federation’s new warship, the White Base , arriving at the Side 7 colony to pick up the Federation’s newest weapon from a secret research base. Zeon forces were close behind. A Zeon reconnaissance team member disobeyed orders and attacked the colony, killing most of the Federation crew and civilians. Desperate, a civilian boy, a civilian boy Amuro Ray stumbled upon the Federation’s new mobile suit, the RX-78-2 Gundam, neutralizing the situation. The White Base and its newly formed crew of civilian recruits and refugees set out on a journey to survive – and, unknowingly, to change the course of the war.

The White Base members encountered Zeon Lieutenant Commander Char Aznable, who antagonized Amuro in battle. However he used their position as Federation members to have them kill members of the Zeon’s ruling Zabi family as part of his revenge plan. Amuro also met ensign Lalah Sune, with whom he fell in love. However, he accidentally killed her when facing Char. When the Federation invaded the Fortress of A Baoa Qu to defeat the Zeon forces, Amuro had a final one-on-one duel with Char. Having realized who his true enemy was, Char stopped fighting to kill the last surviving Zabi member, Kycilia Zabi. Amuro reunited with his comrades as the war drew to a close.



Tomino’s original concept for the series was much darker; Amuro would die halfway through. The crew of the White Base would have to ally with Char, who would have a red Gundam, but eventually battle him after he took control of the Principality of Zeon. This idea was expressed in a series of novels by Tomino after the show’s end, and elements of the storyline were used in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Char’s Counterattack.

The mobile suits in the series were inspired by the powered armor from the 1959 novel Starship Troopers.[3] They were designed to appeal to children, as humanoid robots. Tomino’s previous works featured alien agents as villains, but Mobile Suit Gundam was the first of his works to feature humans as antagonists. Tomino wanted to create a story about war, and expose the tragic realities of it, starting with Japan’s aggression in Manchuria in 1939. He didn’t allow for any changes to history. He also commented that he “packed his frustrations” when making Gundam, and refused to discuss its message, expecting viewers to make their own conclusions.[4]


Tomino met mechanical designer Kunio Okawara while working on two television series from Sunrise. Impressed by Okawara’s work, Tomino asked him to collaborate on his upcoming project, originally named “Gunboy”, but later changed to Mobile Suit Gundam. [5]

The White Base battleship, designed with a three-plane view by Okawara, was not specifically made for Gundam. Rather, it was adapted from the anime Invincible Steel Man Daitarn 3.[6] Tomino drew inspiration from the science fiction anime Space Battleship Yamato, which he was a fan of. [6]

Originally intended to be black, Sunrise changed the color to white and also requested that the main mecha, Gundam, be changed from grayish white to a combination of white, red, blue and yellow. Tomino expressed his anger at the color change, noting that the design of the space carrier was non-aerodynamic and could never exist in real life.[7] Ten years later, he still held a grudge, saying in an interview in Newtype 1989 April issue that Gundam’s imaginary enemies were Sunrise, sponsors and television stations.[7]

Tomino likened the machines to religious history in Japan, particularly the worship of Buddha statues. The relationship between the pilot and the mobile suit was also compared to Formula One drivers and their reliance on machines.[8] To give the mechas fast movements, most of the battles were set in space, where low gravity was a factor. This led to the creation of space colonies as a common setting. To explain how a young person like Amuro could pilot the Gundam, the team came up with the idea of Newtypes.[9]

The episode “Kukurus Doan’s Island” was removed from the English-Language version of the series at the request of Yoshiyuki Tomino himself. Doan appears in the game SD Gundam G Generation Advance . You can also fight Doan in his Zaku II in the video game Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon.

The final episodes encompassing the battles of Solomon and A Baoa Qu were originally planned to be more elaborate, with exotic Zeon mecha defending the fortresses. Budget cuts scrapped the episodes and the designs, although at least two mechas, Dwadge and Galbaldy appeared in Zeta Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.


The series was first aired in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Network between 7 April 1979 to 26 January 1980. It was intended to run a total of 52 episodes. However, it was cut to 39 episodes by the show’s sponsors due to low ratings. The staff managed to negotiate for a one-month extension to complete the series with 43 episodes.

In February 1980, the series was first broadcasted outside of Japan in Italy. It was later aired by Animax across Japan, and subsequently on its international networks, including Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, South Asia and other regions.

International release

Following the success of New Mobile Report Gundam Wing , Bandai Entertainment released an edited English-dubbed version of Mobile Suit Gundam in the United States on Toonami on 23 July 2001. Although the series was not as well received as Wing, the ratings were good enough for the whole series to be aired. However, after the September 11th attacks, Cartoon Network pulled war-themed content and violent programming, leading to the cancellation of the series. This was verified by a Toonami producer in an interview with Anime News Network on 4 March 2002.[10] The series finale was aired on 31 December 2001 as part of Toonami’s “New Year’s Eve-il” special.

Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim aired the series starting from 8 June 2002, but the series was pulled due to low ratings.

Home media

On 30 May 2006, Bandai Entertainment re-released the English dub of the TV series in a 10 volume DVD set. There was no Japanese audio track included, apparently because Yoshiyuki Tomino felt that the original mono mix was in too poor in quality.[11]

However, in 2007 the original series was released on DVD in Japan, which sold over 100 thousand copies within a month’s time from 21 December 2007 to 21 January 2008.[12]

In both American TV showings and on the American DVD release, episode 15, “Kukurus Doan’s Island”, was cut out. Tomino remained silent as to why the episode was cut and it remains a mystery, the episode becoming a “lost episode” of sorts, never being dubbed.[13] The episode remained on the Japanese DVD release. This episode also has an error in continuity at minute 19 when the Gundam’s weapon is suddenly changed.

At the 2010 New York Comic Con/New York Anime Festival, Bandai Entertainment announced that they would re-release Mobile Suit Gundam with both the original Japanese audio and the English dub. Bandai released it in two sets in the summer of 2011.[14] The first set was released on 13 September 2011.[15]

Following the closure in 2012 of Bandai Entertainment, the series went out of print. At their New York Comic-Con 2014 panel, Sunrise announced their plans to re-release all of the Gundam series on home video in North America, starting with the original series. They would be distributed via Right Stuf Inc.[16] They released the series on Blu-ray and DVD in October 2015.[17]

On 25 July 2015, British anime distributor Anime Limited announced they would release Mobile Suit Gundam in cooperation with Sunrise for the first time in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray.

Compilation movies

Following the success of the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series, Yoshiyuki Tomino returned in 1981 and reworked the footage into three separate compilation movies. The first two movies, Mobile Suit Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam: Soldiers of Sorrow, were released in 1981. The third movie, Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, was released in 1982.

These movies are largely composed of old footage from the TV series, however Tomino changed some aspects of the show that he believed were belong to the super robot genre rather than the real robot series he intended Gundam to be. He removed the Gundam Hammer weapon, and the G-Armor upgrade parts were replaced with the more realistic Core Booster support fighters. Hayato receives a RX-77 Guncannon at Jaburo to replace the disadvantaged RX-75 Guntank. The third movie also includes a substantial amount of new footage expanding on the battles of Solomon and A Baoa Qu.

The first movie’s premiere on 22 February 1981 drew a large crowd of 15,000 people, leading to concerns that it could cause social unrest. The event is considered a turning point in the history of anime, according to Asahi Shimbun newspaper.[17] The first film grossed ¥1.76 billion, and Gundam II grossed ¥1.38 billion.[18] Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space was 1982’s fourth highest-grossing Japanese film, with a distribution income of ¥1.29 billion[19] and a total box office gross of ¥2.31 billion.[20] Collectively, the trilogy grossed ¥5.45 billion.[18]

In 1998, the three compilation movies were first released in English on VHS with a different vocal cast from the later English dub of the TV show. A year later, Bandai released an English dub on VHS, though Sunrise prevented it from being re-released after its debut due to mispronunciations. The word Gundam was mispronounced as “Gun-dam”, and the Principality of Zeon being called the “Duchy of Zeon”, Sunrise prevented it from being re-released after its debut on VHS.

The movies were re-released in North America on 7 May 2002 in DVD format, with Japanese audio and English subtitles. The original voice cast members re-recorded their lines, with the exception of those who had passed away. The DVD was digitally remastered, with many sound effects replaced, most notably the replacement of futuristic gun sounds by louder machine gun sound effects. The music was also rearranged.

In 2007, Bandai Visual announced the re-release of the movies on DVD from new HD masters, with the original theatrical mono audio mix. The DVD box set was released in Japan on 21 December 2007.[21] On 18 May 2010, Bandai Entertainment re-released the 20th anniversary version of the trilogy under their Anime Legends label.[22]

The trilogy was distributed on DVD in the UK in 2005 by Beez Entertainment, with English subtitles. Anime Ltd acquired the license and released a limited edition Blu-ray box set exclusively on their store on 27 March 2017. It came with Japanese audio and English subtitles, and was a limited run of 500 units.


Gundam was not popular when it first aired. The show’s sponsors, including the show’s merchandise maker Clover, cut it down to 39 episodes out of the intended 52 episodes. However, the staff was able to negotiate a one-month extension to complete the series with 43 episodes.[23]

Bandai’s acquisition of the show’s mecha licensing changed everything. They released a line of Gundam models that sold extremely well, boosting the popularity of the series. The show did well in reruns, and even better in the theatrical compilations.[24] Viewers expecting another super robot show instead discovered the real robot genre.[25]

The anime ranked #2 on Wizard’s Anime Magazine’s “Top 50 Anime released in North America”.[26] It is widely credited with revolutionising mecha anime[27] and is regarded as a turning point in Japan’s history.[27] It has become synonymous with the mecha anime genre.

The original Gundam series is still remembered and recognised despite being released back in 1979, unlike other anime series of its time. Parodies of the mecha genre commonly feature homages to Mobile Suit Gundam due to its iconic status.[28]

The background research of Mobile Suit Gundam has been highly praised in its field. The colonies are located in orbit at something called Lagrangian points, which are actual solutions to the three-body problem. The colonies are based on the O’Neill cylinder design for space habitats. [29]

Mecha anime creator Shoji Kawamori, Macross screenwriter Hiroshi Ōnogi, and character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto attended Keio University together and had a Mobile Suit Gundam fan club, “Gunsight One”. They would use the name years later as the call sign of the bridge of the SDF=1 spaceship from their first Macross anime television series. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross mecha anime series was inspired by Gundam in its early development.[30] Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro cites the series as an influence.[31]

American musician Richie Kotzen, former guitarist of Poison and Mr. Big, released an album called Ai Senshi ZxR in 2006 in Japan. The album consisted of covered music from the Gundam series and original songs. American musician Andrew W K also released an album called Gundam Rock on 9 September 2009, in Japan. The album consists of covered music from the Gundam series to celebrate its 30th Anniversary.[32]

Critical reception

The original Gundam series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1979 and the first half of 1980. It was ranked 24th in Animage’s top 100 anime list.[33] Wizard magazine also placed it second in its list of the best anime of all time.[34] By the end of 2007, each episode of the original TV series had sold an average of 80,928 copies across all formats, including VHS, LD, DVD, and others.[35] The first DVD box set sold over 100,000 copies in the first month when it was released from on 21 December 2007.[36]

In 2009, as part of the 30th Anniversary celebration of Gundam, a 1:1 real size scale Gundam was built in Tokyo. It was completed in July and displayed in a Tokyo park, before being taken down later in the same year.[37] The 18-meter tall statue was then reconstructed in Shizuoka Prefecture, before being taken down again in March 2011.[38] In August 2011, it was re-erected in Odaiba, Tokyo and was called “Gundam Front Tokyo”.[39][40] It stood in Odaiba until it was finally dismantled in March 2016.

The series has been widely acclaimed for its setting and characters. In particular, [[Amuro Ray]], who was relatable to young Japanese viewers, and [[Char Aznable]], who was simply fascinating, contributed significantly to the series’ popularity.[28] Anime News Network praised the series for its realistic portrayal of war and Amuro’s traumatic experiences as a soldier.[40][41] The series also stands out for its antagonists being humans of a different race, instead of evil creatures. However, its animation has not aged well when compared to anime series released in the 2000s.[42]



Main article: Mobile Suit Gundam novel

In 1979, before the end of the anime, Yoshiyuki Tomino himself created the first novelisations of the series. The novel trilogy allowed him to depict his story in a more sophisticated, adult, and detailed fashion. Along with this adaptation came several major changes to the story. For example, Amuro is already a member of the Federation military at the time of the initial Zeon attack on Side 7, and the main characters in the Federation serve on the White Base-class ships Pegasusand Pegasus II rather than the Pegasus-class White Base as depicted in the anime.[43]

Additionally, the war continues well into the year UC 0080 in the novels, whereas it concludes at the beginning of that year in the anime series. In the novel Amuro Ray is killed in the final attack against the Zeonic stronghold of A Baoa Qu when his RX-78-3 is pierced through the torso by a Rick Dom’s beam bazooka. This occurs as Char’s unit attempts to warn him about Gihren’s intention to destroy the fortress and take the Federation’s offensive fleet along with it. Char and the crew of Pegasus II, along with handpicked men under Kycilia Zabi’s command, make a deep penetrating attack against the Side 3 and together kill Gihren Zabi, after which Kycilia is killed by Char. Tomino later lamented that had he known that anime ending would be different and that another series would be made, he would not have killed off Amuro in the novels.

English translation

Frederik Schodt translated the three novels into English and Del Rey Books published these in September 1990. At that time, there were no officially recognised romanisations of character and mecha names, so a variety of spellings were in use in the English-language fan community.

As such, Schodt translated the name “Char” as “Sha”, a transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation. Tomino later confirmed at Anime Expo New York 2002 that the name was originally based on the French name Charles Aznavour, a popular French-language singer. The 2004 edition of the translation revealed that Schodt felt “Char” was too close to Aznavour’s name, hence he avoided it intentionally. Schodt also rendered “Zaku” as “Zak,” and, after consulting with Tomino, “Jion” as “Zeon” instead of “Zion,” which was in use in some circles.

Some North American fans were already attached to particular spellings and were displeased with Schodt’s renditions. They had forgotten that in the original Japanese, most character and mecha names were written in katakana and that, therefore, there were no official spellings. When the Gundam series was finally licensed in North America, the rights holders created a unified list of official romanised names for English materials. This included a mix of Schodt’s renditions as well as those to which certain North American fans were attached.

In 2004, Frederik Schodt revised his original translation of the books, which had been out of print for nearly a decade. The three-volume set, published by Del Rey in 1990, was re-released by Stone Bridge Press as a single volume of 476 pages with an improved cover design. The title of the new edition was Mobile Suit Gundam: Awakening, Escalation, Confrontation. In the revision, Schodt used the unified list of romanised names, including names such as “Char” and “Zaku”.[44]


Three manga series have been based on Mobile Suit Gundam. Yū Okazaki wrote one between 1979 and 1980 that was compiled into two volumes.[45] Kazuhisa Kondo wrote the second, Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, that was published in Dengeki Comics from 1993 to 2005 in 12 tankōbon volumes.[42] Viz Media published the first nine volumes in English between 2000 and 2003. The third manga is Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, published from June 2001 to June 2011 in Kadokawa Shoten’s Gundam Ace and collected in 23 tankōbon volumes. Viz Media published the series in English, but dropped it before completion; Vertical picked up the series from March 2013 to December 2015.

Parody yonkoma manga Mobile Suit Gundam-san, written and drawn by Hideki Ohwada, was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Gundam Ace magazine from 2001. An anime adaptation was released in 2014. Ohwada’s spinoff manga, Gundam Sousei, follows [[Yoshiyuki Tomino]] and the Sunrise staff as they create the television series and compilation movies. It was serialized in Gundam Ace from 2009 to 2011, compiled in the Gundam-san tankōbon, and collected in two tankōbon volumes released on 24 January 2014.[46]

Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 Episode II Luna, a sequel to the Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 manga, began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten’s Gundam Ace magazine on 2022-11-26.[47]


A animated film adaptation based on the “Cucuruz Doan’s Island” episode titled Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island (Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム ククルス·ドアンの島, Hepburn: Kidō Senshi Gandamu Kukurusu Doan no Shima) was released on 3 June 2022.[48]

Video games

Main article: Mobile Suit Gundam video games

  • Gundam Battle Assault, Gundam Battle Assault 2
  • Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From the Ashes
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space
  • Mobile Suit Gundam VS Series
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire (Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight in Japan)
  • MS Saga: A New Dawn (Mobile Suit Gundam: True Odyssey in Japan)
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (Gundam Musou in Japan)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam (1993 arcade game)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Spirits of Zeon ~Dual Stars of Carnage~
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Spirit of Zeon ~Memory of Soldier~
  • Quiz Mobile Suit Gundam: Monsenshi
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Giren’s Greed: Blood of Zeon
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Lost War Chronicles
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Climax UC
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The One Year War
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Path of the Soldiers (also referred to as Ace Pilot)
  • Gundam Battle (series)
  • SD Gundam G-Generation (series)
  • SD Gundam SCAD Hammers
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Operation: Troy
  • Kidō Senshi Gundam: Senjō no Kizuna
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs Gundam






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