|Original work||Mobile Suit Gundam|
|Films and television|
|Television series||See below|
|Traditional||Gundam War Collectible Card Game|
|Video games||See list|
The Robot Spirits
Gundam (Japanese: ガンダム Hepburn: Gandamu), also referred to as the 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. The 2014 retail sales of Gundam toy and hobby items totaled 18.4 billion yen. 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. Gunpla (Gundam Plastic model) holds 90% of the Japan character plastic model market.
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 portmanteau 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. In keeping with this concept, Gundam in all media that followed are often depicted as singularly unique or limited-production, with much higher capabilities than mass-produced units.
Most Gundam 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.
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). One difficulty, however, is that the designation for each O'Neill cylinder does not relate to the standard terms for the Lagrange points. For example, both of the first two television series begin in a colony at Lagrange point L3, as part of a group which is called both Side 7, and, in Zeta Gundam, by a sort of geographical name of "Noa".
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 Gundam shows classify as war drama. They revolve around the mobile suits and their pilots fighting in a war, in which destruction and dehumanization are inherent, through multiple sides; each faction has their own heroes and villains, all of which have their own unique motives, failings, and virtues. Gundam features political battles and debates on 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 what is known as the Universal Century (UC) calendar era, with later series set in alternate calendars or timelines. Universal Century makes up the dominating majority of the entire franchise. While many new Gundam stories are told in their own parallel universe with independent timelines, giving them a greater degree of creative freedom, the original U.C. storyline continues to be extremely popular for a variety of reasons. It established the series and delivered many of its best moments, as well as setting the standard for realistic hard science fiction in anime; the original Gundam marked the maturing of the Giant Robot genre. Also, nostalgia for the oldest of the Gundam shows (and Gundam's resulting status as a pop-culture icon in Japan) is still a major factor in its continuing success.
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 timelines define Gundam differently and portray conflicts in entirely different settings and circumstances to other entries, including the definition of Gundam. For example, the original Gundam was considered a military general-purpose prototype mobile suit and a "Gundam" from G Gundam is considered a name for a mobile fighter whose purpose is to compete against other Gundams.
- Universal Century (U.C.) (Featured Space Colonies: The 7 Sides) (Featured Mechanical Mascot: Haro)
- Future Century (F.C.) (Featured Space Colonies: Neo Japan, Neo America, Neo China, Neo France, Neo Russia, etc.)
- After Colony (A.C.) (Featured Space Colonies: The 5 Stanford Torus')
- After War (A.W.) (Featured Space Colony: Cloud 9)
- Correct Century (C.C.)
- Cosmic Era (C.E.) (Featured Space Colonies: PLANT) (Featured Mechanical Mascots: Haro & Birdy)
- Anno Domini (A.D.) (Featured Space Colonies: The 3 Bernal Spheres, Colony Plant) (Featured Mechanical Mascot: Haro)
- Advanced Generation (A.G.) (Featured Space Colonies: Angel, Ovan, Nora, Fardain, Minsry, Tordia, Solon City, Nortram, Second Moon) (Featured Mechanical Mascot: Haro)
- Regild Century (R.C.) (Featured Space Colonies: Towasanga, Venus Globe) (Featured Mechanical Mascot: HaroBe)
- Post Disaster (P.D.) (Featured Space Colonies: Saisei, Dort Colonies)
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 those there. The variations in naming and identification impacts the definition of the term throughout the Gundam timelines:
- In the original Universal Century timeline, "Gundam" is the name of the Earth Federation's first experimental general-purpose mobile suit, and mobile suits based on its design. In this timeline, Gundam often stands for General-purpose Utility, Non Discontinuity Augmentation Maneuvering weapon system."
- In the Future Century timeline of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the word "Gundam" refers to a class of mobile weapons, mostly mobile fighters that participate in the "Gundam Fight", a competition that determines which colony would rule the Earth every four 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 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 use the GN-Drive. 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 names the new mobile suit (and its successive models) after it.
- In the Post Disaster timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Gundams are a series of 72 mobile suits built on a specific frame design during the Calamity War 300 years prior to the series' events. All of these Gundams are named after demons in the Ars Goetia.
Over the years, other types of narratives and settings have been developed as the franchise grew and diversified. 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 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
Except for Mobile Suit Gundam 00 which follows the current calendar era, all mainstream Gundam series are set into their own fictional era which begins after some drastic event or chain of events (sometimes left unexplained) occur in history. Another common feature is that the scenario changes constantly as the story progresses between Earth, outer space, space colonies and in some cases, even the Moon and some terraformed planets as well.
|Mobile Suit Gundam||TV series||1979–1980|
|Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam||TV series||1985–1986|
|Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ||TV series||1986–1987|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack||Movie||1988|
|Mobile Suit SD Gundam||Movies||1988, 1989, 1991, 1993|
|Compilation TV series||1993|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket||OVA||1989|
|Mobile Suit Gundam F91||Movie||1991|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory||OVA||1991–1992|
|Mobile Suit Victory Gundam||TV series||1993–1994|
|Mobile Fighter G Gundam||TV series||1994–1995|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Wing||TV series||1995–1996|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team||OVA||1996|
|After War Gundam X||TV series||1996|
|Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz||OVA||1997|
|Turn A Gundam||TV series||1999–2000|
|Gundam Neo Experience 0087: Green Diver||Specialty format movie||2001|
|Gundam Evolve||Animated shorts||2001–2005|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED||TV series||2002–2003|
|Superior Defender Gundam Force||TV series||2003–2004|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War||OVA||2004|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny||TV series||2004–2005|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079||OVA||2006|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer||OVA||2006|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 00||TV series||2007–2009|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: Gravity Front||OVA||2009|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn||OVA||2010–2014|
|Compilation TV series||2016|
|SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors||Movie||2010|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer||Movie||2010|
|Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G||OVA||2010|
|Mobile Suit Gundam AGE||TV Series||2011–2012|
|Gundam Build Fighters||TV series||2013–2014|
|Mobile Suit Gundam-san||TV series||2014|
|Gundam Reconguista in G||TV series||2014–2015|
|Gundam Build Fighters Try||TV series||2014–2015|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin||OVA||2015–2016|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans||TV series||2015–present|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt||OVA||2015–2016|
Manga and novels
Manga adaptations of Gundam series have been 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.
Following the popularity of Gundam, various video games have been created. Some of these video games feature original characters not found in other Gundam media. Over 80 different Gundam games have been created for arcade, computer and console platforms. Some of the video games would go on to have spinoff novels and manga. Most Gundam video games can only be found in Japan with little release to the world market (The Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series is an exception).
Models of the Gundam robots are a major reason for the franchise's enduring success. Hundreds of models, primarily plastic but sometimes featuring resin, metal and other types of detail parts, have been released. These range in quality from children's toy kits, to hobbyist and museum-grade models. Most models are of 1:35, 1:48, 1:60, 1:100 or 1:144 scale. Special promotional models of 1:6 or 1:12 scale are targeted to retailers and are not commercially available. One 1:1 full size Real-G model was also constructed and displayed in Tokyo's Odaiba, and was temporary in Shizuoka.
Bandai, the primary licensee of the Gundam trademark, produces a variety of products based on the brand. 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 years; however, is the "Gundam Fix" series. This line of figures includes the mecha shown in the animated series/manga/novels, but also includes new accessories to create a more updated version. In addition to Master Grade and High Grade Gundams, Bandai released yet another series of Gundam models in 2010 for the 30th anniversary of Gundam. The release of the real grade Gundam series led to a revolutionary way to build 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" according to Bandai. Each Metal Build release features the best that Bandai has to offer in toy engineering, design, sculpt, posability, durability, and what many Gundam enthusiasts have desired, more significant diecast content. 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". 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.
Since 1980, Gundam has been seen all over the world, having debuted in the following countries:
|Country||Year of Debut|
| United States|
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). Not only were stamps published, an employee of the Agriculture Ministry was reprimanded for contribution to Japanese Wikipedia Gundam related pages, 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, MIT's Astronautics Department's Professor (now Deputy Administrator of NASA) Dava Newman displayed a Bio-Suit, the headline "Mobile Suit Gundam's Normal Suit is now real" by various news agencies. 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.
During the clip shown in a special interview about the analysis of military force of Japan on June 30, 2015 on China Central Television Channel 4, the Japan Self-Defense Forces was shown to have already utilizing several Gundams like Z Plus and RX-78-2 in it., China netizens responded to the news ranging from saying China is going to lose for sure if Japan really has Gundams or are angry and say that CCTV is actually the dog of Japan. The clip showing RX-78-2 was actually from a commercial for Nissin Cup Noodles in Japan.
- Bandai Namco Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Statement
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- Flow of the Japan toy industry (日本の玩具産業の動向), Japan Economics Department, Information section (日本経済情報課)
- Gundam cartoon academy to turn science fiction into reality in Japan
- Gundam Archives, production notes
- Oppliger, John (2007-10-12). "Ask John: Which Gundam Series Have Had the Most Impact on Anime?". AnimeNation. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Gundam Science, The High Frontier - G.K. O'neil's Space colonization plan, Gundam Century, Out Magazine special edition, Renewal Version
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- Gundam Sentinel
- Gundam Officials
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- technobahn, 機動戦士ガンダムのノーマルスーツが現実に
- Ming Pao, July 19, 2007
- 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
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gundam|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gundam.|
- Official Gundam website (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'
- Gundam Perfect Games (Japanese)
- Bandai Visual's Gundam minisite (Japanese)