Mobile Suit Gundam

From Academic Kids

Mobile Suit Gundam (Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム) is a televised anime that was written and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino and is made up of 43 episodes that were aired in 1979.

The series was later re-edited for theatrical release and split into three movies in 1981. The idea of Mobile Suit came from the powered suit of Starship Troopers, although the story otherwise bears little resemblance to that novel. Yasuhiko Yoshikazu did the character designs and Kunio Okawara was responsible for the mechanical designs, including the titular giant robot, the RX-78-2 Gundam.



The original Mobile Suit Gundam takes place during the One Year War in the year Universal Century 0079 (U.C. 0079). During this time period humans live in orbiting space colonies called Sides. The ruler of Side 3, known as the Principality of Zeon, declares war against the Earth for the independence of the colonies. In the early days of the war, Earth Federation Force are defeated badly. This was due to the change in strategy necessitated by the Minovsky Particle, which jammed communication and radar devices. The Minovsky Particle changed war from long range engagements to short range combat limited to visual and infrared sensors. While the Minovsky Particle had communication and radar jamming capabilities, it also allowed the creation of a mobile suit with high performance.

The story is about a crew of Earth Federation Space Forces on a space ship called White Base that fight against the Principality of Zeon using humanoid weapons called mobile suits. Most of crew are young civilians and are eventually drawn into the war. The crew of White Base fight Zeon using an advanced prototype mobile suit called the RX-78-2 Gundam, that is more powerful than any weapon the Zeons have previously produced. The Gundam and the White Base are so important to the Federation that the crew journeys to Jaburo, the Federation's main base located in the Amazon basin. They were to reach Jaburo from a space colony named Side 7 but a Zeon attack forced White Base to change its course to Zeon occupied North America, where direct flight to Jaburo in South America is possible. They fly a roundabout trip over two continents and oceans. In the process, the Gundam's pilot, Amuro Ray, and the other draftees are exposed to the harsh conditions of war, participate in many battles, and experience the tragic trials and consequences of the conflict.

Zeon also has its own internal conflict. The ruling Zabi family is a house in struggle and finally its members slay each other. A star pilot of the Zeon forces, Char Aznable, is a disguise for Casaval Rem Deikun, son of the founder of Zeon, who was usurped and murdered by the Zabi family. He seeks the chance for revenge on the Zabi family and wears a signature mask to hide his identity. His younger sister Arteisia, known as Sayla Mass eventually joins White Base and becomes a pilot. Char tells her to leave the army but she refuses. When they meet in Jaburo, she confronts him and asks him to stop cooperating with Zeon but she fails to persuade her brother.

Amuro and Char accept each other as a rivals. They are involved into a conflict around a Zeon female pilot Lalah Sune near the end of the story. Lalah is Char's lover but feels a sympathy to Amuro. Amuro is attracted to her but kills her in a fight. Amuro was devastated but finally he finds he has friends to always await his return -- the crew of White Base.


Mobile Suit Gundam marked the maturation of the giant robot genre. Prior to Gundam, most giant robot shows were formulaic with archetypal characters. They were often monster of the week shows in which the teen hero would jump into the robot (typically an heirloom from his late scientist father) and defend earth against an evil alien organization who would try all manners of gimmicky methods to take over Earth only to be defeated each time by the giant robot's superweapon. These shows often seemed interchangeable and shared recognizable traits that are now parodied in anime today. Such as the teen hero shouting his robot attacks, weapons materializing out of thin air, and the lengthy robot transformation sequences. Westerners are mostly familiar with these through the Force Five and Voltron series.

Gundam brought a sense of realism and feasibility to the use of giant robots. In that sense, they were futuristic military hardware and not the almost magic superweapon of the "special" teen hero or just as often a Power-Rangers styled superteam. The robots of Gundam had limitations such as running out of power or ammunition. And they were only as good as the pilot in their cockpit.

The Mobile Suit design radically moved away from the popularized 10 story tall robot warrior look and adopted a more utilitarian appearance. And most importantly, the two sides were not depicted as good and evil but as two opposing political organizations. There were likeable and unlikeable characters on both sides. In contrast to the unending incompetence of the villains and their henchmen in the previous giant robot shows, some foes were worthy opponents, even superior. The characters in Gundam sometimes paid a hefty price for winning (which, in this case, more properly means that the characters simply survived the day and not necessarily tactical or military victory) and heroes as well as villains died in battle.

Though it is credited with introducing the "real robot" genre, where the robots were pieces of military hardware, Mobile Suit Gundam still retains parts of its "super robot" heritage, including a nearly indestructible robot created by the hero's scientist father, as well as ridiculously-colored robots (like red, or white-blue) unsuited for day-to-day operation.

Mobile Suit Gundam holds the indignity of being one of two Gundam series which have had their original airing times cancelled due to poor ratings. Perhaps by chance, the cancellation of the series forced many plot changes which had proven to be more effective compared to the original plan, including the tragic death of Lalah by Amuro.

History of the Broadcasting

The series did not receive high ratings when it was first aired, and was in fact cancelled before the series was intended to end. The series was originally set to run for 52 episodes and was cut down to 39 due to poor ratings. Luckily, the producers were able to negotiate a one month extension to end the series with 43 episodes. Audiences were expecting another giant robot show, and instead found MS Gundam, the first work of anime in an entirely new genre, the mecha drama or the 'real robot' genre as opposed to the 'super robot' genre. The models from the show sold very well, however, and the show did very well in reruns and in its theatrical compliation. Much like the original Star Trek, the original Gundam was not appreciated by its initial audience, and also like Star Trek, proceeded to spawn a massive sci-fi franchise, spawning numerous sequels, model kits, and videogames up to the present day.

Mobile Suit Gundam was released in the U.S. (dub only) in July 2001 on Cartoon Network but, following the pattern of its initial airing in Japan, it was later cancelled before the entire series was shown. When the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, the series was almost over. Immediately following the attacks Cartoon Network, and many other stations, began pulling war-themed and violent programming. Although Cowboy Bebop came back before too long, Mobile Suit Gundam did not. Perhaps it had not been earning high enough ratings to justify returning the series for so few remaining episodes. It is sometimes stated that MSG was cancelled "because" of September 11. While this is likely why it was taken off initially, it is not sufficient to explain why the show didn't return. Aside from fan speculation, the source of this meme seems to be an anonymous report which appeared on the fansite ( on Sept. 14, purporting to summarize an internal Cartoon Network memo. This report ( can be seen in The Internet Wayback Machine (

In 2002 the series was given another chance by Cartoon Network in one of their late-night programming blocks, but it was again pulled before completing its run.

In both American TV showings, and on the American DVD release, Episode 15: Cucuruz Doan's Island was cut out. It was felt, even by Tomino, that this episode was not up to par with the rest of the series and so it was never dubbed, making it into a "lost episode" of sorts.


NOTE: These episodes do not use the American episode numberings, which excludes the original Episode 15.

  1. Gundam Rising
  2. Destroy Gundam!
  3. Vote to Attack
  4. Escape from Luna II
  5. Re-entry to Earth
  6. Garma Strikes
  7. The Core Fighter's Escape
  8. Winds of War
  9. Fly, Gundam!
  10. Garma's Fate
  11. Icelina - Love's Remains
  12. The Threat of Zeon
  13. Coming Home
  14. Time, Be Still
  15. Cucuruz Doan's Island
  16. Sayla's Agony
  17. Amuro Deserts
  18. Zeon's Secret Mine
  19. Ramba Ral's Attack
  20. Hand-To-Hand Combat
  21. Sorrow and Hatred
  22. The Trap of M'Quve
  23. Matilda's Rescue
  24. Black Tri-Star
  25. The Battle of Odessa
  26. Char Returns
  27. A Spy on Board
  28. Across the Atlantic Ocean
  29. Tragedy in Jaburo
  30. A Wish of War Orphens
  31. A Decoy in Space
  32. Breakthrough
  33. Farewell in Side Six
  34. A Fateful Encounter
  35. The Glory of Solomon
  36. Big Zam's Last Stand
  37. The Duel in Texas
  38. Char and Sayla
  39. The Newtype: Challia Bull
  40. Lalah's Dilemma
  41. Cosmic Glow
  42. Space Fortress: A Baoa Qu
  43. Escape


In 1979 Yoshiyuki Tomino himself created the first novelizations of the original Gundam anime series. The novels, issued as a series of three books, allowed him to depict his story in a more sophisticated, adult, and detailed fashion. The biggest difference between the anime series and the novels is that in the latter Amuro Ray is killed in the final attack against the Zeonic stronghold by a stray shot of bazooka from a Rick Dom. Char Aznable and the crew of White Base, 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. These novels are official, yet are not widely regarded as the official story due to these differences. Nonetheless, they are often enjoyed by fans because they provide a great deal of detail and help explain the philosophical underpinnings of the Gundam series.

The three novels were translated into English by Frederik Schodt and published by Del Rey Books in September, 1990. At the time, there were no officially recognized romanizations of character and mecha names, and a variety of different spellings were being used in the English-language fan community. In the original three novels, therefore, Mr. Schodt wrote the name "Char" as "Sha." "Sha" is a transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation, although Mr. Tomino later publicly confirmed at Anime Expo New York 2002 that the name was originally based on the French name Charles Aznavour, a 1970s lounge singer. He also rendered "Zaku" as "Zak," and (after consulting with Mr. Tomino) "Jion" as "Zeon," instead of "Zion," which was in use in some circles. Some North American fans, already attached to particular spellings, took great umbrage at Schodt's renditions, forgetting that in the original Japanese most character and mecha names are in a phonetic script known as katakana, and that there were, therefore, no "official spellings." Many years later, when the Gundam series was finally licensed in North America, the rights holders did come up with a unified list of "official spellings" for English-language material, and some of these spellings include Schodt's renditions, as well as the renditions 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. What had been a three volume set in the 1990 Del Rey edition was rereleased by Stone Bridge Press as one single volume of 476 pages (with a vastly improved cover design), titled Mobile Suit Gundam: Awakening, Escalation, Confrontation. Since the rights holders in Japan by this time had created a unified (although still evolving) list of romanized character and mecha names, Schodt was able to use it, and Amuro's rival in the novel thus became "Char" and not "Sha"; the popular Zeon Mobile Suit, similarly, became "Zaku," and not "Zak". [Source: Frederik L. Schodt]

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.

Each of the three movies are largely composed of old footage from the TV series, however Tomino felt that some things could be changed for the better. Tomino removed several aspects of the show which he felt were still too super robot-esque for the real robot series he intended Gundam to be, such as the Gundam Hammer weapon. The G-Armor upgrade parts were also completely removed and replaced by the more realistic Core Booster upgrades, and Hayato receives a Guncannon at Jaburo to replace the disadvantaged Guntank. The third movie also includes a substantial amount of new footage expanding on the battles of Solomon and A Baoa Qu.

The three compilation movies were released both separately and in a box set in America on May 7, 2002. However, they are only available in Japanese audio with English subtitles.


Mobile Suit Gundam manga, namely Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 and Gundam:The Origin are published in English by Viz Communications.


Earth Federation

Principality of Zeon

Weapons and Support Units

Principality of Zeon

Support Units

Mobile Suit

Mobile Armor

Earth Federation

Support Unit

Mobile Suit

Mobile Pod

Mobile Armor

  • G-Armor
  • G-Bull
  • G-Bull Easy
  • G-Fighter
  • G-Sky
  • G-Sky Easy

See also


Followed By: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

Variation models: Mobile Suit Variations, Mobile Suit X

External Links

fr:Mobile Suit Gundam ja:機動戦士ガンダム zh:機動戰士鋼彈

Template:Universal Century


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