Do you want to get into Gundam, yet you have no idea where to start? Not to worry; as that’s the case with a lot of people. The Gundam universe has spawned several series, so choosing the right one can be pretty daunting. In all honesty, you really can’t just start anywhere. Since each series in the universe has its own personality & story-building style, picking up on one that doesn’t really agree with you could give you the wrong impression of the entire Gundam universe. That’s where I come in. This article is designed to help you get started with Gundam, from old to new. Just keep in mind that these suggestions are based on my own opinions, but hopefully I can turn you into a fan.
The first thing to keep in mind, is that the Gundam universe is heavily political. The canon is based around the colonization of other planets & solar systems, usually involving power struggles between the colonies & their mother countries. Imagine the American Revolutionary War, but in space, and fought with huge mechas.
Secondly, the protagonist in these stories is usually a child prodigy, who can pilot special or rare gundam mechas, in order to help fight for the freedom of a colony. Each of them, however, has their own personality & reason for getting involved in the central conflict. Therefore, you may enjoy one over the other.
Think of Gundam like a box of chocolates: on the outside, each looks similar – but you don’t really know what’s on the inside until you bite into it.
For those who want a caramel center (more regular action anime with mecha battles) as their piece of Gundam chocolate, I recommend one of the latest series; Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
Fortunately, this series is pretty fresh and different from the other Gundams we are used to. The first two episodes give you a good foundation for world building and the politics of the series. There is great character building, and the season ends with a few answers and enough questions to tide you over to the next one. This series is also very modern, so gender diversity exists and the side character building is pretty decent. I recommend this for first timers since it has no affiliation with any others series, and you can read my review for it here. You can watch this series on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
For those who just want chocolate in chocolate (enough to be satisfied but not too much flavor), I recommend Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.
I love this series because it’s only 7 episodes long with great character building. It’s easily binge watchable for a day and requires low commitment. I used to recommend this Gundam to most people because it gives a good overview of all the other series. This one includes good character development, the typical child prodigy plot, , and of course mech battles! While this series is technically a continuation of a previous one, it’s definitely viewable on its own. Unfortunately you may have to rent, borrow, or buy this one, since it is currently not available to be streamed.
The best chocolate in my opinion is the rare raspberry filled one! This is the one that seems to be adored by all and is a bit daring. This one, of course, is Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
This, in my opinion, the most iconic series of the Gundam universe. The story and character building are all very iconic to the universe, and my favorite pilot has always been Heero (and his ridiculously awesome Zero System). This series takes place after colonization occured, and every colony is fighting for independence. It follows the story of 5 pilots with Heero as their leader. If you really want to start somewhere and get the full taste of Gundam, Gundam Wing is your best bet. Once again Crunchyroll and Hulu don’t offer streaming for this series, so you will have to rent, borrow or buy.
Lastly, the worst chocolate – the one with the indescribable flavor that none of us like, yet you have to eat this piece to truly appreciate the entire box of chocolates. That, for me, is Mobile Suit Gundam Seed.
This series is quite political, but covers a lot of bases in the Gundam timeline. It takes place in the “Cosmic Era”, where mankind is first divided between those who live on earth (aka the “Originals”), and the genetically altered super humans known as “Coordinators”. Coordinators face a lot of oppression and hate crimes in this series, and it really reflects events that happen in our current world. Even though this series can be tedious and has its slow moments, it’s really great to watch to have a great understanding on the divide that exists between Earth and its colonies. This one is another rent, borrow or buy.
Overall, all four of these are great places to start. I recommend Gundam for those who really want a series to get enthusiastic about, which can extend into other hobbies (in this case, Gunpla). It’s rare to find highly passionate Gundam fans, but the fan base doesn’t get overwhelming or conceited. I truly believe Gundam is a big part of the anime genre and that holds a lot of influence into other mecha based animes.
So dive in! I’m pretty sure you’ve got a Gundam fan on your friends list.
(For more Gunpla, you can check out the F91 Gundam I built here.)