Hi all! Toksan here. I have a few friends who haven’t seen any Gundam, and have no idea where to watch it. Since it’s a really long series with lots of entries and timelines, I tried to find a guide to watching I could give them. I didn’t find any that I was happy with, so I said fuck it, and made my own.
I may say things that differ from your own opinion about shows, but please remember I’m a person, I guess? If you have an issue with something factual, please let me know, so I can correct this post. Thanks!
I haven’t seen the entirety of Gundam, just most of it. Hopefully, I will be able to update this once I’ve seen everything to completion. Also please note, this is only anime! This is not about manga, since I haven’t read any of it.
Well, here goes. My exhaustive guide to watching Gundam.
There are two methods, really, to watching. Start with the first series, or start with the new stuff. Personally, I prefer starting with the old and going to the new, but it’s purely up to you.
One important thing to know is that many of the Gundam series are standalone. For most of the series, you can just hop in and enjoy the show without knowing anything else. For others, you’ll want some previous knowledge, which I’ll denote as I need to.
Method one: Starting with the old stuff
The first Gundam series that came out was Mobile Suit Gundam, which started airing in 1979. It was initially a flop, but Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam picked up the slack a few years later and really got the fanbase going. The original timeline for Gundam was called the Univiersal Century, or UC. If you want to start with the beginning, this is what you’re looking for.
In 2015, a new series started, called Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, which starts about ten years before the original series, giving us some background on characters the writer (Yoshiyuki Tomino) simply didn’t feel like giving all the backstory for back in 1979. If you want the original series to be a bit more emotional, start here. Otherwise, you could watch it after you finish the original, and go “oh, that’s why it be like that.” It’s a matter of preference, if anything.
I could go on a tangent about Tomino and why he kills so many charcters, but just do some research and learn about the guy! It’ll help make UC make so much more sense.
In the long term, I recommend watching most of UC (the first 100 years, at least) before moving on to the other timelines. I’ll give a chronoligical order of the UC series below. Years and such come from the Gundam Wikia.
‘*’ denotes a series absolutely necessary to watching the core “Universal Century” experience.
Assume for most of these that “Mobile Suit Gundam” is before the name I give. The number on the left is the year in which it takes place.
0068: MSG: The Origin*
// Start here to have the full story from the beginning! Some might recommend waiting until after you’ve watched the original before watching it. Edit: It is a 6 part OVA series, or a currently running television series that splits those OVAs up into episode-length portions. //
0079: Mobile Suit Gundam*
// Start here if you want to watch from the original beginning! //
0079: MS IGLOO
// A cool series that highlights the progression of technology during the One Year War. Goofy CGI, but cool for the lore. //
// Edit: there are three different IGLOO series! //
0079: The 08th MS Team
// Not core to understanding UC, but by god, watch this, if nothing else. A really good series revolving around ground forces during the One Year War. Inspired heavily by Neon Genesis Evangellion. Edit: it has a compilation movie called Miller’s Report. //
// Gritty series, in a non-canon point in time during the One Year War. Really cool, and fuckin cool soundtrack! There are currently two seasons, and at least one compilation movie. //
0079-0080: War in the Pocket
// Another cool series. They really pulled out the stops here to really tell how much war affects civilians. //
0083: Stardust Memory*
// Tells the origin of Titans, Neo Zeon, and other important tidbits. Edit: It has a compilation movie called Last Blitz of Zeon! //
0087: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.*
// There are movies of this called A New Translation. Worth watching, but they’re not canon. //
0088: Mobile Suite ZZ Gundam*
// Starts out really goofy. If you want, watch episodes 1-2, and then skip to 13. I promise it’s worth pushing through! There isn’t a dub of this yet. //
0093: Char’s Counterattack*
// Not a series, just a movie. Incredibly important for the next entry. //
// There are two ways of watching this - OVA movies or episodic. Both are exactly the same, just split up differently. One is on Netflix! //
// There is a thing called Twilight Axis here. I haven’t seen it yet in any capacity, but I haven’t heard great things… //
0097: Narrative (*?)
// New movie that came out recently! It’s received mixed reviews. I haven’t seen it yet, and can’t speak to how important it is. Edit: It at least requires you to have watched Unicorn, or else! //
0105: Hathaway’s Flash*
// This hasn’t come out yet, but has been announced. It’ll be a series of movies. The trailer looks great, check it out here: //
// Okay. I personally enjoyed the idea of this series, but due to budget, the series was cut down to a really rushed movie. //
// The black sheep of UC. Victory was written during a really dark time of Tomino’s life, and it shows. I haven’t even finished it yet. //
// I haven’t watched it yet, but… here it is.The original live action Gundam movie. //
That concludes UC! After that, you can watch pretty much any Gundam series and understand it. Canonically speaking, I believe UC is the beginning of everything. In this method, after you finish UC, I recommend moving on with:
Mobile Fighter G-Gundam
Turn A Gundam
// This is my favorite series. It’s amazing. It has two compilation movies, but they are famously bad. //
Reconguista in G
… followed by…
Gundam SEED Destiny
// Hey. Look. I’m sorry. You can skip SEED and SEED Destiny. You’ll probably want to. Edit: They both have compiled versions, plus a movie that’s apparently pretty cool. //
// I like it. Don’t look at me like that. I think it’s neat. Edit: It has a movie that compiles the second generation. //
Gundam 00 Seasons 1 and 2
Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer
Iron-Blooded Orphans Seasons 1 and 2
…In that approximate order.
There’s also the Build series, which I would wait as long as possible to watch, since it references all the other series. They’re in this order:
Build Fighters: GM Counterattack
Build Fighters Try
Build Fighters Try: Island Wars
// Completely separate from the rest of the Build series, and is receiving a new series soon. //
It should be noted that Build is separate from everything else. It’s a tournament series where kids fight with their own custom Gunpla (plastic Gundam models), and it’s very enjoyable! There is no character death in Build - it’s a kids’ series.
After that, unless I’ve forgotten something, you’re done!
Method two: Watching the new stuff first
For this method, really, just watch the stuff following SEED and Destiny in whatever order you like. Maybe even start with Build FIghters! The main thing here is Turn A actually requires you to know stuff about Gundam beforehand to really appreciate it, and Reconguista is a sequel to it.
You can watch some of these on Gundam.info or on Youtube, Crunchyroll, Hulu, VRV, or… illegal websites.
I hope this guide is useful for anybody wanting to watch, or anybody who has friends who want to watch! Please feel free to leave constructive feedback if I’ve missed anything.
Some extra notes:
The live action movie coming out in 2019 is not confirmed to happen in any particular timeline yet! It’s being produced by Legendary, with the creative direction of Sunrise (G-Saviour was not overseen by Sunrise, if that explains anything).
Also, it can be assumed that every series and its second season is in its own “timeline,” although Turn A is canonically the last timeline, Correct Century.