Was Gundam "not popular" in the west? No! It's just not popular now

So on select videos, there’s a certain YouTuber named after Hathaway Noa’s Xi Gundam from the Hathaway’s Flash novel and ongoing Hathaway film trilogy. He shows up in the comments, and spreads the misconception that “Gundam was never popular in the west”.

Do we really need to tell him the truth? IT WAS POPULAR! Well, Moderately Popular, but still popular nonetheless. The main breakout success was New Mobile Report Gundam Wing, which aired on Toonami alongside its feature-length OVA sequel Endless Waltz, but the shows they chose to air after that still carved out respectable fan followings: Mobile Suit Gundam? Speaks for itself as being the most recognisable in the western world that isn’t Wing. The old UC OVAs (0080, 0083 and 08th MS Team)? 0083 was a highlight of a pre-Rick and Morty Adult Swim when it aired there alongside another Sunrise production, Cowboy Bebop, in 2002 (and the other two OVAs were also moderately successful from what I’ve gathered). Mobile Fighter G Gundam? WOULD have been as successful as Wing were it not for Bandai oversaturating the toy shelves.

And therein lies WHY Gundam fell out of favour with western audiences the first time round: Bandai flopped with their handlings of both Mobile Fighter G Gundam and the most recent show, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The former, I already explained. But the latter flopped through a botched airing where they aired it in a botched, edited, ridiculously censored state on Toonami rather than on Adult Swim (where it should’ve aired instead), and when you take an anime series very much meant for people ages 13 and up and chop it up to air on a block that was aimed more at kids by that point… Yeah, see where this is going?
Come 2008, Gundam becomes moderately popular again when Sci-Fi channel picks up Mobile Suit Gundam 00. This was followed by home video releases of the OVA Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn in 2010-onwards. And then thanks to Bandai Entertainment shutting down, we wouldn’t get another Gundam show on US airwaves until Iron-Blooded Orphans in 2016 and it turns out NO-ONE learnt anything, because IBO became so bleak and miserable it put the main franchise on ice for 6 years and made Gundam not-popular in the west again.

So, basically, yes. Gundam is not popular. But it’s not popular again. The popularity of the franchise in the west seems to have both ups and downs; highs and lows. The past 6 years have basically become a wilderness period for the franchise. It’s still very recognisable in the western world; If you go to a hobby shop or a comic store you’ll definitely find Gunpla kits from both the main franchise and build spin-offs, but it’s NOT popular at the moment due to some bizarre choices made on both Bandai-Namco’s part, and the writers of Iron-Blooded Orphans 6 years prior. But hey! Witch From Mercury is around the corner and the prologue episode of that show is doing moderately well. So maybe things here could get better.

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A lot of peoples first and height of exposure to gundam in the west was toonami with gundam wing. And it was very popular. But there have been misses that where not as popular. The stuff more closely linked to the main universal century (amaro, char, zeta gundam, turn A, etc.) didn’t get as much love in the west.

The build fighters series had its benefits but wasn’t as popular as Wing, IBO, G Gundam, Ms 8th squad, and gundam 00. The newest series (witch of mercury) looks pretty interesting so far. Getting a hold of kits and other merch is pretty pricey for none China/Japan fans. Even if your in a major city or go to conventions for merch your options are lmited and buying the extra cost of international shipping and price increases can be a burden.