Written by Tadashi

Modified & Updated: 21 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

GUNDAM robot replica

The Gundam franchise is so iconic that even the most casual anime watcher would know at least one of its series. It’s known as one of the longest-running anime franchises, having lasted for over 40 years and still going strong. While it has manga and novels, Gundam is originally an animated franchise. If you’re new to the world of Gundam and want to savor each installment up to the latest one, here is a list of the many Gundam series in order.

Table of Contents

Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)

Set in the alternate universe of the Universal Century (UC), most of humanity has left Earth and now lives in orbiting space colonies. In UC 0079, the space colonies of Side 3 declared independence from the Federation as the tyrannical Principality of Zeon. This marked the beginning of the One Year War.

Mobile Suit Gundam takes place in the latter part of the war when Amuro Ray stumbles on the Federation’s prototype Gundam mobile suit. Amuro then joins the crew of the Federation warship White Base as the Gundam’s pilot. This eventually causes him to become the Federation’s top ace pilot, and to develop a rivalry with the enemy ace pilot Char Aznable, the Red Comet of Zeon.

The first-ever Gundam series, it naturally makes for the first series to watch in the whole franchise. Mobile Suit Gundam not only started the franchise but also the Real Robot genre. That almost didn’t happen, though, as it almost flopped when it aired in 1979. To attract and ease casual watchers, director Yoshiyuki Tomino cut the number of episodes from 52 to 43. The show eventually gained popularity through reruns, with model sales by Bandai further boosting audience awareness for the series.

The series eventually became condensed into a trilogy of compilation movies, which aired from 1981 to 1982. This compilation includes Mobile Suit Gundam, Soldiers of Sorrow, and Encounters in Space. The success of these movies led Sunrise to approve proposals for a sequel and ensured the franchise’s future.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985)

Next on our list, we have Zeta Gundam. Set in UC 0086, seven years have passed since the Federation defeated Zeon in the One Year War. At that time, the Federation formed a special forces group called the Titans to hunt down Zeon’s survivors. This caused the Federation to descend into tyranny itself. The Titans at one point even gas a space colony for supposed Zeon sympathies.

Zeta Gundam revolves around Kamille Bidan, who has joined the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) to fight against the Titans. The AEUG’s fight to restore freedom and justice in the Federation becomes further complicated by the involvement of Zeon’s survivors. The show was successful, leading to Sunrise greenlighting a sequel even before it finished airing. It also later led to the series receiving a reboot, in the form of the New Translation trilogy of movies between 2004 and 2005. This includes Heirs to the Stars, Lovers, and Love is the Pulse of the Stars. In addition to compiling a 50-episode story into a total of seven and a half hours, it added further development to various characters.

Most importantly, it completely changed the ending, with Kamille having a happy ending with his childhood friend Fa Yuiry. Tomino has even stated that the New Translation movies lead to a brighter if unseen future for the UC.

Gundam robot
Image from ComicBook

Mobile Suit Gundam Double Zeta (1986)

Gundam Double Zeta picks up immediately where Zeta leaves off, with the AEUG exhausted by the final battle against the Titans. This puts them at a disadvantage against Axis Zeon, which has renamed itself Neo Zeon. With Kamille and their other aces lost in the final battle, the AEUG becomes forced to recruit new members to continue the fight. These include the new main character, Judau Ashita, who pilots the titular Double Zeta Gundam.

This show became controversial right from the start, thanks to Tomino’s attempt to lighten up the setting after the dark and tragic themes of Zeta Gundam. This led him to include slapstick writing in the first half of the series. Unfortunately, this was very unpopular with the audience.

However, as the story picked up and the confrontations with Neo Zeon became increasingly serious, the slapstick ended and the series returned to Zeta Gundam’s dark and tragic themes. This allowed the series to recapture the audience and allowed Double Zeta to end on a successful note.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988)

Continuing after Double Zeta Gundam, we have Char’s Counterattack. Set in UC 0093, Char’s Counterattack takes place another seven years after the Titan Conflict and the succeeding First Neo Zeon War. Now, Char Aznable has returned, leading Neo Zeon and starting the Second Neo Zeon War. In response, the Federation sends a new special forces group against Neo Zeon, Londo Bell. Its members include Char’s old rival, Amuro Ray, piloting the new Nu Gundam.

Char’s Counterattack holds the distinction of the first true feature film in the Gundam franchise, with its own separate story instead of simply compiling a previous TV series. Tomino also intended for it to be the end of the Gundam franchise. Its success would lead Sunrise to continue with new additions to the franchise.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (1989)

Next on our list, we have War in the Pocket. As is its name, the series takes place in UC 0080, at the very end of the One Year War. Unlike previous entries in the franchise, War in the Pocket doesn’t have a pilot as the main character. Instead, it features a young boy, Alfred “Al” Izuruha, as its protagonist. A sheltered elementary school student, Al has no real knowledge of war and sees it in romantic terms. The story revolves around Al’s discovery of the true horrors of war. In particular, over his friendship with Zeon pilot Bernard “Bernie” Wiseman.

War in the Pocket is the first side-story of the Gundam franchise, as shown by its short six-episode length and Original Video Animation (OVA) release format. Despite that, it has received a warm reception from critics and audiences alike, with its tragic yet heartwarming treatment of the effects of war praised. The side story’s success would lead to other side stories getting produced in the future.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91 (1991)

Continuing the franchise we have Gundam F91. Set in UC 0123, another 30 years have passed since the Second Neo Zeon War. Decades of peace ended with an insurrection by the Crossbone Vanguard. They take over several space colonies to form Cosmo Babylonia. Under the leadership of the mysterious Iron Mask, the Crossbone Vanguard easily defeats the Federation in battle after battle. However, the Federation refuses to give up and pins its hopes on Seabook Arno and his new Gundam F91.

F91 marks Sunrise’s first attempt to move the Gundam franchise past the Earth vs Zeon setting of the past series. It also became the second true feature film of the franchise and would remain so for another 19 years.

While a financial success, the film has also received criticism, particularly over its rushed storyline. This resulted from Sunrise deciding to produce it as a film instead of as a TV series. F91 also received accusations of plagiarism, specifically of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, based on visual similarities between Iron Mask and Darth Vader, as well as similar musical tracks.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (1991)

Next on our list, we have the side-story Stardust Memory, which takes place in UC 0083, four years after the One Year War. The series aims to fill in the seven years between Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam. Zeon survivors led by Admiral Delaz and Zeon ace pilot Anavel Gato steal the nuclear-armed Gundam Physalis as part of the titular Operation Stardust. The Federation responds by sending test pilot Kou Uraki with the Gundam Zephyrantes. Mobile suit developer Nina Purpleton accompanies Uraki onto the battlefield, where she complicates matters over her mysterious past.

Stardust Memory received a mixed reception from fans and critics alike. On one hand, the story had excellent writing, with well-developed characters despite the side story’s mere 13 episodes. The soundtrack also received acclaim, in particular, the opening theme Men of Destiny by MIO.

But on the other hand, critics mentioned how Stardust Memory’s visual design appeared too different from the two series it supposedly bridged. Other critics also noted how the machines in Stardust Memory actually appeared more advanced than those in Zeta Gundam. However, despite all these criticisms, Stardust Memory was still met with a fair amount of praise by the fandom.

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (1993)

Next on our list, we have Victory Gundam, set in UC 0153, which takes place 30 years after the events of Gundam F91. The Federation has grown weak and corrupt, leaving it vulnerable to another insurrection, this time by the Zanscare Empire. With the Federation unable to put up a fight, the resistance against the empire depends on the League Militaire. Faced with the empire’s numbers and advanced mobile suits, the League Militaire pins its hopes on the young pilot Uso Ewin and his titular Victory Gundam. Uso, however, only wants to survive the war, all while protecting his friend, Shahkti Kareen.

Originally the finale for the UC, Victory Gundam has the reputation of being the second-most successful Gundam TV series. Ironically, it also has the reputation of being the darkest Gundam TV series, with the most number of character deaths in the entire franchise. It also particularly shows in the tragic fates of the Shrike Team and Katejina Loos.

The dark themes of the series directly result from Tomino’s depression at the time. He later even admitted that he tried to sabotage the franchise.

Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994)

Next on our list, we have G Gundam. It made a first for the franchise with its setting in the Future Century (FC) instead of the UC. Much like in the UC, most people live in space colonies in the FC. Unlike the culturally-homogenous UC, though, the space colonies of the FC remain culturally distinct. The colonies have also agreed to hold Gundam Fights every four years, with each colony sending a Gundam to represent it. The victor would earn the right for their colony to rule the Solar System until the next Gundam Fight. In FC 60, the colony of Neo Japan sends Domon Kasshu as its representative, piloting the Shining Gundam.

This show took many chances, but they all paid off, as it’s among the most memorable in the franchise. For one thing, it took inspiration from the Street Fighter franchise, as shown by the Gundam Fight tournament and Domon’s own martial arts background. The series also generally maintained a lighter tone, adding touches of comedy even among later episodes.

The romance between Domon and his love interest Rain Mikamura also remains the most heartwarming in the entire franchise. Unlike previous pairings, Domon and Rain weren’t psychics almost magically drawn together. They weren’t hurting people forced to come together in their hardship but simply normal people who are romantically linked to each other.

New Mobile Report Gundam Wing (1995)

Gundam Wing follows right after G Gundam and makes up the iconic Gundam series of the 1990s. Set in After Colony (AC) 195, it revolves around Heero Yuy and four other Gundam pilots. Together, they fight against the secret society known as the Order of the Zodiac (OZ), which controls the United Earth Sphere Alliance from behind the scenes and maintains a militaristic and oppressive regime.

While Gundam Wing wasn’t the first Gundam series to feature multiple Gundams, it was the first to feature the Gundam Team as the hero faction. Heero and his fellow pilots also capitalized on the popular theme of anti-hero main characters in the 1990s. This made the series surprisingly popular among female audiences. They found themselves drawn to Heero and his fellow pilots’ bad boy characters.

Gundam Wing also became the first Gundam series to air outside of Japan in 2000, through Toonami and Cartoon Network in the USA. Dubbed in English and released as Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, it became a hit despite various censoring and translation issues. The success of the English release soon led to subbed DVD releases of all older series outside Japan.

After War Gundam X (1996)

Gundam X comes next after Gundam Wing when it comes to watching the Gundam series in order. Its title directly references the series’ setting, which is 15 years after the Seventh Space War. Many colonies fell on the Earth during the war, leaving it in ruins and killing most of its population. The story centers around the young mercenary Garrod Ran, who pilots the salvaged Gundam X to protect his client and later love interest Tiffa Adil. Initially fighting only to survive, Ran, Tiffa, and their friends eventually get dragged into keeping a new war from erupting between the New United Nations of Earth and the Space Revolutionary Army.

Gundam X suffered from poor ratings, leading to the series getting cut down from 49 episodes to 39. This remains a source of confusion among fans and producers, especially since many critics generally consider the series one of the best in the franchise. In particular, Gundam X is praised for having the clearest anti-war message out of all Gundam series. Other critics, though, argue this as having caused the series’ poor ratings.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (1996)

Next on our list, we have the 08th MS Team, which returns to the UC, and the very start of the franchise, the One Year War. It centers on Shirou Amada and the titular 08th MS Team, which tests various Gundam prototypes in a battle against Zeon. This leads the team to get sent to Zeon-occupied Southeast Asia, to investigate rumors of a new Zeon superweapon. It also reunites Shirou with an old enemy, Aina Sahalin, a Zeon pilot he once worked with to survive after getting stranded in space after a battle. Their reunion ends up testing their loyalties to their respective nations, and the outcome of the war in the region.

Released as an OVA, 08th MS Team remains one of the most successful works in the franchise. Compared to Stardust Memory, the visual designs and technology of the series remain faithful to that of the time it’s set in. It also manages to pack both character development and an engaging story into its 12 episodes.

Gundam anime
Image from ComicBook

New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (1997)

After 08th MS Team, Endless Waltz returns to the Gundam Wing timeline, with peace on the horizon after Earth and her space colonies form the Earth Sphere Unified Nation (ESUN). ESUN also forms a dedicated peacekeeping unit, the Preventers, to prevent the rise of another secret society like OZ. However, hopes for lasting peace get dashed by the rise of the Mariemaia Army. This new enemy threatens to drop space colonies on Earth if the ESUN refuses to meet its demands. This, in turn, leads Heero and the other Gundam pilots to return. They work together with the Preventers to stop the Mariemaia Army.

Airing three episodes as an OVA, Endless Waltz received mixed reviews, with fans praising the sequel while critics calling out the rushed plot and redesign of the Gundams. Endless Waltz received its compilation movie in 1998, which rebooted the plot to add details that made it seem less rushed.

Turn A Gundam (1999)

Next on our list, we have Turn A Gundam. Set in Correct Century (CC) 2345, Earth has regressed to a 19th-century level of development. In contrast, most of the space colonists have refitted their colonies into generation ships. Afterward, they proceeded to leave the Solar System for deep space. Those that remain live on the Moon, and have renamed themselves the Moonrace.

The story centers on Moonrace member Loran Cehack, who serves as part of Moon Princess Diana Soreil’s plan to return her people to the Earth. However, while both the princess and many of Earth’s leaders hope to resolve their issues peacefully, others both on Earth and the Moon see this as an opportunity to advance their ambitions, no matter the risk of war.

Turn A Gundam marked Tomino’s return to the franchise after recovering from his depression, evident by the series’ hopeful atmosphere. Tomino intended for Turn A Gundam to become the endpoint of the franchise, with every preceding series forming part of the lost and forgotten Dark History before the beginning of the CC. This was met with a mixed response from fans, with most of them only accepting that the Dark History and the CC take place in the distant future of the UC.

G-Savior (2000)

The next item on our list of Gundam series to watch in order returns once again to the UC timeline. Set after the events of Victory Gundam, the Earth Federation has collapsed. Earth and most colonies have formed the new Congress of Settlement Nations (CONSENT). A food shortage in UC 0223 caused tensions to rise between CONSENT and its rival, the Settlement Freedom League formed between the Moon and several nearby colonies.

Former CONSENT pilot Mark Curran finds himself dragged in after he gets forced to work with anti-CONSENT rebels. Working alongside Cynthia Graves, Mark struggles to clear his name, while also preventing CONSENT from invading an agricultural colony and starting another war.

The first-ever live-action work in the franchise, G-Savior also made another first in not including the “Gundam” in its title. It also had the distinction of a primarily Western cast, with the film shot in Canada. It received mixed reviews, particularly directed towards the story, which fans praised but critics called cliche.

Mobile Suit Gundam Evolve (2001)

Continuing with our list we have Gundam Evolve. It isn’t your typical series, instead made up of 15 shorts set in the various timelines of the Gundam franchise. These shorts usually feature variations of machines and battles that appear in shows and movies. It also sometimes replaced traditional hand-drawn and animated scenes with CGI.

Other shorts add small details to various events in the series shown or reveal background information to the audience. A few shorts even change events in the series shown, leading to possibly different outcomes for each series. Between 2001 and 2007, Gundam Evolve released 15 of these shorts, which later became compiled in three volumes of five episodes each.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed (2002)

Moving on, we have our next series, Gundam Seed. Set in Cosmic Era (CE) 71, the world of Gundam Seed sees humanity divided between the genetically-engineered Coordinators and the unmodified Naturals. In CE 70, the Bloody Valentine War begins after the Natural-dominated Earth Alliance nukes the Coordinator space colony of Junius 7. By CE 71, the Coordinators’ Zodiac Alliance of the Freedom Treaty (ZAFT) managed to make great gains against the Alliance.

The story revolves around Coordinator Kira Yamato, who stumbles on the Strike Gundam under development in the neutral space colony of Heliopolis. This forces him to join the crew of the Alliance warship Archangel, and fight against his fellow Coordinators in ZAFT.

Gundam Seed became the first Gundam series of the 21st century and the first to replace traditional animation methods with CGI. The series attracted both criticism and controversy, such as over how Gundam Seed’s plot seemingly reboots that of Mobile Suit Gundam. Another source of the controversy revolves around a sex scene, which would later be censored in the series’ overseas release. Despite these criticisms, however, Gundam Seed proved a commercial success and inspired various side stories released in manga form.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny (2004)

Next on our list, we naturally have Gundam Seed‘s sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny. Set in CE 73, two years have passed since the Bloody Valentine War. However, tensions remain high despite the war’s end. Both ZAFT and the Alliance distrustfully maintain large militaries, with neutral countries especially concerned by ZAFT’s next-generation weapons development. These tensions finally erupt when terrorists drop the ruins of the Junius 7 colony on Earth. The Alliance uses this as an excuse to declare war.

The series primarily revolves around ZAFT pilot Shinn Asuka and the crew of the Minerva. Together, they fight to defend ZAFT and their allies on Earth against the Alliance. At the same time, however, the crew of the Archangel investigates a conspiracy that threatens both sides of the war.

Gundam Seed Destiny made CE the first Gundam timeline to ever feature more than one TV series in its setting. Much like Gundam Seed, it also attracted controversy and criticism. While its plot wasn’t derivative of any older series, many fans criticized the visual designs of various ZAFT mobile suits. They argue that these designs are those of Zeon, in particular the Zaku, the Gouf, and the Dom.

A few episodes also implied that sex took place between scenes, but avoided actually showing a sex scene like in Gundam Seed. Western critics also noted that plot quality dropped in the latter half of the show. Japanese audiences contested this, however.

Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO (2004)

The next item on our list returns to a similar format as Gundam EvolveMS IGLOO includes nine short CGI films detailing various background events in the One Year War. The first three films were released in 2004, later compiled as Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War. Sunrise later released the next three films, compiled as Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079, in 2006.

All six of these films have a Zeon perspective, leading to accusations of fascist apologia from critics. However, the last three films of MS IGLOO shifted to a Federation perspective, compiled as Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Gravity Front, all released in 2007.

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed CE 73: Stargazer (2006)

Next, we go back to the CE timeline with Stargazer. It has two main characters, Sven Cal Payang, a member of the Alliance’s black-ops group Phantom Pain, and Coordinator scientist Selene McGriff. The series shifts between their perspectives, in particular, Sven’s experiences before and during the Second Bloody Valentine War.

In contrast, Selene’s perspective shows her struggles to stay apolitical despite her genetic status, working as part of the Deep Space Survey and Development (DSSD) organization. Their paths eventually cross, as Phantom Pain targets the DSSD’s prototype interplanetary exploration mobile suit, the titular Gundam Stargazer.

Released in three episodes as an Original Network Animation (ONA), Stargazer received both praise and criticism. Sven’s character received praise, for how a quiet and otherwise unassuming man showed emotional depth. Selene similarly received praise for how her character reflected scientists frequently finding themselves torn between their ideals and the demands of the world. Critics, however, noted the rushed plot. They attributed this to the writers needing to fit their vision within a timeframe of only three episodes. This later led to Stargazer receiving a manga expansion that added detail to the series’ ending, as well as its aftermath.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (2007)

After Stargazer, we move on to our next series to watch, Gundam 00. Set in the distant future of our own Anno Domini (AD) timeline, Gundam 00 begins in 2307. By the 24th century, Earth’s fossil fuels were exhausted, and humanity has turned to solar energy. Most of the world’s nations united into three superpowers: the Union, the Human Reform League (HRL), and the Advanced European Union (AEU). These superpowers then compete with each other for global influence in a new Cold War.

Gundam 00 focuses on Setsuna F. Seiei and his fellow members of the secret society, Celestial Being, which aims to end all war in the world. This would serve to unite and prepare humanity for First Contact with aliens as it advances into space.

The show made many firsts in the franchise, while also referencing Gundam Wing with its theme of Gundam pilots fighting the world. For instance, Gundam 00 became the first Gundam series set in the AD timeline. It also avoided the classic Gundam theme of Earth versus its space colonies. Instead, it’s about the Celestial Being pitted against the superpowers of the world.

It also was the first Gundam series to air in two seasons, with the second season airing in 2008. Gundam 00 was a massive success, defeating Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny in terms of ranking and critics, and audience reception.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer (2010)

Naturally, next after Gundam 00, we have its sequel, the movie Awakening of the Trailblazer. Set in AD 2314, humanity has united under the Earth Sphere Federation (ESF), and peace has settled across the world. Celestial Being has withdrawn from the limelight while cooperating with the ESF in peacekeeping operations.

Naturally, the new peace comes into question when a supposedly-lost exploration ship returns from Jupiter. Soon after its arrival, strange incidents begin happening around the world. It is soon revealed the arrival of an alien species in the solar system. As the aliens move in force against the Earth, the ESF and Celestial Being band together to defend the world. At the same time, Setsuna and his friends struggle to find a way to communicate with the aliens. This, they hope would end the fighting peacefully.

Much like the series it serves as an epilogue to, Awakening of the Trailblazer made many firsts in the franchise. It was the first Gundam feature film in 19 years since Gundam F91 in 1991. It also was the first, and thus far, only Gundam work to feature an alien species. This, in particular, led to criticism from elements of the fandom. Others have also accused the movie of preachiness in its theme of peace through mutual understanding.

Despite these criticisms, Awakening of the Trailblazer enjoyed commercial success, with most critics and audiences praising the plot and the quality of its visual design.

gundam robot
Image from Anime Corner

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn (2010)

The next series on our list makes another return to the UC timeline with Gundam Unicorn. Set in UC 0096, the Third Neo Zeon War begins barely three years after the Second Neo Zeon War. Now calling themselves The Sleeves, the last of Zeon’s survivors aim to recover a mysterious item called Laplace’s Box. Supposedly, the Box would have the power to destroy the Federation.

As in the previous war, the Federation sends Londo Bell to stop Zeon. Young Newtype Banagher Links finds himself forced to fight by piloting the dangerous new Unicorn Gundam. As the war continues, however, he and Londo Bell find their loyalties tested over the nature of Laplace’s Box. Banagher must also come to terms with his feelings for Mineva Lao Zabi. As the last surviving member of the Zabi Dynasty, she holds the status of an heiress to the Zeon Throne.

Originally a novel by Harutoshi Fukui, Gundam Unicorn serves as a final epilogue to the saga of Zeon’s struggles for independence from Earth. It caused controversy in that regard, with critics accusing it of whitewashing Zeon’s war crimes. The depiction of the Federation as a corrupt and oligarchic government was also criticized.

Other critics, however, praised the story, particularly Princess Mineva’s struggle over her family’s legacy and her romance with Banagher. Other characters also received critical interest, such as Marida Cruz. Marida’s particularly dark and tragic background highlights the indiscriminate horror of war on all those affected by it.

Mobile Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G (2010)

Moving on, the next Gundam series takes the franchise in a new direction. Set in an alternate universe of our present time, Gunpla Builders Beginning G revolves around Haru Irei and his entry into the Gunpla fandom. Gunpla refers to an in-universe technology that allows model builders to use Virtual Reality (VR) to pilot their models and fight against other models. Haru’s entrance turns complicated when he finds himself competing against veteran Gunpla pilot Boris Schauer. The resulting rivalry leads Haru and his friends to enter the national Gunpla tournament and prove themselves as Gunpla pilots.

Aired as a three-episode OVA, Sunrise produced Gunpla Builders Beginning G to celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary. It also doubles as a promotion for the franchise’s model line, as shown by various characters encouraging kids, and by extension, the audience, to buy their models. Gunpla Builders Beginning G proved more successful than expected, with the fandom seeing it as a celebration of their hobby. This, in turn, later led Sunrise to produce more series set in the Gunpla timeline.

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (2011)

Next on our list, we have Gundam AGE. Set in the Advanced Generation (AG) timeline, Gundam Age revolves around three successive generations of the Asuno family. The first season has Flit Asuno joining the Earth Federation after the Unknown Enemy (UE) destroys the Angel space colony. Season two revolves around Flit’s son, Asemu. He follows in his father’s footsteps fighting against the UE, now revealed as a human nation on Mars called Vagan. The final season similarly revolves around Asemu’s son Kio, who again fights for the Federation to end the war with Vagan once and for all.

Gundam AGE received a mixed reception from critics and audiences alike, with the series’ plot often described as overambitious. In particular, the decision to spread the plot out over three generations gave it a rushed feeling. It also caused various characters, including Asemu and Kio, to have insufficient character development.

Flit also received criticism, with his obsessive hatred for Vagan making him unlikable to fans. Many critics also slammed Gundam AGE’s treatment of the main characters’ love interests, describing the women as one-dimensional and reducing them to simple baby-makers.

Gundam Build Fighters (2013)

After Gundam AGE, we go back to the Gunpla timeline with Gundam Build Fighters. Set in the same timeline as Gunpla Builders Beginning G, Build Fighters revolves around Sei Iori, the son of a legendary Gunpla pilot. His father’s legacy leads Sei to take up the hobby and aim to become just as famous as his father. Sei, however, struggles with his lack of piloting talent despite his knack for building Gunpla models. One day, he meets a mysterious boy named Reiji, who inspires Sei to enter the professional Gunpla leagues with his personal Gunpla, the Build Strike Gundam. Reiji later develops a deeper friendship with Sei, and they compete together to win the world tournament.

Following up on Gunpla Builders Beginning G, Build Fighters similarly celebrates the Gundam model hobby. It also celebrates other aspects of the fandom, such as cosplay. In fact, many background characters appear cosplaying as characters from other Gundam series.

At the same time, it adds a heartwarming plot of friendship and overcoming personal obstacles. The series also includes deeper themes of its own. In particular, Build Fighters show how corporate sponsorship stacks the deck in professional competition for their clients. This, in turn, comes at the expense of amateurs struggling to advance their careers on their own.

Gundam Build Fighters Try (2014)

The next item on our list continues in the Gunpla timeline, with Build Fighters Try. Seven years have passed since the events of Build Fighters, and the Gunpla tournament has received reforms to resolve the issues of the past. This made the hobby even more popular than ever before, with a new generation of Gunpla pilots out to make their names.

The show revolves around Fumina Hoshino and her friends Sekai Kamiki and Yuuma Kousaka, who form the titular Try Fighters Gunpla team between them. Together, they aim to break into the professional Gunpla team competition. Build Fighters Try continues with its predecessors’ celebration of the Gundam fandom as a whole, with a focus on character relationships and subtle social criticism over the bleaker themes of other Gundam series.

Gundam Reconguista in G (2014)

Moving on, the Gundam franchise again returns to the UC timeline, only to subvert expectations with a twist of its own. Also known as G-Reco, the series takes place in the Reguild Century (RC) long after the mysterious end of the UC. In RC 1014, Bellri Zanam fights as part of the Capital Guard defending the Capital Tower against space pirates. During one such battle against space pirates, Zanam encounters Aida Surgan and the mobile suit G-Self.

This later leads to Zanam getting dragged into tensions between his country’s Capital Army and the nation of America. The situation later spirals out of control into a free-for-all conflict with the entry of other factions like Sankt Porto. The Lunar nation of Towasanga joins in as well, starting the titular Reconguista of the Earth.

G-Reco saw Tomino return to direct another Gundam series, resulting in G-Reco’s similarities to his previous work Turn A Gundam. This led to G-Reco beginning with high expectations from both the fandom and critics alike. However, G-Reco would ultimately end with mixed reviews. Tomino later apologized for this, as he did not intend to confuse the viewers.

Other critics, though, saw G-Reco as a subtle criticism of modern society, with its anarchic setting a metaphor for how society has become so complex that trying to understand it as a connected whole could result in a self-defeating exercise.

Mobile Suit Gundam-san (2014)

Next on our list, we have Gundam-san. Originally a parody gag manga series by Hideki Ouwada, it received an anime adaptation composed of 13 three-minute shorts due to its popularity. It revolves around the characters of the original Mobile Suit Gundam but in an everyday setting. It also takes the characters’ personalities and decisions before playing them up for laughs. The series also gave the series’ mobile suits small anthropomorphic versions. This allowed them to join the human characters in a sitcom-like everyday life. The original manga would later go on to expand the setting to include parodies of real-life figures behind Gundam, including Tomino himself.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (2015)

Our next Gundam series starts yet another alternate timeline, with Iron-Blooded Orphans. Set in Post Disaster (PD) 323, humanity has terraformed and colonized Mars after the Calamity War devastated the Earth. This has, however, left Mars resentful against Earth’s control, and wishing for its independence.

The story revolves around Mikazuki Augus and his fellow child soldiers of the Tekkadan mercenary company. They work to protect Martian noblewoman Kudelia Bernstein who tries to negotiate independence for the Martian nation of Chryse. They face opposition from an Earth-based special forces group, Gjallarhorn, which aims to preserve Earth’s rule over Mars. Tekkadan also receives help from Teiwaz, a corporation from Jupiter, which also secretly has links with Gjallarhorn.

Iron-Blooded Orphans met commercial and critical success, with audiences and critics praising the return to Gundam’s traditional Earth vs colonies storytelling. They also praised the series’ main characters, which they describe as likable and having natural interactions with each.

That said, Iron-Blooded Orphans has also its share of negative attention. In particular, some critics accuse the series of whitewashing the issue of child soldiers, and even treating serious war crimes lightly.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (2015)

After we Iron-Blooded Orphans, we have next on our list Origin. Originally a manga by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, Origin rewrites the original Mobile Suit Gundam. In particular, it changes the locations of various battles that originally took place across North America to South America. It also reverses the course the White Base took to reach Odessa. Much like in the original series, the battle there would mark the turning point of the war with Zeon.

Origin also expands on the background of Char Aznable, as well as his sister, Artesia Deikun, known to her friends on the White Base as Sayla Mass. It also details the founding of Zeon by Zeon Deikun.

It was met with a mixed reception. Japanese audiences and critics received both the manga and its anime adaptation warmly, but Western audiences and critics didn’t fancy the two versions as much. On one hand, the detailed animation and the expanded background of various characters were praised, but on the other hand, how it whitewashed Zeon’s war crimes was criticized. This even led to accusations against Sunrise for using Gundam as a means to subtly show support for the Japanese right-wing establishment and downplaying the Japanese war crimes of WWII.

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (2015)

The next item on our list remains in the UC timeline, with Gundam Thunderbolt. Set in UC 0079 during the One Year War, it revolves around the titular Thunderbolt Sector of the Earth Sphere. The Federation’s Moore Brotherhood contests the sector against Zeon’s Living Dead Division. The former, in particular, aims to cut off supplies to Zeon’s asteroid fortress of A Baoa Qu. In particular, the story revolves around Federation soldier Io Fleming, who finds himself pitted against a Zeon sniper, Daryl Lorenz.

The fighting also has a personal element for both sides. For one thing, the Brotherhood holds a grudge against Zeon’s destruction of their home colonies in the war. Similarly, cyborgs make up the Living Dead Division. These cyborgs hold a grudge against the Federation for crippling them and forcing them to become cyborgs in the first place.

Originally a manga series by Yasuo Outagaki, Gundam Thunderbolt received an eight-episode anime adaptation released in two seasons in ONA format. Each season would later receive a compilation movie that expanded their scenes with additional material from the manga.

That said, Gundam Thunderbolt received mixed reviews, with some claiming it suffers from the same problems as Gundam X. Specifically, a bleak setting and unlikeable characters that make it hard for the audience to root for. Both the ONA and its compilation movies have also received criticism for cutting out key details from the original manga.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight Axis (2017)

We continue our list with Twilight Axis, which remains in the UC timeline. Set immediately after the events of Gundam Unicorn, Twilight Axis revolves around two Zeon survivors: the former mobile suit developer Arlette Almage and former Zeon test pilot Danton Hyleg. Arriving at the ruins of the Zeon asteroid fortress of Axis, they hope to find the answer to the final fate of Char Aznable, the Red Comet of Zeon.

Twilight Axis received poor reviews from both audiences and critics, particularly on its overuse of flashbacks to deliver background information. The stilted animation was also lambasted, as well as the confusing plot. Other critics also noted Twilight Axis’ unoriginality, as its plot was explicitly based on Richard Wagner’s operatic play, Tristan and Isolde.

Gundam Build Divers (2018)

The next item on our list takes us back to the Gunpla timeline, with Build Divers. The series takes place during the peak of Gunpla’s popularity, with Gunpla even receiving its own MMO version, Gunpla Battle Nexus Online (GBN). The story revolves around GBN player Riku Mikami and his friends Yukio and Momoka. Although originally just another casual player, his GBN experience completely changes after meeting the mysterious Sara.

Soon after, a series of incidents take place inside GBN’s VR world, centered around the equally-mysterious Mass Divers. Together with Sara and his friends, Riku sets out to understand the mystery of the Mass Divers and the changes it’s causing to both GBN and the Gunpla world.

A new entry into the Gundam franchise’s Gunpla timeline, it takes a different direction from both Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try. While it retains the focus on the main characters’ personally-designed mobile suit models, it largely abandons the preceding series’ tournament format. This allowed the series to tap into a larger audience and expand into genres previously dominated by other franchises such as Digimon, .hack//SIGN, and Sword Art Online.

Gundam Narrative (2018)

Moving on, we once again return to the UC timeline. Similar to Twilight Axis, Gundam Narrative takes place after the events of Gundam Unicorn, with the world surprisingly left unchanged by the opening of Laplace’s Box. This leads Zeon hardliners to defy Princess Mineva’s wishes and seek out next-generation mobile suit technology. They hope to do so as part of preparations for a new uprising against the Federation.

Similarly, the Federation also sends its forces to secure the same technology pursued by Zeon to maintain its military superiority. In particular, the Federation has the support of the Luio & Co. corporation, which provides the Federation with the titular Gundam Narrative. The story revolves around the Gundam Narrative’s pilot, Jona Basta, and his friend, Michele Luio.

Gundam Narrative was met with mixed reviews from both audiences and critics, with criticisms directed at the antagonists being one-dimensional. The plot was also described as disjointed, and unable to stand on its own, instead of coming off as an epilogue to Gundam Unicorn.

Some critics pointed out that Gundam Narrative is proof that the UC timeline has become repetitive, with the timeline’s far future already set by Victory Gundam.

Gundam Build Divers Re: Rise (2019)

Next, we have Re:Rise, which takes us back to the Gunpla timeline. A sequel to Gundam Build Divers, two years have passed since the previous series, with GBN having recovered from the EL-Diver Incident. In those two years, more EL-Divers were discovered. This leads to GBN receiving software upgrades to prevent a repeat of the incident.

The story revolves around the Diver Hiroto Kuga, who cultivates a lone wolf reputation within GBN. This, however, is just a cover for his true motives. One is to find a mysterious girl named Eve who he once encountered in the game. Eventually, he bands with other Divers to form BUILD DiVERS. Together, they head out to explore the strange world of Eldora within GBN.

Re: Rise’s production not only resulted from the success of Gundam Build Divers but also to celebrate Gundam’s 40th Anniversary. Unlike its predecessor, though, Re: Rise aired as an ONA series instead of a traditional TV series.

Carrying on Gundam Build Diver’s successful themes and expansion of the Gunpla setting, Re: Rise also succeeded in telling its own story. So much so that it received a second season in 2020. It has also received spin-offs in the Gundam Ace magazine by Kadokawa.

gundam hathaway
Image from What’s on Netflix

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash (2021)

Last on our list, we have Hathaway’s Flash. Set in UC 105, the Federation has once again descended into tyranny. Specialized Man Hunter units scour the planet, forcibly deporting undesirables to space. This leads Hathaway Noa, son of Federation war hero Bright Noa, to form an anti-Federation terrorist group called Mafty. Taking on the name Mafty Navue Erin, he pilots the new Xi Gundam. He aims to finish what Char started, and bring the Federation down. In response, the Federation sends its elite Circe Unit, including pilot Lane Aim and his Penelope mobile suit to stop Mafty.

Originally a novel by Tomino himself, Hathaway’s Flash takes place in an alternate future for the UC. This resulted from a different version of the Second Neo Zeon War, as described in the novel Beltorchika’s Children. To avoid having to cut out too much of the story to fit the adaptation, Tomino planned to release Hathaway’s Flash as a film trilogy. Thus far, only the first film was released, in 2021. While production on the second film has already begun, Sunrise has yet to announce a planned release date.

Hathaway’s Flash was met with a warm reception from fans and critics, with many welcoming the return of Tomino’s touch after G-Reco, with some buzzing with speculation about Beltorchika’s Children getting a future adaptation.

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