The Star Gundams-alternate Universes-00’s

 

 

The Strike Gundam originated in 2002’s Gundam Seed, a major relaunch of the Gundam brand in 2002. It can be outfitted with various striker packs for different missions/styles of combat. Initially it’s piloted by series protagonist Kira Yamato.

It’s successor is the Freedom Gundam, which has a lot of weapons such as railguns, cannons and beam rifles, and it’s also incredibly fast as well. Kira mainly uses the suit for non-lethal attacks, disabling suits instead of destroying them.

 

 The Impulse Gundam from Gundam Seed Destiny, is another Gundam capable of multiple settings and weapons packs, similar to the Strike Gundam.

 

The Strike Freedom is a replacement suit for the Freedom, also from Gundam Seed Destiny.

 

 

The titular “Destiny Gundam” posesses a variety of beam-focused weapons and propulsion systems.

 

The Gundam EXIA from Gundam 00 is mostly designed for close quarters combat, or CQC. It’s equipped with a large manner of melee weapons.

 

It’s replaced by the titular Gundam 00, which also uses a variety of close-quarters combat weapons, but has greatly accelerated speed.

 

 

The Star Gundams-Alternate Universes (90’s)

In 1994, the Gundam franchise started to create “Alternate Universe” series-stories set outside the Universal Century era that had defined the franchise for the previous fifteen years. As a result, this led to different ways of presenting the series, although often with familiar Gundam tropes-including of course, the Gundams themselves.

First up, we’ve got the Shining Gundam from G Gundam, which is perhaps one of the more ‘out there’ alternate universes, which-although it uses the space colony concepts of the Universal Century, is more about a multinational “Gundam fight” tournament. This particular Gundam’s trademark move is the “Shining finger” allowing it to project energy into it’s hand for a crushing finishing move.

The “God” or Burning Gundam is the second major suit of the series, and has several special attacks, including an upgraded Shining Finger called the God Finger, and an ultimate energy attack called the  Sekiha Tenkyoken.

The Wing Gundam appears in Gundam Wing, and is the main suit of main character Heero Yuy for a good chunk of the series. Like the Zeta Gundam before it, it has a transformation ability-in this case, the “Bird mode”.  It also includes the powerful Buster rifle.

The Wing Gundam is eventually replaced the Wing Gundam Zero, which in fact was constructed earlier than the Wing, and serves as a prototype for the Gundams used by the “Gundam team” from the show. It’s equipped with the powerful ZERO system which has advanced reaction systems, but is so complex that it can mentally unbalance it’s pilot. Eventually Heero Yuy was able to master the suit.

Like the other Wing Gundam, it has more advanced Buster rifles and bird mode.

The Zero was later redesigned into a new version for the OAV/movie “Endless Waltz”. The redesign is actually not an upgrade, but intended to show the artist’s vision of how the suit looked during the show; as Endless Waltz opens with a recreation of the battle from the end of the show.

It overall has a far slimmer look, no ‘canonical’ bird mode (although it’s wing’s wrap around it like a cocoon), and has ‘angel’ wings.

The Gundam X appears in the series of the same name, in a more postapocalyptic version of the traditional Gundam series setting. This Gundam’s main ability is a solar-panel powered cannon, and during the show’s analog to the “One Year War”, it was actually mass-produced.

It’s eventually replaced with a more powerful suit, the Gundam XX, which has upgraded features including a more powerful satellite canon.

The unusual looking “Turn A” Gundam shows up in the final installment of the 90’s Gundam AUs. It utilizes nanomachines for attack and defense, including the powerful “moonlight butterfly” maneuver. It was designed chiefly by American artist Syd Mead.

Mobile Suit Gundam-The “Star” Gundams-Universal Century Part II-The 90’s.

With the 90’s, the Gundam series was sort of shifting, with the Universal Century series starting to get sidelined on TV in favor of alternate universes. However, it still managed to crank out some movies and Original Animated Videos(OAV), which contributed to the lore, and of course featured their own Gundams.

First up was the Gundam F91, from the movie of the same name. Much smaller than it’s predecessor, this unit featured new beam technology, including a beam shield and rifles which had variable beam speeds.

Gundam 0083, an OAV”Interquel” which detailed how the Titans rose in Z Gundam,  has two main ‘hero’ Gundams. The first is the GP01 Zephyrantes, which while in it’s initial configuration is mainly a souped-up version of the original Gundam, but when modified on the moon, it’s given a series of heavy boosters which make it incredibly fast, and becomes a “Full Vernian” Gundam. It’s used against Anavel Gato’s stolen Gundam GP-02A Physalis, although both are destroyed. It’s replaced by:

The Gundam GP-03 Dendorium. This Gundam might not look like much on it’s own, but it gets hooked up to a massive Mobile Armor full of several weapons, making it incredibly formidable.

Back on TV, the final UC Gundam TV series for quite some time was Victory Gundam. This Gundam suit was, like the ZZ, a sort of gestalt unit formed from smaller craft. It also utilized a new maneuvering system, the “wings of Light”. It was eventually replaced by the V2 Gundam which upgraded it’s basics systems and armor.

The OAV Gundam: The 08th Ms team returns to the One Year War which started it all, and reveals a new mass production model of the Gundam, known as the Gundam Ground type. It basically has a blockier appearance than it’s counterparts, and it’s weapons have been moved into different places-the vulcan guns, traditionally on the head, are now in the chest, and the beam saber handles are stored in the legs instead of one the back, which now sports a heavy backpack for equipment.

After being heavily damaged,one of these units was rebuilt and customized into the Gundam EZ8, with more durable armor, higher energy output and the V-fin present on other Gundams replaced by a rabbit ear attenae.

Mobile Suit Gundam-The “Star” Gundams-Universal Century Part I-The 80’s.

Every Gundam series usually had one or two ‘star’ Gundams, even in the shows in which there are a large amount of them (G Gundam, Gundam Wing, Gundam 00 and Gundam Seed)-one that’s pretty much the main character’s mecha, and usually the most powerful.

This will take a look at the varying ‘star’ ones, starting with the “UC” timeline, and the TV series and movies from the 80’s.

 

The RX-78-2 appears in Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) and is pretty much the Gundam most often associated with the franchise, and of course the forefather of all that came after. It also has a life sized statue in Tokyo, picture above. The Gundam first appears as one of three prototype mobile suits being developed by the Earth Federation-and the most advanced-and it’s later developed into the GM, a stripped-down, mass production version.

The Gundam Mark II debuts in “Zeta” Gundam (1984), and is initially developed for the brutal Titans organization, a branch of the Earth Federation that violently suppresses colony revolts. It’s stolen by the rebel group known as the AEUG and given a more classic color scheme. It also receives an update later on, a weapons backpack that makes it the “Super Gundam”.

 

The title Gundam from the series is the first Gundam to transform, gaining a “Waverider” form by repositioning it’s body and using a shield as a kind of ‘beak’.  It also sports a more angular look than many other Gundams. It is developed by the AEUG, and later used by the Earth Federation when they start backing the AEUG as well.

 

The “Double Zeta” appears in the show of the same name ZZ Gundam and is a larger suit, with a somewhat more traditional ‘look’. It’s also a gestalt, created from the combination of several fighter craft. Like it’s predecessor, it was developed by the AEUG.

 

The Refined Gundam Zeta, or REGZ, is used by the Earth Federation task force at the beginning of Char’s counterattack, and used by Amuro Ray who piloted the first suit. It’s basically a scaled down version of the Zeta Gundam.

 

The “Nu Gundam” is also from “Char’s counterattack”, the movie which wrapped up the initial Gundam storyline. It’s designed to take full advantage of the Newtype abilities of it’s pilot, Amuro Ray, with powerful “Fin Fannels” and fast reaction times.

 

Finally from the end of the decade we have the Gundam Alex. Initially intended to be Amuro’s Gundam, it was being tested at a neutral colony until discovered by the Zeon. This Gundam has a powerful wrist gattling gun, and also has an armored option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile Suit Gundam-The Basics part two

This will continue a general breakdown of the Gundam series.

 

Gundam 00, like Gundam Wing, has Gundams of various designs and abilities being piloted by a group of young men. However, the story is a bit different, focusing less on space colonies, and more about wars around natural resources. The series was highly successful.

Next up was Gundam AGE, originally supposed to be a video game series, but expanded to a full TV series.

Next up was Gundam Recognista in G, which featured the return of creator Tomino to the franchise, and ‘sort of’ was set in the original Universal century timeline, except at thousand years in the future.

Gundam Build fighters and it’s later sequels and spin-offs featured, like G Gundam, another unorthodox attempt-this time, focusing on the show’s most prominent merchandise, the plastic model kits, instead of a mostly sci-fi storyline. The characters build the kits and then have them face off in tournament battles. The series features mecha from throughout the franchise, as well as new variations of the classics. The series became very popular, and features several references and cameos from the various series.

The latest series is Iron Blooded Orphans, which deals with a group of young men on a Mars colony who rebel against a repressive society with the help of an ancient Gundam (Similar in some ways to Gundam X, Turn A, and Recognista in G, In which the Gundam is a product of a bygone era). Thematically it also shares some similarities with Gundam Wing and 00, although it’s somewhat less flashy with it’s mecha designs.

In addition, there’s SD Gundam, which is sort of it’s own thing, with “super-deformed”, shrunken down versions of the mobile suits.  In many cases, They’re also anthromorphic/sentient, not requiring the need for a human pilot. The SD series has included several parodies and video games, as well as the Super Defendor Gundam Force series.

Mobile Suit Gundam-The basics Part one

Gundam is considered one of anime’s (Japanese animation) major icons-a series that originally debuted in 1979, but unlike other “mecha” (giant robot) shows at the time, focused on a more realistic war story. Sure, the Gundam was colorful, resembled medieval Japanese armor, carried what was basically a giant lightsaber etc., combined with some other mechs to form “G-armor” and other tropes of the mecha genre of the time, and often fought equally colorful villains. However, in other ways it was more restrained than it’s often super-heroic counterparts (The Gundam for instance, constantly needed maintenance on a base spaceship, and wasn’t always reliable), and although it had a space setting, didn’t involve any aliens or indeed, much action beyond Earth’s solar system and also focused heavily on loss and death. This article will attempt to explain the basics of the series a bit, as well as the first few ‘alternate universe’ stories and their concepts (although a future article will explore them more).

Conflicts between Earth and several of it’s orbiting artificial space colonies-in which both sides are often treated as often being both right and wrong-is the foundation of most of the Gundam series, with some exceptions. The mecha of the series are often referred to as “Mobile Suits”, and are used in these conflicts. Also present in many of the series are “Newtypes” (although the term is not always used)-people who, due to living in space, have evolved higher reflexes and somewhat psychic abilities, giving them an edge in piloting. The Gundam itself-although often potrayed as a super-robot in some series-is often a prototype for mass-produced suits (Called GMs in the Universal Century Timeline, or Daggers in the SEED timeline) developed by the Earth faction, as the colonies have usually already developed and deployed their mobile suits, giving them an advantage in the war. Basically, the introduction of the Gundam, it’s counterparts and derivative suits is often presented as a turning point in the conflict, with an inexperienced but gifted pilot often taking the helm of the Mobile suit.

There are many Gundam series, some more different than others. The original and it’s main sequels (Z, ZZ, Victory Gundam), as well as several spin off video series (0080, 0083, 08th Ms team, Unicorn, Thunderbolt)and films (Char’s counterattack, F91) are set in the “Universal Century” timeline. The majority of Gundam series are set in this, and it remains the most associated with Gundam in Japan. The first series and several OAVs (Original animated Videos, sort of direct-to-video miniseries often with improved production values) are set during a conflict called the “One Year War”. The original, it’s sequel Z and the movie Char’s counterattack also largely center on the rivalry between Newtype Gundam pilot Amuro Ray, and enemy Ace Char Anzable, a masked man (and also a Newtype) who has ulterior motives.

In 1994, the series decided to try something new, and the ‘alternate universe’ Gundam series were born. Many of these feature story lines similar to the Universal Century series, but with a different twist or theme.

The first-and perhaps one of the most different-is the “Future Colony Era” from G Gundam. G Gundam features a “Street fighter” style tournament of international Gundams, while also featuring the threat of a prototype “Devil Gundam” (or Dark Gundam). The series has been both both lauded and criticized for it’s ocassionally goofy Gundam designs and over-the-top drama.

“Gundam Wing”-set in the “After Colony” era has a somewhat more traditional Gundam plot, although with the theme of five teens who are each given a Gundam (Each with it’s own different attributes) to take on the villainous OZ organization which plans to dominate the Earth and it’s space colonies (Although there are many more twists to the story once it gets going). Although there are no Newtypes in the series, there is a pilot interface-the ZERO system-which allows for similar abilities, although with the downside of making the pilots mentally unstable. The series had one sequel, the video series “Endless Waltz”.

The series “After War Gundam X”-well, set in the “After War” era-featured a sort of more post-apocalyptic take on Gundam, as a war-similar to one in the original Mobile Suit Gundam-didn’t go quite as well leaving much of the world a ruin. Newtypes come back in this series, as well. This series wasn’t quite a hit as G and Wing were, and it was cancelled fairly early on.

The series Turn A Gundam, set in the “Correct century” featured the return of Gundam’s original creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino (Who had left after “Victory Gundam”), and featured references to all the series to that point, perhaps suggesting that all the series had happened in the same universe, just at different points of history (or history repeating itself somehow with the Gundam being the constant). The series dealt with a conflict between Earth and the moon, and featured an unconventionally designed Gundam, by Syd Mead, who had designed many American sci-fi films.

Gundam SEED, and it’s sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny, largely followed a storyline similar to that of the UC timeline, but with far more Gundams, and an underlying story about two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. Here, there are “sort of” Newtypes, except instead of naturally occurring in space they are genetically engineered and called Coordinators. The series was highly successful.