Japanese Title: Kidou Senshi Gundam
Note: commonly referred to as Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 to distinguish it from other Gundam series.
Related: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (sequel)
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (side story)
Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War (side story)
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (side story)
Similar: Gundam SEED
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 43 episodes
- Surprisingly good.
- A solid base for the franchise.
- Great dub.
- Art, audio, and some writing are noticeably old, if still charming.
- Sudden psychics in the final act.
- A tad long.
Mobile Suit Gundam doesn’t suck. That is the biggest surprise watching this progenitor of a genre. Considering Gundam anime got worse and worse the further I went back, I expected the original to be garbage. But Mobile Suit Gundam holds up for the most part.
Like the countless series that would follow, Mobile Suit Gundam starts with an attack. The Principality of Zeon broke away from the Earth Federation eight months ago, and the war has since fallen into a stalemate. However, everything changes when young Amuro finds Earth’s secret weapon – Gundam. He and a mismatched crew escape aboard the White Base spaceship and prepare to fight back against Zeon.
You can see the origins of many modern Gundam tropes here – villain with a mask, teen hero forced into war, special mech he can pilot, civilians swept up in the battles around the main ship on the run, conflict started over a weapon designed to end conflict, and many more. As a Gundam fan, I screamed, “That’s the same as the other show!” several times like a giddy schoolgirl.
Watching this after Gundam Unicorn, I realised what Unicorn was trying to do. Unicorn tried to recall the original series, not just in having similar plot points, but also in the characters. Hell, Unicorn’s white mask villain says he wants to invoke MSG’s white mask OG, Char. However, unlike Unicorn’s whiny protagonist, Amuro complains but with reason, and when it comes down to business, he delivers in the face of his problems. Whining waits until after the fight.
Furthermore, Amuro isn’t one sided. He recalls SEED’s Kira (or really, Kira recalled Amuro), where much of his conflict comes from within. He doesn’t enjoy war and killing, but must do so to keep loved ones alive, which garners engaging conflict. When Amuro preaches, someone counters his naïve argument. (There’s no Cagali – yay!)
MSG still has its problems, mind you. Amuro, despite being an engineer, not a soldier, can pilot the Gundam because the AI does most of the work. I’m still not sure why you wouldn’t couple the AI with a veteran pilot. A funny moment (probably unintentional) occurs when Amuro cracks out the paper Gundam manual for help as he’s plummeting towards Earth.
Dialogue also gets wordy at inopportune moments. “Do you really want to switch equipment mid-air while in this battle with enemies firing, is that what you are saying?” Don’t have time, lady! Characters also do too much “I’m talking to myself to make 100% sure the audience knows what my motivations are.” We can see – no need to tell.
MSG goes on a little long as well. It doesn’t have several threads like its contemporaries to maintain interest at such a length. The single track feels monotonous around the mid-point. The main ship fleeing enemy pursuit seems to go on forever, unlike SEED, which only did it for one act. The final act introduces mild psychic powers. While this trope has become a staple, it feels contrived here because it comes out of nowhere – later series built it up.
No problems prevented me from having a lot of fun with this mecha godfather. Though outdone by contemporary offerings, fans must watch Mobile Suit Gundam. How did they go from this to Gundam Wing?
Art – Medium
Mobile Suit Gundam definitely looks old, but is better than imagined – good amount of animation. It lacks the vibrant style of later series and character designs are weird. Half the characters look anime and the other half look western from the era.
Sound – Medium
The modern dub by the same team behind Gundam 00 and SEED is far superior to the old Japanese. Director Yoshiyuki Tomino thought the original recording was too bad for release with the dub initially. The music is omega old – nothing like modern Gundam’s electronic scores – accompanied by classic sci-fi bleeps and bloops. It’s not great, but it has charm in how…inexperienced it is.
Story – Medium
The Principality of Zeon declares itself independent from the Earth government and a stalemate war breaks out, cracked only with the creation of the ‘Gundam’ war machine. A classic series marked by age that is still enjoyable today.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: For Gundam fans, a must. Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 takes fans back to the Mecca of the franchise, where most staples began.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)