The Gundam franchise is big, there's no denying that. The whole freaking franchise is very overwhelming. I mean it spawned 11 TV shows, several OVAs, theatrical films and specials. I'm not even counting the countless sidestory mangas, video games and novels that gets released mostly every month in Japan. In other words, Gundam is Bandai and Sunrise's main cash cow and it will be for a long time. It could easily scare away those who are new to the series. This thread will list all of the Gundam shows (the important ones at least) that has been released so far and I hope it will serve as a guide to those who want to check the franchise out.
The Gundam anime is split into two: UC and AU. UC is Universal Century. It's considered to be the original and most developed timeline. It makes up the dominating majority of the entire franchise. UC continues to be extremely popular for a variety of reasons: It established the series, delivered many of its best moments and provides nostalgia for the older fans. The UC universe is still a major factor in Gundam's continuing success, especially in Japan. All UC shows are connected to each other and you need to watch the first Gundam to fully enjoy and appreciate the rest of the shows and sidestories. It has an extensive backstory, peppered with references and allusions.
AU is Alternate Universe. Sunrise expanded beyond the original setting of the Universal Century to attract new viewers, starting with G Gundam in 1994. All of the AU shows are stand-alone and have their own universe with no connections to UC and other AU titles, save for a few homages. I think the AU series are good starters shows, especially with titles like Wing, SEED and 00. If you're a Gundam newbie then maybe it's best to start with a few AU shows. It's stand-alone and no complicated back stories or whatsoever. Well let's get on with the list, starting with UC. Everything is listed in chronological order.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM (1979-1982) - TV series and three compilation movies. The very first Gundam anime. The series that started the franchise and re-invented the real robot mecha genre. Unlike the mecha shows that time, Gundam was an advance war drama. There were no clear good guys or bad guys. The whole superhero robot aspect is gone and the titular mecha is nothing but a cold military tool use for killing. If you can look past the dated animation and retro music, MSG is a very good series with a compelling plot and interesting but flawed characters. While the TV series is great, I recommend watching the compilation movie trilogy. Most of the fillers are removed and the story flows more smoothly. They also improved and corrected some of the more awkward animation. The TV show and movies are licensed and available in the US.
MS IGLOO: HIDDEN ONE YEAR WAR AND APOCALYPSE 0079 (2004 - 2006) - OVA series. A six-episode OVA series completely animated in CGI. This OVA focuses on Zeon characters, particularly a young engineer named Oliver May who supervises several prototype weapons and their respective test pilots. It opens up months before MSG so it can be considered a prequel. It's licensed and available in the US.
MS IGLOO 2: THE GRAVITY FRONT (2009) - OVA series. Set during the earlier parts of the One Year War, MS IGLOO 2 focuses on Federation ground soldiers fighting with conventional weapons at a disadvantage to the Zeon, who have revolutionized warfare through the development of mobile suits. It's not available in the US.
THE 08TH MS TEAM (1996 - 1998) - OVA series and one compilation movie. The story centers around rookie Federation pilot Shiro Amada and his soldiers of the 08th MS Team as they fight the Zeon in Southeast Asia towards the end of the One Year War. Instead of focusing on Newtypes and powerful Gundam prototypes, this show features regular grunts and realistic guerrilla combat with mass-produced mobile suits. Interesting characters and has some of the best fight scenes you'll see in Gundam. The compilation movie, Miller's Report, features a new character not seen in the OVA and some new footage. It's licensed and available in the US.
GUNDAM 0080: WAR IN THE POCKET (1989) - OVA series. The very first Gundam OVA and the first Gundam anime that's not been directed by creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. Instead of focusing on the One Year War as a whole, the story here centers on a young boy named Alfred Izuruha who dreams of lavish wars and mobile suits. Throughout the course of the series, he befriends a young Zeon soldier named Bernie Wiseman and sees just how terrible war truly is. I really recommend this one. It has some good drama and human characters. It's licensed and available in the US.
GUNDAM 0083: STARDUST MEMORIES (1991 - 1992) - OVA series and one compilation movie. Stardust Memories bridges the seven year gap between the original Gundam and Zeta Gundam and shows how the Titans were created, who will serve as the primary antagonists in Zeta Gundam. The story centers around a former Zeon ace stealing a Gundam equipped with a nuclear weapon, hoping to start the war again. The Earth Federation then dispatches a special team of mobile suit pilots to stop the Zeon remnants and prevent another war from happening. There's also a compilation movie but it's not very good. It has some slick animation that could still contend with today's standards and excellent mecha designs by Hajime Katoki. While flawed, Stardust Memories is pretty epic and has a lot of cool moments. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT ZETA GUNDAM (1985 - 1986) - TV series and three compilation movies. Set seven years after the original series, the Earth Federation, previously seen as the "good guys" are now quite the opposite thanks to the elite and cruel Titans, an independent military force in charge of monitoring the space colonies after the events of Stardust Memories. Zeta Gundam is considered by many fans to be the best Gundam series thanks to it's dark tone and epic storyline. It features a new teenage protagonist and the return of many characters from the original Gundam including Amuro and Char. I recommend watching the TV series since the compilation movies were badly edited, unlike it's predecessor. They also removed a good portion of the plot and character development and not to mention the combination of old and new animation is a bit distracting. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM DOUBLE ZETA (1986 - 1987) - TV series. Direct sequel to Zeta. After the climactic end of the Gryps War, Haman Karn and Neo Zeon make their power play for control of the Earth Sphere after the destruction of the Titans. The AUEG has been severely weakened after losing many of its pilots and now they must rely on Judau Ashta, a young and rebellious teenager who happens to be a Newtype. ZZ struck a much lighter and often comical tone, in contrast to its predecessor's brooding and gritty melodrama. Because of that, it wasn't popular with fans but I think ZZ is quite enjoyable but not as good as Zeta. It's not available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: CHAR'S COUNTERATTACK (1988) - Movie. Set five years after Gundam ZZ, Char's Counterattack features the return of Char Aznable and Amuro Ray as they finally end their bitter rivalship in this epic movie. Char plans on dropping an asteroid on Earth, forcing humanity to move into space and evolve as Newtypes. Amuro Ray, the first Gundam pilot, and the Londo Bell taskforce are dispatched to stop him once and for all. This is a must-see, that's all I can say. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UNICORN (2010 - ????) - OVA series. Gundam Unicorn marks the first time in Gundam history that an anime has been adapted from a pre-existing work. Based on the novels of the same name by Harutoshi Fukui, the OVA is set three years after the events of Char's Counterattack. Banagher Links, a young engineering student from Side 4, is drawn into a series of events involving the mysterious Laplace's Box, a secret item dating back to the dawn of the Universal Century. Both the Earth Federation and Neo Zeon remnants are fighting for it's contents, hoping to change the Universal Century. So far, Unicorn is looking pretty good but it's still ongoing so I don't have much anything to say. It's the first major UC release after ten years. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM F91 (1991) - Movie. Originally planned as a full-length television series, F91 is set thirty years after Char's Counterattack and features an all-new story and characters. The story of Gundam F91 revolves around teenage space colonist, Seabook Arno, his girlfriend, Cecily Fairchild, and the efforts of the Crossbone Vanguard militia, led by Cecily's grandfather Meitzer Ronah, to establish an aristocracy known as Cosmo Babylonia and rule over the Earthsphere. The movie is pretty bleh. Since it was supposed to be a TV series, it crams too much plot and too little character development into a mere two hour movie. Well if you plan on watching F91, then be sure to read the manga sequel, Crossbone Gundam. It's ten times better. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT VICTORY GUNDAM (1993) - TV series. Set another thirty years after F91, Victory is the final TV series set in the UC universe. The Federation and Zeon conflict is long over, as is the Federation and Crossbone Vanguard conflict. Now the Earth Federation continues to weaken with corruption and civil war as the space-born Zanscare Empire attempts to conquer Earth. Only the League Militaire and their mass-produced Victory Gundam units stand in their way. Victory Gundam is probably the darkest and most depressing Gundam series ever. The body count is pretty high, characters from both sides die in gruesome ways. The whole atmosphere of the show is pretty grim, showing little hope. Thanks to that, it's not quite well-received but it's still a good show. It's not available in the US.
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE (These Gundam shows are stand-alone and have no connections to each other. They have their own respective universe. You can pretty much pick any show here and not worry about continuity.)
Future Century Universe
MOBILE FIGHTER G GUNDAM (1994 - 1995) - TV series. The alternate universes started with this show. G Gundam took a vastly different approach to the Gundam saga. Instead of having wars between the colonies and the Earth, a fighting tournament is held to determine the ruler of the colonies called the Gundam Fight. It is held once every four years by the United Colonies Federation. Each country has it's own representative Gundam and some of them are ridiculous-looking. To put it simple terms, it's Gundam with Dragon Ball Z-like action. It's silly, over-the-top and a whole lot of fun, especially if you're a fan of super robot shows. In a way, G Gundam is love it or hate it. It's licensed and available in the US.
After Colony Universe
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING (1995 - 1996 - TV series. I'm guessing most of you know Gundam Wing and it's probably your first exposure to Gundam. Gundam Wing became the first Gundam series to air in the US and introduced legions of new western fans to the Gundam franchise. This is also the Gundam series that took advantage of the character's bishounen looks in hopes of getting the attention of the female demographic. The story is set in AC 195, five Gundams are sent down to Earth to avenge the death of assassinated space colony leader and pacifist Heero Yuy. The five young Gundam pilots, including one who bears the name of Heero Yuy, begin a lonely war against OZ, which has plans to rule over the Earth and the space colonies. Most UC fans don't think fondly of Wing but I think it's great despite it's shortcomings. I highly recommend it. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING: ENDLESS WALTZ (1998) - OVA series and compilation movie. The OVA sequel to the hit series, Gundam Wing. AC 196, one year has passed since the climactic end of the Eve Wars. Peace has come to the Earth Sphere Unified Nation and almost all mobile suits have been destroyed. However, the Barton Foundation's Mariemaia Army rises with new mobile suits and threatens to break the fragile peace. If you love Wing then there's no reason to miss Endless Waltz. It has some great animation and brings closure to the After Colony universe. There's also a compilation movie that adds new footage and rearranged scenes. It's licensed and available in the US.
After War Universe
AFTER WAR GUNDAM X (1996) - TV series. The basis point of the After War timeline is the end of an apocalyptic war that resulted in the drop of virtually all space colonies onto Earth, devastating the planet and killing most of humanity. The series begins in AW 0015, as the Earth is just beginning to recover. The star of this series is Garrod Ran, a teenage member of Vulture, a scavenger group that patrols the wasteland for profits, which is on a mission to find and save mistreated Newtypes in the world from those who wish to take advantage of them. X is considered to be the blacksheep of the Gundam franchise and is very underrated. It was canceled after thirty-nine episodes but the ending was still satisfying. It's also the first Gundam series outside of the UC universe to use Newtypes. It's not available in the US.
Correct Century or Seireki Universe
TURN A GUNDAM (1999 - 2000) - TV series and two compilation movies. Set in Correct Century 2345, this series tells the story of a war between space colonists, calling themselves the Moonrace, who wish to colonize Earth and the Earth Militia forces, which uses the ancient Turn A Gundam to retaliate. Turn A Gundam is a dramatic departure from the franchise in many ways. Instead of being set in an era of high technology, it is set in a future that has regressed to the early 20th century. It is also the last Gundam TV series Tomino directed. Turn A is quirky and weird but it's my favorite Gundam series. It has great characters, awesome music and a well-written plot that has a lot of good politics. While it's stand-alone, you need to watch most of UC and AU shows before SEED to get the homages, easter eggs and references. It's not available in the US.
Cosmic Era Universe
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED (2002 - 2003) - TV series, one special and three compilation movies. SEED's first half is a modern remake of the original MSG while the second half took an original turn. The series begins with a war between Earth and the colonies that is similar to the One Year War of the original Gundam series. On one side is the Earth Alliance and the other is ZAFT. Mankind has evolved into new forms through genetic engineering, with normal humans known as Naturals and the genetically altered humans known as Coordinators. Once again, a young civilian who dislikes war finds himself being a Gundam pilot and this time the hero is a Coordinator named Kira Yamato. SEED is a decent show. It has it's flaws but it also has it's moments. It's a bit melodramatic but it's quite entertaining. The music is awesome and the OST is worth the purchase alone. Oh and avoid the compilation movies. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED DESTINY (2004 - 2005) - TV series, one special and four compilation movies. The story focuses on Shinn Asuka, a teenage Coordinator who joined ZAFT after his family was killed during the invasion of Orb during SEED. The fragile peace is broken once again when three Earth Alliance operatives steal three of ZAFT's newest Gundams. Shinn and the crew of the battleship Minerva are sent to retrieve the stolen Gundams. However, the Gundamjack is soon overshadowed by a new tragedy that plunges the world into another war between Natural and Coordinator. Oh boy...Gundam SEED Destiny, the sequel to Gundam SEED. All I can say is that this show is a mess. It's not the worse Gundam show ever, that's reserved for G-Savior. If you take everything that's wrong from SEED, multiply it by ten, then you get Destiny. Of course, I don't have anything against those who like the show. Check the series the out and see for yourself. If there's any consolation, the battle scenes are quite an eye-candy if you can look past the recycled animation. The compilation movies do somehow improve Destiny but it's not enough. It's licensed and available in the US.
GUNDAM SEED CE 73: STARGAZER (2006) - ONA series. Sidestory to Destiny, Stargazer shifts it's focus to a new set of characters. Taking place immediately after the Break the World incident, Stargazer stars Sven Cal Payang, a male Natural, who is a member of the Phantom Pain special forces and pilots the GAT-X105E Strike Noir. It also features Selene McGriff, a female Coordinator and researcher of the Stargazer Project for the Deep Space Survey and Development Organization or DSSD. Unlike the main Destiny anime, Stargazer features better characters and a dark storyline reminiscent of UC. It has better character development even though each episode is only like fifteen minutes. While SEED babbles on about why war is bad, Stargazer actually shows it without any sugarcoating. It's quite a shame when the sidestories are much better than the main anime. It's not available in the US.
AD or Anno Domini Universe
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM 00 (2007 - 2009) - TV series and three compilation movies. Set in 2307 AD, the world is divided between three great superpowers and a delicate balance of power is maintained with the orbital elevators that each superpower possesses. War is still common and a private military group called Celestial Being suddenly appears to eradicate war through armed intervention. Protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei is a member of Celestial Being and pilots the Gundam Exia as one of its Gundam Meisters. 00 is the first Gundam show to be split into two seasons. I have to say Gundam 00 is pretty good. Season one started out slow but picked up the pace. Season two had an explosive opening, faltered a bit in the middle but finishes strongly. Overall, 00 was a strong series that took some chances with its characters, plot and mecha designs. It's licensed and available in the US.
MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM 00: A WAKENING OF THE TRAILBLAZER (2010) - Movie. I don't have anything to say about the Gundam 00 movie since it hasn't been released yet but everything looks good so far. Most of the cast will return along with some new ones. The movie will finally conclude the Anno Domini universe.
Well that's the list so far. Of course I didn't include the specials like Gundam Evolve, SD Gundam and the SEED Astrays promos. Not to mention the crapload of mangas, novels and video games. There's also the live-action movie, G-Savior, but avoid that at all cost. I just hope this thread will prove useful as a guide so you can fully enjoy Mobile Suit Gundam like I did. Oh and if I missed anything then feel free to tell.