Gundam: The Origin


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2008
So, as practice for my burgeoning studies in the Japanese language, I've been working my way through this series. I know Viz released a fraction of it in English, but there are just these gorgeous editions that you can only get in Japan, so I'm reading those.

Has anybody else read this (frankly phenomenal) retread of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series? Is anybody else a hardcore Gundam fan?
I always wanted to get into the Gundam franchise but I never knew where to begin.
You can begin anywhere really. Each series is set in it's own little universe or timeline. Gundam Wing was my starting point and it still holds up today. Gundam 00 is similar in tone but a bit more on the fantastical side and the pilots suck at piloting. I swear they hit the verge of death in almost every major battle. and they're suits always get murdered. You can't go wrong with Mobile Suit Gundam, unless you can't stand old animation styles. Recycled clips are not fun to watch. Same with Zeta and Double Z Gundam which, both series following the original series, are very fun with interesting protagonists in Kamille Bidan and Judau. I hate Judau gundam though. Fatboy gundam. If you want the all out fantastical MMA stylings of mech's, try G Gundam.
The current OVA series, Gundam Unicorn is pretty amazing too. It's one of those weird animes that is getting a simultaneous US/Japan release. It' s a true heir to MS Gundam/Gundam Z/Gundam ZZ.

Personally, I'm more of a fan of the non-UC (Universal Century) stuff like Gundam Wing and 00. I have to agree with JAga, the pilots in 00 suck sooooo hard. At the end of every episode one of them is either on the verge of death, dead or captured.

@ProjX: <- there's a great resource for Gundam anime. They fansubbed most of the series.
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All the previous suggestions are good (though Unicorn, while phenomenal, should probably be viewed with a prior knowledge to the UC setting). A good starting point would be one of the good "gateway series", particularly Gundam Wing or Gundam SEED. Both are standalone but do their best to encapsulate the "spirit" of Gundam. I have my issues with both, especially SEED, but they're a decent jump-on point that can then lead to experiencing the other (better?) stuff.

As a sidenote, the best Gundam series I have ever seen is 0080: War in the Pocket. while it takes place during the original series, next to no prior knowledge is required. It's only 6 20-minute episodes, too! Add to that the fact that it's probably the most emotionally impacting, down-to-earth, and well-written entry in the franchise, and you have a short war drama that I would recommend to anybody.

But let's say you want to experience the franchise from the first series, Mobile Suit Gundam. You have a few options there.

The original series, which I actually think has stood the test of time fairly well, is readily available online, either dubbed on sites like Crunchyroll or fansubbed. There's also a movie compilation version, which cuts the whole thing down into 3 feature-length films.

There are pros and cons to both; the original series invented the genre of Real Robot, in that it was the first robot show that tried to tell a serious sci-fi story, but as most pioneer series do, it retains a few of the elements of the genre it grew out from (in this case, the fun-lovin' Super Robot genre). That plus old serial animation make it occasionally hard to take completely seriously. The movies try to fix this by using the bigger budget to produce better (and more consistent) quality animation, and by trimming out the silly stuff. However, trimming up the series to fit a movie length means that sometimes events don't flow as well, and you get less time to know the characters. I prefer the series, personally, as I find the movies themselves tend to drag a bit.

The manga that this thread is the subject of is actually shaping up to be the best version of the original story available; not only is the art phenomenal, retaining the old style of the show (it's done by the same artist) and being incredibly detailed and expressive, but it's a good balance between the series and the movie, keeping things as serious as they need to be but still taking the time to delve into characters. In fact, it adds quite a bit of backstory that is in neither (and is thus of dubious canon). The only problem is, you can only get the content of the first 6 or so volumes in English; the series has been canceled and is no longer being released by Viz. It's being scanslated, too, albeit slowly.
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So since I made this thread a good three years ago, THE ORIGIN has been licensed in English by Vertical and has had four gorgeous hardcover releases.

Has anybody picked it up? It really is a fantastic entry point into the franchise, and occasionally pretentious localization aside, it's a very very good comic book.
I wish I still had my copies of the original Gundam novels. They were pretty good, and different enough from the TV/Movies of the original series to be enjoyable in their own right.
I have the novels kicking around somewhere, but I was never a big fan - the prose is really stilted and awkward, the style is heavy with info-dump exposition (Char, the main villain, has his ENTIRE HISTORY laid out at his introduction, something that works much better as a central mystery in the anime/movie/ORIGIN version of the story), and there are all kinds of just plain weird elements (such as Amuro keeping a lock of Sayla's pubic hair as a good luck charm).

THE ORIGIN is, conversely, very similar to the TV series/movies, with a few events swapped around, better pacing, and a huge (6 volume) pre-war flashback segment about halfway through. It basically seeks to be a definitive version of the story, rather than shaking things up, and it hits a home run there. It probably helps that the guy who writes/draws it is the original character designer.
Damnit, I'm falling into a Gundam hole again thanks to this thread. I just ordered the original series off of eBay and I'm eyeing up zeta Gundam too. It was never available back when I was really into anime...
I'd snap up any DVDs while you can, what with Bandai Entertainment (the Western distribution arm) being in the hole. I actually have the original series on blu-ray, which is awesome, but has no English subtitles. The sheer wealth of extras (original pitch documents! First episode script and storyboards! Memorial albums!) makes up for the fact that any viewing session becomes a Japanese study session.

To connect things back to THE ORIGIN, the manga is also (technically) limited edition as well; there's no demand for Gundam stuff in the West, so Vertical's response there is to produce based on preorder demand. Once the surplus they make are gone, it's out of print for good. Being an English-speaking Gundam fan is loneliness.
You can now get this series in full color, for free, digitally. There's an app called ComicWalker with a bunch of manga from the publisher (Kadokawa) on it for absolutely no cost. One new 50-page chapter every month! Only three chapters in! Check it out!

And then buy the gorgeous hardcover releases, because, seriously. Genuinely good sci-fi manga, here.
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