Gundam (Japanese: ガンダム Hepburn: Gandamu), also known as the Gundam Series (ガンダムシリーズ Gandamu Shirīzu), is a science fiction media franchise created by Sunrise that features giant robots (mecha) called mobile suits bearing the name Gundam. It began on April 7, 1979 as Mobile Suit Gundam, a TV series that defined the real robot or "mecha" anime genre by featuring giant robots in a militaristic setting. The popularity of the series and its merchandise spawned a franchise that includes television series, OVAs, films, manga, novels and video games.
In 2014 the Gundam franchise generated ¥80 billion per year, ¥18.4 billion of which was retail sales of toys and hobby items. Gunpla (plastic Gundam models) make up 90 percent of the Japanese character plastic-model market. Academics in Japan have viewed the series as inspiration; in 2008, the virtual Gundam Academy was planned as the first academic institution based on an animated TV series.
Mobile Suit Gundam was developed by animator Yoshiyuki Tomino and a changing group of Sunrise creators with the collective pseudonym of Hajime Yatate. The series was originally entitled Freedom Fighter Gunboy (or Gunboy) for the robot's gun, with boys the primary target demographic. Early production had a number of references to freedom: the White Base was originally "Freedom's Fortress", the Core Fighter was the "Freedom Wing" and the Gunperry was the "Freedom Cruiser". The Yatate team combined the English word "gun" with the last syllable of the word "freedom" to form the portmanteau Gundom. Tomino changed it to Gundam, suggesting a unit wielding a gun powerful enough to hold back enemies like a hydroelectric dam holding back water. In keeping with the concept, Gundam are depicted as prototypes or limited-production, with higher capabilities than mass-produced units.
Most Gundam are large, bipedal, humanoid vehicles controlled from a cockpit by a human pilot. The "mobile suits" have a cockpit in their "torsos", with cameras built into their "heads" to transmit images to a cockpit.
Mobile Suit Gundam reportedly pioneered the real robot subgenre of mecha anime. Unlike its super robot cousins, Mobile Suit Gundam attempted realism in its robot design and weaponry by running out of energy and ammunition or malfunctioning. Its technology is derived from actual science (such as Lagrange points and the O'Neill cylinder in space) or feasible technology requiring only a few fictional elements to function (such as Minovsky Physics).
Most of the Gundam animation (including the earliest series) is set in what is known as the Universal Century (UC) calendar era, with later series set in alternate calendars or timelines. Although many new Gundam stories are told in their parallel universe with independent timelines (giving them greater creative freedom), the original UC storyline continues to be popular. It established the series, setting the standard for hard science fiction in anime; the original Gundam marked the maturing of the giant-robot genre. Nostalgia for the oldest Gundam shows (and its status as a pop-culture icon in Japan) is a factor in its continuing success.
SD Gundam, a spinoff of Gundam which began during the mid-1980s, emphasizes comedy and adventure. Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G and Gundam Build Fighters feature contemporary settings and use Gunpla as plot elements.
Except for Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (which follows the current calendar era), all mainstream Gundam series are set in a fictional era which begins after a drastic event or chain of events. The scenario commonly changes as the story progresses between Earth, space, space colonies and in some cases the Moon and terraformed planets.
|Mobile Suit Gundam||TV series||1979–1980|
|Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam||TV series||1985–1986|
|Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ||TV series||1986–1987|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack||Movie||1988|
|Mobile Suit SD Gundam||Movies||1988, 1989, 1991, 1993|
|Compilation TV series||1993|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket||OVA||1989|
|Mobile Suit Gundam F91||Movie||1991|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory||OVA||1991–1992|
|Mobile Suit Victory Gundam||TV series||1993–1994|
|Mobile Fighter G Gundam||TV series||1994–1995|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Wing||TV series||1995–1996|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team||OVA||1996–1999|
|After War Gundam X||TV series||1996|
|Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz||OVA||1997|
|Turn A Gundam||TV series||1999–2000|
|Gundam Neo Experience 0087: Green Diver||Specialty format movie||2001|
|Gundam Evolve||Animated shorts||2001–2005|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED||TV series||2002–2003|
|Superior Defender Gundam Force||TV series||2003–2004|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War||OVA||2004|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny||TV series||2004–2005|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079||OVA||2006|
|Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer||ONA||2006|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 00||TV series||2007–2008|
|Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: Gravity Front||OVA||2009|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn||OVA||2010–2014|
|Compilation TV series||2016|
|SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors||Movie||2010|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer||Movie||2010|
|Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G||OVA||2010|
|Mobile Suit Gundam AGE||TV Series||2011–2012|
|Gundam Build Fighters||TV series||2013–2014|
|Mobile Suit Gundam-san||TV series||2014|
|Gundam Reconguista in G||TV series||2014–2015|
|Gundam Build Fighters Try||TV series||2014–2015|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin||OVA||2015–present|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans||TV series||2015–2017|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt||ONA||2015–2017|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Twilight AXIS||ONA||2017|
|Gundam Build Fighters: Battlogue||ONA||2017|
|Gundam Build Fighters: GM's Counterattack||ONA||2017|
|Gundam Build Divers||Prologue ONA||2018|
Gundam has spawned over 80 video games for arcade, computer and console platforms, some with characters not found in other Gundam media. Some of the games, in turn inspired spinoff novels and manga. Most Gundam video games, except Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, were released only in Japan.
Hundreds of Gundam models, primarily made of plastic but sometimes with resin and metal detail parts, have been released. They range in quality from children's toy kits to hobbyist and museum-grade models, and most are in 1:35, 1:48, 1:60, 1:100 or 1:144 scale. Promotional 1:6 or 1:12 scale models are supplied to retailers and are not commercially available. For Gundam's 30th anniversary, a full-size RX-78-2 Gundam model was constructed and displayed at Gundam Front Tokyo, in the Odaiba district; it was taken down on 5 March 2017. A new statue of the Unicorn Gundam was erected at the same location, now renamed The Gundam Base Tokyo.
Bandai, Gundam's primary licensee, produces a variety of products. Other companies produce unofficial merchandise, such as toys, models and T-shirts. Products include Mobile Suit In Action (MSiA) action figures and Gundam model kits in several scales and design complexities. Each series generally has its own set of products, MSiA and model lines such as Master Grade and High Grade Universal Century may extend across series. The most popular action-figure line has been the Gundam Fix series, which includes the mecha in the animated series, manga and novels and accessories to create an updated version. In addition to Master Grade and High Grade Gundams, Bandai released a 30th-anniversary series of Gundam models in 2010. The Real Grade (RG) Gundam series combined the Master Grade's detailed inner structure with additional colour separation, making the 1:144-scale series complex in design and compact in size. After the introduction of the RG Gundam series, Bandai released the Metal Build series in March 2011 (beginning with the 00 Gundam).
Bandai maintains several websites to promote Gundam projects; Gundam Perfect Web is the official Japanese site. Its English-language counterpart is the US-maintained Gundam Official. In 2005, the website hosted the Gundam Official User Forum. The forum was based on the existing fan forum, Gundam Watch, using many of its staff. When the project was retired, Gundam Watch was reborn and became Gundam Evolution.
A number of series-specific websites have been created, often available for a limited time (usually to promote a DVD release). Common content includes character and mecha listings, lists of related merchandise and pay-for-download content. Special pages are frequent, often presenting downloadable wallpaper or a small game. The Superior Defender Gundam Force website has a game in which players take the role of villain Commander Sazabi, attempting to blast his subordinate with weapons.
Since 1980, Gundam has appeared in the following countries and regions:
Australia & New Zealand
Gundam is a Japanese cultural icon; it is a ¥50-billion-annual business of Bandai Namco, peaking at ¥54.5 billion in 2006. Stamps were issued, an Agriculture Ministry employee was reprimanded for contributing to the Japanese Gundam-related pages, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces code-named its developing advance personal-combat system Gundam.
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