What is the chronology of the Gundam series?
There are, roughly speaking, a zillion series under the umbrella of Mobile Suit Gundam. I personally loved Gundam Wing but I do know that it exists in an alternate timeline from the rest of the series.
What is the chronology of the Gundam series? Is there a specific order in which they are best watched? How many alternate timelines are there? Are there multiple series in these timelines?
- 9 years ago
Fortunately, many of the Gundams are easy to place in an in-universe chronological order, as the first entry in the franchise established the in-universe Universal Century (UC) calendar. Most of the shared-universe Gundams take place in the Universal Century chronolgy, and for those specific shows they always establish what year they take place in. This list is going to be a little ugly because SE doesn't support proper tables, but I'll be doing the in-universe UC year, then the year of release.
- 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam (the original series that started the franchise)
- 1989 Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
- 1996 Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
- 2004 Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War
- 2006 Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079
- 2009 Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO 2: The Gravity Front
- 2015-(ongoing) Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
- 1991 Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
- 1985 Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (some compilation movies were released in 2005)
- 2001 Gundam Neo Experience 0087: Green Divers
- 1986 Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ
- 1988 Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack
- 2010 Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn
- 1991 Mobile Suit Gundam F91
- 1993 Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
In terms of viewing order, most are pretty standalone. If you have the stomach for old-school anime, I'd recommend starting with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, as that will get you thoroughly familiar with key events in the universe. The year UC0079 is a busy time as there's a wide-spread war taking place, which is why so many series take place roughly simultaneously then. After watching the original, I'd recommend you read quick summaries of the other series, and try to watch ones that interest you. Char's Counterattack is a notable non-standalone story that directly comes from the people and events of the original Mobile Suit Gundam.
The rest of the series below take place in different universes than the above titles. Many are one-off series/OVAs. These are in no particular order. The header is the calendar system the series takes place in, which is another way the makers of Gundam make it clear these are in different universes.
(Yes, these take place in our real-world timeline)
- 2010 Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G (I don't think this one is sharing much with the rest in this list, as it takes place 'in the present' in a world where Gundam is a fictional franchise)
- 2007 Mobile Suit Gundam 00
- 2010 Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer
- 1995 Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
- 1997 Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz
- AG115, AG140
- 2011-(ongoing) Mobile Suit Gundam AGE
- 1996 After War Gundam X
- 1999 ∀ Gundam (pronounced Turn-A Gundam)
Gundam SEED was a recent extremely popular Gundam series. It pulls elements from past Gundams and shares some similarities as a result. I'd recommend this as an alternative to watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam.
- 2002 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
- 2004 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
- 2006 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer
- 1994 Mobile Fighter G Gundam
An alternative way to get into Gundam is to watch a few of these side universe shows. They share thematic similarities with the UC Gundams, but don't have as much history due to the lack of a shared continuity.
This list is not exhaustive, there are other series, and of course new Gundam works are still being produced. Most of this information I gathered from this Wikipedia list which also has links to plot summaries and more information on all these and more.
Great answer. I often recommend people to start with The 08th MS Team. It's not too long (11 episodes) and gives a good first impression of the UC universe.
@Jin Yeah, that one is a personal favorite.
I took your advice and gave 08th a watch :) Really great! I would reccomend it to anyone who wants a more realistic portrayal of mobile suits and squad relationships.
Small note: Turn-A is widely espoused as tying together *all* the timelines that existed at the time it was produced. It is almost certainly a distant U.C. future series, given the historical records we see. Also, I think most series in U.C. tend to be much harder to watch out of chronological order, with the exception of Victory. Certainly, you're going to have a hard time understanding what in the heck is going on if you don't have some understanding of the history for Unicorn and before.
Some fans would argue that the release of the Z Gundam movie trilogy made ZZ Gundam and maybe also Char's Counterattack non-canon. Though I guess Bandai might claim they were just "offering another take" as well as looking for some commercial gains of course. Anyways Char's Counterattack seems to be canon no matter what, though the same cannot be said for ZZ, which was a bit controversial at the time of its release as well.