Mobile Suit Gundam movies are a perfect Netflix watch for anime fans, old or new

In between news about tentpoles like Umbrella Academy and Complete Stranger Things, Netflix seized the day of its five-day “Geek Week” to drop a a lot more essential statement: the business had actually gotten the streaming rights to Mobile Fit Gundam Hathaway, the current feature-length anime in the long-running Mobile Fit Gundam franchise, and the very first of a prepared trilogy of motion pictures by Shūkō Murase (Witch Hunter Robin, Gangsta). And on top of the brand-new film, the banner has actually likewise brought the very first 3 Gundam collection movies from the 1980s — Mobile Fit Gundam I, Mobile Fit Gundam II: Soldiers of Grief, Mobile Fit Gundam III: Encounters in Area — to the service for the very first time.

Mobile Fit Gundam is extensively credited with the maturation of the huge robotic anime category and for weaving a complex and unerringly human story about love, war, and the expect peace amongst the stars. And for over 40 years, the franchise has actually represented a cultural phenomenon on par with that of Star Wars in Japan, a ubiquitous example of sci-fi seen in whatever from motion pictures and TELEVISION series to figurines and postage stamps to life-size statues efficient in moving and carrying out by themselves.

Covering over 30 various anime series divided in between 10 different connections, entering Gundam as a newbie can seem like an overwelming and impenetrable experience for beginners. While the very best suggested entry point for audiences brand-new to the series is a typical subject of dispute, many long time fans would suggest that beginners begin with the initial 1979 Mobile Fit Gundam anime, embeded in the “Universal Century” connection. The “Universal Century” universe describes all anime, motion pictures, manga, and other various media set in the past, throughout, or after the “One Year War” waged in between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. These consist of titles such as the abovementioned 1979 initial, motion pictures like 1988’s Char’s Counterattack, follow up series like Mobile Fit Zeta Gundam and Mobile Fit Gundam ZZ, minimal series OVAs (initial video animations) like War in the Pocket and The 08th MS Group, and the upcoming Mobile Fit Gundam Hathaway.

Set roughly 79 after mankind’s mass colonization of the inner planetary system aboard synthetic environments called “sides,” Mobile Fit Gundam follows the story of a stellar war battled in between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon, a militaristic consortium of colonists defending self-reliance. The initial anime worries the story of Amuro Ray, a teen who accidentally ends up being the pilot of the Gundam, the Earth Federation’s speculative weapon called when Zeon forces assault his house nest of Side 7. Running away the damage aboard a Federation spaceship, Amuro and co. are involuntarily employed as soldiers in the Earth Federation in order to make it through the fight versus Zeon’s forces.

The essence of the initial Mobile Fit Gundam’s appeal — aside from the apparent appeal of simply seeing cool huge robotics fighting — is the human drama that slow. Don’t get me incorrect: Kunio Okawara’s mecha styles are renowned and almost birthed the whole occupation of “mechanical design” in anime, however the most long-lasting strength of the series is its characters. Amuro Ray remained in lots of aspects the design template for Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Shinji Ikari; a teen thrust into amazing situations and required to pilot an amazing weapon at the request of those who just see him as a pawn in their own intricate video game. Audiences witness the steady unspooling of Amuro’s mind as the mortal toll of being tossed consistently into life-or-death encounters both solidifies his worldview and whittles away at his willpower.

Char Aznable, the series’ villain, is likewise remarkable cipher of a character. The masked military wunderkind’s powerful capabilities as a mobile match pilot and leader in service to the Principality of Zeon hide a seething and threatening vendetta versus the federal government’s judgment nobles. He’s without concern among, if not the most popular characters in the whole franchise; to the point where he’s basically been changed into a repeating archetype duplicated throughout the other series in the franchise.

For several years, the initial Mobile Fit Gundam series existed as a vital yet frustratingly unattainable entry to prospective fans in the West. The English adjustment of the series had actually initially aired on Animation Network’s Toonami block back in 2001, however was pulled prior to finishing its complete run due to a similarity in between the occasions of later episodes and the attacks on the World Trade Center. Aside from home video releases, there was no other means for Western Gundam fans or the Gundam-intrigued to watch the anime that started it all.

Amuro Ray and Char Aznable meeting face-to-face in Mobile Suit Gundam

Image: Sunrise

That changed last November, when anime publisher and streaming service Funimation announced that the original series would be available to stream via their site starting that month, followed by Crunchyroll’s announcement earlier this January that they too had actually acquired the rights to stream the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. With Netflix’s own acquisition, which includes the three compilations and the sequel Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, there’s never been an easier time to get into Gundam. Abbreviating the anime’s 43 episodes into three, roughly two-and-a-half hour films, the movie trilogy has been lauded by Gundam fans and critics alike as a cultural milestone in the history of anime and an ideal entry point for those new to the series.

While some hardcore Gundam fans may scoff at the idea of suggesting that first-time watchers experience the epic story of Amuro Ray in the form of compilation films when the original anime series (with both subtitles and an English dub!) is already available to watch on not one however two major anime streaming platforms, but there are actually several good reasons to check out the film versions on Netflix. For starters, the Gundam movie trilogy tells a more concise story while revising scenes that were rushed during the show’s initial production and adding new animation in the latter films for dramatic effect. And there’s historical significance: the Mobile Suit Gundam movies effectively resuscitated the franchise following the original anime’s premature cancellation.

According to Yoshiyuki Tomino in 2019 Japanese television documentary Making Gundam: The Inside Story, Mobile Suit Gundam was always intended to be a television series that could later be adapted into a feature film — a plan intended to replicate the success of 1977’s Space Battleship Yamato: The Movie, itself a compilation film formed out of edited footage of the original 1974 anime. Despite the series’ grandiose ambitions of weaving a stirring human drama of survival during wartime spanning multiple arcs, the show’s initial ratings neither recognized nor rewarded such ambitions. Halfway through the series’ run, Mobile Suit Gundam was canceled and cut down from its original count of 52 episodes to 39. With the anime now effectively lacking an ending, Tomino and the show’s staff were eventually able to negotiate for a final episode count of 43 episodes in order to conclude the story. Then, something miraculous happened.

The RX-78 Gundam piercing the armor of a Zaku mobile suit using its beam saber.

Image: Sunrise

The ratings success of Mobile Suit Gundam’s latter episodes, combined with the commercial success of the show’s merchandise and a growing fan base among teenagers, convinced the series’ creators that a feature film of the show was still feasible. The success of the theatrical trilogy released in between 1981 and 1982 eventually led to the production of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, a sequel set eight years after the initial.

From then on, the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise has continued to grow and expand. A new trilogy is on its way. And on top of releasing Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway in July, Netflix is set to produce a live-action Mobile Suit Gundam movie written by Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island).

The Mobile Suit Gundam films aren’t just a slapdash summation of the initial series, however essential entries in the franchise’s history and an adequately worthwhile intro for audiences seeking to experience Gundam for the very first time.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.