Best Anime Series To Start With
Anyone who’s a fan of mecha anime would have heard of Gundam, & anyone who’s never watched a Gundam series could certainly feel overwhelmed with the number of series they could watch & especially when they realize some of them take place in various timelines – including the upcoming Gundam: The Witch From Mercury. To those looking for the “definitive” Gundam experience, choosing the best Gundam series to start with can be quite difficult.
Thankfully, fans new to Gundam can actually look at a few l&mark series that can become their perfect gateway to the show & its many tropes. Not only that, but certain entries in the franchise can introduce them to various activities within the franchise, such as collecting Gunpla toys or even exploring its more popular sub-franchises.
Updated on 16 November 2022 by Rhenn Taguiam: WithGundam: The Witch From Mercury introducing more modern takes on the themes of political intrigue, emerging tech, & revenge, fans are treated to a rather intense tale of suspense when Mercurian Suletta Mercury becomes embroiled in a renewed conflict between Earthians & space-settling Spaceians after she discovers Gundam Aerial, a Mobile Suit developed with forbidden GUND technology.
Fans of the Gundam series who feel overwhelmed with this current plot or want to start the Gundam series, in general, might want to try checking out a previous Gundam anime for an evolving look at the series’ characters & themes, including a series about protecting the Earth from extraterrestrial threats, as well as a series surrounding the origins of iconic character Char Aznable.
15/15 Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (2015)
Compared to other timelines in Gundam history, the Universal Century is easily the most exp&ed upon due to its nature as the setting of the original Gundam anime. However, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt strikes out as an anime inside the Universal Century timeline due to its cast that is nowhere near Newtype characters Amuro Ray & Char Aznable’s circles.
While Thunderbolt occurs within the context of the One Year War in the original Gundam series, this particular anime isn’t necessarily a story set in stone in the timeline. Regardless, the anime takes place in a smaller skirmish in the Thunderbolt Sector, where the Moore Brotherhood of the Earth Federation & the Living Dead Division of the Principality of Zeon engage in a fierce tug-of-war. Fans new to the franchise may want to try Thunderbolt in particular due to its focused nature, especially when Federation troop Io Fleming faces off against Daryl Lorenz, the best sniper among Zeon’s forces. The fierce rivalry between the two & how it fits beautifully within the context of the Thunderbolt conflict is a great demonstration of rivalry as a notable theme within the Gundam franchise as a whole.
14/15 Turn A Gundam (1999)
Mecha fans looking for a unique take on the Gundam series may want to consider giving Turn A Gundam a shot. While Turn A Gundam features the more visually-unique Turn A Gundam, it’s quite interesting to see how its different appearance comes from something in its lore. Its story is set in the Correct Century, a play on the real world’s “Common Era,” where past cataclysms have reduced Earth’s population to a limited steam-reliant society, whereas Moon settlers such as the Moonrace observe the planet within technologically-advanced settlements.
Things become heated when Loran Cehack, a young Moonrace, is suddenly dragged into a conflict with the Moonrace, who are now prepared to invade the peaceful Earthrace. The latter would’ve lost immediately had it not for Loran discovering that an ancient statue called the White Doll turns out to be an ancient Gundam, the Turn A Gundam.
13/15 Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (1993)
Perhaps considered as one of the final Gundam series to be set in the Universal Century, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam takes place after Mobile Suit Gundam F91, which in itself takes place decades after Char’s Counterattack. When the Earth Federation has started the construction of new space colonies to accommodate a growing population, the Crossbone Vanguard wants to establish an extraterrestrial empire.
When the F91 Gundam successfully defends Earth from this threat, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam will, this time, have the Victory Gundam protect the planet once more from the extraterrestrial Zanscare Empire. Compared to more stricter timelines like the Correct Century, this “far-future” take on an existing timeline can help alleviate confusion on the part of viewers.
12/15 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (2015)
Fans interested in a more nuanced take ionone of the most popular characters in the entire Gundam franchise would be Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, this time around exploring the life of siblings Casval Rem Deikun & Artesia – whom fans would know as Char Aznable & Sayla Mass, respectively. As the name implies, The Origin explores the brewing conflict between the Earth Federation & the Principality of Zeon, & all the while, the famed warship White Base was trying to bring the game-changing RX-78-02 Gundam to Jaburo, where Mobile Suit Gundam begins.
Although this story makes slight changes to the deeper lore of Mobile Suit Gundam, the story of The Origin seems a decent way of elaborating the origins of the famed Char Aznable identity. This is courtesy of The Origin elaborating on the more political elements of the main Mobile Suit Gundam story, ranging from the downfall of the Zeon Zum Deikun & the subsequent rise of the Zabi family & how these events would have Casval adopt the masked persona.
11/15 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury (2022)
What better way to help someone new to the Gundam franchise than with the ongoing series? This comes in the form of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mecrury. Set in the new Ad Stella timeline, a ban on the development of Gundam & technologically-advanced GUND-based tech resulted in the destruction of a research facility, with an MS pilot & her daughter Ericht Samaya being the only survivors.
Years later, tensions between the existing space-faring Spaceians & earth-based Earthians have escalated much further. Ericht, now known as Suletta Mercury, finds herself embroiled in years-old turmoil when she discovers Gundam Aerial, a Mobile Suit built with the same previously-forbidden GUND tech. Fans looking for an extremely fresh & modern take would want to start with Mercury, especially since the series tackles relatable themes such as emerging tech combined with Gundam staples such as political corruption & revenge.
10/15 Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)
Fans who want to “truly” start their Gundam journey should probably start at the very beginning with the 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series. This depicts the ongoing war between the losing Earth Federation & the dominating space colonies of the Principality of Zeon, where the Earth Federation’s prototype RX-78 Gundam starts turning the tides of war.
Despite its age, Mobile Suit Gundam definitely sets the bar when it comes to all Gundam series after it. This anime sets the stage for numerous tropes & traditions in the series, such as a rivalry between the protagonist & a masked antagonist (in this case, Amuro Ray & Char Aznable), the grayscale nature of morality, & even the horrors of war – where no one side actually wins.
9/15 Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994)
While the Universal Century is arguably the most extensive timeline in the Gundam series, other series do highlight unique alternate histories to host their Gundam narratives. First among these is Mobile Fighter G Gundam, taking place in the Future Century timeline where a wartorn Earth has become the setting of “Gundam Fight,” a tournament that takes place every four years between nations to settle their political conflicts. Each nation has a pilot using a Gundam on their behalf, tasked to battle each other until only one survivor is left.
The anime specifically stars Domon Kasshu, Neo Japan’s representative & pilot of the Shining Gundam during the tournament. While Domon is tasked to win the tournament, his true objective is to find his older brother, whom others believe have stolen the enigmatic Devil Gundam. Newcomers to the franchise looking for a series that focuses more on fights than plot would like Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
8/15 Gundam Build Fighters, Fighters Try (2013, 2014)
Toy lovers unfamiliar with Gundam would have likely encountered Gunpla in the occasional trip to the mall, with these model kits helping fans “recreate” their favorite Gundam mecha. While Gunpla maintains its popularity since its 1980s boom, Gundam Build Fighters & Fighters Try fulfill a life-long fantasy of fans: have those mecha fight each other!
In the simple premise of the two anime, a futuristic Earth would hold Gunpla Battles that allowed customized Gunpla to participate in virtual battles. Both series would have protagonists aspire to become Gunpla Battle World Champions, with the meek Sei & mysterious Reiji competing in the first series & martial artist Sekai joining friends Yuuma & Fumina in the sequel. Fans not looking for an overcomplicated & serious introduction to Gundam will definitely feel safe with these series.
7/15 Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995)
Newcomers to the series from the United States may also want to start with the first Gundam anime that aired in the country, that being Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Itself being advertised as introducing a “new generation” of Gundam, this is the first series to ever feature a group of teenagers piloting a group of Gundam against a seemingly-impossible foe, in the form of the Organization of the Zodiac. It’s also the first series to approach the franchise with bishounen (Dazzling youth) design, which definitely cements its “teenage angst” appeal.
Aside from its compelling plot that would see five teenagers with separate objectives slowly being united for a cause, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing introduces a more action-packed take on the franchise, especially since it stars five Gundam with different designs & respective appeals.
6/15 Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, SEED Destiny (2002, 2004)
Conceived by director & long-time Gundam fan Mitsuo Fukuda (Future GPX Cyber Formula), Mobile Suit Gundam SEED & its sequel SEED Destiny became the first Gundam series to ever grace the 21st Century. And Fukuda’s fascination with Gundam definitely explains how Gundam SEED has a plot similar to the original series, this time with Kira Yamato of the genetically-improved Coordinators become entangled in a war between two races – the Coordinators & the Naturals – as he pilots the experimental Strike Gundam.
Despite its rather dragging introductory arc, Gundam SEED & SEED Destiny can become the perfect start for fans looking for a “fresher” Gundam experience. Kira being dragged into the Coordinator-Natural War is a great way to introduce readers to the mature themes of war, death, destruction, & terror on top of the action that Gundam is known for.
5/15 Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (2007)
Newcomers to Gundam looking for yet another “fresh” take on the franchise without the overly complicated timelines would take delight in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, essentially considered a “spiritual successor” to Gundam Wing in terms of concept. At its core, Gundam 00 begins as a fourth faction disrupts the power struggle between three groups currently dominating the solar power scene. Known only as Celestial Being, the group promises armed intervention to any hostile political power in an effort to “end war.”
At the core of Celestial Being are the awesome Gundam, machines that can easily overwhelm current Earth machines with overwhelming power, which use a mysterious power source & are piloted by teenagers known only as Meisters. The self-contained nature of Gundam 00 & its unique take on its premise makes it a must-watch for any prospective fan.
4/15 Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans (2015)
Newcomers to Gundam looking for a more mature entry point to the series would want to give Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans a shot. The series explores the aftermath of something known only as the Calamity War, where tensions are still fresh between the previously-warring Earth Sphere & Mars Sphere, while the military organization Gjallarhorn maintains order across the space colonies.
The “Orphans” in question are Mikazuki Augus & his friend Orga Itsuka, young boys employed by a security firm that eventually start a “revolt” against the adults that have been oppressing them. After creating their own paramilitary organization known as Tekkadan, Mikazuki begins piloting the mysterious Gundam Barbatos & shifts the tides between nations through their presence.
3/15 Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1986)
Taking place after the One Year War depicted in Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam will see the Titans counter-insurgency force of the Earth Federation Start hunting down Zeon remnants through more brutal methods. This resulted in the creation of resistance groups such as the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) to stop them, with protagonist Kamille Bidan eventually joining their ranks & piloting the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II & the MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam.
While some fans consider Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam as perhaps the “best” Gundam series of all time, its story unfolding within the backdrop of the first series’ Universal Century timeline might make it difficult for fans to appreciate its initial setting. However, aside from Zeta Gundam showing the previously-good Earth Federation in a different light, the anime certainly highlights the darker aspects of war – something not always shown in a Gundam series.
2/15 Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (2016)
Yet another marvel of a Gundam series taking place in the Universal Century timeline, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn is a great place for Gundam newcomers to start a self-contained series that doesn’t stray away from core Gundam tropes. The anime’s events Start in the advent of human space colonization in UC 0001, where the proclamation of the Earth Federation’s Prime Minister is interrupted by an anti-federation attack that destroys Laplace, the proclamation’s host space colony.
The anime officially starts decades later, when certain events will have the ordinary boy named Banagher Links pilot the mecha Gundam Unicorn, a machine that has ties to something simply called the “Laplace’s Box.” Compared to the war-torn premise of other Gundam series, the more political thriller nature of Gundam Unicorn can be enough to drag newcomers into watching other Universal Century anime.
1/15 Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (2011)
While most Gundam series dwell in the horrors of war between humans, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE twists the concept & instead focuses on humanity’s war against a species that has extremely advanced technology. The series takes place in the Advanced Generation timeline, where AG 101 marked the destruction of the Angel space colony by beings only known as UE or Unknown Enemy. When Flit Asuno loses his mother in a UE attack in their own space colony, his last memory of her is the AGE Device, which she said contains blueprints of the ancient messiah “Gundam” that can help them fight the UE.
The anime officially has four arcs, the first three dealing with a member of the Asuno generation piloting a respective Gundam AGE to fight the threat of the UE. It begins with Flit studying engineering while developing the first Gundam AGE, finishing it just in time to defend his colony from a UE attack.
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