Franchise / Gundam
The face that launched a thousand spinoffs.

"It's a Gundam!!"
— The Last Words of many a Mook in the franchise, as demonstrated here.

Gundam is a long running series of Humongous Mecha Anime shows started by Yoshiyuki Tomino in 1979, Trope Maker for the Real Robot genre, and basically the Japanese equivalent of Star Trek. Gundam is a veritable merchandising empire, encompassing manga, OVAs, video games, plastic models, toys, theme park rides and a racing team sponsorship. Its works include:


Related Works

Generally, Gundam works are War Is Hell stories, detailing humans who remained on Earth and those who moved out to space colonies orbiting the planet starting World War Whatever over rights, resources, and other decidedly real world issues. At some point after the war's start, an Ordinary High-School Student ends up Falling into the Cockpit of the newest Gundam when The Empire attacks their hometown. The teenager soon proves themselves to be an Ace Pilot, and has to help The Federation defeat The Empire. Along the way, the teen suffers untold mental trauma, as friends, family members, and various other people they care about become casualties of the ongoing conflict. Mobile Suits are thus portrayed as mass-produced machines of war similar to planes or tanks. There's also generally a rival who wears a mask and pilots a red Humongous Mecha. And the hero will receive a Mid-Season Upgrade.

While works continue to be set in the "Universal Century" verse established in Mobile Suit Gundam, the franchise also has over a dozen Alternate Continuities that allow the franchise to delve into other genres, such as Super Robot fighting tournaments, To Be a Master modeling competitions, and Saving the World Heroic Fantasy.

Lore-wise, the Gundam series (particularly the original Universal Century timeline) are notable for the remarkably consistent fictional technology; in UC, this is based on the original Minovsky Particle. Also notable is the presence of Newtypes, who are essentially psychics akin to "Jedi in giant robots". Newtypes, or some Suspiciously Similar Substitute, appear in most Gundam shows.

Kunio Okawara created many of the iconic Humongous Mecha designs, including the RX-78 Gundam. However, the franchise has also had mecha designs by Hajime Katoki, Kazumi Fujita, Junya Ishigaki, Mamoru Nagano, Syd Mead and several others.

The Gundam franchise is the Trope Namer for:

The Gundam franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Power Creep, Power Seep: In many video game crossovers, established mobile suit performance is pretty much thrown out the window. In fact, the RX-78 from the original series is usually not just keeping up with other units, but a powerful one due to Popularity Power.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: A minor staple in the franchise. If a mobile suit has Attack Drones, expect them to do this once in a while.
  • Psychic Children: Pretty much every Gundam universe, with the exceptions of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Turn A Gundam, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans prominently feature many youngsters with psychic powers of one kind or another, most of whom end up getting turned into as Child Soldiers because of them.
  • Psychic Powers: Newtypes and their various Expies from most of the franchise's timelines.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Pretty much a given in the Universal Century. The Earth Federation usually wins in the end, but it's badly ravaged in such a way that will set it up for the next crisis.
  • Real Robot: It invented the genre, though it's always been stuck somewhere between the Real Robot and Super Robot styles.
  • Recurring Element: Haro.
  • Red Baron: It's usually the enemy Ace Pilots that get awesome nicknames (starting with Char as the Red Comet), but occasionally allies do as well. Oddly, the main character almost never gets this treatment. In fact, out of all the series the franchise has spawned, only two main characters have titles in their respective series: UC's Amuro Ray, known to many as "The White Devil" (actually the moniker for his Gundam which gets attributed to him as well) and FC's Domon Kasshu, known to the world as "The King of Hearts."
  • The Remnant: Exaggerated in the Universal Century continuity. The Principality of Zeon is defeated in the One Year War, but the various Neo Zeon factions continue to be the standard villain for most of the later UC series, with their last holdouts only falling in 0123; Unicorn's adversaries get bonus points for being The Remnant of another Remnant.
  • Retcon: Between all the Alternate Continuity versions and OVAs, they're inevitable. They're usually not too bad, but exceptions (such as Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory's Colony Drop) do occur.
  • Ringworld Planet: Helped popularize the "O'Neill cylinder" design. Ring-world shaped colonies exists in Gundam Wing and in the in the case of Universal Century, in the beginning of Gundam Unicorn.
  • Sensor Suspense: Tends to do this by having stuff suddenly appear immediately before they come under attack. The Bridge Bunnies suddenly yelling "Heat source detected!" out of the blue usually means bad things are about to happen.
  • Series Franchise
  • Series Mascot: Aside from the Gundams themselves, there are the Haros.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Most tend to hover between "Know Your Place, Woman!" and "Men are More Equal" if not "Almost Perfect Equality." A recent trend of the franchise leaned towards the former.
  • So Last Season: The Mid-Series Upgrade has been a staple since Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and even Mobile Suit Gundam had a limited version of it.
  • Space Opera: Notable case for its (usual) lack of aliens. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (the OVA version) tends to invoke this trope the most, especially with regards to its Opening theme.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Whoo boy. Too many examples to list, but common to a greater or lesser extent in basically every series. The most infamous examples are probably the Principality (Duchy/Archduchy/Grand Duchy) of Zeon (Zion/Jion) and Mu (Muu/Mwu — though thankfully no Moo) la (ra) Flaga (Fllaga/Fraga). And then there is Quattro Bajeena, whose name has on at least one occasion been translated as "Quattro Vagina", due to the katakana used in his name. (And given Jamitov "Hyman"note , it's very possible it is... uh, meant to, be spelled with a "V"...)
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The entire franchise in general (even the Lighter and Softer entries to a degree) is arguably an antithesis of what Gene Roddenberry's work in Star Trek represented. If there are strange new worlds to see in the Universal Century for instance, expect them to have a lot of the same problems we deal with on Earth. And expect humanity to bring its conflicts, bloodshed and hubris to the stars, as well as with all that's good in mankind.
  • Spiritual Successor: Happens fairly often with AU series. To wit:
    • Wing to G (Multinational Team in five garish, Super Robot-style Gundams), and the last story arc to Char's Counterattack (Char Clone tries to blow up the Earth).
    • X to the original series, sort of, being an alternate Bad Future to the One Year War.
    • Turn A to X (post-apocalyptic stories set mostly in America and on the Moon whose title Gundams are equippedd with terrifyingly powerful and exotic weapons).
    • SEED to the original Gundam (first major Earth/Colonies war) and Destiny to Zeta (a follow up series featuring a new cast, but where characters for the original show are still around and active).
    • 00 Season 1 to Wing and Season 2 to Zeta.
    • AGE to the entire Universal Century from the original through to Crossbone.
    • Gundam Build Fighters to early G (Gundam vs Gundam Fighting Series), and to the Gunpla Builders OVA series, which itself is to an obscure manga called Plamo Kyo Shiro.
    • Reconguista in G is this to Turn-A due to the setting, the director, being set after the Universal Century, and the Gundams being non-standard in design (the Turn-A's V-fin serves as a mustache, those of the G-Self are swept forward).
    • Iron Blooded Orphans is a send-up to X, Wing, and 00, with the violence and deconstruction of the genre taken Up to Eleven.
  • Standard Sci-Fi History:
    • Many series features Stage 1: Exploration and Colonization of Space. And then jump right into Stage 2: World War changing the world.
    • The Universal Century subverts the standard progression. The rather idealistic founders of The Federation definitely thought they would bypass Stage 2 into something akin to Star Trek. Instead, the timeline is marked by multiple Stage 2 scenarios that by the time Victory takes place, it's just barely functional.
  • Stealth Pun: Big Name Fan Mark Simmons observed that SNRI, the rival to Anaheim Electronics, was created shortly after Sunrise bought the rights to Gundam.
  • Stock Footage: And plenty of it. More of a problem for some series than others (the CE timeline was particularly infamous for indulging in it), and generally less of an issues in the movies and OVAs. Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Turn A Gundam, and Gundam 00 are also notable for largely avoiding it. There are some scenes reused (as in, you could count them on one hand), but much of the time it's a two-second clip that's only reused once, or it's just a split-second explosion to change scenes.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Downplayed. Every series has female pilots, but they're almost always outnumbered by male ones, and (with the exception of the manga Ecole Du Ciel), they're never the main character. Well, it is Shōnen, after all...
  • Super Prototype: Just about anything with the word "Gundam" in its name, and a lot without it.
  • Superweapon Surprise: In the UC timeline, and the CE that mirrors it, mobile suits are these, with the subversion that they're used to attack instead of defend. The first Gundams in both universes are this again, in that they're Bigger Stick mobile suits that catch the other side by surprise too! More typical examples also appear in most timelines, as well.
  • Sword Fight: Only with Humongous Mecha and Laser Blades!
  • Telepathic Spacemen: Newtypes from the Universal Century and Innovators from Anno Domini.
  • Transforming Mecha: Varies between series, with some series chock-full of such mecha, and others devoid of them. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam springs to mind as the Gundam series with the most Transforming Mecha, which includes the title mech.
  • Translation Convention: In Japan, the Army and Navy use the exact same ranking system, which has caused a good deal of confusion over what to use in the US dubs — for example, is Kou Uraki an Ensign or 2nd Lieutenant? Typically, this is handled by treating the Space Forces as a Navy, and the rare few series that focus on ground combat forces (like Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team) use Army ranks.
  • United Space of America: Given its generally Western aesthetic and at times American norms, the Earth Federation nominally tries to be this on paper. It definitely doesn't apply for Spacenoids however, given their general status as second-class citizens and their nigh-perpetual frustration.
  • Unstoppable Rage: In the Universal Century, Newtypes' psychic abilities are boosted by strong emotions, and an angry Newtype pilot is pretty much the scariest adversary you could ever hope (not) to face.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Earth Federation during the Late Universal Century. It's still the central power of the solar system, and even manages to expand a bit and briefly annex Jupiter, but it's mired in economic depression, red tape and civil war, and by the time of Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, it's such a mess that only a civilian militia is left to defend the Earth.
  • Villainous Valour: It's not uncommon to see highly courageous behaviour from Gundam adversaries, whether ordinary mooks or major villains.
  • War Is Hell: A recurring theme.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: The most recurring theme in the series, and the one that generates most conflict overall.
  • Warrior Therapist: The Rival tends to be one, resulting in philosophical debates during running mecha battles.
  • Wave Motion Gun: There's always at least one, whether mounted on a suit, a ship, or a space station.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: In the Universal Century, Neo Zeon's default answer to any sufficiently serious problem is 'ram Axis into it'. Sometimes, 'it' even extends to 'other people from Neo Zeon'.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most of the antagonists of a series are usually — or at least can be argued to be — this.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Most cyber newtypes and their alternate universe expies are not known for rationality or mental stability.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: The One Year War was both a Pyrrhic Victory and this. The Federation took one year to defeat Zeon, but between spacenoid agitation, the growth of a tyrannical State Sec, and a failure to properly suppress the various remnants of Zeon, the aftershocks lasted for a total of twenty years before the Earth Federation finally regained full control of the Earth Sphere.