Just when the world was close to reviving itself after a devastating war, a deadly epidemic known as the "Etiolation Trinity" begins to emerge. Said epidemic drives Mobile Civilians mad and turns them into mindless berserkers, forcing survivors to hide themselves in fortified cities, dividing the world into three countries; Shu Area, Wei Area, and Wu Area. Three warriors Liu Bei Unicorn Gundam, Guan Yu Nu Gundam and Zhang Fei God Gundam meet each other and decide to work together to save the world.
The net anime started airing on July 26, 2019, and ended on March 25, 2021. It was directed by Takahiro Ikezoe (Sword Gai: The Animation, Show by Rock!!), and each episode originally had a schedule of releasing on "the 4th Friday of every month", before it got delayed for a year presumably to avoid any connection with the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreaking at the time. It returned on March 18, 2021, with the last two episodes airing the week after.
There's also two comic series, both released in April 2019 and available on the official website. One is titled "SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden: Soshoki" (Drawn by Luk Mo Shek and launched on April 10. Also serialized in Explorer Publishing's monthly Hong Kong magazine Lucky, and releases new chapters on "every 10th of the month" both on the website and as a Motion Comic.), while the other is "SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden: Enkotan" (Drawn by Naoto Tsushima, and launched on April 19. Releases new chapters "monthly every 3rd Friday".). Soshoki focuses on Cao Cao Wing Gundam, while Enkotan focuses on Sun Jian Gundam Astray, and Takuya Yamanaka is in charge of the story for both comics.
Followed up by SD Gundam World Heroes.
Tropes associated with SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden are:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Inverted. The anime mostly consists of cel-shaded CGI characters, but hand-drawn extras appear occasionally who use a different shading style that make them stand out from the rest.
- Adaptational Villainy: While Lyu Bu Sinanju is quite villainous in the main anime, he's a flat-out psychopath in Soshoki. This is shown best with his murder of Diao Chan Kyshatriya; while he shows no remorse in either version, the anime has him rather gently remove her Trinity Memory, while in Soshoki, he rips it out and then kicks her remains away.
- Advertised Extra: Both Ma Chao Gundam Barbatos and Zhao Yun 00 Gundam are shown alongside Liu Bei Unicorn Gundam, Zhang Fei God Gundam, and Guan Yu Nu Gundam multiple times in both the Opening and Ending Animations, even though they dont join the group in their travels. This is especially notable for Zhao Yun, as his death (Quote unquote) means hes absent for the entire show from the first episode all the way up until the end.
- A Day in the Limelight: Episode 3 of the anime focuses on Cao Cao Wing Gundam with Liu Bei only appearing at the end.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Yuan Shao Red Warrior in Soshoki. After trying to assassinate Cao Cao, he was grossly mutated by the Etiolation Trinity and caused the first outbreak in the Wei Area. After being forced to Mercy Kill him, Cao Cao commented it must've been hard for him and swearing he will find the person responsible.
- Alternate History: This tale is based off of a classic Medieval-Chinese War-Story that in turn was based off of one of the most well-known eras in Chinese history, yet some areas in the setting are more akin to modern-day cities with futurism elements.
- Alternate Universe: Romance of the Three Kingdoms already got adapted for the SD Gundam franchise with Sangokuden. However, both Sangokuden and Sangoku Soketsuden are completely separate from each other. This can be easily told by the characters, who portrayed by different mechs than in Sangokuden (For example, Liu Bei is played by the original Gundam in Sangokuden, whereas in Sangoku Soketsuden, he's played by the Unicorn Gundam).
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Happens in the second chapter of Soshoki. Cao Cao Wing Gundam and his group were given one by Lu Bu Sinanju and Zhang Liao Sazabi under orders from Yuan Shao. This battle ends with Cao Cao's first defeat and the loss of Xiahou Dun's eye.
- Darker and Edgier: While Sangokuden was dark for an SD Gundam work, Soketsuden blows it out of the water, and not just because of the Zombie Apocalypse setting.
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: The last SD Gundam Anime based off of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors ended back in 2011, eight years prior to Sangoku Soketsudens release.
- Foreshadowing: In episode 2, Zhuge Liang's planetarium not only displays the star signs of three of The Four Gods, but other planets as well. This is a major hint at the other worlds playing a big role in the next series, SD Gundam World Heroes.
- Hate Sink:
- We cannot hate the BUGs as they are just mindless zombies, so Dong Zhuo Providence Gundam serves as as a source of hatred instead. Portrayed as a Jerkass with no concern for his citizens, even withdrawing soldiers from areas affected by the Etiolation Trinity, it's no wonder that Sima Yi considered him a good scapegoat to hide his tracks, assuming his hypnosis wasn't the reason for Dong Zhuo's behavior to begin with.
- The Leo from episode 12 of Soshoki who complains about his rations. He acts very rude as he refuses to accept Xun Yu Strike Noir's justification that everyone gets the same amount by calling the children also receiving rations "brats", and starts a riot in which he shoots Xun Yu dead. Viewers will take pleasure with the implication that this Leo was among the citizens turned into BUGs when Xun Yu's death triggered Cao Cao Wing Gundam's FaceHeel Turn.
- Imagine Spot: During episode 2 of the anime, Zhang Fei tries to guess what Zhuge Liang is like, showing various scenes of him as a Mad Scientist.
- In Medias Res: The Soshoki manga is told this way. It opens up with Cao Cao Wing's attack on Yuan Shao Red Warrior before flashing back to Cao Cao's past for the next four chapters.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The initial teaser for Heroes, released before episode 8 of Soketsuden, shows Zhao Yun alive and well.
- Merchandise-Driven: Like many other Gundam series, selling model kits is where most of the revenue comes from. Characters using the Trinity Memories of others to access their powers is essentially a way for the show to encourage people to buy multiple kits to recreate the combinations from the anime.
- Mood Whiplash: A staple of Enkotan. It's common to have it be lighthearted and comedic one page, then someone gets attacked or assassinated on the next.
- Mythology Gag:
- From the little of Cao Cao's father that's seen in Soshoki, his design appears to be based on the Wing Gundam, the predecessor to the Wing Zero that Cao Cao's design is based on.
- Our heroes get the token Secret Test of Character when they have to retrieve something from a gashapon machine for Zhuge Liang Freedom Gundam, and end up with a string of junk draws when they get three Doms - which Zhuge Liang immediately accepts. While the gashapon is a nod to one of SD Gundams origins as gashapon toys, the Freedom Gundam is from the Cosmic Era continuity, which also boasts its own Black Tri-Stars team complete with three Doms, and they're all allied with Freedom pilot Kira Yamato on the side of Lacus Clyne.
- Da Qiao Gundam Artemie and Xiao Qiao GN Archer share a kit that includes parts to build one or the other. This is likely a reference to how the GN Archer is the rebuilt Gundam Artemie.
- In episode 4 of the anime, there is a flashback to when Zhuge Liang was given his feather fan-shaped Device by his teacher, Zhang Jue. The weapons on the table alongside the Device are Sonken Zephryanthes's Gaouken Zeroichi, Sou Sou Gundam's Enkoujin, and Koumei Re-GZ's Bakuousen.
- During the epilogue, Cao Cao Wing Gundam is shown standing in a desert completely hooded. Theres actually a twofer reference here; For SD Gundam, this is similar to how Devil Dragon Blade Zero Gundam starts his story, as hes introduced walking in a desert as a hooded figure. Since Cao Cao is based off of the Wing Gundam Zero here, however, its also a reference to New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop, where Heero Yuy also wanders a desert while piloting his hooded mech Wing Gundam Snow White, though at least hes joined with Duo Maxwells son piloting the Warlock (Which is also hooded).
- Offer Void In Nebraska: Strangely, the series is extremely limited in its home country of Japan despite the popularity of SD Gundam there. The anime episodes and Soshoki cannot be viewed in Japan and there is no Japanese version of Enkotan. The models kits are also only available from Gundam Base Tokyo. Japanese fans have gotten around this by watching the Traditional Chinese version of Soshoki on Youku, but are still disappointed in the lack of availability in their country.
- Adverted in late 2020, when it was announced that the series would be fully released in Japan as well.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: BB Senshi Sangokuden is already Romance of the Three Kingdoms with SD Gundams and other MS, but Sangoku Soketsuden adds Zombie Apocalypse on top of that and takes place in a futuristic setting.
- Robot Hair: By lieu of everyone being based off of Giant Mecha, a number of characters possesses this. Some characters like Guan Yu Nu Gundam and Huang Zhong Gundam Dynames even have Robot Beards.
- Sequel Hook: Sima Yi Destiny Gundam escapes with his whereabouts unknown, and a suspicious meteor is seen falling from the sky as Cao Cao Wing Gundam leaves the Three Kingdoms.
- Shout-Out: Zhao Yun 00 Gundam uses Dual Wielding swords instead of the long spear that Zhao Yu is usually known for carrying, which is not just the reuse of the 00 Gundam's actual weapons, but a nod to the China-made series God of War, Zhao Yun, which added a pair of MacGuffin swords to the Three Kingdoms mythology and had Zhao Yun as the main star.
- The Virus: The "Etiolation Trinity"note , which causes the victims to lose themselves and start attacking people.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: In the Enkotan manga, Liu Bei Unicorn's mother. She's introduced in the first chapter only to sacrifice herself at the end to save her son from a Etiolation Trinity BUG horde aerial ambush. Then in the next chapter, she solidifies her fate by cutting the ropes on the bridge to allow Sun Jian and her son to escape.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 12 of Soshoki. Sima Yi reveals that the Bugs were an alternative solution for the Trinity crisis, as they would not use up the rare resource and proposes turning the populace into Bugs to slow the consumption, as humans are driven by their appetite. Cao Cao is against this until he finds out that Xun Yu was killed during a civilian riot while the company was delivering supplies to them. Remembering what Sima Yi said, Cao Cao decides to go with his plan.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After stopping Cao Cao Wing Gundams conquest and foiling Sima Yi Destiny Gundams plans, Blue Wing Corporation donate to Zhuge Lian Freedom Gundams laboratory, leading him to successfully creating a cure for Etiolation Trinity, which Sun Jian Gundam Astray and the rest of Red Tiger distribute throughout the land. Cao Cao steps down as CEO of Blue Wing Corporation, and goes on a journey of self-reflection. Zhang Fei God Gundam and Guan Yu Nu Gundam, now Yan Huang Zhang Fei God Gundam and Wu Sheng Guan Yu Yun Chang Nu Gundam, return to Luoyang and work to improve the townsfolks lives. Long Xian Liu Bei Unicorn Gundam and the rest of Dragons Watch return to their hometown and, while no one is sure where Sima Yi went, Liu Bei is now certain he will protects those most important to him and feels a little more confident as the leader of Dragons Watch. Of course, we already know that this isnt the end of their story