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Ensemble Dark Horse / Gundam

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  • Of the Gundam, we have the original Ensemble Darkhorse that started a trend in the seriesChar Aznable. He may have been a major character to begin with, and was certainly expected to have his own share of fans, but he is now the most easily-recognizable and Iconic Characters from the franchise.
    • Not to mention the MS-06 Zaku II. Yes, it's a mecha, but it's a weak grunt mecha that never stands any chance against the Gundam without being painted red and piloted by a masked man. And yet, it is always the second release in any new kit series, usually in the Char Custom colours, coming right after the Gundam itself. They've even added Zakus, and many other Universal Century mecha, to Gundam Seed Destiny, a series with no relation to the Universal Century itself, with a pair of custom Zakus appearing right alongside the main character's Gundam. One of which is, of course, red. And there is always a mecha (sometimes more than one) in the other Universe's that bares a resemblance to the Zaku in some manner.
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    • Another darkhorse mecha is the MSM-04 Acguy. Another Zeon grunt suit, with its tubby body, stubby limbs, and oversized head, it looks positively adorable. While it lacks many expies, it is almost guaranteed to make an appearance in spin-offs or side stories set on Earth in the One Year War. Some of these appearances somehow even make it a genuine threat (like that time one decapitated a Gundam in 08th MS Team).
    • Ramba Ral is also a very popular character, easily the stand-out of the Arc Villains that the crew faces. This is because he had such a sense of style with his efficient businesslike approach to combat while still being one of the most sympathetic of the Zeon soldiers. His popularity gained him several prominent expies in other series as well as an expanded role in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. His Gouf is similarly popular and it's often placed alongside Zaku, Dom, and Gelgoog as the main Zeon suits (even though its run in the series was far shorter than the other three).
  • From Zeta, we have Apolly, to an extent. He had by far the most character of the minor cast and he almost made it to the end despite being a Mook Rick Dias pilot, only dying because he was protecting Fa. Almost everyone who watched the show likes him, but it really didn't come apparent until him and the other minor Z Gundam pilots were removed in the Super Robot Wars games to make room for the Gundam ZZ pilots. Thankfully, he and Roberto help represent Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam in SRW Z and SRW 64 as well.
    • Also Emma and Henken are still extremely popular characters in the fandom. It might have something to with the fact that the two are likable, (mostly) rational adults that don't annoy the cast and watchers, and are overall healthy mentally and emotionally. Also fans found the fact that Henken having a crush on Emma was adorable.
    • Haman Karn for being seen as awesome, piloting a cool suit, sexy, her bitchiness, being a good pilot or all of the above. She's especially popular on 4chan mecha board where she's hailed as the Queen of /m/.
    • Also Four Murasame seems to have her fans considering she gets saved and joins the heroes in many SRW games. She even won Animage's Anime Grand Prix Award in 1985 in the category of favorite female anime character of the year and there's a novel that tells her origin story.
  • Do you see that... special-looking fish-shaped Gundam on the corner? Fine, take a LOL at it. But look now at its pilot... He's handsome, genuinely skilled, and a rather nice guy all along. This is Hans Holgar of Neo Denmark, the Ensemble Darkhorse of the series, who is appreciated not only by starry-eyed fangirls but by some fanboys who are impressed by how he gives an excellent use to such a special mecha both in his episode and the Grand Finale.
    • To a lesser extent, there's Fuunsaki, Master Asia's Cool Horse and gloating platform, who boasts being the only horse in existence to have his own Gundam.
    • The Nether Gundam has a surprising number of fans, due to being the single silliest Gundam in a show full of silly Gundams, and because it turns into a windmill.
  • Gundam Wing is, for better or worse, one of the most popular alternate universes in the Gundam meta-series. However, if there's one thing both fans and haters can agree on is that Duo Maxwell is one of the best characters in the series thanks to both his snarky yet upbeat personality, tragic backstory, Shinigami persona, and Grim Reaper-styled Gundam. Japanese fans have consistently voted him as one of the best male characters in both the 1995 Gundam Ace and 2010 Newtype polls, was voted Best Male Character in Animage's Anime Grand Prix in 1995, and finished third the following year. In the West, Duo is especially beloved by Americans for his nationality and because his English voice actor Scott McNeil gave one of the better performances in the dub.
  • Gundam 00 fans seem to latch on the resident Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Patrick Colasour, for his non-forced hilarity and amusing misfortunes he suffered, this coming from the 'loser guy' on the enemy side, who won't give much impact to the show. And from the good guys' side, we have Emotionless Girl Feldt Grace, so well loved she generated so many fanarts around her and had a sidestory revolving about HER PARENTS. Oh, and in the interim between the first and second season, she became so popular that fans were hoping she'd inherit a Gundam, here we speak about the deceased Lockon Stratos' Dynames, but this is later jossed when his Backup Twin inherits its successor. Maybe she's not named the most popular female of the show, but when you suddenly have her naked in the newest opening while all she did was just being a part of the Bridge Bunnies... you KNOW she has the dark horse feel on her.
    • Episode 22 finally shows how their Darkhorse-ness pay off. Feldt starts opening up a relation with Setsuna by giving him flower. Meanwhile, Patrick made a serious comeback, and while still bombastic, seems to have taken several levels of badass as he starts to actually kick ass instead of being shot down when he deploys.
      • And Patrick not only survives, he marries the woman he's loved throughout the series! Also, Feldt manages to be named the most popular female of the show!
      • And Patrick's darkhorse-ness even crosses continuities! In every episode of Gundam Build Divers, there's a Diver who resembles Patrick shows up in some manner. He even gets to participate in two of the series' big battles and survive them! Even more, his team is considered to be one of the best in the world of Gunpla Battle Nexus Online! In some manner, he truly is immortal!
    • Nena Trinity, especially in Japan, where she was the most popular female character until she fell Out of Focus in the second season and (as mentioned above) Feldt took that position. In America, however, Nena's just as often The Scrappy as she is the darkhorse.
    • Graham Aker, to the point where he was voted most popular alongside Setsuna himself for the male cast. His various over the top antics, combined with the fact that he was the first in the series to take on a Gundam AND severely damage it while using a much weaker mecha helped accomplish this. In the second season he became Mr. Bushido, which turned him into a weeaboo with a lust for revenge. The fandom wasn't very amused. His screentime was also very reduced. He redeemed himself in the movie, in the eyes of all the fans, and even got a status upgrade to the 6th Ranger before his noble death.
  • From Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team , there's Norris Packard, the Zeon ace who commits acts of awesome whenever he appears in a mobile suit. The other times, he commits acts of heartwarming as Aina's surrogate father, as a mentor to his men and as one of the few sympathetic characters with high rank in the series.
  • The first episode of Gundam Unicorn yielded an unexpected darkhorse in an unnamed Stark Jegan pilot, thus far one of the only red shirts to be able to put up a decent fight against the Kshatriya (damn near beating it) and probably one of the few faceless, nameless goons of the franchise to ever stand up strong against a major named character.
    • Further, the HGUC manual implies that he was also present during the Second Neo Zeon War and was one of the guys who tried to push back Axis. Man's a hero.
    • Maybe the writers noticed, because they stuck another awesome nameless goon into the fourth episode, this one piloting a customized Byalant and tearing the attacking Sleeves to ribbons almost single-handedly. This guy has also become quite popular with the fans.
  • Gundam AGE fans didn't waste any time in latching on to Yurin L'Ciel, a cute, possibly-psychic Tiffa Expy who appeared in the second episode and then vanished. Although the fact that she shows up all the time in the opening is kind of a giveaway that she'll be returning at some point.
    • And that's just during the first arc. In the second arc, we get Arisa Gunhale, daughter of Flit's childhood friend Dique and another pilot aboard the Diva. Her tendency to make people smile whenever she's on-screen, as well as her hilarious method of getting Asemu out of a funk, secured her spot as a fan favorite.
  • Gundam Build Fighters has Mr. Ral, a character based on long-time favorite Ramba Ral. Having the same voice actor and most of the same traits as the original character didn't hurt either.
    • Aila Jyrkiäinen's popularity went off the charts after Episode 10 showed that she was a Not So Stoic girl who had Hidden Depths. It also helps that she's the equivalent of the series' female Newtype lead, who have traditionally been very popular among fans. For bonus points, she and Reiji are officially married and had a daughter in the Gundam Build Fighters Try OVA.
    • Greco Logan also has quite a fanbase for himself amongst the Western Gundam fandom. Not hard to see why, as Greco is a Type 1 Eaglelander who has Determinator traits and his model of choice is the Tallgeese, one of Gundam Wing's fan-favorite machines. These traits have made viewers embrace him as Sunrise's acknowledgement of the American Gundam fanbase who got into the franchise through Wing, and said fans gladly accepted such a badass representative. In fact, part of the reason Nils was hated early on was because many fans (namely Americans) preferred Greco to be the American representative in the Gunpla Battle World Tournament.
    • The Beargguy-III, a custom variant of the Acguy built by China Kousaka, was originally meant as one time Gunpla model marketed towards little girls. However, it was beloved by all fans for its Badass Adorable vibe and is even liked by male Gundam modelers for its ease of customization.
  • It appears that the Tryon 3 from Gundam Build Fighters Try is rather popular as well for being a blatant expy of the Super Robot Genre with it's attacks and transformation sequence.
  • Gundam Seed and Seed Destiny have their own darkhorse in Shiho Hahnenfuss, a female ZAFT Ace Pilot who appears here and there throughout the series, but never speaks. She's assigned to the Joule Squadron and is usually seen at Yzak's side in group shots.
  • New Testament SD Gundam Gaiden Saddrac Knight Saga has both Valkyrie Gundam Hazel and Servant Knight Woundwort, helped by the fact that are based respectfully off of the RX-121 Gundam TR-1 [Hazel] and the RX-124 Gundam TR-6 [Woundwort], both fan-beloved mechs from Advance of Zeta: The Flag of Titans. For Woundwort, she's also a cute maid who can transform into a hulking berserker thanks to Giganto Shift. For Hazel, she's also a tomboyish Badass Adorable who can change into many different forms based off of the original Gundam TR-1 [Hazel]'s many different variants, not to mention the granddaughter of Dark Knight Gundam Mark II and Storm Knight Gundam Mark II, who they themselves are Ensemble Dark Horses in their own right.
  • SD Gundam The Last World heavily focused on characters that count as this in their home stories. Among characters in its own story, though, the stand-out example of this is Tri Gunvoy, nephew of Blue Gunvoy from SD Gundam Space Time Transfer Gun Voyage. Reasons for this range from being a Super Robot-esque Combining Mecha to disrupting Gundam the Gold's plans due to not originally being summoned for the fight.
  • In SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden;
    • Yuan Shao Red Warrior only ever appeared in Manga Spin-Off Soshoki, only lasting a couple of chapters before succumbing to the Yellow Zombie Virus, but he became an immediate fan-favorite as soon as he was introduced due to his fox-motif design, comical personality, and rather deep relationship with Cao Cao Wing Gundam. It's to the point where fans have been begging Bandai for a model kit for him.
    • Xun Yu Strike Noir never appeared in the Anime, only showing up in the Manga Spin-Offs Soshoki and Enkotan, and yet fans love him for his cat-like appearance and energetic personality, as well as his conversational ricochet with the Xiahou brothers.


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