Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Controversial "Top 5 Gundam Series" List

I've been waiting years and years, compiling as much information and experience as possible to write the most reasonable list of the best Gundam anime series' in history. This is the one list I haven't been able to do for various reasons. One: I still have a hazy memory of many shows. It will take an enormous amount of time to re-watch all of them again. Two: a list like this will probably invite the most commenting and arguing yet. Possibly even more than the Top 5 Most Powerful Gundam list. That is why I have to pay special attention and really make the most objective article possible.

I'm still in the process of re-watching each Gundam series, and that will likely take forever. I really want to get this post over with though. I know this is one of the most hotly debated topics in the Gundam fan community.

So I ask you: What do you think are the best Gundam anime's of all time?



  1. My top 3 would be:
    1) 08th MS Team
    2) Turn A Gundam
    3) MS IGLOO Apocalypse 0079

  2. Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, and not just because of the it-started-everything thing, though that is a significant part. Some reasons:

    Realistic combat.
    -Protagonist and Gundam are good, but never insanely overpowered. A Baoa Q actually felt like a massive mobile suit battle; Amuro and Gundam didn't single-handedly decide the battle. (Unlike, say, in ZZ where literally one Gundam team and nothing else took out the entire Neo Zeon.) Alternate universe Gundams are even worse in this aspect obviously.

    -Consistent damage and lack of magical powers. Weapons in MSG generally don't arbitrarily get weaker or stronger, unlike many other main Gundam series. Also, Amuro's Newtype abilities didn't become insane (mostly pre-cognition and telepathic communication, consistent with description of Newtype). By Zeta, you're already talking about magic armor, ghost-summoning hax, mind rape, etc.

    -Relatively little cockpit shouting matches. Mainly just against Lalah. In Zeta, Kamille spent way more time flying around sprouting morals in his cockpit than actually fighting, a trend that continued in pretty much all subsequent series. C'mon man, this is a battle.

  3. Believable and gradual character growth, and not just for the protagonist Amuro. Look at how different Bright and Kai are at the beginning and the end, for example, yet their growth never seemed forced. Also, relatively little annoying characters (certainly most by the end are very likable). Unlike SEED for example.

    Like in a real war, no clearly good or bad guys. In the Federation for example you have those jerks in Amuro's house, and the traitor General Elran. On the other side, Zeon Zum Deikun, Char, Zeon soldiers (saving mother and child at St. Anges), Garma (love for Icelina), Ramba Ral & Hamon, Lalah, Dozle (care for family), Kycilia (revenge for father), and Degwin (peace negotiation) all have redeemable qualities. Zeon's a dictatorship, but its independence cause is arguably more noble than Federation's desire for hegemony. Nothing's black and white. Compare this to say the Titans in Zeta, who have no redeemable qualities at all (Emma defected early).

    Started everything
    -Established incredibly rich and believable universe: space colonization, Federation and Zeon, war of independence, mobile suits as war machines, Minvosky particles, Newtype abilities, etc. Vast enough to spring many sequels and side stories (War in the Pocket, 08th MS Team).
    -Started even the specifics like emo protagonist, Char antagonist, Amuro vs Lalah type of conflict (so good Zeta did it three times; Four, Four again, Rosamia), Bright slap, etc.

    Less but more meaningful deaths. Gets across the point that people die in war, but also showed how those deaths impact the survivors, e.g. Miharu (Kai), Ryu (whole WB crew), Lalah (Char & Amuro). Deaths in MSG actually serve as a catalyst for the characters' development, versus say in Zeta, where it's mostly saved for the end when it's mostly pointless anyway.

    Serious but not overly dark tone. Not ZZ, and not Victory.

  4. I'm actually kind of surprised you gave MSG the score you did on your review (7.9/10). I suspect you might reconsider after you get further in your rewatching project. As much as it pains me to say this, most Gundam series are pretty rubbish. It really doesn't get that much better (if at all) after MSG, which is a masterpiece. But Gundam's a huge franchise, so by law of large numbers you're gonna find some very good titles, but the majority objectively speaking are quite awful. A lot are just repeated plot done worse but with flashier animation, and way worse than what we remember (e.g., Wing).

    Think of it this way. The best Gundam series will most likely be in the UC universe. Among the main titles, ZZ is out of the question, Char's Counterattack has a petty Char, Unicorn is ongoing, F91 is medicore, Victory is too pointlessly dark, so that leaves Zeta. The OVA's are great, but I personally think the *best* Gundam series has to be meaty enough to represent the franchise as a whole, and the OVA's I don't think have done that (though they can easily make Top 5 or something). So it really boils down to MSG vs Zeta. Side by side comparison I feel MSG is stronger, but Zeta does have a superior soundtrack, reminiscent of Star Wars even. And the whole Amuro and Char (seriously Kamille cannot ask for better mentors) drinking beer and bro-ing it up thing..

    1. I also loved the crap out of Mobile Suit Gundam and it remains one of my favorites. I just couldn't objectively give it a higher score than 8 considering the many imperfections it had as a production. I think all of its faults were vastly perfected in Zeta, which many believe is the pinnacle of Gundam. But yeah, in terms of the main series', I also think Zeta and MSG are up there, with Zeta getting the edge. The rest of the best are all in the OVA category. I may have to wait until Unicorn is done, as I'm incredibly impressed with its production value and it could potentially be one of the best as well.

    2. Man, Unicorn can definitely make Top 5 easily as long as it doesn't mess up majorly in its last two episodes. So unbelievably good.

  5. For many things I rarely have a top / favourite thing in my interest, and this is, not surprisingly, also one of them. I also am hesitant to list them out as my opinion may change from time to time.

    Despite what I've said above, I do find myself liking the stories in OVAs more than those out of the long TV anime, especially for those set in the early Universal Century timeline such as 08th MS Team, MS IGLOO, 0080, and 0083. Funny enough all of the ones I mention almost have no reference to Newtypes there.

    1. I actually think a lot of the OVA's are among the best productions as well. I think it's mainly because most full-length shows drag on for too long, and give a lot of room for error. OVA's are short and concise, and a lot of attention is put into the animation quality so they really end up being some of the most impressive animations in Gundam.

    2. True. But some times we do get some problems in OVA's. Gundam F91 was one of those. Great animation, good story (no duh, Tomino was there), but the pacing was horrendous.

  6. I'm not particular with series since I have not watched nearly all of them. But one thing is for certain: I do not think SEED Destiny deserves to be in that list. (Being, plot-wise, a below-satisfactory rehash of the UC timeline, pre-Unicorn...)

    Just my cent...

    1. In addition: its predecessor was a wee bit more appealing in plot and some angles of character development...

    2. That's a no-brainer. Seed Destiny is widely considered one of the worst entries in the Gundam universe. Though its hard to say what's the worst, I can definitely say it is somewhere near the bottom.

    3. Yup. Just curious about the criteria on this one...

      The title says 'Top 5 Gundam Series'; does that mean the OVAs and Movie Adaptations are out of the question?

    4. Maybe I should change it to "Gundam Animations", all forms of anime are included.

  7. I'm pretty sure this has already been done by Gundam Ace. The results were:
    1) Mobile Suit Gundam (the original)
    2) Zeta Gundam
    3) Gundam 00
    4) Gundam Seed
    5) Chars Counter Attack.

    I consider this the "offical" list.


    1. Notice how 00 and Seed are on there. It's impossible to take a list seriously when half of it is a popularity contest amongst young fans who have only seen 00 and Seed. I'm trying to make a list based on quality.

    2. Oh. I see your point. Tomino is going to have a field day then.

  8. Turn A

    With the analysis given by other posters, I'm considering MSG to be one of the top.

  9. I say that the first show was awful, while the three movie's made of them were the best. close second, zeta, and third 08th MS team. then, unicorn, and 00.

    1. Agree that the compilation movies were pretty much perfected versions of the original anime.

  10. In my opinion is top 5 gundam anime will be;
    1.Gundam Zeta
    2.Gundam 00
    3.Gundam Unicorn
    4.Gundam Char's Counterattack
    5.Gundam wing

    I do like Seed and Destiny as well, but not best. It's good anyway. My favorite is Gundam Crossbone but it's only manga damn.

  11. unicorn

    1. unicorn
      08th ms team

      0079 was good and it's the original but it's just not as good as these ones.
      just because it was the original that doesn't mean that it HAS to be on the top 5 list because there were better incarnations of the gundam series that came out

    2. wing should be on the list because it brought the gundam basics to the alternate universe line. what are the gundam basics you may ask? extremely large casts, well developed and complex characters, awesome mobile suits with cool pilots, politics and more politics, bad guys being awesome, both sides getting licked at one point or another, getting improved mobile suits later in the series and a high death count - named or unnamed.
      this was repeated in an even more refined form in the airing of gundam 00. 00 was great - it revitalized the alternate universe line after the horrific events of the seed line. the seed spin offs were a solid attempt to salvage what little dignity the seed series had left after seed destiny but they weren't enough to completely overshadow seed's whiny cast and horrible plot line... they probably thought: hey, let's just repeat UC but say it's not UC... but here's the twist - let's make the characters whiny and irritating!
      yeah... anyways, unicorn is the pinnacle of UC (and of gundam period) but zeta was where for the first time all of the successful elements that define gundam were put together in a successful and enjoyable series. zeta was gundam in a refined state and almost all of the ideas presented in zeta were reused at some point or another in the other series (complex characters, improved mobile suits later in the series, transformable mobile suits, large casts, good guys and bad guys switching sides and becoming even more complex, named ship crew members, etc). 08th ms team did a very god job of this too.
      this is my explanation for the list directly above.

  12. I still can't believe the amount of hate 00 gets. I think its a perfectly fine as it is. Yeah some parts were rushed or underused but it knows where it wants to go and does it (unlike Seed/Destiny). People retroactively claim that Turn A and G are great yet there was just as much hate (if not more) when it first came out.

    Just because I don't like the direction a story goes in doesn't mean its the WRONG direction. I mean the only way we'll ever be truly satisfied with any piece of fiction is if we write it ourselves.

  13. My personal top 5:
    1. MSG Movie Trilogy ('nuff said)
    2. Turn A
    3. 08th MS Team
    4. Char's Counterattack
    5. Zeta

    Honorable mentions: X, G, 00, 0080. Excluding Unicorn because its not finished.

  14. you should do a top 10 just this once so there arent as many whiners and haters just because their favorite series wasnt on the list.

  15. Here's a better idea: have a top 5 UC Gundam shows and top 5 AU Gundam shows.

    I think this is more fair because unlike UC, most AU shows don't have the benefit of 30 years worth of history and side materials to draw from.

  16. Best 5 Gundam Series :
    1. Gundam 00
    2. Gundam AGE
    3. Gundam Unicorn
    4. Gundam Wing
    5. Gundam Zeta

  17. I think Victory should be included in the list as well. The story was complex and very dark and despite the protagonist's young age, Uso was in my opinion, one of the most mature lead characters in the franchise. Although people criticize this series for too many deaths, I felt that was totally realistic in war and especially so given that the League Millitaire is just a under-powered guerrilla force. Plus the battles were by far, the best choreographed. It also helped that the lead gundam wasn't op and Uso had to constantly pull off risky mid-battle parts exchanges.

    0080 should also belong in this list for its realistic tone as well as the screaming irony prevalent throughout the series.

    None of the AC gundam series beside Turn A has any place on this list. They are an embarrassment to gundam and discredits the legacy of geniuses like Tomino.

    1. Gundam X doesn't deserve some love? And G Gundam perfectly epitomizes what the word "alternate" universe should mean.

      Also I wouldn't exactly call Tomino a genius. He works best when given a good script and production staff. Remember he's turned out his fair share of crap/mediocre stuff too: ZZ, F91, Brain Powerd, etc.

    2. I personally hated X. It had potential tobe a good post apocalypse series but it did a pretty half hearted job at it. I had to force myself to sit through the series out of sheer loyalty to the franchise. G gundam was just retarded. ZZ and brain powered were much much better than X and G. If you don't think that Tomino is a genius, please name one director who makes better mecha anime. Thanks for your reply.

    3. Michael Bay! Nah, just kidding :D I personally think Noboru Ishiguro (RIP) of Macross and Legend of the Galactic Heroes fame is a better mecha director. Just as talented as Tomino but without the mood swings.

    4. LOL michael bay. He should blow himself up.

      Anyway, Noburo Ishiguro is a legendary animator and I totally respect his work as well. Space Battleship Yamato and Macross come to mind. He doesn't get nearly as much recognition as Tomino, and its a shame really.

      I'll still stand by Tomino, but I agree about the mood swings. The guy let his issues spill into his work, and it's kind of disturbing sometimes...

    5. I don't get it... Why did they make a hollywood adaptation of transformers when they could have made one of gundam 0079. Imagine the death and fight scenes with real people in the style of black hawk down, saving private ryan, etc. It really does have the potential to be a deep, gritty war film if they just modernized the script and ms a little bit.

    6. Ever since G-Saviour I highly doubt Bandai will ever let one of its defining pop culture icons near another country. That's like asking Americans to hand over Star Wars to be remade in Japan. Not gonna happen.

    7. It's a shame though. Gundam would look totally awesome in live action glory with modern cg technology...

  18. Replies
    1. I love 00 too (all of it) but it's far from the best the franchise has to offer. Having trekked through all of Gundam these past few years, I have to conclude the best is still the original MSG movie trilogy.

      Nothing I've seen since has come close its near perfect balance of great plot, likeable characters and action scenes. Even Zeta for all the praise it gets falls short in some areas.

    2. That's right. Learn from the enlightened, young one. LEARN.

  19. 1. 0079
    2. 0080
    3. Victory
    4. Turn A
    5. Unicorn

    00, Wing, Seed, AGE, can be erased off the face of the planet. It's those series' fault that people think gundam is shallow and pointless. Please and thank you. <3

  20. So here I am, a big fan of sci-fi anime and mech. And I've just googled "the best gundam storyline in gundam series". I am fairly new to gundam, not because I was slow to be aware of it, but because the universe is so vast and as stated above, it is quite a bit of work to watch all... Where would I start? Do I really need to start from the beginning or is there any within the series to just give me an idea as to what's going on without starting from the very beginning? Therefore despite my search, everyone's opinion that had contributed is possibly valid and there are consistent answers that everyone seems to share in opinion, so until I get an answer I will pool the answers that everyone has in common and start off by watching those. Yet my question will be based on this criteria:

    1. which storyline will give me the gist of what's goin on?
    2. I do like my balance of character depth and development, the political struggle between both enemies(especially if it's layered and somewhat sophisticated and appearingly complex) and finally action. Hopefully the action is equal to or more than character and politics, but of course I can't expect that without disrespecting all that has been accomplished since 1979.
    3. overall, a great mature storyline and great animation and action.

    additional questions I have are in common with some of the anonymous responses, for instance:
    4. What are UC and AU gundam shows
    5. what are the differences between the old school story lines that deserve recognition or simply to be watched opposed to the newer or latest shows that get a lot of fan base only because of the amount of fans that watch gundam now as opposed to those new fans who haven't seen the older ones (I hope this doesn't sound confusing, and if it does I don't blame you for thinking so)

    Finally, I guess I could just read wikipedia to find out but it would be nice to read a response from someone that can give me a rational answer that is pretty knowledgeable about the GUNDAM universe and who would be stoked about sharing their knowledge about it.

    1. Phew, that is an enormously difficult question. I think every single person will give you a completely different answer depending on their own tastes, so you can't have too many expectations getting into it at first. Just get a few shows in and see what you want to see more of.

      I noticed you said you want something with "great animation and action", and I can only think of the more recent shows. And to be honest, most of the recent shows will not give you the character depth and "mature storyline" you're looking for. However, do not take people too seriously when they say the newer shows are garbage, because they are still entertaining in their own ways. Wing and 00 (first season) will give you a good romp if you can look past their shortcomings.

      As I've mentioned, this is very difficult, but here's my singular opinion. I honestly would recommend that you start from the very beginning because there isn't much of a better option. Mobile Suit Gundam is the very first in the franchise, and you'll have to suffer greatly from its dated animation. And believe me, the animation looked dated even for its time. However, I could recommend that you watch the movie trilogy instead of the television series. The movie trilogy condenses the full series into three full-length movies with many edits and newly animated scenes that basically perfect the original story.

      I could go ahead and recommend Gundam Unicorn, which has great animation quality, great action, and a great overall story, but it will be impossible for a new-comer to understand or appreciate the story because it works off of many decades of established story. This is why I suggest that you start from the beginning. Zeta Gundam, the follow-up to Mobile Suit Gundam, is, IMO, one of the best in the franchise. It has a great balance of war politics, action, and human drama. The reason you can't start with it is because it is a direct sequel to the first series.

      Having said all of that, here's an off-hand suggestion. You may also start with Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. It is a fantastic series that is only slightly dated and has fantastic action, story, and characters. It is an OVA with 13 episodes, and it is, for the most part, its own storyline, so you could possibly jump right into this one.

      To answer some of your questions...

      4. UC stands for Universal Century, and AU stands for Alternate Universe. Universal Century is the universe (or timeline) that the original Gundam shows are set in. They include the original Mobile Suit Gundam and its sequels. Some of the shows include Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam, Victory Gundam, Gundam F91, Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, and Gundam Unicorn.

      AU shows are standalone stories that have no connection to the Universal Century. They are set in alternate universes. Some examples are Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED, G Gundam, Turn A Gundam, and Gundam 00. Note that most of the recent shows have been AU.

      5. To put it simply, older fans of the Universal Century shows believe that the more recent AU shows have lost touch with what made Gundam great. The war drama that Tomino envisioned is lost in newer shows, which tend to lean more towards appeasing younger audiences with over-the-top action, superpowers, and pretty boys. Now mind you, a lot of the complaints from UC fans are a bit exaggerated and bias in their own right, so it is up to you to decide what you think is true.

      So its up to you to read that novel I just wrote above but I implore you to see what other people have to say. I'm one guy and my opinion may not be as valid as older fans of Gundam, so do a little research for yourself or see if others respond to your questions.

    2. A very loaded question indeed. As a general rule I say MSG Movie Trilogy is the best to start with since it has all the elements that make Gundam what it is today. And despite what people say about the animation, it's not as bad as you might think, especially since the movies fix a lot of the errors from the tv series. From there watch Zeta, Char's Counterattack and Unicorn. These are the main ones in the UC timeline.

      AU series are a whole other bag and many a flame war has started over what people consider "good". What I recommend when starting these shows is to:
      1) Forget everything you know about Gundam and start fresh
      2) Ignore other opinions on the internet and make up your own mind

      You can find general rundown of every Gundam series on mahq.net

      Hope this helps.

    3. Thanks you two for your reply, it's greatly appreciated and it's a start! I'm looking forward to diving into the Gundam universe and eventually forming my own take on take on it.

    4. You could start with the msg trilogy but that's really long considering you want a quick dose of all the good stuff gundam has to offer to get an idea about the franchise. I'd recommend starting off with 0080. It delivers the sad war drama the uc timeline is knwnfor in only 6 episodes, albeit with little action.

      If you are a purist, then here is a link that lists the entire uc universe in chronological order


      Have fun!

  21. 1.0083

  22. In all honesty, it still seems as people have a difficult time seeing exactly how "weak" of a Gundam show Wing was, and how great 00 and SEED was. It´s very...very sad.

  23. My take on it is this: As someone who has seen all the series except for victory gundam, I have a pretty good understanding of both old and new series.

    For a top five list, you should consider having a fusion of both new and old series, as there are excellent pieces of work on both sides.

    In no particular order, I would recommend:

    08th ms team

  24. 1. Gundam Unicorn
    2. War in the pocket
    3. 08th MS team
    4. Mobile suit Gundam
    5. Turn A gundam

    in no particular order, but I'm quite sure on my list quality,plotwise and characters. It's too hard, you see when I judge the gundam franchise, I still need to separate it on different categories. Like best anti war drama, best skirmishes and dog fight and best alternative universe gundam.

  25. 1. Gundam Unicorn
    2. Mobile Suit Gundam
    3. Zeta Gundam
    4. Gundam Wing
    5. 08th MS Team

    A big no, on 00 and SEED.

    I am a Gundam fan. But honestly, I don't know what to think of Gundam 00.

    Gundam 00/Raiser 0 – Remember Mazinger Z, a robot powered by dropping a small aircraft onto its head. And then it is combined with a Jet Pack to allow it to fly.

    Trans-Am – Okay, this is plain ridiculous. First of all, why do the pilots have to yell "Trans-Am!" on the top of their lungs, is it voice-activated? And, then the Gundams emit this red-aura, becoming faster. Kaio-ken Gundam! What's next? Gundam 00 turns into a Super-Saiyan? Just stop.

    Oh, and yes, Trans-Am produces 18 G-Forces. 3.5x greater than a Formula1 car, enough to make your brain splatter like gelatin. Maybe the Innovators and humans that time made evolution with a brain and human system as hard and tough as a carbon fiber resin and yet they are still very agile.

    Transmutating weaponry and big swords – Setsuna must be an Arab Cloud Strife.

    Solar-reactor powered GN-Drives or shall we call it an Arc reactor? Did Tony Stark design these Gundams, does it come in red and gold too?

    Gundam Kyrios – Macross/Robotech mech fitted with an Arc reactor, okay, a GN-Drive.

    Virtue Gundam – A muscular monstrous Mobile Suit breaks out of its shell to reveal the first closet-queen Gundam, Nadaleeh (matches its pilot, I guess)

    Okay, just to be fair the duels are great. But after watching all Gundam series before it, I couldn't find anything Gundam about it other than the mech's head.

    Atleast 00 is still better than SEED which is total science-fiction at its best, breaking all reason and laws of physics, while dealing with Kira's whininess.

    Can we just go back to the Universal Century storyline and technology, it is much better. Even Wing and X are better than this.


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