Series Recommendation: Mobile Suit Gundam 0079

Every great franchise has to start somewhere. And that is also true for the biggest mecha franchise of all time: Gundam. It all started back in 1979 when Director Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted to portray a war story along with all of its sadness, misery and also hope. The 0079 anime actually wasn’t very successful at the time of its broadcast and was almost the end of the franchise (well series at the time). However, thanks to model kit, the series was saved and produced many sequels – eventually becoming the giant mecha behemoth that it is today.

Gundam 0079 is set during a war between two sides: The Earth Federation – people who hold power on the Earth – and the Principality of Zeon – citizens of space colonies. The Zeon people are dissatisfied with the status quo set by the Earth Federation – hence they started a war to claim their rights. Both sides wage war using giant robots called mobile suits across colonies. The war finally reaches Side 7 – where a young teen named Amuro Ray was living his life fiddling with machinery and small robots. One day Zeon forces attacked the Colony prompting Amuro and his friend Fraw Bow to evacuate. However, Amuro chanced upon the Federation’s newest super weapon that his own father helped develop: The Gundam. Amuro boarded the Gundam and started his turbulent war journey along the White Base – a space battleship that was also on Side 7.

+ Plot: The chronicle of a teenage soldier isn’t a new concept in this day and age, but in the 80s full of Super Robots with really crazy abilities, Gundam was something new and unique. The journey of Amuro is full of dramatic events and bloodshed that really took an effect on Amuro’s mental and physical wellbeing – which is something Real Robot series usually neglect or handwave away after one episode. You can really feel the psyche of Amuro changing throughout the White Base’s journey. As he put more and more achievements on the Gundam, the more the war “dye” him in the color of a soldier. But his story isn’t simply a “war hero” full of glory and honor, but with many contradiction, pain and sadness. Director Tomino was famous for his “kill-em-all” style with many casualties in his series, and for Gundam it wasn’t any less brutal. It’s notable that amongst the less notable and dramatic deaths, there are many that leave a deep impact and consequence on the characters and the story, further highlight the fact that in war, some lives are lost without a care and some can turn the tide of the conflict.

Along with Amuro is also another character that somehow become even more famous than him and instantly turn into a fan-favorite with his mysterious and “gallant” demeanor – Char Aznable. A good hero needs a good villain – but Char isn’t a villain, and this is not a simple story about black and white in a war. There are no “correct” side of justice. Char and Amuro are just two people with their own agendas getting swept up in the war, but one is voluntary while the other isn’t exactly willing. Their dynamic extend far beyond 0079 and became the most iconic rivalry in the franchise.

+ Animation: Well, it was quite…dated. The series was made in 1979 where animation was still quite analogue and rely much more on manual labor. And back then, the 2D hand-drawn model were usually inconsistent, and there are many “funny” frames of 0079 where the Rx-78-2 was drawn in pretty ridiculous proportions. Still, the animation managed to deliver the plot well enough during major battles. The explosions are perhaps the best part of the series. Truth be told, the 0079 animation hasn’t aged well, but the good stuff is in the characters.

+ Mecha Design: Initially, the series was to be titled “Gunboy” with a more “monotone” mecha design aesthetic that was very in-line with the 70s, however, the sponsors want to be able to monetize the model, so the design and overall color-scheme was modified heavily. What we got was a bright red, blue, white with yellow accent design that really shouldn’t do too well in a realistic war settings. However, Okawara-sensei was able to turn those bright-colored machines into true wartime weapons. The “core fighter” mechanics is also quite innovative with how they use that later on with the G-Fighter.

+ Music: Tobe! Gundam has become the household name for the franchise. It is certainly one of the most iconic song of the series. Performed by Koh Ikeda, the song is filled with youthful energetic beat, and the lyrics remind you of those “recruitment” song for the army, which sorta reflect the irony of Amuro’s situation. He didn’t want to go to war nor pilot the Gundam at all, but he is the only one capable of doing so and he kept perform great military feats with it. The rest of the BGM were also very decent, especially the sound effect parts for weapons and lit-up eyes. The series also gave us “Gallant Char” which is a very great tune.

+ Conclusion: Overall, Gundam 0079 is sorta a mixed bag in this day and age. On one hand, the animation hasn’t aged well, there are quite a number of moments that look downright silly, but there are also quite a few that looks decent. In addition, the story and the characters are timeless creations that still hold up to this day. A unique perspective about a war – and how a normal teenager deal with all the loss, the pain that comes with glory. Everyone in the series has a different story to tell as they all saw a different story even though the events are the same. As the start of a great franchise and the first of the most established timeline in the Gundam series, it is highly recommended to watch the tv series if you are a Gundam fan. There are also 3 compilation movies but they cut out a lot of important moments from the TV series, so I advise against watching them as a shortcut to experience 0079, you gotta start with the original to get the full package that Mobile Suit Gundam has to offer.