Mobile Suit Gundam (Kidou Senshi Gundam) or just Gundam, is a science fiction anime franchise which began in 1979, when Mobile Suit Gundam, often referred to by fans as either 0079 (due to the fictional year it takes place in) or First Gundam, began airing on TV. Since then, it has expanded into many other forms of media, from the popular plastic figures (Gunpla) to manga, films, novels and much more.
Considering how influential and popular the series is, many want to watch it, however as we are about to discover, “watching Gundam” entails a lot more than just “watching Gundam.” In order to not go completely off the rails, we’ll only cover what has been made into anime. In the spirit of not making this too difficult to navigate, I’ll section this off into two main parts: Universal Century, and Alternate Universe. Let’s start with the beginning, UC 0079. I’ll also not cover minor entries (Twilight Axis, MS Igloo) or anything SD.
Mobile Suit Gundam watch order:
There are the mainline entries that move the larger plot of the universal century forward as a whole, and then there are the spin off entries. You do not need to have watched any mainline entries to understand the spin offs, they usually fill in gaps in the timeline left by the main entries. There are a few ways you can watch Gundam. You can just watch the spin offs, which require no prior experience to the series but which still take place in the same universe.
The only mainline entries which really require you to watch them in order are First Gundam, Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam (although some will advise you to skip this, I say you choose yourself) and Char’s Counterattack. NT is a direct sequel to Unicorn and should be watched as such. I will list the order for just mainline entries, just spin offs, and then do composite lists, one chronological and one for release.
1: Mobile Suit Gundam (I will refer to this as First Gundam), 43 episodes
Edited into three movies: Mobile Suit Gundam I, Mobile Suit Gundam II: Soldiers of Sorrow, Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space
2: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, 50 episodes
Edited into three movies: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation – Heir to the Stars, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation II – Lovers, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation III – Love Is the Pulse of the Stars | Note: the movies are not a replacement as they have a different ending compared to the TV series
3: Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam, 47 episodes
This entry is quite divisive, many don’t like it because of the drastic tone shift from Zeta. However if you know that this focuses more on the fun cast and realize that it’s not taking itself very seriously, you should enjoy it. You can skip but you will not understand a few things in Unicorn.
4: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, Movie
You can skip straight to this one from Zeta if you want to.
?: Many watch Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, 6 episode OVA, after Char’s Counterattack and before Unicorn. This is because while The Origin technically takes place before First Gundam, it is actually an adaptation of a manga of the same name, which is a re-imagining of First Gundam. Therefore many consider it to be non-canonical.
5: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, 7 episodes + Mobile Suit Gundam NT, movie
NT is a sequel movie to Unicorn.
6: Mobile Suit Gundam F91, Movie
There is some misinformation regarding the production of this film, regardless it can be very confusing. This and Victory are set very far in the timeline so you don’t need to have watched the previous entries to understand the plot, but it is the same universe.
7: Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, 50 episodes
Same as with F91, having watched the previous entries is not required to understand the plot. This entry is almost as divisive as ZZ but for different reasons.
Spin off entries:
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt
Two seasons, four episodes each, later edited into a film each, December Sky and Bandit flower. Takes place during 0079, the same year as First Gundam.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
An adaptation of a re-imagining of First Gundam, technically takes place before First Gundam but because of the changes it makes to the storyline it is not considered canon.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Also takes place during 0079
Mobile Suit Gundam 0800: War in the Pocket
Takes place in the year directly following First Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
Master List chronological order
1:Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
2:Mobile Suit Gundam | Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt | Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team
3: Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
4: Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
5: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
6: Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam
7: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
8: Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn
9: Mobile Suit Gundam NT
?: Hathaway’s Flash is a trilogy of films soon to be released, which will take place between NT and F91.
10: Mobile Suit Gundam F91
11: Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
Masterlist release order:
1: Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)
2: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985)
3: Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam (1986)
4: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988)
5: Mobile Suit Gundam: War in the Pocket (1989)
6 : Mobile Suit Gundam: F91 (1991)
7: Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (1991)
8: Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (1993)
9: Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (1996)
10: Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn (2010)
11: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (2015)
12: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (2016)
13: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt 2nd Season (2017)
14: Mobile Suit Gundam NT (2018)
15: Hathaway’s Flash Trilogy when it releases
As opposed to the Universal Century, alternate universe series take place in their own separate universes, and while the is usually some imagery and symbolism that is reminiscent of UC entries, the story and characters are completely different. This means that it’s a lot easier to watch an AU series, because everything is usually labelled “season 1” and “season 2,” as opposed to the UC. However for some entries in the AU, it can still be a little complicated.
Turn A Gundam, 50 episodes
Has two compilation movies
G no Reconguista/G-Reco, 26 episodes
Currently being remade into a pentalogy of films
Gundam 00, 25 episodes
Gundam 00 Second Season, 25 episodes
Gundam 00 The Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer, movie
Gundam AGE, 49 episodes
Gundam Wing, 49 episodes
Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, 3 episodes
Gundam SEED, 50 episodes
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: After-Phase Between the Stars (5 min epilogue for the first season)
Gundam SEED Destiny, 50 episodes
Mobile Fighter G Gundam, 49 episodes
Iron Blooded Orphans, 25 episodes
Iron Blooded Orphans 2nd Season, 25 episodes
After War Gundam X, 39 episodes
Episode count was cut down from 50 to 39, therefore the ending is a little rushed.
Gundam Build Fighters, 25 episodes
Gundam Build Fighters Try, 25 episodes
Gundam Build Divers, 25 episodes
Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise, 13 episodes
Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise 2nd Season, 13 episodes
That’s an overview of Gundam as a franchise, now that isn’t all – there are short animations which I didn’t feel it necessary to mention, as well as all of SD Gundam which would require an entire guide of its own. But if you have an interest in Gundam, I hope you decide to check out some of the entries.