Mobile Suit Gundam – 01

機動戦士ガンダム /Kido Senshi Gundam episode 01
Mobile Suit Gundam – 01

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01Sometime in the future during what is known as the year 0079, Earth is in an eight-month war with an alien humanoid race known as the Zeon. Currently, the war is at a stalemate though the Earth Federation forces are working on constructing a new battleship and mobile suit units known as Gundam, to counter the Zeon mobile suits known as Zaku. A Federation ship is followed to its base location on one of Earth’s artificial colony stations (known as Side 7) by a Zeon warship. Char, in command of that ship, receives intel from a 3-man infiltration team that Earth has begun to produce its own mobile suits.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01Inside the colony, the military has ordered the evacuation of civilians while the classified Gundam units are transferred to the new battleship. Amuro, a young man who’s father is in charge of the Gundam project, is dragged from his house by a concerned female friend (Frau Bow) and taken to the shelter. Meanwhile, one of the members of the infiltration team decides that even though their orders were to gather intel, he is going to make a name for himself by destroying the Gundam units. As such, he gets into his Zaku and attacks. Back in the evacuation shelter, the explosions from the attack are heard and Amuro leaves to find his father, only to get in the middle of the fight. With the lone Zaku unit destroying Earth forces, Amuro stumbles upon classified Gundam documents in the debris left from the destruction of a military vehicle.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01Because of the attack, the evacuation shelters are evacuated and the civilians sent to the new battleship called the White Base. Amuro sees his father attempting to get one of the Gundam units loaded and runs to him. His father tells Amuro to evacuate as Frau returns to get Amuro. An explosion sends her flying and kills several people, including her mother and grandfather. After getting the weeping Frau to pull herself together and flee (with a promise to join her soon), Amuro races to the surviving Gundam unit with the classified plans in hand. Amuro activates the unit and the twin guns in the head of the unit. The Gundam’s armor is strong enough to take direct hits from the Zaku unit as Amuro gets the Gundam up, firing the whole time.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01After exhausting his ammunition, Amuro is afraid and left with nothing else, uses the suit itself to rip part of the Zaku, causing it to be damaged badly. The damaged Zaku attempts to flee while his Zeon boss provides cover. However, Amuro isn’t allowing this and using the energy sword that the Gundam has as standard weaponry, he destroys the Zaku unit but because they are close to the hull of Side 7, the explosion rips open the hull. The other Zaku charges Amuro’s Gundam and Amuro knows he can’t risk the Zaku exploding. As such, he uses the energy sword to stab the Zaku’s cockpit, located midsection of the unit and the Zaku is taken down. Before the military can discover who’s piloting the Gundam, Char takes his warship and attacks Side 7.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01


Mobile Suit Gundam - 01As I watched this, I was struck by the similarities in how Amuro got involved in the Gundam project to how Hikaru got involved in Macross — an enemy force attacks and left with no other option, both get into the mecha unit at hand and without training, manage to luck out and save the day. Indeed, there are other similarities, enough so that I think it is clear that Macross took inspiration from Gundam. Of course, Gundam took some of its inspiration from the Starship Troopers novel (which the Japanese later made into a 6-episode OVA in the 80’s), which I believe introduced the concept of mobile suits, though perhaps not on the large scale they are in Gundam.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01Still, having Amuro so quickly master a Gundam unit is rather a stretch. Granted, we had the little scene when Frau came to drag him to the shelter where he’s shown to be quite studious and one could infer that maybe Amuro is a genius. That’s the only way he could take complicated blueprints and operations manual for the Gundam unit and after only skimming over the material, be able to figure out where most things are. Of course, that doesn’t explain the fighting ability. I remember the throw away line about the Gundam’s computers learning from battle so I suppose that the computers may have done most of the sword stuff. However, the anime makes it seem that Amuro did the work.

Mobile Suit Gundam - 01For a military installation and colony, Side 7’s security is pretty bad. Seriously, how do three enemy mobile suits infiltrate the colony so easily through what I’m guessing is a service hatch? Not only that, but there’s no security inside the base either beyond some military hardware which is a laugh. I say this because apparently, Earth doesn’t bother to try to keep intruders out but they have some military units to fight “something” should that something invade. Unfortunately, they apparently figured that “something” would not be enemy mobile suits. In addition, apparently no one thought about having some sort of sensors on the hull (inside and outside) to look for security breaches and no one thought to monitor for enemy communications.

Things end on a cliffhanger with Char’s attack, so I better see how things go in episode 2. ^_~

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12 Responses to “Mobile Suit Gundam – 01”

  1. Theron says:

    Don’t worry, some of you questions get explained later.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Alien Humanoid?” They’re just people living in the Space Colonies.

  3. junior says:

    Some odds and ends…

    If you read the three MS Gundam novels (conveniently translated into English) after watching the TV series, then you’ll notice a number of differences. The very first one to appear and probably second most obvious (the most obvious being… well… we won’t spoilt THAT surprise…) is the fact that in the novels Amuro is a part of the crew of White Base as it heads to the colony to retrieve the mobile suits. Rumor is that series-creator Tomino wanted Amuro to be a part of the military – as was the case in the novels – but the executives overruled him. Keep in mind that at this point in time pretty much every single series featured the heroic pilot “falling into the cockpit” (i.e. pretty much what Amuro does here) of a super robot built by a kindly but somewhat eccentric scientist with an attractive daughter or niece that was roughly the hero’s age.

    Amuro’s status as a civilian, and immediate ability to pilot the Gundam, makes slightly more sense if you consider that.

    Also, while Hikaru Ichijo is an accomplished pilot already at the start of SDF Macross (he was a civilian stunt pilot, after all), I’d hardly say that he “saves the day” during his first time in the cockpit of a Valkyrie. More like “stumbles around blindly, wrecks a few buildings by accident, and nearly accidentally crushes Minmei.”


    There’s even a brief gloss-over of a period of a few weeks early in that series after the SDF-1’s fold jump, with just enough information provided to make it clear that’s when he received his combat training.

    iirc, the Side 7 colony that the mobile suits were being built at wasn’t completed, though I don’t remember where that might be indicated. And I could be wrong.

    Sensors in UC Gundam are notoriously fickle. It may actually never have been mentioned in MS Gundam itself (fans may have invented it afterwards as an explanation, and then gotten it officially adopted), but the setting incorporates “Minovsky Particles” generated by the “Minovsky Reactors” that power pretty much every ship and mobile suit. The particles interfere with sensor readings, which is why enemies are able to hide, and long-range detection (and therefore fighting) is rather difficult. In later series you’ll even hear captains giving orders to “scatter Minovsky Particles” in order to protect the ship from long-range detection and sniping.

    As a result, the only reliable method of locating an enemy is via the good old “Mk. 1 Eyeball”.

  4. junior says:

    Forgot to add…

    The movie version of this particular sequence contains one of the most infamous phrases in dub dialogue. As the Zaku II mobile suits attack the colony, we hear an announcement being made that “Robotron invaders are attacking the colony!”


    You can’t make this stuff up!

  5. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Theron — good to know.

    @Anon — At this point, it came across to me that Zeons were some alien race. It wasn’t until episode 2 that I realized that the Side 3 colony had switched sides to become part of Zeon. Now, I’ve not seen anything that says that Zeons weren’t alien so I assumed that is what they were for episode 1. ^_^;

    @Junior — Ah, so the series is based on novels then. I hadn’t realized that but it is good to know.

    Regarding “Minovsky Particles,” that did come up in episode 3 to cause Zeons to suspect an enemy was nearby.

    “Robotron invaders” indeed. *lol*

  6. junior says:

    @Junior — Ah, so the series is based on novels then. I hadn’t realized that but it is good to know.

    No, the novels came later. And there are a number of important differences with the TV series.

  7. Bonehimer says:

    Now that you brought up how Amuro is able to pilot the Gundam with ease, reminds me how we haven’t fully moved away from that concept. I guess no one would wanna watch 20+ episodes of a kid learning to make a robot walk.

    And the similarities of mobile suits in Starship Troopers and Gundam can probably be seen the most in the way they move, which is by hoping/jumping around with help from small bursts of their jets. Kinda glad Tomino was limited by the times and instead gave us Gundam as I get the feeling all we would have gotten other wise would had been some kids starship troopers cartoon.

  8. junior says:

    Now that you brought up how Amuro is able to pilot the Gundam with ease, reminds me how we haven’t fully moved away from that concept. I guess no one would wanna watch 20+ episodes of a kid learning to make a robot walk.

    The original Gunbuster plays with the idea – or more accurately parodies it. The scenes at the mecha piloting school often show the mecha doing things like performing jumping jacks. It looks quite silly, which of course is the intent – although in reality such training might prove very practical (since it’s a somewhat complicated moveset for a pilot to control).

    Both SDF Macross and Macross Frontier start with a pilot who is actually a qualified pilot. But he’s not a qualified combat pilot, and quickly gets himself into trouble (Hikaru moreso than Alto). Both series then make it clear that there’s a glossed over period in which the pilot is engaging in training excercises that are largely unseen (we do see Alto get hammered in a simulation as part of his training). Macross Zero takes it even further – Shin IS a combat pilot. But he’s a Tomcat driver, and not a Valkyrie pilot. Despite the fact that he’s an excellent Tomcat pilot, it’s clear early on that he’s still learning to adapt to the VF-0 transformable fighters that the UN Spacy uses in that series.

    The thing to keep in mind, though, is that training tends to be boring. Ergo, viewers aren’t going to want to watch it. So if you do have it, then you gloss over it. And if your main character is already in the military then you’re probably going to just go ahead and say that he’s already trained. That leaves the guys falling into the cockpit… and they get used because they provide a more identifiable main character than a career soldier.

    MS Gundam does have a couple of explanations as to why Amuro does so well right at the start. First off, the Gundam is a much better machine than the Zakus that it runs into early on in the series. The Zakus have trouble even hurting it. Second, Amuro has another advantage that the series hasn’t revealed yet… but that should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about UC Gundam (hint – it starts with an ‘N’, and has a magazine named after it!).

    Most of the other Gundam settings haven’t used the “falling into the cockpit” gambit. Gundam 00 didn’t, for instance. SEED did (although SEED Destiny didn’t), but rationalized it because the other side was trying to capture Kira’s mobile suit instead of destroy it. Aside from that, UC is the only setting that has pilots fall into the cockpit. But it uses it a LOT…

    MS Gundam
    Gundam Z
    Gundam ZZ
    Gundam F-91
    Gundam V

    ALL of them use that trope.

    Also popular these days are mecha that are essentially controlled by the pilot visualizing what he wants the machine to do. Dual!, Rah-Xephon, and many others are essentially a variation of this and do away with the training sequences as a result. In such series, it’s typically explained that the protagonist makes an excellent pilot because he synchronizes so well with his mecha.

  9. Junior

    Its also worth mentioning that Gundam Seed is meant to be a re-imagining of Mobile Suit Gundam.

    This is best illustrated by how similar the first episode of both series are. Though the plots do diverge as the series progress

  10. Garik says:

    Gundam Seed can get away with Kira “falling into the cockpit” and being successful because Kira is a larval stage of Jesus.

    Anyway, it’s always nice to see First Gundam getting some exposure, especially after its disastrous airing on Cartoon Network all those years ago. I’m looking forward to this one.

  11. junior says:

    Its also worth mentioning that Gundam Seed is meant to be a re-imagining of Mobile Suit Gundam.

    This is best illustrated by how similar the first episode of both series are. Though the plots do diverge as the series progress

    Yeah, up until the Battle of Alaska.

    Which, ironically, is right about the time that most of my old-school Gundam fan friends decided that it actually got good.


    Garik –

    Based on your statement, I’m assuming that you haven’t seen much UC Gundam. While it’s not present so much in the OVAs, the main characters in the TV shows tend to be absolutely amazing in a mobile suit cockpet. There’s one instance in one of the series in which it’s announced early on how many mobile suits that series’s protagonist needs to destroy. And it’s a fairly formidable number.

    And then he keeps a running tally as he kills each one of them.


    All that I’ll say is that there’s an in-universe reason for that.

    Coordinators were, in essence, a way to put one of UC Gundam’s most famous elements into the Cosmic Era without actually having it be the same thing. Gundam 00 included it as well, but once again went about it via a different route.

  12. AstroNerdBoy says:

    You know, I’m always surprised at what will draw traffic. *lol*

    BTW, just to let you all know, I’ve been watching ahead SO it is possible that something you may mention in comments may not be reflected in the next review posting. It doesn’t mean I’ve ignored you, but I tend to not correct thoughts and the like but choose to incorporate new information on reviews not written.

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