The 20 Best Gundam Anime, Ranked (Series + Movies)

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There’s hardly anyone born after 1980 who doesn’t know about Gundam. It’s one of the biggest Japanese pop culture phenomenons that redefined the giant robot genre.

Granted, giant humanoid robots had been a thing in anime since Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsujin 28-go (known abroad as Gigantor). But Gundam was different.

Yoshiyuki Tomino’s writing was realistic, the robot designs were sleek, and the anime’s anti-war message rang true with the Japanese public.

After over 30 years of Gundam shows and films, it’s hard to know where to start – especially if you’re a newcomer who can’t tell an RX-78-2 from a Zaku 2.

To save you a bit of time and point you in the right direction, I’ve put together this list of the best Gundam shows that every fan should watch.

 

20. Gundam Build Fighters Try (2014)

Gundam Build Fighters Try (2014) Anime Screenshot

Era: Anno Domini
Length: 25 Eps.

GBF Try brings us more of the same fantastic characters and beautifully animated Gunpla battles that made the original such an enjoyable show.

It’s amusing to watch Sunrise animate a show based on a timeline where their beloved IP became the largest cultural phenomenon in modern history.

The plot isn’t quite as solid as the original. But watching an underdog team making their stand against all odds never gets old.

Watch this if you’re craving cool Gundam battles.

 

19. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (2002)

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Anime

Era: Cosmic Era
Length: 50 Eps.

Gundam SEED rose to popularity by emulating what made Gundam Wing so successful:

An enticing cast and engaging storytelling.

SEED looks at the racial tension the appearance of a new human subspecies – the coordinators – can create and how it could lead to war.

It’s a rough but honest look at how human societies have operated since the dawn of time.

Since it takes place in a completely different, isolated continuity, Gundam SEED could be a great entry point to the franchise.

 

18. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE: 0096 (2010)

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Re: 0096 Screenshot

Era: Universal Century (0096)
Length: 22 Eps.

Based on a novel by Harutoshi Fukui, Gundam Unicorn was first released as a series of shorter web animations in 2010.

It was later re-compiled into a TV-show format.

The show’s plot revolves around Laplace’s Box, an item with political implications that could bring down the ruling structure of the Earth Federation.

While the plot is intriguing, my favorite part about the show has to be the super-cool mobile suit designs – including the titular Unicorn and the Sinanju as designed by Hajime Kintoki.

 

17. Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988)

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack Anime

Era: Universal Century (0093)
Length: 125 Min.

After Char Aznable’s appearance as a likable budding hero in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, his surprising transformation into a genocidal maniac trying to drop asteroids on Earth is a bit extreme.

Destroying the Earth just so that we can’t fight over it is just faulty logic, way below Char’s stature.

Still, it gives us the perfect opportunity to watch Amuro and Char duke it out one last time in top-of-the-line mobile suits.

Going out in a blaze of glory was the only ending fit for these two warriors.

 

16. Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (2011)

Mobile Suit Gundam Age Anime Screenshot

Era: Advanced Generation (108)
Length: 49 Eps.

War leaves deep marks on everyone involved.

And these wounds cause ripples far into the future.

That’s the overarching theme in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, which follows the exploits of Flit Asuno and his descendants in the war against Vagan – a nation of Mars colonizers abandoned by the Earth Federation.

The character designs by Level-5 are among the best the series has ever seen here. And it features plenty of exciting flashy mobile suit battles.

 

15. Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994)

Mobile Fighter G Gundam Anime

Era: Future Century
Length: 49 Eps.

Gundam rose to popularity by setting itself apart with a grounded plot and a realistic look at giant robots as weapons of war.

But not every entry in the series is quite as square-cut.

In Mobile Fighter G Gundam’s future, the nations of the universe have agreed to lay down their weapons and settle their differences with a Gundam tournament.

This focus on one-on-one battles (and the admittedly campy storyline) makes it really easy to get into with no previous Gundam knowledge.

G Gundam is a must-watch if you’re in it for the bad-ass characters and brutal mobile suit battles.

 

14. Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (2015)

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Screenshot

Era: Universal Century (0079)
Length: 8 Eps.

If you thought the main battles of the One Year War were brutal, think again.

Gundam Thunderbolt reminds us that this giant robot anime is meant to deliver an anti-war message, even if it often gets overshadowed by the cool mechas.

Thunderbolt features plenty of visually striking battles too. But the focus always comes back to the fear and suffering experienced by these warriors.

Even the Living Dead Division that fights on behalf of Zeon is made up exclusively of pilots who’ve suffered horrible war injuries.

 

13. Mobile Suit Victory Gundam (1993)

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam Anime

Era: Universal Century (0153)
Length: 51 Eps.

Almost a hundred years after the One Year War, the Earth Federation is a shadow of the powerful nation it once was – and the Zanscare Empire is ready to grab this low-hanging fruit.

The mature portrayal of the horrors of war appealed to older fans who had grown up with Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ.

The casualties among the main cast are pretty high by the end of the series.

If you’re looking for something that’ll scratch the Game of Thrones-shaped itch, this might do it.

 

12. Gundam Build Fighters (2013)

Gundam Build Fighters Anime Screenshot

Era: Anno Domini
Length: 25 Eps.

Picture a world where instead of cellular technology becoming wildly popular and leading to the eventual development of smartphones, Gundam plastic models were all the rage from 1979 onward.

In the world of Gundam Build Fighters, Gunpla models are high-tech and equipped with weapons that let them fight each other in special matches.

It’s basically Beyblade, but with Gunpla instead of tops.

Along with colorful characters and a compelling plot, the show features plenty of Gundam inside jokes, cameos, and opportunities to lose your chill over the appearance of your favorite classic mobile suits.

Well worth the watch if you’ve been into the series in the past, or getting back into it.

 

11. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995)

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Anime

Era: After Colony (195)
Length: 49 Eps.

Gundam Wing was the first anime series in the Gundam franchise to receive a full dub and start airing in the US – and countless other countries followed suit.

This has made it one of the most popular and fondly-remembered Gundam shows, although it doesn’t necessarily feature the best writing.

It has weak pacing and a questionable plot, but its themes of rebellion against a rotten government and its young, magnetic cast were a hit with audiences.

If you want to watch something relatable and easy-to-digest, go for Gundam Wing.

 

10. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (2007)

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Anime Screenshot

Era: Anno Domini 2307
Length: 50 Eps.

We all love the epic space battles and rivalries of the Universal Century. But a change of pace is always welcome.

Sometimes, a more grounded perspective is needed to tell a different story.

MS Gundam 00 can be seen as a more polished take on the Gundam Wing formula, which focuses on its attractive characters to draw you in and keep you hooked.

Almost every central character gets plenty of screen time, and has a great backstory that makes you want to cheer for them.

Something Gundam 00 improves massively is the actual plot, at least during the first two-thirds of the show.

The main characters’ plan to stop war through the sheer power of mobile suits actually sounds plausible, and it’s fascinating to follow.

 

9. Turn A Gundam (1999)

Turn A Gundam Anime Screenshot

Era: Correct Century (2345)
Length: 50 Eps.

I love Turn A Gundam because it brings together every other Gundam timeline into a single context.

Near the end of the show, it’s revealed that the Correct Century is set over 3000 years after the Universal Century’s One Year War.

Every other alternate timeline is also shown to have happened in the past.

It also features the first Gundam model designed by a foreigner – the eponymous Turn A.

Syd Mead, an American futurist who contributed significantly to franchises like Blade Runner, Star Trek, and Tron, was granted the honor.

 

8. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (2015)

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Anime

Era: Universal Century (0079)
Length: 6 OVAs

Zeon’s genius pilot Char Aznable is one of the best parts of the show.

MSG: The Origin provides a revealing insight into the character’s motivations and past identity before donning the iconic mask.

It was released on the 35th anniversary of the original show, as part of the celebrations.

And as one of the most recent entries in the franchise, it features incredibly dynamic battles and crisp mobile suit models.

Watching Char wipe out an entire fleet at the Battle of Loum never gets old.

Of course, this four-episode OVA isn’t only about The Red Comet.

It also puts the events of the original MSG into context and helps build empathy toward both sides of the One Year War.

 

7. Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (1991)

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory Screenshot

Era: Universal Century (0083)
Length: 13 Eps.

This OVA series serves as a prequel to the fantastic Zeta Gundam. Its value lies in making the latter even better by adding context, and further exploring how evil and corrupt the Earth Federation can be.

It’s one of the most visually impressive Gundam shows from before the turn of the century.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the plot.

What could have been a fantastic story of Zeon remnants fighting to keep the flame of their nation burning, is lost due to a gravely generic protagonist, bland secondary cast, and unlikeable antagonists.

All that said, this anime is fantastic if you edit everything out but the battle scenes.

 

6. Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash (2021)

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway's Flash Anime

Era: Universal Century (0105)
Length: Ongoing three-part film series

The most recent entry in the MSG franchise takes us back to the Universal Century, several years after Char’s Counterattack and the Second Neo-Zeon War.

Hathaway’s Flash follows Hathaway Noa, son of celebrated Federation Captain Bright Noa. He leads a terrorist organization opposing the Earth Federations’ authoritarian views and intentions to privatize the Earth, so that only the privileged may enjoy the mother planet.

It’s part of the UC NEXT 0100 project, which started back in 2018 with Gundam Narrative.

I can’t say I like the bulky RX-105 Ξ Gundam.

But other than that, Hathaway’s Flash spells a bright future for Gundam.

 

5. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (1996)

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08Th Ms Team Anime Screenshot

Era: Universal Century (0079)
Length: 12

While Amuro and Char were shooting it out up in the sky, things on the ground were also heating up.

The 08th MS Team follows main character Shiro Amada and his team as they engage in guerrilla warfare (on mobile suits) against Zeon’s ground forces in the humid jungles of Southeast Asia.

Where the original MSG focused on rivalries, this show puts the magnifying glass on the strain war puts on human relationships.

And you might also consider watching the compilation film Team Miller’s Report for some extra scenes.

 

4. Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (1989)

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War In The Pocket Anime

Era: Universal Century (0080)
Length: 6 Eps.

Whereas some Gundam shows are only worth watching due to the bad-ass mecha combat, War in the Pocket could still be a fantastic war story even if the mobile suits were completely removed from the plot.

This short series gives us a glimpse into how the One Year War affected innocents far beyond the Earth Federation’s or Zeon’s borders.

At the same time, it’s a bit of a Romeo & Juliet story with just as tragic an ending.

It’s personal and emotional, and manages to deliver its anti-war message much better than the average Gundam show.

 

3. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (2015)

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Screenshot

Era: Post-Disaster (323)
Length: 50 Episodes

Set 300 years after an interplanetary conflict known as the Calamity War nearly wiped out all colonies in the Earthsphere, Iron-Blooded Orphans turns the teenage war hero trope on its head.

Poverty and violence have been everyday companions for the show’s cast of war children for as long as they can remember – and it’s through violence that they choose to carve out a place for themselves in this harsh reality.

This is one of the darkest entries in the Gundam series.

But it’s also profoundly enjoyable thanks to its deep characters, which are explored at length throughout the series’ run.

It also features some of the most unique alternate timeline Gundam designs.

 

2. Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)

Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) Anime Screenshot

Era: Universal Century (0079)
Length: 43 Eps.

The original Mobile Suit Gundam revolutionized the giant robot genre with Kenji Odawara’s remarkable mecha design, and the grounded, realistic portrayal of these machines.

Instead of magical robots fighting for justice, a mobile suit is a tool for war.

And so, this show revolves around warfare in all of its dimensions.

On the one hand, you see the birth of legends like Ray Amuro and Char Aznable.

But on the other, you see the terrible impact of war on everyone involved.

Yoshiyuki Tomino managed to write a mecha show that could resonate with Japan’s own war-wound with its anti-war message – and at the same time, sell merchandise like hotcakes.

Genius work.

 

1. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation (2005)

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation Anime

Era: Universal Century (0085)
Length: 3 Comp. Films

Set seven years after the One Year War (four years after the events of Stardust Memory), MS Zeta Gundam tells one of the rawest and most riveting war stories in the franchise.

It’s one of those sequels that improves the original by virtue of existing.

The portrayal of the Earth Federation as a ruthless police state hunting down Zeon remnants regardless of age, gender, or involvement in the previous conflict was poignant.

It reminds us that in war, there are no good guys – only survival and hate.

There’s also Char Aznable wearing bad-ass sunglasses and leading a rebellion under the codename “Quattro Bajeena.”

It really doesn’t get any cooler than that.

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