As we introduced in part 1, we’re recommending how you should watch the Universal Century editions of Gundam in chronological order within the timeline, not the release order. In that article, we presented the titles that take place during the One Year War, most notably the Gundam movie trilogy, 08th MS Team, and 0080. One exception was Origin, which serves as a prequel. For part 2, we wish to share with you some installments that take place after the One Year War.
1. Kidou Senshi Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: May 23, 1991 – September 24, 1992
As the title suggests, Stardust Memory takes place 3 years after the One Year War. While the world seems to be at peace, remnants of the former Principality of Zeon led by Delaz, a former elite admiral, wishes to make Zeon great again. Helping him on his conquest is Anavel Gato, an ace pilot who sneaks into a Federation base and steals one of their latest Gundams, the GP02A. To make matters worse, the GP02A has nuclear capabilities. Stepping up to the plate to stop the Delaz Fleet is rookie test pilot Ensign Kou Uraki, who becomes pilots the GP01 Gundam. While Ensign Uraki may not be an accomplished pilot or a Newtype, he has the drive to do the right thing!
The ultimate purpose of Stardust Memory is to provide the origin story of the Titans, the villains in Zeta Gundam. Upon the ending of Stardust Memory, it gives some fan service cameos to some key players in the Titans who are heavily featured in Zeta Gundam, most notably Bask Om. Another notable cameo is Harman Karn, another antagonist in Zeta and ZZ. What makes this series appealing is its very detailed mechanical visuals, which were designed by Shoji Kawamori, the creator of Macross. Also, we just wanted to mention that you’ll likely get a kick of its energetic soundtrack.
2. Kidou Senshi Zeta Gundam (Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: March 2, 1985 – February 22, 1986
Zeta is the first officially released sequel to the original Gundam. Taking place in UC0087, the world is at peace, but under the iron grip of the Titans, an elite Federation unit that is used to squash any resistance. Due to their draconian methods of enforcement, people live in fear. No longer wanting to tolerate their harsh rule, a band of rebels forms AEUG, or the Anti-Earth Union Government. One of its key soldiers is Quattro Bajeerna, who is actually Char Aznable. Their latest recruit is Kamille Bidan, a troubled teenager who is also an engineering genius. Sick of his life and how the Titans treat everyone, he leaves everything behind to become a rebel!
Upon its initial broadcast, Zeta was very controversial. The networks, studio, and even Tomino’s own family complained to him that they found the series too dark (keep in mind that he made Ideon and Dunbine before making Zeta)! As time went on, many fans came to praise the series for being dark. The series is full of death but what makes Zeta great is how it portrays the true brutalities of war. When people die meaninglessly, it can show that war in itself is meaningless. While they’re no longer featured in any present DVDs or Blu-rays, the original opening and ending theme songs happened to be Japanese covers of Neil Sedaka’s Better Days are Coming and Bad and Beautiful. While Zeta got a compilation trilogy in 2005, it was given a new ending to reflect the present Tomino who is happier in comparison to the Tomino who was going through a severe depression throughout the 80s.
3. Kidou Senshi Gundam ZZ (Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ)
- Episodes: 47
- Aired: March 1, 1986 – January 31, 1987
ZZ (read as Double Zeta) takes place immediately after the ending of Zeta. Camille is in a catatonic state from his fight with Scirocco, and Char has gone MIA. While the threat of the Titans has been eliminated, there is still Neo Zeon, led by Harman Karn, to deal with. In order to fight this new threat, Captain Bright assumes command of AEUG and recruits Judau Ashta, a junker to be his newest pilot and his friends to be his crew.
ZZ is also controversial but for strange and yet legitimate reasons. While Zeta is notable for being dark, the first half of ZZ is cartoonishly comedic but goes dark towards the final half. We have to keep in mind that Tomino received criticism for Zeta being too dark so we can’t blame him for taking this approach. However, ZZ does some things differently beyond its tone. While Judau is a natural with machines, he’s not as educated as Amuro or as Camille and is mostly motivated by wanting to make money to put his sister through school. While he may lack book smarts, he has street smarts and his inclusion gives the franchise something fresh to work with.
For video games, we recommend that you play the Zeta Gundam game for PlayStation as its ending shows what happens to Char after the final battle in the series and why he started Neo Zeon in Char’s Counterattack. If you’re looking for manga, then you have to read Char’s Deleted Affair. The manga covers Char’s activities between the original Gundam trilogy and Zeta Gundam. There you can learn about his relationship with Harman, and how he ended up in AEUG. So stay tuned for the third and final part of our In What Order You Should Watch Universal Century Gundam series of articles!