In the 35-year history of the Gundam franchise, it has brought mech enthusiasts some of the most intense battle scenes the genre has to offer. Though the fights are portrayed through giant robots, the battles still provide the real brutalities of war.
While some can be more martial arts oriented which was the case in G Gundam, this top 10 list is going to cover the more “realistic” feel of battle. So suit up and check out our list and why we chose these fights.
10. Kid Char (Guntank) and Hamon Crowley vs. The Federation (Guntank)
In the first episode of this prequel saga, the audience learns about the childhood of Zeon’s ace pilot, Char Aznable. In the climax, as Char and his sister try to make an escape through a Guntank, he takes the initiative by taking the controls of the cannon as Hamon, who is assisting in their escape, drives the Guntank to the harbor.
From a very young age, Char demonstrates his natural piloting skills and that he is willing to do what it takes to avenge his family. He recognizes the realities around him, who his enemies are, and must take them down with no mercy.
9. Christina MacKenzie (The Alex) vs. Bernie Wiseman (Zaku)
In the first ever side story to the Gundam franchise, fans learn that the Federation was developing a special type of Gundam for Amuro in the closing to the One Year War. A Zeon reconnaissance unit known as the Cyclops Team infiltrates colony Side 6 (which was supposed to be neutral) where the new Gundam, code named the Alex, is being hidden and tested.
Eventually, the Cyclops Team comes down to one member, rookie Bernie Wiseman. If he does not destroy the Gundam, his commanding officer, Colonel Killing, will nuke the colony. Equipped exclusively with just a Zaku, Bernie must use his other skills by using traps and other guerrilla tactics to fight on even terms. Another advantage Bernie has is that Christina MacKenzie, the pilot of the Alex, is not a Newtype, so she is incapable of using the Alex to its fullest capabilities.
Still, the advanced firepower of the Alex pierces through the Zaku and gives Bernie a head wound early on in but still continues the fight by beheading the Gundam with his heat hawk but Christina stabs him through the cockpit with her beam saber instantly killing him. What makes this fight significant is that it was really a pointless battle, to begin with.
By the time this fight started, the Federation was able to save Side 6 from getting nuked and Bernie dies a vain death but shows Al that war is not something to be glorified as a game. This fight is a great demonstration that in the end, war is pointless and no young life needs to die for no reason.
8. Ribbons Almark (0 Gundam) vs. Setsuna F. Seiei (Exia)
Though initially, Celestial Being’s plans were to help end the conflict on earth, the final battle and would come down to two of its very best pilots. Ribbons very early on disagree with the founder of Celestial Being’s plans and feels that Innovators, the next step in human evolution, should rule the world demonstrating a God Complex.
As a continuation of their battle from their previous machines, both Setsuna and Ribbons end the conflict in their original Gundams. It is a fast-paced battle in which every move their make, it is with the intention to make the kill. Through this battle, it also shows the true core identities of both characters of Ribbons being a megalomaniacal beast and Setsuna as a soldier who fights because it's all he knows and he knows he is fighting for a worthy cause. Both fighters destroy their mobile suits but Setsuna manages to survive as a distant protector of the world’s new found peace.
7. Mikazuki (The Barbatos) vs. Carta’s forces (Graze Ritters)
As the private forces of Tekkadan are attempting to get Kudelia, a representative of Mars, to the world government parliament in Canada through a train, while in Alaska, the forces of Carta intercepts them and gives them a challenge. Ever so frivolous, Carta and her unit challenges Tekkadan to a duel of honor and gives them 30 minutes to comply. Knowing they have no time to waste and wanting to avenge the death of their comrades, Mikazuki accepts the challenge by going for the attack right away without giving 30 minutes.
This fight shows that Tekkadan sees what they do as a job and they have a life or death deadline to make. It’s not that Mikazuki is dishonorable, he sees fighting as a way to put food on the table and to keep a roof over his head. Mikazuki and Tekkadan have their own beliefs, but it goes beyond anything related to government, they fight for themselves and for each other.
This intense battle is a great demonstration showing who Tekkadan is as a unit and what their principles are. The only rules of engagement they follow is to kill or be killed, protect each other, and finish the job.
6. Kou Uraki (The Zephyrantehes) vs. Anavel Gato (The Phyalisis)
In episode 10, Kou and Gato, our two main rivals, have one of their fiercest battles in their respective Gundams. Anavel feels he is the superior pilot and truly believes in a cause he is fighting for, while Kou is just a young pilot who is doing his duty. Gato manages to initialize the pace by using his superior experience to his advantage with simple decoy tactics and space debris as effective cover.
However, with Kou’s developing skills and desperation, he slowly manages to fight Gato on an equal level. Even so, Gato only sees Kou as a boy who doesn't know what he is doing, and his unfortunate underestimation of his opponent contributes to their fight ending in a draw with both men destroying each other’s Gundams.
5. Full Frontal (The Neo Zeong) vs. Bahnager Links (The Unicorn) and Riddhe Marcenas (The Banshee)
In this final confrontation between our hero and his rival, Full Frontal takes his name to a literal level by busting out the heavy artillery with his Neo Zeong, a cross-tribute to the original Zeon and some of the original Char’s other past mobile suits such as his Sazabi from Char’s Counterattack. Not only that, the Neo Zeong is a monster compared to other mobile suits!
This isn’t a battle between mobile suits, but a battle of beliefs. In the beginning, Full Frontal saw potential in Bahnager and even tried to recruit him, but knowing he is a genocidal maniac, he turns him down. But after a Newtype trip through time and coming to learn that conflict will lead to nothing, Full Frontal decides to let go of the final piece of Char’s soul who just wants to rest and allows the energy of the Psycho Frame to consume him.
If there is anything the audience can take from this battle, it shows that at some point all life comes to an end and we only have one shot, and to make the best of it.
4. Io Fleming vs. The Living Dead
In the first episode of this OVA series that serves as a side story to the One Year War, the Moore Brotherhood, a band of soldiers of the Federation who were originally from colony Side 4, wish to reclaim their homeland despite being obliterated. The colony is now under the control of an experimental Zeon Sniper unit, The Living Dead, consisting of members who contain prosthetic limbs that allow them more flexible control of their mobile suits (and they enjoy listening to generic pop music while fighting).
With the Moore Brotherhood aware that it is being under patrol by heavy sniper fire, they devise a plan in hopes that they can slip under their field of vision. Due to the heavy debris, with collision bound to be inevitable, it causes an explosion that alerts them to their enemy being almost wiped out. However, with the sound of some snazzy jazz, Io Fleming manages to sneak past the Zeeks, cut off their power, and take out most of the Living Dead Unit with basic guerrilla tactics, hijack one of their mobile suits, and take low cheap shots at the disabilities of their members.
This battle is a great demonstration that even with a good plan, things can go wrong due to certain factors that difficult to avoid, but there’s always a Plan B or other means of gaining the victory.
3. Amuro (the original Gundam) vs. Char (the Zeong)
Throughout the inaugural series, Char and Amuro would duke it out on numerous occasions. And this addition will emphasize their final battle with Amuro piloting the Gundam which he has had from episode one with Char in his final mobile suit, the Zeong. The Zeong was intended to be a giant mobile armor almost like Dozle’s Big Zam but unfortunately, the Zeong Char pilots were incomplete due to not having legs.
Since they were fighting in space with zero gravity, it was as good as done since “the legs were just for show.” It still had advanced rocket boosters and heavy firepower concentrated from its fingers and its head. And the hands and head could be controlled remotely away from the main body like the funnels of Lalah’s Hermes mobile armor making it capable of attacking from all directions.
In this final battle, both Char and Amuro give each other everything they got destroying bits and pieces of each other’s mobile suits. It eventually came down to the Zeong’s remaining head shooting downwards with the Gundam (losing an arm and its head) returning fire upwards to obliterate each other. However, both pilots would survive to fight again another day.
2. Heero (The Wing Zero) vs. Zechs (The Epyon)
Throughout their numerous battles in this series, these two heated rivals always have different reasons and circumstances, which lead to them. At first, it was about honor. But in their final battle, Heero and Zechs have the fate of the Earth and colonies in their hands. Zechs feels that by destroying the Earth, he can achieve peace but Heero knows that’s nuts so he must defeat Zechs.
After all that Zechs suffers throughout the series and his life, he feels that it is the only solution. Like Zechs, Heero never lived a regular life but knows its value. So this is not just a battle of who is the better pilot, is also one of the philosophical fronts since they will argue about humanity and where it should go. Zechs wants to force humanity to change, but Heero accepts humanity for what it is and they will change when they are ready. Both pilots give it everything they have with their beam sabres as if they were space swashbucklers.
In their final strokes towards each other, Heero emerges victorious but spares Zechs out of respect for Relena. Still, Zechs gives the audience our other character the impression that he dies when he sacrifices himself when he destroys the core of the Peacemillion and bitterly acknowledging Heero as the better man.
1. The 08th MS Team (Guntanks, Gundams) vs. Norris Packard (Gouf Custom)
In the third to last episode of this critically acclaimed hit series, the entire 08th MS team consisting mostly of misfit rookies must take on the seasoned Norris Packard in an abandoned urban area that is a front for a Zeon base. Due to the battleground being on enemy terrain, Norris has a tremendous advantage in taking on our heroes who have poor visibility due to the numerous tall abandoned buildings and the damage further being an obstruction. So it takes the entire team to work together in order to beat him.
This battle is a great representation of the realism of knowing is half the battle. For Norris, it was his home field advantages. For the 08th MS Team, it was working together with what they had and relying on each other. Despite Norris having the initial advantage, he accepts no issue with the possibility that he could die since he loves Aina, who he is protecting throughout this battle, as his own daughter. For most of the fight, Norris’ advanced skills and experience gets the best of the 08th MS Team and makes easy work of the Guntanks.
After Shiro, the team leader goes berserk and reacts out of desperation of his will to live, Shiro tears off the arm of his Gundam and starts beating Norris senseless. Norris succeeds in his mission of taking out the Guntanks while Shiro returns by giving Norris his noble soldier’s death.
It is undeniable to admit for the many installments Mobile Suit Gundam has, it is very difficult to put a list together of this magnitude. We are ready to acknowledge that some of you may have different opinions in regards to what we have chosen and that is cool. Many of its battles have numerous appeals and each stand out in their own way.
With future sagas to come (for hopefully another 35 years), this list is subject to being updated in the future. However, what are your favorite fights from this innovative legacy? Feel free to leave your top 5, 10, and/or 20 in the comments.