It is the year Universal Century 0079, in a space colony the Earth Federation is storing and testing a new piloted robot for use in the battle against the Principality of Zeon. The experimental RX-78 Gundam mobile suit is scheduled to be transported to Federation command in Jaburo, deep within the Brazilian jungles. Unfortunatley, before the transporter would arrive, the Federation would come under attack from Zeon. With few resources available against the Zeon’s most mobile mechs, Federation forces strike back using their new weapon, the mobile suit Gundam.
Caught in the crossfire is a young teen named Amuro Ray. Not willing to see innocent people die like this, Amuro crawls into the cockpit of the closest machine around him. Whether it be a tank, jeep or jet, he was going to use it to help stop this slaughter. And what he happened to slide into was another Gundam. Having never operated a machine like this, what are the chances he can do anything to repel an experienced squad of mech-piloting invaders?
Volume 1 includes an essay from Hideaki Anno, director of the hit anime Neon Genesis Evengelion.
Color pages from Yas.
And an essay from Kadokawa Publishing Executive Shinichiro Inoue.
Before I stopped reading comics completely for 8.5 years, I did enjoy reading a fair share of Manga and Manhwa (South Korean comics), ranging from mainstream titles to lesser known releases, including those that were never officially printed in English. However, as much as I loved manga and anime, there were some series that I completely avoided, and Gundam was one of them.
To me, Gundam came across to me like the Power Rangers, Super Sentai or Ultraman franchise; there were so many series, titles, comics, movies, etc within this franchise, that it didn’t really look exciting to outsiders so much as it looked intimidating. Where do you begin, especially when there are prequel series? And if you do manage to start at the beginning, how in the world do you catch up? Can you catch up?
Some people have called Gundam the Star Wars of Japan, but Star Wars has only 8 movies (only the first three are worth watching, in my opinion), while Gundam has an infinite batch of TV shows, movies, video games, novels, manga adaptations, the list goes on.
Then I saw Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin on the shelf while browsing for more comics to read, and it immediately caught my attention. First of all, the material used for the hardcover feels amazing to the touch, and the pages of the book are glossy, which only motivated me to give the series a try.
I had talked myself into believing that having anything to do with Gundam is a fools errand, or at the very least an easy way to get lost and confused, but now, I think I was a bit too harsh from the onset.
The plot of this manga is a retelling of the 1979 TV Series, featuring artwork by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, the original character designer for the original series. I’ve never watched Mobile Suit Gundam, so I can’t compare the two, but I feel that I understand the general premise of beginning of the series. Set in Universal Century 0079, during an ongoing war between the Earth Federation and the colony Principality of Zeon. The main plot of the series follows the crew of the ship White Base, who’s mission is to escort their experiential Gundam suit to the military base at Jaburo.
The artwork is a nod to the 1979 series, never appearing rushed or slap-dashed. It was really cool that the same character designer was responsible for the artwork in this manga, because it can make newcomers rest assure hat they aren’t truly missing anything. HOWEVER, there were some panels where the action was a bit difficult to follow sometimes.
As for the plot, well… what about it?
After reading this massive volume, I hardly remember the small details. You do get introduced to legacy characters such as Amuro Ray or the antagonist Char Aznable, not to mention the attack on Side 7, the death of the White Base captain, and of course, the activation of the titular Rx-178 Mobile Suit, but for me, I may have to re-read the volume several more times before I actually retain much of the story. A lot happens, and even though this is intended to be an introduction to the Gundam series, it’s A LOT to take in for a new read, and there are SO MANY technical terms used by the White Base crew that I found myself re-reading pages to make sense of said terms, or just remaining outright confused.
Still, I hate to be negative; Gundam is a very popular franchise worldwide, and maybe with a few re-reads, I might be able to see and appreciate the appeal. OR, maybe I should bite the bullet and watch the cartoon, or even still, maybe giant robot comics just aren’t for me.