Gundam is, well in cultural importance, to Japan, what Star Wars was to America, only they didn’t build a life size death star yet. It started out in the 70s and has since spun out into a huge franchise set across multiple continuities. Gundam the Origin is set in the original continuity called “Universal Century” and takes us to years before the first episode aired.
To best describe Origin, imagine Game of Thrones, in space, where they are just beginning to build giant robots to engage in a war with. And the lead is a cross between Tyrion Lannister and Darth Vader before the prequels were made. Yes that is the best way to describe it. We see what turned Casval Deikun into the single most famous character in the franchise’s history, Char Aznable ( so famous that all Gundam series have what is called a char clone).
While watching this I couldn’t help but yell, SEE STAR WARS, THIS IS HOW ITS DONE!
Where Star Wars took its single most iconic character and ruined him in their prequels, Gundam the origin made Char an even more compelling character. It showed what drove him to become what he became, and the determination he had so that you knew, he was not even going to have a second thought at having people killed to help in his plans for revenge.
Currently I’ve seen 3 parts in this series, the first about getting Zeon Zum Deikun’s children Casval and Artesia off the space colony and away from the Zabis as they rise to power. Part 2 follows on 10 years later and after an assassination attempt on the children, their return to space and further showing Casval’s transformation and drive (as well as the initial creation of mobile suits) and part 3 showed him assuming the name Char, infiltrating the Zeon military academy, and showing the lengths he is willing to go to for revenge.
But the show isn’t just about Char ( though if it was it would still have been great) we also see the early years of other fan favourite character from the original series, like Sayla Mass and Ramba Ral, and most importantly the very origins of Mobile suits ( giant robots built for war of which the titicular gundam is one). Plus the political maneuvers and power grabs, conspiracies that all lead to the one year war, all the while seeing the rise of Char.
And War is a central part of all gundam series, they don’t set up these machines as colourful play things, they make it clear from the opening scenes, these are weapons of war and it doesn’t shy away or romanticise that. People die in this, people die that you may have spent the majority of this part of the story getting to know.
That being said the mobile suits are cool looking and I’m planning to get one of the plastic kits to build some of the ones in this OVA series.