The Mobile Suit Gundam world is a fascinating one to be a part of, particularly the original iteration (often branded as 079). If you don’t know much about it, yes it does involve giant robots but that’s only half the appeal. It’s a deeply rooted war story carefully showing each side of the conflict with equal distinction. No allegiance is taken, it just presents the facts and goes deep into what it means to start a war, its atrocities and how it affects both sides and civilians as well as its aftermath. It’s a grand scale Space Opera second only to Star Wars. The original cartoon does a decent job showing all this but it’s creator Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s manga reinterpretation, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin that is the definitive telling.
Origin is being put out quarterly by Vertical Publishing in beautiful hardbounds in 12 volumes ending in December of 2015 (as of the writing of this article volume 8 has just been released). With original art by Yashukio in black and white it also features many painted pages as well as other supplemental paintings like the ones found below. The retelling takes the early 1980’s cartoon and fleshes the world out. Most of the events and high points are the same, but they are laid out in a more coherent and consistent way. The tone is more mature, although the cartoon was pretty uncompressing in its bleak tone and frank portrayal of death. Most interestingly though, it digs deep into the past which really opens the story up. What is treated as about an 8 minute flashback in the cartoon is spread out over 3 volumes of the manga, that’s about 1,300+ pages of backstory. Backstory that is 100% necessary to understanding the political climate prior to the lead up of the war and presenting so much character motivation particularly for one of the main antagonists, Char Aznable. The manga transformers what was a “cool” character from the cartoon into a deeply flawed but driven sympathetic menace.
I’ve often started Gundam articles only to delete them in frustration, finally deciding to let Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s art work speaks for itself. If this art doesn’t get you interested in Gundam then I have failed and I’m afraid nothing else will.