Last year, Funimation brought the iconic original Mobile Suit Gundam to streaming for the first time, giving people the chance to experience what makes the franchise so influential and special in the first place. Now, at long last, they’re also going to get a chance to experience its fascinating follow up.
Funimation announced today that four more Gundam series would be coming to its streaming service starting September 7 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, before coming to Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru at a later date, in both Japanese with English subtitles, and English dubs.
Beloved ‘90s classic Gundam Wing — the series that launched Gundam’s popularity in the west — will be joined by the animated movie Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative, the prequel/manga adaptation series Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, and, for the first time Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. All fine choices, but if you followed our advice and watched the original Gundam when it first started streaming, Zeta Gundam is the must-watch of the bunch.
First airing in Japan in 1985 — after Gundam as a franchise was saved from cancellation by the popularity of its three-movie adaptation, and, of course, model kits — Zeta Gundam is set eight years after the events of the original show, and follows a mix of both new and old characters as they adapt to the state of the solar system in the wake of the devastating One Year War conflict between the Earth Federation and the rebellious colony Zeon that formed the basis of the first show.
If the original Gundam took aim at the horrors of war and the effect it could have on the young people forced to fight in it, Zeta Gundam holds up an intriguing mirror to the power structures of the systems of governance that made such wars possible in the first place. And then throws a bunch of cool looking giant robots at it.
There’s a complexity to Zeta’s worldbuilding that deepens the simple “Earth vs. Space Colonies” premise of the first show — the primary villains are explicitly a fascistic, corrupt branch of the Earth Federation, the faction the heroes of the original show fought for — and gives it compelling texture. Its teen heroes are traumatized by the conflicts they’re thrust into, villains of the original series become vital allies and supporting protagonists, and returning characters from the first series have to deal with their now-legendary reputations and what that means in a world where they thought their fights were over.
It’s an incredible bit of sequel making, one that takes what made the original work so compelling in the first place and builds it into a richer, deeper, and more complex world. Zeta Gundam set the foundation for Gundam’s most explored timeline, the Universal Century, to flourish into the massive interconnected tales of TV shows, movies, and manga that it is today.
Suffice to say, it’s well worth a watch — and you won’t have to wait long until you can!