A Little Knowledge about Gundam

 

 

October 22, 2001

by Juan F. Soto and Milton Rodriguez


Super Robots invaded Japan in 1972. What Superman did for American comic books, Go Nagai's Mazinger-Z did for Japan. While Superman was the grandfather of Superheroes, Mazinger-Z was the father of super robots. Every Magna (comic book) publisher and cartoon producer in the country created his or her own giant robot. Most of them (like Mazinger) had one pilot as the main character. Yet, the real hero was the super robot.

 

Yes, Mazinger was only a machine that had to be piloted. But don't tell that to the millions of kids (and grown-ups) around the world who still to this day watch that show. I have friends who jumped in joy when it flew for the first time and cried when Mazinger-Z was destroyed in his last episode.

 

With time, the creators made more changes to new stories. The pilot wasn't alone any more. The robots were not one piece. They could team-up with robots from other shows. And sometimes they even fought against more that one enemy.

 

Then, Star Wars hit the world. Sci-fi was okay for old people again. In Japan a new and very important change came about for the super robots: They became only instruments. They were no longer the heroes. With the introduction of Gundam by Sunrise (Bandai) in 1979, the characters became the heroes.

 

In the first Gundam show we met Amuro Ray, a federation member from the Side 7 Colony. When Zion forces attacked his colony in search of a new powerful weapon, Amuro found the Gundam prototype. An the rest, as they say, "is history."

 

At the beginning, the show wasn't that popular. In fact, to get some of the lost money back, the first episodes were made into a movie. The producers hoped to get a few thousand people with their kids in to some selected theaters.

 

To their surprise, more than a few thousand came. The numbers where tens of thousands. They also found out something else: no kids. All those people who went to see the movie were teenagers and collage students.

 

They did two more movies with the rest of the episodes. However, it wasn't until 1985 that Gundam was back with new stories. The new series was called Gundam Z, soon followed that same year by Gundam ZZ.

 

At the end of the 80's, the Japanese video market got a new category called Original Video Animation or OVA for short. These were movies or episodes produced only for the video club market. With it, the Gundam Universe expanded. Titles like Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, 0083: Stardust Memory, The 08th Team and Endless Waltz gave the public a chance to enjoy more stories with the convenience of video rental.

 

Since then, more and more series had been produce by Sunrise and Bandai. Bandai is the largest toy, plastic model, video and movie producer in Japan thanks to Gundam.

 

It all started in 1980 with the release of Amuro Ray's Gundam (300 yen), Char's Red Zaku (300 yen) and the Zion pilot Zaku (300 yen).  By 1998 they had immortalized in plastic around 360 Gundam models.

 

Gundam models are not only made of plastic, but also vinyl and resin. These are more expensive and are made in less quantity. They are put together by real pros of kit building.



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Copyright 2010 byJuan F. Soto and Milton Rodriguez. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.