Now the first 2 are in their own timeline so you don’t need to see anything prior. Thunderbolt is part of Universal Century but you don’t really need to know the background before watching it (btw it also captures the best things about the Gundam series)
If you’re just looking for some Gundam to watch however some of my favorites are-
Gundam Creators Interview: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko From Girl’s Gundam (Pub. Date 9/23/2009)
Amuro Ray, Who Might Have Been Japanese Women have such a myriad of ways of enjoying a work. It’s truly commendable. Any time I try slipping things in to appeal to them specifically, it proves entirely unnecessary (laughs).
Gundam was a project where the character designs were settled on very easily. A big-eyed boy with curly hair who wasn’t cheerful or, frankly, especially handsome… in other words, an anime hero quite unlike the ones who had come before him. When Tomino, the director, approached me with this concept for the lead, I had already been imagining such a character. It was as if we had read each other’s minds, and Amuro’s design was quickly finalized.
Since Amuro wasn’t going to be handsome, we decided to make his adversary Char Aznable good-looking instead. This move was inspired by Sharkin of Raideen (a show Tomino and I had worked on previously) who had been well-received by female fans; through him I learned villains could also make a strong impression. But since being attractive by itself isn’t interesting, Char needed an individual element to distinguish himself. Thus, the mask to conceal his face. This had the added benefit of giving him an air of mystery! Call it haphazard or superficial of us (laughs).
As for Bright Noa, he’s nineteen but mentally much older. Role-wise, he’s the middle management type. So I gave him his hairstyle imagining he’d develop a widow’s peak in a few years (laughs).
The biggest factor behind us being able to design the cast so freely was the TV programming agency getting lax with their inspections. Normally they’d go over everything and make demands, like: The hero must be Japanese! He must be handsome and he must be cheerful! But with Gundam, they let it all pass. I had even thought up a backup setting for Amuro that changed the Ray in his name to Rei and listed his birthplace as being in the mountains of Shimane, but we didn’t up needing it (laughs). On the subject, the characters of Mirai Yashima and Hayato Kobayashi came from this hidden agenda of wanting to portray the Japanese in supporting instead of starring roles for a change. That’s also why they’re shorter and plumper, with smaller eyes (laughs).
Regarding the costumes, I tried to add some fun touches. I felt that the Federation uniforms would look unappealing if the colors were too military-like, so I went with a 19th century-esque, French Tricolore-inspired overall palette. In contrast, I gave the Zeon uniforms more traditional coloring, hoping to evoke the image of pre-war Germany; less Nazi, more Prussian. I wanted outfits that kids could cosplay by dressing up their school uniforms. I even hoped the really dedicated girls would do pair looks with their boyfriends (laughs). And sure enough, the cosplayers appeared. I remember ecstatically exclaiming: “Yes! There they are!”
A Work Becomes Appealing The More People Play With It Looking back, Gundam came out during the transitional period when anime was moving away from the standard hero route of story-telling. So while it’s a military drama, there are still some unrealistic bits. Take Char’s cape, for example. I wanted him to wear one, but if it were too long, it would look cartoonish… so I made it waist-length. As for his helmet, those horns serve no purpose beyond being dangerous, but I figured an anime character requires some extra ornamentation (laughs). I troubled myself over these details a lot, and even taking the middle road, things got messy (laughs).
But there were people who had fun with such details via parody. I remember them calling Char’s cape ‘The Cockroach Mantle’ and remarking on how he looked ‘pretty adorable’ scurrying away from battle in it (laughs). Garma, the narcissist rich boy, got called cute and became far more popular with female fans than we anticipated. Even the freckled weakling Kai had admirers. As for Amuro, many girls said he was the kind of character they couldn’t leave alone, that they wanted to take care of him.
This was around the time light parody doujinshi culture, which included yaoi, was growing with women at the base. It was completely unlike the old-mannish parody works being made up until then. It was fresh, and took me by surprise. Some were angered by it, claiming it made a mockery of the source material, but I didn’t think so. It was brand-new culture. So while keeping in mind issues of copyright, be it parody, fangirling, yaoi or cosplay… I’d like to encourage everyone to continue enjoying Gundam in their own unique way.