Ultimate Mark

Special Feature:
Data Evolution

Here you'll find some of the translations I've made from Japanese-language sources devoted to the Gundam seres. In recent years, the Japanese publications have become somewhat repetitive, consisting mainly of jumbled text recycled from multiple previous works. By looking at these primary sources as individual entities, I hope we can untangle some of the confusion.

The text you'll find here represents some of the most historically significant sources of information on Mobile Suit Gundam and its Universal Century setting. Inevitably, some of this information has been revised by later writers or invalidated by later filmed works, but it's still interesting to see this material in its original context. Placing these original accounts in chronological order also gives us an opportunity to trace the evolution of the Gundam world we know today.

One final note: The policy of the Sunrise studio regarding the Gundam seres is apparently that "only filmed works are official." Technically, then, none of the information below should be considered official until it's been validated onscreen.

In the following list, I've followed the technical distinction between "books" and "mooks" (magazine-books). The latter are published with magazine codes instead of, or in addition to, ISBN identifiers.

Mobile Suit Gundam Setting Notes

  Format: Planning document
  Creation Date: January 1979

Although these settei-sho, or "setting notes," for the original Mobile Suit Gundam series were drafted at the beginning of 1979, they were intended only as a reference source for the show's staff and weren't initially available to the public. These notes were first published in the first volume of the Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Works, which was released in December 1979. Here is a full translation.

Mobile Suit Gundam

  Format: Television series
  Release Date: April 7, 1979—January 26, 1980

Opening Narration
The following is a literal translation of the opening narration from the first episode. This narration was repeated almost verbatim in the first theatrical motion picture, which premiered in March 1981.

Half a century has already passed since humanity migrated its excessive population to space. The huge artificial cities around the Earth became humanity's second home, where people bore children, and raised them... and died.

Universal Century 0079. Side 3, the space city furthest from Earth, began a war of independence against the Earth Federation government under the name of the Principality of Zeon. In just over one month of fighting, the Principality of Zeon and Federation Forces caused the deaths of half the total population. People were horrified by their own actions. The war reached a stalemate, and more than eight months have now passed.

The war became a stalemate. Eight months have passed.

In addition to this minimalist introduction, the television series provides a few details about the earlier battles of the One Year War and the history of the Principality of Zeon. Episode 15 explains that the conflict broke out two years after the construction of Side 7 started, and led to the destruction of four space colony clusters, sparing only Side 3 and Side 6.

fg22_sidemap

We are told that the war began with a One Week Battle (episode 5), rather than the Three Day Battle described in the setting notes. During the the Battle of Loum, Char Aznable destroyed five Federation battleships (episode 2) and the Black Tri-Stars team captured General Revil (episode 24). When Char Aznable and Sayla Mass meet at the Texas colony (episode 38), they talk of how their father founded the Republic of Zeon which was then taken over by the Zabi family, and their real names are revealed to be Casval Rem Deikun and Artesia Som Deikun. And Kycilia later mentions that she played with young Casval when he was four years old (episode 41).

According to the animation script for episode 20, in Sayla's flashback scene with Ramba Ral, they are 7 and 25 years old respectively.

Tomino Memo

  Format: Planning document
  Creation Date: June 1979

This legendary document, drafted by director Yoshiyuki Tomino, outlines the planned 52-episode storyline for Mobile Suit Gundam. Written in early June of 1979, apparently after the series had been approved for a full year but before its broadcast run was shortened by two months, it includes many characters, mobile suits, and events that were cut from the animated story. Some of these mobile suits were later included in the planned MS-X series, which was announced and then canceled in 1984. A partial version of this memo was published in volume 5 of the Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Works, which was released in October 1980, and a more complete annotated version was included in the laser disc Memorial Box released in 1998. Here is a full translation.

Gun Sight Phase 1

  Format: Fanzine
  Release Date: July 1979

This was the first volume of a pioneering dojinshi, or fanzine, created by the fan group known as GFC. Gun Sight was perhaps the first publication to connect the world of Mobile Suit Gundam to real science and technology, and the technical explanations which appeared in this amateur magazine were a major influence on later works such as Gundam Century and the Roman Album Extra series.

Animec Vol.8

  Format: Magazine
  Release Date: November 1979

This issue of Animec magazine featured the third in a series of four interviews with Mobile Suit Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino, in which he discusses many details of the story setting. I've provided a full translation.

Mobile Suit Gundam I (Novel)

  Format: Novel
  Release Date: November 1979

Director Yoshiyuki Tomino's novelization of the original Mobile Suit Gundam story differed dramatically from the animation, but its first volume provided the very earliest published accounts of the history of the Gundam world and the opening events of the devastating One Year War. An English edition of these novels, translated by Frederik L. Schodt, is available from Stone Bridge Press.

Only part of the information from Tomino's novels was accepted by the authors of later Gundam works. The Mechanical History section of Roman Album Extra 42 included a condensed version of the historical background from the first volume of the novels, representing almost everything that was retained by later publications. The Rank Administration that governs Side 6, and Prime Minister Darcia Bakharov of Side 3, were featured in the Gundam III theatrical motion picture after being introduced in this volume. And while early publications generally omitted the details of the Principality of Zeon's use of chemical weapons against the space colonies, the account in this novel seems to have gained more credibility after the use of similar tactics by the Titans in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

Animec Vol.10

  Format: Magazine
  Release Date: March 1980

In his fourth and final Gundam interview, director Yoshiyuki Tomino confirmed that the series spanned a period of about four months and stated that the One Year War ended on January 1, U.C.0080, which remains the official date.

Mobile Suit Gundam II (Novel)

  Format: Novel
  Release Date: September 1980

The second volume of director Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam novelization introduced new characters and machines such as the Newtype pilot Kusko Al, the gray G-3 Gundam, and the Pegasus-class warship Thoroughbred, not to mention the Corregidor shoal zone which lies between the space fortresses Solomon and A Baoa Qu. These were later referenced in the Mobile Suit Variation series, while Char Aznable's red Rick Dom was largely forgotten until it was revived in the Gihren's Greed video games. This volume also introduced the codename Operation Cembalo, used here for a Federation Forces attack on A Baoa Qu but now commonly used for the Solomon offensive in the animated series.

Mobile Suit Gundam

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: March 14, 1981

The first installment in a three-part theatrical adaptation of the original television series. (Unlike the subsequent Gundam II and Gundam III movies, it had neither a Roman numeral nor a subtitle.) Though it reordered and relocated some story events, this movie made no notable changes or additions to the setting.

Mobile Suit Gundam III (Novel)

  Format: Novel
  Release Date: March 1981

The third and final volume of director Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam novelization introduced the new character Cecilia Irene, Gihren Zabi's personal secretary, who subsequently appeared in the Gundam III theatrical motion picture. This volume also repeated the claim that Zeon Zum Deikun's followers assassinated the second son of the Zabi family, identified here as Sasro Zabi.

Mobile Suit Gundam Manual

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: March 1981

A collection of mechanical cutaway diagrams and blueprints published by Asahi Sonorama, and supervised by mechanical design Kunio Okawara and scriptwriter Ken'ichi Matsuzaki. The mobile suit and vehicle specifications published here prefigure those in Gundam Century, and served as reference for Roman Album Extra 44 and 50.

TV Magazine Deluxe: Mobile Suit Gundam Anime Graph Book

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: May 1981

This was one of several books published in conjunction with the first Mobile Suit Gundam theatrical motion picture. Although its main focus was on the new animation produced for the movie, this book also featured a set of four original illustrations by mechanical designer Kunio Okawara, depicting specialized Zaku variants designed for land, sea, desert, and anti-air combat. Together with the gray G-3 Gundam introduced in the second volume of Yoshiyuki Tomino's novels, these laid the foundation for the later Mobile Suit Variation series.

Okawara continued to produce new mobile suit designs over the following months. Kodansha's Mobile Suit Gundam Story Book 2, published in June 1981, featured prototype versions of the Gouf and Dom. Hobby Japan's How To Build Gundam modeling manual, published in July 1981, debuted the Prototype Gundam, the GM Cannon, and the space pod on which the Ball was based. Kodansha's SF Plamo Book 1: Mobile Suit Gundam Real Type Catalog, published in February 1982, depicted optional backpacks for the Zaku and Gelgoog and introduced Okawara's interpretation of the MS-06R Zaku II described in Gundam Century.

Roman Album Extra 42: Mobile Suit Gundam The Motion Picture

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: May 1981

This reference book from Tokuma Shoten included a Science Establishment feature by scriptwriter Ken'ichi Matsuzaki, in which he introduced some of the technological concepts that would be further developed in the pages of Gundam Century. The book's Mechanical History section also featured a brief summary of Universal Century history and the One Year War drawn largely from Yoshiyuki Tomino's novels, as well as technical explanations derived from the fanzine Gun Sight. Here is a partial translation of this Mechanical History section.

Mobile Suit Gundam II: Soldiers of Sorrow

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: July 11, 1981

Opening Narration
The following is a literal translation of the opening narration from the second theatrical motion picture. Unlike the original setting notes, this narration indicates that only half the total human population lives in the space colonies.

Huge space colonies float around the Earth, and half of humanity are now space-dwellers.

Universal Century 0079. Side 3 began a war of independence against the Earth Federation government under the name of the Principality of Zeon. After just over one month of fighting at the beginning of the war, the war reached a stalemate. Eight months later...

According to the animation script, when Sayla remembers Char's departure, she is about 10 and he is 13 years old.

Gundam Century

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: September 1981

A legendary reference book created by many of the staff of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, as well as many of the key members of the famous Studio Nue. Along with Yoshiyuki Tomino's novels, this publication essentially created the Universal Century world we know today. Here is a partial translation, covering the book's history and mechanics sections.

Mobile Suit Gundam III: Encounters in Space

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: March 13, 1982

Opening Narration
The following is a literal translation of the opening narration from the third theatrical motion picture, which repeats the claims of Gundam II regarding space colony population.

Hundreds of huge space colonies float around the Earth, and it has been half a century since people turned their inner walls into a second home. Half of humanity are now space-dwellers.

Universal Century 0079. Side 3 began a war of independence against the Earth Federation government under the name of the Principality of Zeon. Half the total population was killed at the beginning of the war, and people were horrified by their own actions.

This motion picture also included a few references to director Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam novelization, with cameo appearances by Cecilia Irene and Darcia Bakharov and a brief mention of the Rank Administration that governs Side 6.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Mobile Suit Variation

  Format: Plastic Model Kit Series
  Release Date: April 1983

An original series of plastic model kits released by Bandai. These model kits were based on new designs by mechanical designer Kunio Okawara, and the accompanying kit manuals include detailed explanations of their development history and combat exploits, written by Masahiro Oda of the Stream Base modeling collective.

Gundam MSV Collection

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: February 1984

Released as part of the Kodansha Pocket Card Series, this book consists of 56 color illustrations of machines from the Mobile Suit Variation series accompanied by brief profiles.

Mobile Suit Variation 1: Zaku Edition

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: April 1984

Released as part of the Kodansha Pocket Hyakka Series, this book presents profiles and background information on the machines of Mobile Suit Gundam and the Mobile Suit Variation series. Here is a partial translation, covering the book's history and mobile suit development sections.

Mobile Suit Variation 2: Zeon Forces MS · MA Edition

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: April 1984

The second Mobile Suit Variation volume released as part of the Kodansha Pocket Hyakka Series. Here is a partial translation, covering the book's history section and continuing the story of the Zeon War. I've also translated the "Principality of Zeon Military Register" section, which provides biographies of several Zeon ace pilots, as well as the mobile suit and mobile armor development history sections.

Mobile Suit Variation 3: Federation Forces Edition

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: July 1984

The final Mobile Suit Variation volume released as part of the Kodansha Pocket Hyakka Series. Here is a partial translation, covering the book's history section and concluding the story of the Zeon War.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (Novels)

  Format: Novel series
  Release Date: February 1985—February 1986

Unlike his Mobile Suit Gundam novels, director Yoshiyuki Tomino's five-volume novelization of the sequel series followed the setting and plot of the TV anime fairly closely. I've translated some selected passages that offer supplemental explanation for the anime viewer.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

  Format: Television series
  Release Date: March 2, 1985—February 22, 1986

The first animated sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam introduces the term ichi-nen sensô, or "One Year War," to describe the original conflict between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. This series also featured appearances by mobile suits from the Mobile Suit Variation and MS-X series, establishing them as part of the official Gundam world.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Tenfold Enjoyment Book

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: May 1985

Released under Kodansha's Comic BomBom imprint, this book serves as an introduction to the recently launched Zeta Gundam series. As well as setting materials and an overview of the Mobile Suit Variation and MS-X series, it includes a Universal Century timeline based largely on Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mobile Suit Gundam novels.

OUT Magazine: Zeta World: From Mk-II to Advanced Gundam

  Format: Magazine
  Release Date: September 1985

Zeta World was a series of illustrated articles by Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam mecha designer Kazumi Fujita, presenting his own account of the development and technological background of the story's main mobile suits. This is a translation of the particularly noteworthy second installment.

Gundam ZZ Book: Gundam U.C. Chronology

  Format: Magazine Insert
  Release Date: February 1986

Gundam ZZ Book, a bonus booklet included with the April 1986 issue of Kadokawa Shoten's Newtype magazine, featured a detailed Universal Century timeline covering the events of Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam. Revised and updated in later issues of Newtype and various Bandai publications, this timeline was the basis for those in the Entertainment Bible and Data Collection series, and ultimately the current official Universal Century timeline.

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ

  Format: Television series
  Release Date: March 1, 1986—January 31, 1987

Gundam Wars: Project Z

  Format: Book
  Release Date: March 1986

A "modeling support manual" devoted to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, featuring new and republished material from the modeling magazine Model Graphix. It includes the legendary Epsy Gundam and several other original Gundams from the pages of Model Graphix, as well as the first iteration of the "Imidam" glossary.

The Anime Special Collection: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Part 3

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: April 1986

The last in a series of Zeta Gundam reference books published by Kindai Eiga-sha. It is particularly noteworthy for its Mobile Suit Development History section, which classified the mobile suits into distinct "generations" and provided a new set of detailed specifications for the mobile suits of the original series. The Shindosha studio, whose members went on to write most of the Entertainment Bible volumes, also contributed to this book.

1/100 Scale Full Action ZZ Gundam

  Format: Plastic Model Kit
  Release Date: July 1986

The development timeline in this model kit's manual was one of the very first to cover the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam, and Gundam ZZ. It was revised and expanded in Model Graphix's Gundam Wars II: Mission ZZ, released in February 1987, and I've covered both versions in this composite timeline.

Rapport Deluxe 12: Mobile Suit Z Gundam

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: August 1986

In addition to setting explanation, staff interviews, and so forth, this reference book provides yet another interpretation of the Universal Century chronology. In this timeline, the events of Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam are listed by year and month.

Gundam Wars II: Mission ZZ

  Format: Book
  Release Date: February 1987

A "perfect modeling manual" devoted to Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, featuring new and republished material from the modeling magazine Model Graphix. This volume is most notable for its Gundam Development History feature, which includes an updated version of the timeline from the 1/100 Scale Full Action ZZ Gundam kit manual, and its design notes on the mobile suit variations featured in the second half of Gundam ZZ.

Mobile Suit Gundam Hi-Streamer

  Format: Serial novel/novel series
  Release Date: May 1987—March 1988

Written by director Yoshiyuki Tomino, and originally published as a serialized novel in Animage magazine, this is effectively a prequel to the animated film Char's Counterattack. The three volumes of the novel begin with the collected Animage serial and then continue with a fairly straightforward adaptation of the movie story. I've translated some selected passages that discuss the views and motivations of the main characters.

B-CLUB Special 15: Mobile Suit Gundam MS Encylopedia

  Format: Book
  Release Date: February 1988

The first edition of this popular catalog, originally published by Bandai, which provides images and descriptions of every mobile suit from the major works of the Gundam series. The profiles and background information in the early editions of this book were compiled by the members of the Shindosha studio who wrote most of the Entertainment Bible volumes, and there is a considerable amount of overlap in their contents. This partial translation is based on the 1992 edition, the third and final one published by Bandai. Several updated editions have since been released, the most recent one in 2012.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: March 12, 1988

Tactics Perfect Manual Series 1: Gundam Games

  Format: Mook
  Release Date: May 1988

A supplement to the tactical board games published by Tsukuda Hobby, this obscure book includes its own timeline for the events of the One Year War, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Zeta Gundam, as well as some rare and unique organizational charts.

Entertainment Bible 1: MS Encyclopedia Part 1, One Year War Edition

  Format: Book
  Release Date: February 1989

The first in a series of pocket reference books published by Bandai. Drawing on earlier sources such as Gundam Century and the Mobile Suit Variation books, this volume established the generally accepted version of One Year War history and technology. This partial translation covers most of its contents except the MS pilot manual and the MS design collection. The latter is largely replicated in the Mobile Suit Gundam MS Encyclopedia.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

  Format: Original video series
  Release Date: March 25, 1989—August 25, 1989

B-CLUB Visual Comic: Gundam 0080 "War in the Pocket" Vol.2

  Format: Book
  Release Date: October 1989

Also published by Bandai, this book is notable mostly for its updated mobile suit specs chart, based on those in Gundam Century and Entertainment Bible 1.

Mobile Suit Gundam F91

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: March 14, 1991

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory

  Format: Original video series
  Release Date: May 23, 1991—September 24, 1992

Entertainment Bible 39: Mobile Suit Gundam Strategy and Tactics Encyclopedia
~ One Year War Complete Record

  Format: Book
  Release Date: December 1991

A volume of Bandai's pocket reference book series which presents a detailed account of the One Year War in the style of real-world military history. Though much of its content contradicted previous sources, Entertainment Bible 39 has been hugely influential on later writers, and parts of its setting were later referenced in Gundam The Origin and the Gihren's Greed strategy game series.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Last Blitz of Zeon

  Format: Motion picture
  Release Date: August 29, 1992

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Prologue

  Format: Serial Novel
  Release Date: February 2007

The opening chapter of Harutoshi Fukui's Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn novel, later adapted for animation, is a prologue set at the dawn of the Universal Century. During the main action, we hear excerpts of an expert interview which provides some interesting facts and figures about the space colony project.

To be continued...