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Gundam Setting Notes
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Translator's Note: As an anime series enters production, its creators usually prepare what are known as settei-sho or kikaku-sho ("setting notes" or "planning notes"). Like the series bibles created for Western television shows, these documents serve as an outline of the story background and principal characters, and are provided as reference sources for the show's staff.

The following setting notes made their first public appearance in volume one of the Mobile Suit Gundam Record Collection series, which was published by the Sunrise animation studio in December 1979. While the animated series departed from this original outline in many respects, these notes were one of the very earliest information sources on the history and technology of the Universal Century world, and had a considerable influence on later writers.

Although the names of the various characters and machines were changed several times during the production process, the setting notes published in the Record Collection largely reflect the final names used in the animation. One notable exception is Zeon Zum Deikun, who is referred to here as "Zeon Zum."

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: SETTING NOTES

The following text is copyright © Nippon Sunrise.

Original work by Yoshiyuki Tomino
Compiled November 14, 1978 (as "Gunboy")
Revised December 1, 1978

Translator's Note: The document begins with some discussion of the story themes, which I have omitted here, then moves on to cover the world setting and story background.

Historical Setting

Universal Century 0078. An era in which huge artificial satellites float around the Earth, and almost ten billion people already make their homes in space. One of these space colonies, calling itself the Principality of Zeon, has raised the flag of rebellion against the Earth Federation.

The Principality carried out two waves of unilateral attacks, one known as the Three Day Battle and the other as the Battle of Loum. In these two battles, humanity lost almost fifty percent of its population, and many space colonies were destroyed. Zeon and the Federation had also suffered severe damage to their forces, and with the balance of power deadlocked the fighting turned into guerilla warfare. Meanwhile, no avenue to peace could be seen between the two nations.

In this story young people living at the new space colony of Side 7, which is currently under construction, are unavoidably drawn into the war. It takes place in space, where the guerilla war continues, and on Earth. The story begins in the year 0078 of the Universal Century.

Space Colony

An artificial space colony which houses 36 million people inside a cylinder 32 kilometers long and 6.3 kilometers in diameter. 35 to 40 of these colonies float in a single region, and these clusters are numbered Side 1, Side 2, and so forth in order of construction.

Colony Schematic
Illustration: A diagram of a typical space colony.

Colony Location Setting

One Side is made up of 36 to 40 colonies. With 36 million people in each colony, 1.3 billion people can inhabit a single Side.

Luna II is the asteroid Pallas (diameter 608 kilometers), which has been brought from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It was moved here to supply the rock and soil used in colonies.

Colony Locations
Illustration: A diagram of the Earth Sphere. This diagram roughly matches the map used in Zeta Gundam and subsequent series, with Side 4 in front of the moon at Lagrange point 1, Sides 2 and 5 around Lagrange point 4, and Sides 1 and 6 around Lagrange point 5. Sides 1, 2, 4, and 5 are marked with an X to indicate that they were destroyed at the start of the war. The diagram also gives the names of each Side—Zarn, Hatte, Mua, and so forth.

Zeon Attack

Zeon Zum made his declaration of independence sixteen years before the outbreak of war. But the Earth Federation, which controlled the Sides, didn't recognize Zeon's independence.

Zeon, believing that the excessive human population was too large to be sustained by Earth's mineral resources, took a position opposed to the Federation's pacifism. But without special minerals such as mercury and platinum, which existed only on Earth, the Sides could never achieve complete independence.

After Zeon Zum's death, his successor Degwin Zabi actively began preparations for war against the Earth Federation. Ten years later, in the year 0078, Zeon destroyed four Sides and exterminated almost 50 percent of humanity with its unilateral attacks. But by the spring of the following year, the ongoing war had reached a stalemate, as both the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation had exhausted their fighting strength.

Gundam

The reason why the Principality of Zeon went to war with the Federation was the development of the mobile suit. Battles aren't decided only by combat between spaceships, and victory or defeat are determined just as in ancient times, starting with the capture of enemy territory by infantry. The development of armored powered spacesuits (mobile suits) thus gave Zeon confidence that it could surpass the Federation.

The Federation has developed new mobile suits of its own based on the combat experience of the Three Day Battle and the Battle of Loum, reference to Zeon mobile suits, and the results of previous research. The development code was VX78. Three types were developed, and the story begins as they are completed.

"Gundam" is a nickname created by the main characters. When fully equipped, its destructive power rivals that of a contemporary cruiser-class vessel.

Group of 26

With the outbreak of war, the construction of Side 7's first colony came to a standstill, and the colony is currently only one-third completed. This is a frontier region populated only by two or three hundred households of colony construction workers and their families.

Amuro and the other main characters have come here to the Gundam's final testing ground. As the newly constructed warship White Base, designed for use with the Gundam, arrives in its port, Side 7 is attacked by a Principality of Zeon special forces ship under Char's command. At this point, with the adults dead, the children of Side 7 board the White Base and attempt to fight off the Zeons using the Gundam.

There are 26 of these boys and girls, from 19-year-old Bright Noa down to 4-year-old Kikka, and this group of 26 is the focus of the story.

White Base

(Or Pegasus, Cosmo Pegasus, Space Pegasus...)

A movable base designed to carry six Gundam-type mobile suits, as well as support fighters and transport craft. It's an attack landing ship.

With the construction of this new ship, future combat formations will be task forces centered on the Pegasus class. Throughout the story it will be the sphere of activity and base of operations for the group of 26.

Space Carrier White Base Side View
Illustration: A profile view of the White Base.

Character Summaries

Main Character Organization
Illustration: A diagram of the White Base crew structure, showing the eleven characters listed above. A note explains that there are another fifteen crew members including engineers, mechanics, electronic warfare specialists, and support crew.

Earth Federation Forces Military Outline

White Base Mecha Organization

White Base Mecha Organization Chart
Illustration: A diagram of the White Base mecha organization, listing three Core Fighters, one Gundam, one Guncannon, one Guntank, two support bombers, and one Gunperry transport plane.

Principality of Zeon

A principality which became independent when Zeon Zum put Side nationalism into practice. After Zeon Zum's death, Degwin Sodo Zabi introduced a monarchial form of government, and his family then imposed a military dictatorship.

Principality of Zeon Main Character Organization
Illustration: A diagram of the Principality of Zeon command structure. Sovereign Degwin Sodo Zabi is at the top, with Supreme Commander Gihren Zabi directly beneath him. Reporting to Gihren are Rear Admiral Kycilia Zabi of the Mobile Assault Force, and Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi of the Space Attack Force. Captain Garma Zabi reports to Kycilia, and Commander Char Aznable to Dozle. A second Zabi daughter, identified as Miharu Zabi, also appears on the diagram.

Establishment of the Principality of Zeon

The Earth Federation government constructed the space colonies as a means of solving Earth's population crisis. The Principality of Zeon is an independent nation which arose in the third colony cluster, Side 3.

Side 3 has a population of one billion. Under the leadership of Zeon Zum it began evolving into a principality, but its independence was not recognized by the Earth Federation. The Federation, dedicated to the notion of centralized government based on Earth, refused to recognize any form of autonomy.

After Zeon Zum's death, Degwin Zabi tried to put Zeon Zum's ideals into practice—in other words, the two goals of regulating the excessively large human population, and putting the Federation under Zeon control. Meanwhile, the Zabi family intensified their system of military dictatorship and carried out preparations for the outbreak of war.

In one stroke, the conflict broke into full-scale war with the Three Day Battle and the Battle of Loum. At first glance the Principality of Zeon appeared to have huge military power, but both Zeon and the Federation quickly expended their strength in these devastating space battles. For the following reasons, the fighting then turned into guerilla warfare...

Character Summaries

Principality of Zeon Military Outline

Minovsky Particle

The most vital electronic weapon of both the Zeon and Federation forces. This is a tiny particle with a powerful electrical charge, discovered by Minovsky, a Zeon of White Russian descent. When different types of Minovsky particles are dispersed, they have the effect of reflecting and absorbing electromagnetic waves over a wide area. In relation to mobile suit operations, they were used in the fighting within the Earth and moon system that took place during the Battle of Loum.

Massive use of nuclear weapons during the Three Day Battle and the Battle of Loum released large quantities of plasma into space in satellite orbit. The combination of this plasma and the Minovsky effect has made it impossible to use radar and wireless communications over long distances.

At present, laser communication is normally used for long-distance transmissions. Of course, communication (including TV images) is still possible at extremely short ranges of ten kilometers or so, but overall conditions are close to those in effect at the beginning of World War II.

Beam Cannon

Laser cannons aren't used in this story. Since the light beams of lasers aren't visible in a vacuum, beam weapons are used instead.

Because the system that uses magnetism to fire charged particles can draw on the power of a nuclear fusion engine, these systems are installed on spaceships and fighting craft as main and secondary cannons. They can be made as light and compact as the Guncannon's sniper rifle. The installation of charged particle beam cannons has become standard partly because it results in lower weight and easier maintenance than loading large quantities of warheads.

These weapons require a five-second interval between uses to accumulate electrical and magnetic power. A warship can fire a volley from each cannon in turn, making rapid fire possible, but its speed is reduced as a result. Moreover, this can only be sustained for one minute because the electromagnetic accumulation mechanisms will explode as the "magnetization" of ship combat exceeds its limits.

These beams are limited to a range of twenty to thirty kilometers in atmosphere due to their reduced speed. Likewise, in space, atmospheric strata (not necessarily made up of atmospheric particles) can be deployed as a barrier. Although this serves as something of a cushion against direct beam attacks, it doesn't amount to anything more as a defensive weapon.

Due to these restrictions, long- and short-range missiles remain in service, as well as more compact and lightweight weapons which are used as small arms in the current fashion.

Incidentally, the beams from charged particle cannons can be seen even in a vacuum.

Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons

The use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, dreaded since ancient times, came to pass in the Three Day Battle and the Battle of Loum. Due to these massacres, humanity proved itself capable of total suicide. In all, five billion people were exterminated in ten days of actual fighting. This was nothing like a normal war of hegemony, and the Zabi family required no further slaughter to ensure the continuation of the Principality of Zeon.

After the Battle of Loum, Zeon and the Federation, horrified by their own power, concluded a treaty prohibiting the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. This was the Antarctic Treaty.

Learning Computer

The computer installed in the White Base and the Gundam. Naturally, the basic operation, steering, and control systems are set, and basic data appropriate to the various functions of the computer has also been recorded. But the difference in this learning type is that it later learns from and remembers the events it has "experienced."

This system excels in learning from the Gundam's battles, and depending on the situation it can even react before its operator. However, the system that is meant to exclude mistaken actions is far from perfect, and the development of the erasing mechanism is delayed. Thus the peculiarities of its various operators remain in the computer, which could be considered a weakness.

GUNDAM CHRONOLOGY

As space settlement begins, the year becomes Universal Century 0001.

U.C. 0001: Total population of Earth is 9 billion

U.C. 0040: 40 percent of the total population (about 5 billion) have emigrated
Rise of Ere-ism, the belief that Earth is sacred as the source of life.

U.C. 0041: Establishment of Luna II

U.C. 0045: Zeon Zum advocates Contolism
Ere-ism and Side-ism (Side nationalism) are hereby combined.

U.C. 0050: Total population is 11 billion
9 billion have emigrated to space.

U.C. 0052: Zeon Zum moves to Side 3 and puts Contolism into practice

U.C. 0062: Principality of Zeon announces independence
The Principality of Zeon and Federation are in opposition. Zeon Zum begins working behind the scenes to acquire special minerals.

U.C. 0068: Death of Zeon Zum
The Federation launches a political offensive.

U.C. 0069: Degwin Zabi becomes sovereign
Degwin secretly prepares for war.

U.C. 0075: Development of Zaku mobile suit completed

U.C. 0078: Zeon attacks
The population is reduced by 50 percent due to the Three Day Battle and the Battle of Loum.

U.C. 0078.12.31: Antarctic Treaty concluded
The treaty prohibits the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.