The Mobile Suit Gundam Movie That Took 30 Years To Make

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway kicked off what is planned as a trilogy of movies for the franchise, but it took decades to be made. It adopts the first book in a trilogy of novels previously considered unadaptable by many fans. While it took 31 years, the first movie in the series was finally released in 2021, with the second scheduled for release later this year. 

Tossed Back Into The Furnace Of War

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway focuses on Hathaway Noa, the leader of a terrorist organization named Mafty. Beginning with a hijacking perpetrated by a group falsely claiming to be part of Mafty, Hathaway’s secret role in the group is exposed due to a relationship he forms with one of the freed hostages. The conflict between the Earth Federation and Mafty escalates throughout the movie, eventually forcing Hathaway to join the battle in his RX-105 Ξ Gundam

The Usual Gundam Deep Characters

As with other entries in the franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway builds up an extensive cast of interesting characters, but its central characters are its strongest. Hathaway is a morally complex, idealistic character who makes for a great protagonist. The movie’s antagonist, Kenneth Sleg, is made interesting by his relationship with Hathaway, while Gigi Andalucia’s ability to see through lies makes her a great character in a story with so much subterfuge. 

A Follow-Up To Char’s Counterattack

Part of the appeal of Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway is that it is a direct sequel to the immensely popular Char’s Counterattack. Many fans consider Char’s Counterattack the best movie version of the Gundam franchise due to its groundbreaking animation and focus on popular characters from the original series. By building on one of the most popular Gundam stories ever, it is appealing to a large number of fans. 

While the connections to Char’s Counterattack are part of why fans are so excited about the new trilogy, it’s also one of the complications that made it take so long. The novels that the movie is based on are connected to the novel version of Char’s Counterattack. Due to inconsistencies between the books and the anime, many plot points had to be reworked for Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway to make sense for fans who didn’t read the books. 

Years Of Delays

Even setting aside the need to rework the plot, Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway faced many challenges that delayed its release. The dark tone of the novels and massive battles made it impossible to make when they were written, but changes to audience tastes and technological improvements have resolved those problems. The final and most direct delay came from COVID-19, which pushed the release back by almost a full year once it was finally made. 

Films Coming To Netflix

The response to Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s release in 2021 was positive. It was the first Gundam movie since Char’s Counterattack to make over 1 billion yen in Japanese theaters, making it a financial success. Fans and critics have also been mostly pleased with the movie, praising its animation and characters, though some have criticized its plot and deviations from the books. 

It may have taken three decades, but most fans are just happy to see Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway finally emerging in movie form. While the Gundam novels have a dedicated fandom in Japan, most fans of the franchise experience it through anime, making its adaptation an important one. You can watch the long-awaited Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway on Netflix.