Sometimes, an anime has come out with so many different shows and movies over the years that it’s difficult for a new fan to know where to start. And there may be no better offender than the Gundam franchise: it started way back in 1979, and there are now a staggering 51 different series to watch. If you’d like to jump into this iconic mecha series and don’t know where to start, then we’d recommend that you start with Gundam Wing, one of the most popular series in the franchise.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Depending on your age, one reason to start with Gundam Wing is that you might already have some familiarity with the characters and setting. Back in the ‘90s, Toonami brought this cartoon to fans, and it surprisingly became a much bigger hit in the West than it ever was back in Japan.
In short, even having half-hazy memories of watching this show after school or in its many Cartoon Network reruns will make it easier to dive into from the beginning rather than starting a different show altogether.
And one of the other reasons that Gundam Wing is perfect for newbies is the same reason that older fans sometimes scoff at the series: it takes place in a separate universe that is much simpler and easier to understand than the Universal Century (U.C.) timeline.
That timeline is a fan favorite, but in order to understand it, you have to watch about 17 different series (that’s almost as bad as catching up on One Piece). By contrast, Gundam Wing is a self-contained universe that still introduces you to many concepts in the U.C. timeline, so you can either enjoy it on its own or treat it as a kind of appetizer to your main Gundam entree.
Starting with Gundam Wing gives you a chance to relive anime history in a very powerful way.
Additionally, we recommend starting the franchise with Gundam Wing because its characters and story are something general audiences can more easily grasp. For example, this was the first franchise entry that primarily focused on young characters, giving us teenage protagonists that the show’s creators intended to appeal to a new generation of fans.
While that appeal was limited back in Japan, Western audiences who had grown up watching Voltron and Power Rangers instantly vibed with this tale of teenagers using giant robots in order to fight for a better future.
While hardcore anime fans will yell at us for watching dubbed shows, another reason to start with Gundam Wing is that it has a really great English voice cast. David Kaye, for example, turns Treize Kushrenada into the kind of perfect asshole everyone loves to hate, and Brian Drummond is perfect to voice Zechs Merquise, an enemy warrior with his own strict code of honor.
And we simply have to give props to Campbell Lane as the narrator…with his talent, even the most basic descriptions would inevitably hype you up for the next battle.
That brings us to the next reason why you should start the franchise with Gundam Wing, and that’s the fact that the show is light on lore and heavy on action. Longtime franchise fans have often criticized this particular ratio because they think that the show transforms a very complex franchise into something simple and splashy.
We recommend starting the franchise with Gundam Wing because its characters and story are something general audiences can more easily grasp.
However, when you’re easing into a franchise with decades of complex lore and dozens of different series, the fact that said series is both action-packed and easy to understand is a good thing.
Finally, even though it will be your first series in the franchise, starting with Gundam Wing gives you a chance to relive anime history in a very powerful way. If this show hadn’t been such a runaway hit on Toonami, then the Gundam franchise would likely have never become popular in North America in the first place, so you’ll be watching the series that gave the franchise a real shot in the arm.
And whether they’ll admit it or not, most longtime Gundam fans in the West started with Gundam Wing, so you’ll effectively be starting where the majority of the fandom started.
Ultimately, Gundam Wing is a perfect entry for anime fans looking to jump into this long-running franchise. At the same time, it’s a great standalone series for anyone looking for big characters, bigger mechs, and the biggest battles. Just remember not to say “mission accomplished” until you’ve watched the whole series and the excellent OVA Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz.